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December 7, 2019
Oklahoma - 30, Baylor - 23
THE MODERATOR: We're going to start with Oklahoma Sooners. Coach, would you like to make an opening statement.
LINCOLN RILEY: Thank you. It was a great battle. I think a lot of teams in our league have certainly improved, certainly the one we played today has. Kind of fitting in the way it dame down, a heavy-hitting game, very physical, a lot like the first game was, as far as physicality. Just proud of our guys. These are hard to win. We just brought up in our team meeting there, we've got several fifth year seniors that are going to leave here with five rings on their finger and the recall majority of college football players leave and never have one true championship ring. It's been an awesome run. Today is about this group and this team. We found a lot of ways to win football games. We certainly did it today. The defense was fantastic, like they've been the majority of this season, key stops, dominant on front, got constant pressure on whoever was playing quarterback as the day unfolded. Proud of this team. These games are hard. You gotta appreciate them. A lot of credit to Matt Rhule, his staff, that team over there we have a ton of respect for them, the way they play.
They have done a tremendous job, and it was difficult beating them twice. Trust me, each one of them was hard, so very, very good football team over there that deserves a lot of credit.
Q. Lincoln, it's 4th and 3, about the 47 or so, minute and a half left, whatever it was, you decided not to go for it. What was the reasoning behind deciding to punt there and be not go for it?
LINCOLN RILEY: It was close. I went back and forth in my mind a few times. I felt like in the second half we started to open up and move the ball well, so I was confident if it got to an overtime period we would have a chance to score and how could you not be confident with the way our defense was playing.
We did a great job, pinned them down in there, made it impossible for them to do anything but run clock off. Just confidence in our guys, both sides of the ball.
Q. Lincoln, can you talk about how far your defense has come, the tenacious way they played, Tre Brown, wide receiver, instead of giving up a touchdown you give up a field goal and Redmond, who didn't play last week, comes up with huge sacks. Talk about those.
LINCOLN RILEY: That's our speed D. That's what we are. Coach (Alex) Grinch said it from day one, and that's spot on. We are an effort-based defense, and you got to see us make one of the key plays of the game on a great effort by Tre running them down, and then the defensive line was relentless all day. That's the way you've got to play. Our guys have bought in, and we've done it early, and it's kind of time here in key moments and games, and we've gotten better and better as it's went on.
I couldn't be happier with our defense, the way those guys have played with so much new -- we knew it could be done here, and our guys believed it, our coaches believed it, and we got a pretty good defense here.
Q. Lincoln, you mentioned the guys that have been a part of this team for a long time, Nick Basquine talk about what he means to this team, and him getting a touchdown on this stage for the first time this year?
LINCOLN RILEY: He's got a well-documented journey here. He's symbolic of this team in a lot of ways. We've got guys in there that continue to fight, regardless of what happens. He's done that in his career and done that for this team and he's been a great leader, teammate. I know Jalen (Hurts) had a lot of confidence in him and the big third down throw was a tremendous play by both those guys and fitting that Nick would have one of the touchdowns in this game.
Q. Could you describe how you maybe adapted to or rolled with their pressures that they were creating, their quarterback pressures in the first half, how you guys were able to solve that? And a follow-up for Jalen, how did that pressure and the changes that you guys had to adapt to, how did that affect what you were trying to do?
LINCOLN RILEY: We had a few things at half, couple of things schematically that we needed to do better.
They've got a couple pretty good defensive linemen and they beat us in the first half and there were a couple of things I did first half that didn't put our guys in very good position, so we came in, we said, look this is what we're going to o to fix it. I've got to be better putting you in the right position, and then you guys gotta be better at winning your individual battles, and we did a much better job the second half.
Q. Not unlike the first game this was a game that looked like you totally had it in control and here they come there at the end. Was there anything that you had to tell the group in keeping from freaking out there toward the end because of the way it changed? Was it just something that something discipline creates throughout the time with them?
LINCOLN RILEY: I think that's fair to say. We've got a mentally tough football team. Just because you've been mentally tough, doesn't mean you're going to in this moment. You still have to do it. We brought the guys up as we went to overtime I told them. This is fitting, the way we started fall camp was red zone work, and three straight days of it, and it's fitting that start fall camp and finish the regular season championship game with kind of that overtime period.
