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December 28, 2019

Lincoln Riley

Jalen Hurts

Neville Gallimore

Atlanta, Georgia

LSU - 63, Oklahoma - 28

THE MODERATOR: Coach, we'll take a short opening statement, and then we'll go right into questions.

LINCOLN RILEY: Offer, first, congratulations to LSU, Coach Orgeron. Tremendous football team. Played very well, very deserving. They're impressive.

It's a disappointing locker room right now. What can you say? I thought the game, we traded blows early. They went on the run there at the end of the first half. We got a little frantic and just didn't play our best.

And give them credit. They certainly made plays, but we gave them a lot of plays with our mistakes. It's probably the most disappointing -- most disappointing there at the end of the half. And, obviously, they made the big run and got some separation.

It's been a great year. This team, I told them in there, it's been an absolute joy to coach. A lot of adversity this team's had to deal with, some on the outside, some that the outside doesn't know about that they've -- they've been a joy. They really have.

Had to fight through a lot just to get here, and it's kind of the disappointment -- you balance right now the disappointment of not winning and accomplishing your ultimate goal here. On top of that, just not playing our best.

It's hard to describe that disappointment. But you balance that with the sense of pride of what this group's been able to accomplish in an era of -- you know, the championships, all that stuff are great. But, shoot in an era where a lot of guys don't even want to play in their own bowl game. I've got two guys next to me right here that will play in the NFL next year and will be high draft picks that were both injured, both had things going on, both could have easily came out of the game and both begging to stay in the game, even in the last couple minutes.

That's the culture we've built and guys like these two are very much responsible for that.

Proud of these guys. It hurts right now, but it won't diminish all they've been able to accomplish. Just I love this team. That's it.

Q. Lincoln, is today an example of just a bad day at Black Rock, or is it an example of how much farther you need to go to get over this hurdle you want to get over?
LINCOLN RILEY: LSU's a good team, like I said. They're a good enough team that you're going to trade blows with them no matter what. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the second quarter, end of the first quarter, second quarter, that we haven't made, some, all year. And you can't give a team like that any help.

Then, certainly, not having a few of the guys certainly Bookie getting ejected on the targeting was a huge, huge play in the game. And we just lost our composure there a little bit, lot our sense of focus, and it hurt us. LSU capitalized on it.

So give them credit. Certainly didn't play our best. Where that is in the big picture, I honestly don't really care.

Q. Coach, this is the second year in a row of slow starts, putting yourself behind and just having too big of a gulf to catch up. Can you put your finger on anything? Is it tenseness? Can you point to anything?
LINCOLN RILEY: This one's different. Bama last year jumped up, it was 28-0 before you could even blink. We weren't really playing good on any of the sides. I thought we kind of steadied after we hit the big play to CeeDee and then Kennedy scored the first touchdown. I thought we were going to steady there. We traded blows early. It was just that run there.

What it is, I mean, you play really good teams in this playoff. And when you don't play your best ball, good teams are going to take advantage of it. And LSU took advantage of us not playing our best ball there.

And then there were just some pivotal big third -- like there's going to be in these games, but some pivotal third downs they made, a couple of unbelievable plays, a couple that we made a couple boneheaded plays. Several opportunities offensively that were just that far away, but in games like this, that's the margin of error.

Q. Lincoln, when Bookie got ejected, you had to go to an inexperienced player. He's a talented guy. How much did that put you in the eight-ball, knowing the injuries and things you had back there?
LINCOLN RILEY: It was challenging. Broiles is our primary replacement for Turner-Yell getting hurt and so Broiles, we had to crash-course him at safety over the last week to get him ready. All of a sudden now he's got to play nickel.

So those guys are going to continue to be good players, yeah. You'd love to have gone in with the other ones. That wasn't the hand we were dealt. They've got some good players. Was that a factor in the game? Yes. Was it a deciding factor? No.

Some of our mistakes and inability to play our very best was the deciding factor.

Q. Bob used to say, when these things got sideways sometimes, and even when they didn't, that the other team that you're playing against, a championship team in these big game settings, they're awful good, and that makes the difference. Did that happen tonight, where this thing got going sideways, partially because they were awful good, and then they kept it going that way because they were so good? In other words, the other team's talent?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, they're a good team, no question about it. You look at their quality wins this year. They're a good football team. Give them credit. I thought they played well and I thought we -- again, the disappointing thing is we helped them play well way too much.

I felt like if we played well, we would be able to stand in there and trade blows with them. I really did. And we did early. But when you start making mistakes, combination of that and a talented team playing well, they go on a run like they do.

