On playing Baker Mayfield again: I don’t know if it’s that part of it. They’re a different ball club. Obviously, we’re at a different institution. They’re taking a lot of pride in running the football. Baker gets a lot of credit, but they’re big and they’re physical up front. Obviously, it starts with that. As much as everybody loves Baker’s numbers, their backs run really, really hard and they’re big up front. That will be the start of it. They’re just very efficient right now. I don’t know exactly what the number is. I thought it knew it. It’s probably in the eight yards per play range. Do the math. If you’re running 70 or 80 plays, that’s a lot of yards. And they’re being really efficient, too.
On Iowa State’s ability to shut OU down in the second half: Sometimes you just get into games that way. That’s the unique thing about this league. That’s what I’m learning about. Every offense is explosive. If you’re down 14 or down 17, just keep fighting because you never know what’s going to happen. That game just turned out the way it turned out. In my opinion, they still did a great job throughout that game.
On Iowa State’s approach: They (rushed three) at times, and then at times they came after him. It was just momentum swung in that game. It’s just one of those deals where a couple of plays here and there go a different way. No different than us this year.
On if it helps that Oklahoma’s offense is very similar to their 2016 offense: It does, but they’re saying the same thing about us, too. The thing that’s kind of unique with this is we’re very similar defensively. They see it every day. There’s a lot of similarities in terms of what we run and what they run. Offensively, there’s some decent carryover for what they do and what we do. It’ll be interesting. Nobody’s fooling anybody, I can tell you that part of it. It’s going to come down to who is the most physical and who can execute the best.
On Oklahoma’s RBs: They keep them fresh. That’s normal stuff. If you go up-tempo, that’s the advantage offensively. For us, normally your best guys are your best guys. Through good recruiting, you can roll some guys in there, but from a running back standpoint, if you go fast and get somebody tired and are able to bring in fast and powerful guys every other play, fresh legs out there versus a tired bunch, you can break a lot of tackles and make some explosive plays.
On Trey Sermon: To me, that kid is going to be an absolute freak show when he gets older. Not that he is not right now as a freshman that’s doing some of the stuff that he’s doing. Golly, he’s impressive.
On Mark Andrews: They’re mainly using him split out. He creates some major matchup issues. They put him out as a slot the majority of the time. He’ll go down once in a while. If you want to go out in nickel, there’s a matchup issue right there with a smaller guy matching up with him. Then when you want to play man to man, you’ve got to get a bigger bodied safety to be able to match up. It’s not like you can’t match his speed, it’s just when the ball goes up he’s so big that it’s hard to go up with him, and he can box you out, too. That’s what’s in the NFL now. You’ve got to go out and you’ve got to recruit a bigger bodied nickel to be able to play against that stuff because they will move him on the outside and put the true slot receiver inside of him. It’s a unique system. He’s a weapon the way that they’re using him.
On what he learned about his defense from the film: Some of the stuff I was a little disappointed on was getting off of blocks and some of the QB run stuff. I was disappointed in where I think there’s at times, especially inside, we ran underneath blocks. I didn’t think we were real stout up front toward that. The one thing I was proud of was we had that stretch going into it where we finished the game. I think when you get into a league like this, and if you think you’re going to blow everybody out and do all that stuff, every game is going to go down. It’s like a NBA game. There’s so many swings in this thing, and then when it gets to the fourth quarter, it’s crunch time. That’s where I thought we did a decent job of making some plays toward the end of the game to at least give ourselves a chance to win.
On giving up explosive plays: That’s schematical. To me, we’re not devising defenses that let a guy go untouched for 80 yards. That’s a breakdown.
On Brandon Jones: I think from my standpoint, because of his speed, I’d like to see a little bit more out of him, but I also understand his youth. He didn’t play a ton last year, so I’m reasonable with that. He’s a guy that we’re counting on just because he has big speed. Where is he at? I’m happy with him. Like any other coach would say, you probably want more. For putting him in where he wasn’t the starter and letting him be in the starting role, I’m really happy with him.
