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December 30, 2011

Bill Blankenship

G.J. Kinne

Dexter McCoil


BYU – 24
Tulsa – 21

TIM SIMMONS:  Coach Blankenship will make an opening statement and we'll ask each player to make a statement.  We have G.J. Kinne, and Dexter McCoil, the most outstanding player.
Coach Blankenship, go ahead and make an opening statement.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I think Coach Mendenhall and I talked all week back at the press conference about how balanced we thought these two teams were, how similar, what kind of battle we thought it would be.  We certainly fell on the wrong side of it at the end.
I could not be prouder of the men I get to lead.  So thankful I had this year with these seniors, the way they have battled every single game, I couldn't be more thankful or more proud.
We just came up a little short today.
DEXTER McCOIL:  I mean, it was a great game.  We came to win the game.  It didn't fall our way.  All we could do is look at this game, get better from it, learn from it, go in the off‑season hungry and just build from it, get better from it, grow as a team.
G.J. KINNE:  I'd like to start off by thanking the Armed Forces Bowl.  Had a great time.  A great bowl game to end as a senior.
Wish the game would have turned out a little better for us.  We have a great group of guys, a great group of coaches, but we just fell a little short today.
Give credit to Coach Mendenhall and the BYU Cougars.  They came to play as well.  They're a great team.  It's been a great experience, great three years for me here.  Best of luck to the Tulsa team next year.
TIM SIMMONS:  We'll open up the floor to questions.

Q.  G.J., this being your last game, what are your emotions right now?
G.J. KINNE:  I'm just kind of shocked right now.  Doesn't feel real.  I'm sure it will hit me later.
Right now I'm trying to cherish these last minutes with the guys, go back in the locker room.  Probably be the last time I see them for a while.

Q.  Coach, can you talk about that final drive by BYU.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Well, it was a situation where they had one timeout.  We had an opportunity a couple of times to stop.  I know Riley Nelson made a heck of a run on either third or fourth down when we had him wrapped down, he broke a tackle, got down.  We continued to battle.
It was kind of frenetic at the end, the tempo.  They had run out of timeouts, so we didn't want to stop the clock to try to give everybody a chance to regroup.
I just think they executed really well in a tough situation at the end.  Really good teams do that.  There's a reason they'd won nine games to this point.
I thought defensively we played really well the whole game.  I'm not frustrated at all with our defense.  I'd love to have those last two right before the half and the end of the game, but I thought we played very, very well defensively.

Q.  Coach, to continue on the defensive theme.  Even though BYU had the time of possession, your defense continued to come up with big play after big play.  Did you get the feeling once the offense got that final touchdown, that would be it?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I thought so.  I really felt like the way our defense was playing, we actually dropped a couple of interceptions, had some other opportunities.  I felt like we had a pretty good bead on them.
I thought Coach Guy and his staff did a great job of preparing our defense, giving us an opportunity to react well.
I thought we sputtered around a little bit defensively, no doubt about that.  There is a reason.  BYU is ranked as high as they are defensively, do a great job.  They had a couple wrinkles they threw at us, took us a while to get going.  Had some big plays.  Thought G.J., a couple great passes to Bernie might have been enough.
But that's why you play.  It comes down to the last drive so many times.  Again, hats off to BYU.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  He had a fade stop in the end zone.

Q.  Dexter and Coach, could you talk about how much you were concerned about Nelson's mobility?
DEXTER McCOIL:  We watched film.  We prepared for him.  We knew he was a good player.
But we never try to focus on the opposite team.  We always try to focus on what we can do to get better, what we can do as a defense to win the game.
We was prepared.  Obviously didn't go our way.  But we was prepared and ready for everything.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I felt like we really kind of controlled him.  He's really very good running the football.  I thought we controlled him for the most part.  We have a guy sitting here that has done that over and over again.  Great players make those kind of plays.
He ran out of some trouble on that last drive to keep his drive alive.  Again, I think you give him credit for that.

Q.  Did fatigue ever become a problem for the defense?  They were on the field almost 11 more minutes than you guys.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  The time might have felt that way.  But the number of snaps was not in excess.  There was a time where it looked like we might be a little tired.  50 something snaps.
I think certainly it makes a difference if our offense doesn't get the defense off the field a little longer by controlling some drives.  But I think we were doing all right.  That last drive, the frenetic pace of it, I think there was fatigue on both sides.  But that's what happens in this game.

Q.  G.J., didn't end the career the way you wanted to.  Can you still look back and find positives in the way this season went?
G.J. KINNE:  Yeah, I think so.  We had a lot of adversity early in the season, losing some guys, losing some big games.  For us to rattle off some big wins, get to a bowl I think was a great accomplishment for us this year.
There's definitely positives.  It was tough to end this way, but I think we had a great year.

Q.  Coach, fourth‑and‑one late outside your 10, did you think about going for it?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Not with the way our defense was playing.  I mean, there was a little instinct in me to want to do that, but I had a little more sense, especially the way our defense was playing.

Q.  Talk about the inability at times for the offense to get into a flow and missing Carter today.
G.J. KINNE:  Yeah, for sure.  We couldn't get in a rhythm.  We were at the beginning, then we just kind of got off, were dead for a couple quarters.  Bryan Burnham made a couple plays.  Anytime you don't have your best play‑maker, that hurts you.  Can't use that as an excuse.  We had guys that played his position.  Just didn't go our way.

