home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


December 19, 2020

Lincoln Riley

Arlington, Texas, USA

Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma - 27, Iowa State - 21

LINCOLN RILEY: Man, hard to believe. Just not knowing if this team would even, if we would even get to play. I told the team in the locker room after, you remember two specific moments: One moment when we had to send our whole team home after having only one spring practice, not knowing what was next; and then in that locker room in Ames, Iowa, when you were 0-2 in the conference and I told them, you know, a place like OU, man, there's nowhere to hide. It's not like, well, if we just go off and have a bad season, that people aren't going to pay attention. They always pay attention to OU. I mean, this is such a national powerhouse and there's never anywhere to hide in this program, so you got really one choice you got to step up.

And I think that everybody in our locker room believed that this was possible and, at that point, and what a tremendous run it's been. We have had to win games in different ways. Today was no different. We had to have different players step up and had to make key plays and just, yeah, it's a little surreal, again, just all of these are. I mean, just sit back and think six in a row and that just doesn't get done in college football very often. It's so hard.

And we as coaches that have been here through it, all of our players, our staff, our fans, I mean, everybody that is a part of this football program, that cares about this football program, that roots for this football program better appreciate what this is. I mean, this is awesome, awesome stuff by this team individually and our teams over the last several years. It's just a great, great feeling right now. Feels good to be the champ.

Q. Wanted to ask you about Tre Brown. Not only the interception, but the two kickoff returns for him, just, it seems like every time in this game he comes up with some massive play for y'all to help turn the tide.

LINCOLN RILEY: He did. No, he did. The two kickoff returns were huge. We hadn't had many opportunities there this year and, which is a good thing and, as well as we played defensively. Yeah, he just, I thought we fit some of them up really well and he's got such a burst, we were able to get him loose and we ended up scoring after both of those drives. They were big-time plays and both of them came after Iowa State had some momentum, like you said. So those were important plays and great job by him and our whole kickoff return team.

And then obviously we had the pick ten but it was a great individual play, very reminiscent of over in the Cotton Bowl just a couple of months ago. So I'm really proud of that kid, all he's had to overcome and he's obviously been a really, really good player for us and I think really taken another step this year.

Q. I know all these are special, but given all the things that you just articulated in your opening statement, the suspensions, the, having a game canceled, having another game postponed, all those things, is this the most satisfying of the Big 12 titles for you?

LINCOLN RILEY: Gosh, it's hard to say. Like you said, they're all so different. I mean, I felt tremendous excitement after each one of them, but this one does feel different in that way. It does. It's maybe the most unlikely, I guess you might say, just with all we had to overcome, both across the country, every team, everybody, and then specific to our group, we had to overcome a lot.

It's just hard to find a way to get it done even in one year, so to think that we could continue to do it has been odd. It is. It's a little surreal right now, just the pride in, not just the players, but just the whole program. It took every single person making a sacrifice for this to even be possible and every single person to get out of their comfort zone and do everything that they could. And it took that. It would not have happened without that.

Q. How unique is this game to you in that you just made decisions based on a lot of confidence in your defense and it ended up paying dividends at certain points?

LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah. No, it's just a little bit the flow of the game. I thought we were playing pretty well defensively the majority of the game. I felt like we -- that's a good offense, obviously a good quarterback, and felt like we were on top of things really the whole day and we had some periods where we played good offensively and some periods where we didn't play good offensively.

And no, there were some, some close decisions there, but certainly how well we were playing was a big factor. And we did a nice job on the punt teams being able to pin them down there and play the field position game a little bit. And again, you got to win in different ways and our defense, special teams, certainly gave us an opportunity to make some of those decisions based on how well they played.

Q. I would like you to go back and reference what you said a bit ago about you hoped that the base, the fan base, gets what this team did. I know it wasn't any work of art this season, of course it hasn't been. This season's been hard on everybody and I don't know where you guys are going to end up in terms of your post-season, but just to persevere like you have, even for a base that's used to the success that your program has produced, the need to see it for what it is, just if you would mind reiterating that.

LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I just, I would just encourage everybody to think of their own personal hardships that they have had during this pandemic. This pandemic, obviously it wasn't just bad for us, it's been challenging for each and every one of us.

Everybody's talked about how negative that 2020 has been and just it's almost kind of become a catchphrase now. And I do think though the adversity also provides an unbelievable opportunity to do something special and that's how we have tried to look at it this entire time through anything that came up was how awesome would it be to come back and everybody will remember. Like you said (background noise.) I think everybody will remember who won it this year. It's the most challenging year any of us have ever had.