On any players who have exceeded expectations through one quarter of the year: I think Charles (Omenihu) has. I don’t know how much I expected Charles to do. I think Charles is playing some really solid ball. Chris Nelson is another guy. Holton (Hill) and DeShon (Elliott) I think are guys there. Even Malik (Jefferson) has made his strides. I know we all thought what Malik was last year, but I think he’s made some strides forward. There are some guys we talked about beforehand we just need to see. Guys like Kris (Boyd) and Malcolm (Roach) that I’d like to see a little bit more just based on the stuff I’ve seen in the past. I’ve seen Malcolm take over games before. I’ve seen Kris be the lockdown guy that we all think he is. There’s a couple guys here and there I want to see more out of.
On if he has stuff saved up for this game: We have a big package. We have 60-something calls in this package. What we try to do is teach it all in the spring, then it’s kind of an encyclopedia. We don’t have to sit there. We’re not going to go in a meeting room and just absolutely say ‘hey, this is a new something’ and try to teach it to the kids. Everything that we call they have at least repped or heard of, so when we go into it and say ‘hey, this would be really good,’ because most of the time it comes down to what you saw on film that they’re struggling with. So it’s ‘oh man, they’re struggling with that. We need to get that. That’s the same as this call, so let’s put this call in there.’ That’s the one thing that we’re trying not to do. I think anytime you come into a new place, when you start to go into create land, that’s the first sign to a kid that maybe you’re starting to panic a little bit, or it’s something that’s like I’ve told you guys beforehand, if we’re in the shoe business and all of a sudden we start coming in with hats, it’s like ‘where are we going with this thing?’ We try to be very mindful of that.
On how Malik Jefferson has grown this year: I just think it is the hardness standpoint. I think he carries himself a different way. I think beforehand if he would get banged up a little bit he would dip his head down and make sure everybody knew he was hurt. I think there is less of that and it is where he is taking pride in the physicality part. You saw the one play he made on the one option, those are like the five percenters we talked about here where it’s like ‘that’s great you did it once. I need three of those a game.’ You do that, then to me you are a difference maker to go along with doing your job at a high level. Those are the things that I have seen the most out of him. Just the way he is carrying himself and the respect he is starting to get with his teammates. I think his teammates look at him and when he says something, because he is a very, very intelligent guy, and a lot of the stuff he says is really, really good stuff in terms of leadership, but the first part you have to do is by action. I’m going to follow you Malik, when I see you be physical, when you are going reckless to the football. That will speak more than his words. I think that is what he is starting to do. When he is starting to talk now, people are like ‘okay, let’s listen.’ That’s probably the biggest thing I have seen him improve at. When he sees something that he doesn’t like, whether it is in the practice field or in a meeting room, he is going to say something, and those kids will respond to it.
On Malcolm Roach’s role in the pass rush and on the team: I don’t think it’s necessarily that, because that’s collectively when we get out in third down, and we’re doing a decent job in third down. It’s not necessarily that. I think it’s the first and second down stuff that I’d like to see him, because I saw it last year. There’s the one thing you’ve got to understand in that package on third down is that’s its own system. Everybody’s going to get their little piece. It’s not necessarily we’re setting up this guy, it’s the whole thing. He will have a couple of sacks in that. Some of the stuff that is out there, he’s just working to contain. I’m talking about first and second down where I’ve seen him come off the edge and sack quarterbacks. I’ve seen him disengage, make plays in the backfield, that’s what we need to see a little bit more of.