They stuck to it, they absolutely stuck to it. So, you know, we had to be mentally tough again and this group proved venues that it is.
THE MODERATOR: My apologies, Jalen, I didn't give you a chance to answer that.
JALEN HURTS: I was just listening to Coach. Winning championships is hard, and winning is not easy. Coach Riley talked about it every day, emphasize it every time, so we talk about situations in the game where we may have momentum or we may not, regardless it's not supposed to be easy. We expect it to be that way. The mental toughness of this team and how we go about our business every day, just putting emphasis on focus, energy, passion, kind of the monumental aspects of our team. We embrace it all and we attack.
Q. Jalen, if you guys get there this is going to be your fourth playoff. Can you describe the differences in the roads to get there? You played everybody in this league, Baylor twice, SEC is a different animal. Can you compare the two roads?
JALEN HURTS: There is a narrative out there that the SEC is a different animal, but the Big 12 is tough. Baylor, they're a really good team, very physical team, and I got a lot of respect for them. We're going to enjoy it and, you know, just enjoy it.
Q. Lincoln, your work is done but the weekend is far from over with the selection still to come. When the Committee looks at your resume what do you hope they are being looking at most as it relates to your team and what you've done this year?
LINCOLN RILEY: It's amazing how many times you can get asked the same question different ways. I hope they see the Big 12 Champions. They've got a job to do, I get that. We've had a job to do as a team, which was continue to prove through the year, trust the things we could and ultimately win a Big 12 Championship. We've done that. We will see whatever road it takes us on but whichever one it is, we will be ready.
Q. Jalen, congratulations on the win. With all the challenges that you've overcame what does this win mean to you personally?
JALEN HURTS: This is not about me. Talk about me another time. How about these guys up here, two defensive leaders stepping in, playing well and getting it done for us. CeeDee Lamb coming back after everybody thinks he's gone or something and, I mean, he's a dog. We got great players on this team, great coaching. I'm blessed to be on my feet. I say it all the time: I'm blessed to be with these guys. Coach Riley said it on senior night, or going to practice one of those days, he said three years ago would you ever have thought your senior night would be at Oklahoma? If I said that, you would have thought I was kidding. I said, yeah, I never -- I told Coach Grinch after this game, just how crazy it is, if I would have ever thought as a true freshman, starting for Coach (Nick) Saban, winning an SEC Championship, going to a national championship that I would be a Big 12 Champion with the Oklahoma Sooners in three years, I would think he was crazy too. But God works in mysterious ways, and I'm blessed to be here with these guys.
Q. Was there emphasis to get CeeDee the ball today being that he didn't play in the first game, and the opponent you're playing against, as tough as their defense is?
LINCOLN RILEY: I wouldn't say it had anything to do with the first game. CeeDee has been a really, really good player for us for a long time. He's a dynamic player and we have prided ourselves on getting the ball to our best players as much as we can and he did a great job with the opportunities that he's had. Kind of like Jalen said all that false narrative out there, we've been through these deals, CeeDee, these guys up here, we've been through these deals, we know what we can do. It changes week-to-week. You can't always control that. He had a big game, he's had a lot of big games here and had one here today.
Q. CeeDee, after your first two big plays what were they doing to you that made life difficult? How did they adjust?
CEEDEE LAMB: I felt like at that point I was opening it up for my teammates. I wasn't frustrated or anything, I wasn't thinking nothing, I was just telling him what I was seeing and we just kind of went from there. If those two first two opening plays, they bust for big plays you would hope the defense would adjust to that, and they did that, and I kinda let them know so we went in different kinda ways.
Q. Jalen, how strange did it feel at halftime given the fact that the defense played pretty good, yet you look at the scoreboard and Baylor has the lead? Did that feel strange?
JALEN HURTS: It's football. I said that earlier; it's not supposed to be easy. Regardless of the situation how do you respond, so what, now what? I think this team showed the right type of resilience, the approach we had with it all year. Put us in any type of situation, and we find a way to fight and get it done.
LINCOLN RILEY: Me and Jalen and CeeDee aren't answering another question until you ask these two guys a question, please.