Q.  Talk about the guys that stepped up today.
G.J. KINNE:  Nathan Largen, Michael Britton, two guys that came up and played in his position.  Trey Watts was very selfless, decided he was going to be able to play a couple snaps at three‑back to help us out.  He's a four man, so he didn't know the position that well.
Just one of those things when one of your best players goes down, it's hard to replace them.

Q.  You take a lot of pride in being able to run the football.  It was tough today.  Can you dissect what made it so difficult to generate a run game against BYU.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  The biggest thing I think is we couldn't win on first down enough.  The way you run the football, the way we've had success running the football was to get into that tempo and get into that rhythm, then hurry up and keep the ball.
We did that a couple of plays I think in the second quarter where we got some first downs, running some zone reads stuff, made some gains.
The biggest thing is you kind of get into that mode of, We have to try to move the ball another way.  We thought we could get on the perimeter with them.  They did a good job of defending it, adjusted some things well.
Again, we did not go into it thinking we'd run a lot interior.  They're just really big inside.  But we thought we could get more outside.  We weren't able to finish that off.

Q.  Dexter, most of the talk leading up to the game was on BYU's defense, how strong it was.  Did that give your defense more motivation going into the game?
DEXTER McCOIL:  Yeah, I mean, give us a lot of motivation 'cause Tulsa's offense is good and BYU's defense is good.  We had something to prove.  We came out, didn't go our way.  But we fought hard.  I'm proud to say I played defense today with the other guys that we had.

Q.  There was a couple times in this game where momentum shifted hard against you.  Talk about that.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  That's just the way football works.  You have opportunities that come your way.  How do you react from them?  We did a pretty good job of taking care of the football all day.  But we do muff a punt.  Actually I think he fielded it, then as he started to run probably got stripped.  I think it was ruled a muff.  Nevertheless, good teams take advantage of those things.
We had some opportunities.  Dex gets a great interception.  We got down in the red zone but we didn't finish up our drives, missed that field goal.  Ultimately, those are the kind of things that separate two teams when they're very close.

Q.  Coach, on the end of that first half, obviously the last play of the game will overshadow that, but how did you feel your team reacted after the mishaps at the end of the half?  Did you feel confident coming back out that your team would be able to survive that 30 seconds?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I was more concerned going up the tunnel than I was coming out of the tunnel.  Going up the tunnel, our guys were acting like we were behind.  I felt like they really rallied, got in there and talked to each other.  The coaches did a good job.
The adjustments were minimal.  It's important to understand they had not driven the ball at that point.  They made some plays there.  We just had to go back and dig deeper.  Defensively I thought we did a great job of that.
Offensively a lot of the things we did the first half, we just didn't execute as well.  Had a few drops, had a few misses.  Then I thought we played much better the second half.  But things were a little tighter.  We didn't have as many options to go to in the running game.

Q.  Coach, I want to ask about adjustments you were able to make in the second half.  BYU seemed to be coming at the very end of quarters and scoring.  What sort of adjustments did you have to make defensively and on offense?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Defensively we didn't have to make much.  I thought we played really reasonably good defense the whole game.  We had a post route get over the top.  I thought BYU took a great shot on a freshman corner when he came in the game, beat us on a post.  Other than that, I really thought we played pretty well defensively.
You never like to give up the big plays at the end.  But we were close in being able to get them off the field.
Again, I think it goes back to one team played and made those game‑winning plays at the end and you have to give them credit for that.

Q.  On the last play, Dexter and Coach, did you feel that your defense took that split second, What is he doing with the football?
DEXTER McCOIL:  Yeah, they caught us by surprise.  They caught everybody by surprise.  We didn't get to make the play we wanted.  I think we were pretty prepared for it.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Well, the play actually happened in the far corner.  I didn't see anybody stop and freeze.  What it looked like is we kept sinking to the back corner like it was a fade route after the faked spike.  Again, from the sideline looking off to the far corner, sometimes everybody has a better view than we have.

Q.  Coach, what did you tell the team in the locker room after this?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I told them I loved them.  I thanked them.  This has been an incredible run.  These guys endured a lot of adversity.  We talked about that.  That's a very cheap word sometimes.
If you're going into your senior year, you have a coaching change, that's really hard in the best of circumstances.  That's really hard.  We bring in a bunch of I think really good coaches, but still that's a really tough deal to go into going into your senior year.  Add to that we lose some of our players, have a tough schedule.  You can go through the list.  The adversity is real.
Yet the thing I told them is how proud I am.  They never, never flinched.  These guys never, never looked for a way out.  They just kept finding a way to fight back, and we did it all year.  I'm very, very proud of them.

Q.  Dexter, I know it's early to think about next year, but what can you gain from this year?
DEXTER McCOIL:  I can gain a lot.  We go back, watch the film.  Everybody is not perfect.  I'm not perfect.  I made mistakes today.  We all made mistakes.  You have to learn from mistakes and try not to make the same mistakes next year.
All you can do is keep a positive head, work harder.  We lost today, so that means we have to work harder to win the next bowl game next year.
That's all you can do is get better each and every day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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