On what keeps him up at night: Part of it is I just want practice habits, being pros, and meetings, understanding that it is not collectively coming in here for the two hours a day and saying that’s it. You can’t be great. I just want our guys to think about all the stuff they have learned in their life, if they had just did the allotted time to do that they would never be great. So they’ve done things on their own, they have taken care of their bodies, and there is so much that goes into being great players. That’s, to me, coaching more than anything else. So if Malik thinks he can come in this building for the hour meeting that he has and the two hours that he has on the practice field and be a great one, then I think that is delusional. He has to do is understand that he has to go down and get treatment, put on the film. Not that he’s not, I’m just bringing him up as an example. I would like to see collectively our group, especially the first 22 guys and the first and second team, do that at a high level. I think sometimes you get into it where it is like ‘hey Orlando is going to give me all the answers to the test. We will be fine.’ It doesn’t work that way. It is what you do collectively on your own kind of behind the scenes when nobody knows. Then you find out ‘man, that’s a great play and ask how’d you do that’ and it’s because they watched tape.
On if the guys know the playbook and are just practicing their craft: Yes. Like I said before, I’m very mindful of going in there and saying ‘okay, here’s four or five different things’ because I am realistic. We are not in our second year like we’re at Houston where we can be very, very multiple, and kids understand exactly what we want. We have to be mindful of that. There’s so many fundamental, technique, eye discipline stuff that is on the film right now, and if you start changing stuff it will get massively worse. We won’t be able to get lined up, and we’ll give them plays. That is the biggest thing I don’t want us to do is go out there, not know how to line up, and here’s seven points, here’s 14, here’s 21. The next thing you know we’ve no chance of winning the ball game.
On if teams are picking on PJ Locke: I don’t know if they’re picking on him. I think teams are trying to run the ball at him. PJ has to be a little bit stouter in terms of what he’s doing. I wouldn’t necessarily say picking on him.
On not letting Baker Mayfield extend plays: Yeah absolutely. We started that in the last couple of days. We would have 7-on-7 skelly and it would be like ‘hey scramble around. Scramble around again. Stay in your windows. All of a sudden he’s going to run the ball, all of a sudden he’s going to draw you in and throw the ball.’ Absolutely, that’s what he does great. He keeps his head downfield. He can run and throw with the best of them. So he’s a major, major issue to a lot of defenses.
On if he’s saving his trick plays for this week: Ha. I don’t know. We’ll see. I can’t give all my secrets away.
On if he can take anything from his experience against OU with tOSU last season: I think they’re a different team, obviously, this year than last year. They’re obviously more experienced. I grew up around Mike (Stoops) and Bob (Stoops). I’ve known them my whole life. They’re well coached defensively, a very athletic, physical team. Very multiple so it’s going to be quite a challenge for our guys to go out there and execute at a really high level.
On his evaluation of Sam Ehlinger’s performance: Sam played well. Better than well, I thought he played very well. He made a lot of plays. He played with a lot of passion. That’s the one thing, a lot of juice. He brings that to the offense and I really like that. He’s done that. He still has to fix a few things. I told him “You played fast.” That’s the part I liked. He made the decision and he lived with it, whether it was right or wrong. He probably had some throws that he could have threw instead of running, but he played fast and he made plays. I don’t want to take that away from him. I want him to continue to do that because when guys play hard they put their foot in the ground as coach Herman says, and go really, really hard, usually good things happen.
On if he likes his quarterback running over players: Sure. Absolutely love that. The toughest guy on your team has got to be the quarterback. That’s the nature of your football team. Whether he likes it or any quarterback around the country likes it or not, they’re the leader because it says QB next to their name. When he can play like that, be a physical player and presence, and play with a lot of juice and play really fast, usually the offense is probably doing the same.
On fear of physical ramifications for Sam running hard: No, I’m good. He’s a tough kid. He’s, what is he, almost 230. 225 to 230. He’s almost as big as Chris Warren.
On balance he wants from Sam in deciding to run the football: There isn’t. You can over coach. That’s one of the biggest thing coaches do that’s wrong is we over coach. That’s our job, and we think we’ve got to critique every single play. I want him to play fast. That’s what I want him to do. My job is to to continue to coach him. He’s a young pup and he’s learning. He’s seeing multiple fronts and coverages, things probably for the first time in his life. He is going to make some mistakes. I want him to protect the football, move the offense, and play really fast.