Q. I wanted to ask you about third downs. 1-of-11, I think was the final tally on third down. I get you were turning the game over to your defense and special teams and stuff like that, but what do you think was going on wrong-wise for being unable to convert third downs?

LINCOLN RILEY: Well, the biggest problem was most of them were long yardage, so we didn't put ourselves in very many great situations there. A combination of things. We had a couple of times where we had some stuff open and didn't protect good. Had a couple of competitive plays that we thought we had real opportunities to make that we didn't make. Couple of times I had bad calls. I mean, I don't know. I'll answer that one tomorrow. I'm going to enjoy being the champ today.

Q. Last year you guys had to have a stop from the defense on a big fourth-down play against Baylor. This year, as well, the defense had to step up to make another big stop. At what point during the season last year and through this year did you start to feel like you could see the culture of the defense kind of gaining that confidence to where they feel like they can go out there and make those type of big plays in those big moments?

LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I mean, I think you just continue to evaluate that each year, and not necessarily just with games, but just in the games within the game and the matchups and just the flow of the game. That's where I've always gotten into people, this and that about analytics, and yeah, analytics are great, but they can't measure all those things all the time and you got to know your team.

So, and I'll say this, though, our team, we have been in now I guess four of these here, our team's had a history of playing pretty darn well defensively in all four of those. We certainly did it again tonight or today. But to win championship football games you got to play pretty good defense and we have been able do it in the past ones and certainly did it again today.

Q. Offense is so fascinating. You're struggling to get drives going in the second half, but then when you need one at the end of the game you get one. I mean, can you take us through what was going through your mind in the second half?

LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I mean, it was kind of battling some frustration on my part because we felt like we were close to so many good things in the second half and just -- and they're a good defense, obviously. We know that. They're a very good defense. And you're going to get some. We made some big plays, but again, we had some opportunities that we were just a tick off and in the second half and when you're a tick off against a good group it's going to make things hard and then you continue to put yourself in long-yardage situations, it's not there. But it's always difficult. I don't care who you're playing.

But I think there were still continued belief. We knew we were going to have to go score again to win the game. There was still continued belief and obviously got the boost from the kickoff return and had a really nice drive there. Obviously, I think had a really good chance to catch that last ball and finish it off right there.

But, no, we hung in there. We battled. We got to get better there. There's no question about it. I would have felt like that if we had scored 62. I mean, it's just you always feel like you can get better and, but found a way to do enough to get it done.

Q. It was a little bit of a rough start for the Big 12. Some losses to Sun Belt teams. You got off to the 0-2 conference start. But at the end of the day, America seemed to love Iowa State. They showed up well today. You beat them. Do you think this was a good sort of a good presentation for the Big 12 as a whole?

LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, absolutely. And then I think people need to make sure and educate themselves on why a lot of those things happened early in the season. I mean, you take this team that we played, you take Kansas State, you take us early, we were sitting there playing with depleted rosters when a lot of people either weren't playing or were postponing/canceling games. And honestly, those three teams you mention all right there would have been well within their rights to postpone or cancel some of those early games, and we didn't do it because we were trying to get a season in. So that's part of it.

Those are good football teams, but there's no way Iowa State loses that first game if they have got the personnel and there's no way that Kansas State loses that first game if they have the personnel, in my opinion. I don't want to say no way. I don't want to have disrespect to Arkansas State and Louisiana. I don't want to say no way, but a lot less likely.

So we were in a hole ourselves obviously early in the season with personnel as well. So, no, that was a good football team, man, that team right there that we played. Quarterback, third year going at it. Really, I mean, those are NFL-level tight ends, receivers. Obviously the back's good, the defense really super experienced. I mean, that's probably, that's definitely one of the best teams that we have played in a championship game in all the years. They're easily, easily right up there at the top of the best and most complete teams that we have played.

So, no, I thought for the Big 12 to get the games in that we did, have a great championship game, it was a heck of a finish.

Q. I'm just curious, you guys got to 11 turnovers in the last three games -- or last five games, sorry, which is at your two takeaway average. What, the takeaways equal victories mindset that you guys have had. I know it's really kind of simple, but it seems like it's paid off for you down the stretch?

LINCOLN RILEY: Well, it has. I would just say we capitalized on the opportunities and we created more opportunities. And a lot of credit goes to the front and how disruptive that we have been there. We did another good job today with on [Breece] Hall, only 83 yards, 3.4 carry for him was huge. We especially did a good job on him in the second half. Made them a little bit more one dimensional, which we have been able to do with some teams.