Q. Neville and Jalen, I want to ask for your perspective on what LSU did that was so effective. Neville, if you could talk about what they did offensively that was effective, especially maybe even surprisingly so. Jalen, if you could say the same about LSU's defense.
NEVILLE GALLIMORE: Again, they're a solid ball club, and they're able to make plays. They took advantage of the opportunities that they had just like a good football team should.

There was opportunities for us to kind of make plays and, you know, it didn't happen. But that's a credit to them and the work they put in. Again, you know, they've got a solid group of guys up front.

They got a QB who can make plays and is effective. It's a credit to them.


JALEN HURTS: Just talk about the missed opportunities we had, leaving money on the table, going out there and taking advantage of every opportunity we have against teams like this. I mean, games like this, you've got to maximize it.

We failed to do that.

Q. Jalen, talk about what their defensive line, excellent front seven, just being able to keep you in the pocket and limit your running abilities.
JALEN HURTS: Yeah, just kind of what I said last time. They got great players, really athletic players. They're fast, they play strong. They rally to the ball.

But when you play this game, you talk about the controllables, what you can control. We didn't take advantage of our opportunities, and that's something that we can control. They play really good defense, but we were too inconsistent to come out on top of this game, and I think that's the blunt reality of it.

Q. Jalen, you talked a lot about your college football career being unprecedented. Take me through how do you hope OU fans in this program just remember your time here at Oklahoma, being here only 12 months.
JALEN HURTS: It's hard to just sit here and reflect on four years, a whole year with my brothers this year, all of that right now. It hurts me. You talk about how much it means to you and the team. It's supposed to hurt. This is not a good feeling. This is a feeling I've never felt before.

It hurts me in my heart, you know. When I decided to come to this school, I told Coach Riley, I'm going to go win you a National Championship, and I failed to do that.

Moving forward, I definitely hope -- I've already told them, I hope that you guys learn from this. I hope everybody learns from this. It hurts me the most because usually, when you come up short in something, you can come back and you can fix it. I can't come back and fix it. I'll never play college football again.

Q. Lincoln, what were some of the things maybe you saw as the game was going on that allowed Joe Burrow to be so successful throwing against you guys?
LINCOLN RILEY: We had a hard time, obviously, corralling him back there. We're certainly not the only ones that have. They've got a good offensive line. We had a couple opportunities to get him on the ground that we didn't. They made a couple of plays and scrambled, a couple pretty good coverage, competitive plays.

Those are going to happen from time to time. The biggest disappointment to me was the busts we had defensively. That's something all year we've done a tremendous job of.

For being in year one of a system, we've had remarkably few busts throughout the year, and it's been a big key to why we've done some of the things we've been able to do defensively and made such huge strides like we have.

We gave him a few there that are probably the most disappointing. He's a good player. He's got good players around him. They made some tremendous plays. The ones I'll be most disappointed about are the ones that, like I said, we busted and just gift-wrapped for them.

Q. Including Bookie's ejection, how much -- you mentioned the guys earlier, the three missing players. How much did that actually, do you think, contribute? When you look at the final score, you're thinking wow, could three players have made that much of a difference? Ultimately, what were those three guys' impact?
Them being gone, what was their impact?

LINCOLN RILEY: I don't know how you measure that. Certainly, of course, you love to go into these games with every single player healthy and every player feeling good and available and all that. Of course you'd want to, especially when you're playing another great team.

That wasn't the hand we were dealt. Honestly, that hasn't been the hand we've been dealt all year. It's been one of those years here. And despite all that, we were able to win a fifth straight Big 12 Championship, able to get back here to the College Football Playoff, and so, you know, I'll be happy to talk about the guys that did play, though.

Q. Jalen, you've played against LSU before. What's different about this LSU team than the ones you played when you were at Alabama?
JALEN HURTS: I think the obvious difference is they're scoring 50-something points. I think they've always had a really good defense, and they have this year. They've always had great players. They have a hella offense. It's all a credit to how efficient they've been. A lot of respect for them.

Q. Lincoln, you said last year, after the Orange Bowl, you guys were agonizingly close as a program to winning a National Championship. You guys are back at the playoff. Obviously not the result you wanted. How close is this program to reaching that?
LINCOLN RILEY: We're continuing to make strides. There's no doubt about it. I mean, just putting yourself here four times in five years is -- I mean, that's so hard to do, man. I mean, it's so hard to do.

So I think we've made some great improvements with the program. I'm excited about where we're heading defensively. I think we've just scratched the surface about how good we can get on that side.

This program has championship DNA. We kind of find a way, and we'll be back.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.

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