On if Ehlinger is now the guy: Well, at this point he’s played really well. Again, I’m not down on Shane (Buechele’s) play. I don’t think that Shane has played bad. I think right now Sam’s the hot name. I know all the media and fans and everybody feels that he’s the guy. Our job is to win football games with the best guy out there. Whoever that is, week to week, day to day, game to game, is going to be the guy. Whoever moves the football is going to play.
On if he’s told Ehlinger he is the starter: We haven’t said anything to anybody yet.
On how he feels about the running backs: I like the guys. I really do think that it’s a running back by committee. There’s strength that each one of those guys possess, but I think all of them can do everything. There’s nobody that can’t catch a pass, but some guys catch it better than others. All of them can block, some guys block better than others. All of them can run inside zone, some of them can run it better than others. Our job is we continue to grow and see these guys. We try to put the best players in the best position at the best times for the best plays, and continue to develop their weaknesses, so to speak, so they can play all the time. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing with them.
On the RB rotation and if they don’t believe in giving backs a drive: Not necessarily. We’ve talked in here many, many times, Stan Drayton is a great football coach and I trust him. He knows. He knows what his guys are good at and what they’re not good at. He knows when they need a break, when they don’t need a break. He knows that group. He can look in their eyes and see that this guy is ready. This guy, maybe he’s not. Maybe he needs a play. Whoever he puts in there, I trust 100 percent.
On the performance of his young offensive line: I thought they played really well, really well. I was really proud of the tackles. I thought for two young guys going out there was a bright spot. I thought Derek (Kerstetter’s) been playing really well for us, and Denzel (Okafor) probably played his best game by far from all things gathered. The inside guys have been pretty solid all year long. That group is coming together. Just like we are on offense, we’re starting to slowly come together. It’s a young group. We are continuing to improve. That’s the goal. Just get better and play really hard and protect the football.
On if he thought the OL was capable of that performance: I do. That’s why they’re here at the University of Texas. They’re here. They’ve been coached. They’ve played. Derek (Warehime) gets his guys ready to play now, and they play really hard. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in that group up there.
On confidence level in Terrell Cuney: I’m not worried about it. He just played in double overtime. Last I looked, I think they were the number one defense heading into the game in the Big 12.
On if Armanti Foreman has improved his practice habits: He’s had a good week, as a lot of our guys have. They’re starting to feel a bit of good confidence, and some good things are starting to happen. They’re starting to see the fruits of their labor. When I work hard, I play well. When I play well, I play more. When I play more and work hard and good things are happening, we win games and move the football. There’s a direct correlation between practicing hard, preparing hard, and having success. That success also means more playing time. I think some guys, teaching the old dog new tricks, sometimes it takes a little longer for them. Young guys it doesn’t. I believe he’s on the right track. We love Armanti. I think he saw it and sees it. He’s attacking it right now.
On how much confidence his offense gained from KSU: I think a lot. I think that Iowa State was twofold. I think there was a part of the different defensive structure, because we played hesitant. USC, that last quarter and a half, we didn’t play hesitant. Kansas State, we didn’t play hesitant. You kind of ask yourself why, and the only thing you can think about at that time is maybe they weren’t sure what to do. It wasn’t awful, it was the penalties and turnovers and things like that. If we don’t hurt ourselves, we can be pretty good. That’s been the case all year hurting ourselves with penalties and turnovers. Any coach will stand up here and tell you that.
On what needs to change to be more efficient in red zone: That’s a good question. I don’t know. It was a couple of different things that took place. Everybody kind of has a little bit different package in the red zone. You’ve got to figure them out a little bit. Once we figured out what was going on there, we were a little more efficient down there. We probably need to do a better job. I need to do a better job of having an all-purpose plan in place as opposed to very specific ‘they’re going to do this,’ then you get down there and they don’t, and then you’re like ‘now what, where do you go.’ You go to the drawing board on the sideline and come up with a few things, then you’re able to be efficient from there. Early on we were.