And then when you can get pressure like we can, you're going to have opportunities. And then our secondaries, our linebackers, we've made some great plays on the ball this year. Just we've created more opportunities and we have taken advantage of them and it's been obviously a difference-maker for our team.

Q. You're 10 games in now. If you were to make a report card for Spencer Rattler through 10 games, how would you grade it and how do you think he did today?

LINCOLN RILEY: I thought he probably played his best game of the year today. I thought he was poised. I thought he did a great job in the scramble situations, threw some elite throws. I thought he made good decisions with the ball, really. I mean, he was in the right place a lot. I mean he, his eyes were where he was supposed to be. He went where he was supposed to go. Really, a big, big portion of the day.

And Iowa State, as we knew they probably would, showed us some different looks and I thought he handled it well. These are big moments. I mean, you go win a four overtimer in the Red River game, you come here and play like he did and win the Big 12 championship here, I mean, these are big moments for a young guy and he's certainly not afraid of them. He's going to, he's got so much room to grow and he's going to get, have a chance to really get better if he'll keep his head down and keep working. But for a redshirt freshman, this is a pretty darn good start.

Q. The whole league played a lot better defense this year. I wonder if that's a one-year aberration or is that a growing trend? And especially with y'all, y'all seemed to be getting more balanced every year.

LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it doesn't surprise me, just with some of the quality of coaches that have come into this league. I think we've got some really good defensive coordinators, some really difficult schemes. I think the quality of defensive linemen in this league has, in my opinion, gone up.

I feel like early in the league there were times where there were a couple really good defensive linemen here and there but not everybody had them. Whereas now, I can't really remember many teams this year where we didn't go in having a really solid if not a whole lot of respect, a solid amount or even more of respect for the opposition's defensive line. So, and this was one of those groups here today.

So I think that's been a big part of it. And no, you're right, it's really, to me, two years in a row that defenses have really, really been strong. You got several of the top defenses in the country in this league right now.

Q. I want to ask you about it because all the fans were talking about it, your players were talking about it. What were your thoughts when you first saw the All-Big 12 team? Was there some disappointment? Was there anger? Did you think maybe there was some gamesmanship involved there?

LINCOLN RILEY: I'm glad they did it. Whoever did it, I need to send them a little gift basket.

Q. Well, it's all the other coaches, right?

LINCOLN RILEY: It was. I appreciate all those guys. No, it was, no, yeah, we were -- it's not why we do it, but we were pissed. Disappointed for our players because we had some guys that no doubt should have been on that. If you looked at an All-Big 12 team it's amazing we won the game.

So that's a -- I know it was a weird year and some guys didn't play some games and this and that, but yeah, you got the best defense in the league here that doesn't have one guy on the first team, that, that, we missed the boat there.

But at the end of the day, you give us a choice between All-Big 12 teams and this trophy, I know what each and every one of us will choose. And I know the kind of players we have in there and there's a lot of first-team, all-league and even more players in that locker room right now.

Q. Need to ask about Chandler Morris and the touchdown. It looked like a trick play or at least a change of pace. What was that like preparing that play and then getting it executed like that?

LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, just one of those that worked and it was a big moment. You never know if one like that you're even, you never know how the game will go, if you'll even have an opportunity, and then here we go, all of a sudden right there on the first drive we, you know, we get it in a good spot to run it -- no, I had a lot of confidence in him. I had confidence in him and in Seth. I mean, here you are in the Big 12 Championship game at AT&T Stadium, first drive and you pop a true freshman quarterback and a true freshman tailback in there and they go in and execute it well.

So I'm just trying to take advantage of every skill set on our roster and those guys were ready for the moment.

Q. Trejan Bridges played in the game. Did you get the same kind of emotional boost that you got when Rhamondre and Perkins were allowed to play? Did you get that with Trejan last night or the day before?

LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah. No, they, the guys were thrilled. We found out actually about halfway through our practice yesterday morning, so we didn't -- we weren't able to do a whole lot with him. I guess, I don't know, I guess something magically changed at the NCAA where now all of a sudden he was going to be eligible, so I, who, I had -- I had no rhyme or reason. I was thrilled he was able to play. It was great for us, but man, I was just so excited for that kid, man, just to be able to go out there and play and get all this behind him. And, yeah, it was good to have him in there. He's going to have a chance to be a big part of our offense certainly going forward, but that was, the kid's, the team loves Trejan, we all do, and yeah, great to have him back, just again I know we talked about it, now the great thing is we don't have to talk about it any more. But what those kids have been through it was hard and especially for him. So meant a lot to have him back.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297