Q. For Kenneth and Neville you guys have played well these last few weeks, at times winning this team games. How satisfying is it to do that in a championship game today and what is it about Alex Grinch that has changed the mentality of this defense in the last year?
NEVILLE GALLIMORE: Satisfied isn't the word, but I mean, it's just good to see what happens where we got all guys on all sides of the ball buying into what coaches are telling us. The great thing about this is we've played these situations. We've played these games so many times, starting at practice, starting back from, you know, the wintertime, fall camp, you name it.
It was just great to see what happens when we decide to just do our job to the best of our abilities and trust the coaching. Having Coach Grinch instill that in us, I'm not going to say it makes that easy, but we're fighting and we know the expectations that we have for our defensive group is so high that it's nothing for us to not listen to all sides. Our focus is trying to play our best ball in crunch time situations or whatever the situation may be.
KENNETH MURRAY: He said it all.
Q. Kenneth, you guys -- you played as well defensively and it keeps getting better and better. That was a remarkable performance, though, gave up the two long pass plays but other than that it was unbelievable. What did you do differently?
KENNETH MURRAY: We came here, we locked in, and we did what we were supposed to do. Hats off to those guys. I mean, I feel like they came in and they played hard. Came in and struck to their script and we were able to capitalize on that and able to fall back on our preparation and execute.
Q. Neville and Kenneth, can you walk us through the overtime. The offense does what they're supposed to do, they get a touchdown quick, you know if you can stop them -- I saw you stalking around Kenneth and you looked fired up. And Kenneth, you start, because you're going to make Neville start again, I know, but could you take us through the overtime and how it went?
KENNETH MURRAY: Coach Riley just said it. That's a situation we practice in fall camp, and it's something that we been prepared for, even though we haven't had a situation like that this year. It's something that, you know, because they've done a phenomenal job of preparing us for it, going into the game we knew no matter how long it took, whether it went to overtime or not we were going to go out there and battle it, get a stop.
Obviously seeing our offense do what they do best, it was time for us to do what we do best.
NEVILLE GALLIMORE: Pretty much to reiterate what he said. We played this part so many times at practice. Everything that we really say from moving on forward goes back to what we practice. That wasn't a moment that was too big for us. We knew plays had to be made and we had to step up. That was an opportunity that we had and we made the most of it.
Q. For Kenneth and Neville --
LINCOLN RILEY: We scared 'em!
Q. -- Matt Rhule came in here and was wrapping up his season and was commenting on his team and then he took clear time to pause and say that he had a ton of respect for you, Kenneth and for you Neville and Bookie Radley-Hiles, because you guys went up to him after both losses to Baylor, at Baylor. I want to know what it's like to set the example for your squad even in significant moments like that.
KENNETH MURRAY: Like I said before, I got tremendous respect for those guys. They came out here and played a great game and going up to the head coach that's something I do pretty much every week, after the game going up and just saying thank you. I truly believe in taking advantage of the opportunity and having an opportunity and going out there and, you know, taking advantage of it is big and being grateful for that is something I think is big. That's really what it was, going in there and I think it's collective effort on defense. I think it's not one guy, I think everybody has bought into doing their job and we understand it's not about anybody individually, it's something that we want as a university, and I think we've done a great job of buying in to that and done a great job of executing our jobs.
NEVILLE GALLIMORE: Basically it is what it is, man. Respect. Got a lot of respect for the head coach, got a lot of respect for that team. You've got to have a lot of respect for your opponent and that goes back to how we prepared and, you know, we understand Baylor has a great football team. They got great guys and they had a plan.
Just to even had the opportunity to compete against them for the second time, you know, it was tough. Hard-fought win but definitely got a lot of respect for the coaches, respect for the team. Appreciate the opportunity that we got a chance to go to battle against them.
Q. For Kenneth and Neville, you guys have won championships before but the defense is seen as a much bigger strength this year. Talk about how that feels, you guys are No. 1 in Big 12 defense. A lot of people probably don't know that. Talk about the transition from last season to this season.
NEVILLE GALLIMORE: We knew what we wanted to accomplish from the get-go. I've been here for a long time, been here since 2015, and I've been blessed to be a part of a great team. I'm blessed to see great players offensively do amazing things. Just talking to Kenneth and even talking to Jalen Hurts and the older guys in the group, we knew there had to be a change. Obviously it starts with the coaches leading the way but really it starts with us and just to see kinda how we worked, how we put our foot down and regardless of the adversity that we're facing we have a job to do and we have a statement to make.
Obviously a lot of things didn't work out in our favor what we wanted, but we knew that this was a stepping stone and we wanted to be the starting point for something special. Coach Grinch gave us that opportunity. I seen, even though it's my last season here, just to see the start of something special, to see how the young guys, to get everybody bought in, it's tough. To see guys, to have young guys that look up to you that can truly trust the process and just understand this is what happens when you believe, this is what happens when you sell out, this is what happens when you don't think or have the "what if's" just do. Just go, trust your coaches, that they are going to put you in the right position and trust your ability.
That took a lot for us to grow as a team, and I can't say even defensively because competing with these guys for so long, our offense, it slows the game down, you know. Again, what we do at practice, I can't speak for any other team without there are so many situations, there are so many different types of adversities that our coaches casually put us through to prepare us for tough situations that for some would see it as an obstacle we see as an opportunity.
That's what we look forward to. There is never a hill that's too high to climb as long as I got my brothers, I got my guys with me.
I know when we truly believe and trust the process, good things will happen. That's pretty much it.
Q. Kenneth, you've been forced to be the spokesman for this dense for years now. You go through Georgia, you go through Alabama. What would it mean to you to see this defense the way that it's playing go back into the College Football Playoffs with all the narrative that is out there surrounding you guys?
KENNETH MURRAY: I mean, it would be huge for this team period to be able to get that opportunity. I think that's what I'm focused on is us as a team getting this opportunity. Whether, you know, we play in the College Football Playoff or playing outside in the backyard, we're going to play the way we play. We're going to go out there and do our jobs and execute.
Q. Lincoln, you said when you first got here you wanted to see a defense like the one in 2008 you faced. Is this a defense that's approaching that level?
LINCOLN RILEY: We're getting better. That's all that's -- all that is for the papers and the media, and the fans. We're getting better. We're excited about the way we're playing. I had everybody in the room after we finished, after we broke the team down I said raise your hand if you're a new player here, raise your hand if you're a player that hasn't played, playing your first time, raise your hand if you're on defense because it's new for every single player there and just about every player in the room had their hand up and almost all the staff did. Saying all that, this team has a long ways to go to get the to the level we can be at, collectively as a team. All three sides of the ball. And that's what's exciting, whoever we play, wherever it is, we're going to continue to get better and then, you know, whatever happens, whatever comparisons are made, we will let the outside handle that.
Q. Neville and Kenneth, Lincoln talked about -- I asked him why he decided not to go for it on 4th and 3 near the end of the game. It's one thing for a coach to say I trust you, it's another one to show it. What does it mean to you to know that he's willing to put the game in your hands at the end and in overtime?
KENNETH MURRAY: Three and out, take-away. That's our saying, that's what Coach says all the time, when we play the game we don't make no evaluation. Doesn't matter if we up by 50 or down by 50 there is no evaluations being made, it's truly just a mind-set of three and out, take away, going out there to take away. So really don't not matter which Coach Riley does. 4th and 3, they on the 10 yard line and in their territory.
He wants to go for it, we're going to go for it, and we are going to go out there and go three and out, take away.
LINCOLN RILEY: And that's a great mind-set. We had a few times this year that was similar, and we went for it, and there is confidence on both sides and for damn sure a lot of confidence in those guys.
NEVILLE GALLIMORE: If Coach Riley, Coach Grinch telling us we have an opportunity to make something happen, we gotta do it. Obviously that trust is earned. We appreciate those moments but, again, you play the sport, you play the game because you want the opportunity to step up. We love that. We love the fact that, again, as a team, the fact that offensively ever, whoever, special teams can count on the next guy. Okay, we need something to happen. It is what it is. We appreciate it but that's a part of it. Coach came out and said three and out takeaways, nothing else changes, doesn't matter what the situation is, we gotta do our job and at a high level.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports