Tulsa head coach Todd Graham discussed the Oklahoma Sooners with the media.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Tulsa Head Coach Todd Graham met with the media at
his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. Coach
Graham discussed his team and Friday night's game against
Oklahoma at Skelly Field.
"Naturally we've moving onto the
next week. We're excited about the opportunity this
week to play what I think is one of the best teams
in the country. We're looking forward to the opportunity."
How has the offensive line been at protecting Paul
during the first two games and what kind of challenge
will they face against OU on Friday?
by far, the best football team we'll play all year
long. This is a team that's playing with a lot of confidence
right now. They're definitely a big, big challenge
for us. We need to make sure that we protect him. If
we give Paul time, we know what the result of that
will be. I think that's going to be a big key in the
game. They have some quality defensive linemen. They
cannot be all over Paul with a four-man pass rush.
That's going to be a challenge and we're going to have
to work hard to do that and keep them off-balanced.
"We're not worried about anything else than us getting
better. We've got a good football team. We've got to
get better. We did not play our best game against BYU.
We can play better than we played against BYU. We have
lots of things to work on. I like the fact that, when
you talk about the line against Louisiana-Monroe, that
they've improved dramatically in game two. What we
have to do is improve dramatically in game three and,
on down the line, until you get to 13 or 14 games and
then you're doing good. That's what we're after."
Coach, your motor was really going against BYU.
Do you feel that much more energy this week?
We worked just about all night long. This is what you
go into coaching for, to have an opportunity like we're
going to have on Friday night. I'm not going to have
to give any motivational speeches to my players. We
went out and practiced (Sunday) night after playing
a very physical game and we had 100 percent of our
kids in practice and fired up and ready to go and not
one of them was thinking about BYU.
"It's not hard, with the kids from our roster that
come from this state and from Texas, especially the
Dallas area, to get excited and motivated to play OU.
It's a team they have a lot of respect for. The kids
are excited. This is what you work for, to have an
opportunity like this. You go into the game with them
being undefeated and us being undefeated. Not many
people are giving us a chance, but, hey, that's where
we want to be."
Do you sense any intimidation in playing a team
"No. I know Coach Stoops. His brother Mike and I are
good friends. I've known Bob for quite a few years
and I have quite a bit of respect for their program.
Our kids have quite a bit respect for their program,
but I think in 2005 when we went up there that people
were surprised and so were we. That was my impression
of it. People were surprised that we were in the game
in the fourth quarter and so were we. I think our kids
learned something from that.
"You take the great football powers - take Union
and Jenks - and a lot of times when they win is in
pre-game warmups because of the logo on the side of
the helmet. I think it takes being able to go out there
and feel success. The biggest comment I heard at halftime
in 2005 was, 'hey, we can play with these guys.' I
think our guys know we can play with them. I think
we gained a whole lot of confidence on Saturday night.
"You can say what you want to say. Naturally I give
the standard answers on a lot of things, but last week
you asked me a lot if we talked about the year before
and when you go out and get boat-raced at Provo, Utah
-- you think that's not at the back of the kid's minds?
You're crazy. To be able to go out the next game and
beat them, it gains a lot of confidence.
"It was indicative by Paul's comment, who said it
was his biggest win here, even bigger than Fresno State.
I don't know about that, but I think it was a big,
big win. Our kids, we're focused on our goals. I actually
believe the stuff I tell you. We have an opportunity
to do something great this year and we're focused on
two things - that's being a champion in Conference
USA and bowl champions. We'd like to be that ultimate
one and, to do that, you have to go undefeated.
"We're putting our undefeated record on the line
against the best team in the country, in my opinion.
I can tell you that, me personally, I was a lot more
nervous playing Louisiana-Monroe because we're supposed
to win that one. I kind of like this game. I'm having
fun with this game. Our guys are getting ready to play.
We have to play our very best football game to be successful
and that's what we intend on doing."
Can you compare OU and BYU?
"That's hard to do. BYU has a great football team and
I think BYU will win the Mountain West. They are a
very, very good football team. They are very big and
physical. I think they can play with just about anyone
in the country.
"Oklahoma is one of those five schools
in the country that are extremely established. They're
very powerful. They're very big. The difference, in
looking at film, from 2005 is the defense. This is
an OU defense. It's always one of the best in the country
and appears to be the same way. They're very athletic
in the back end and very physical in the front.
difference to me is the wideouts and the offensive
line. They had Adrian Peterson the last time we played,
and I don't know if they've dropped off at running
back. From what I watched last night and this morning,
they have quality running backs. The dramatic improvement
that I've seen is in their offensive line and wide
receivers. (Malcolm) Kelley and (Juaquin) Iglesias,.
They didn't have that in 2005.
"They're sound. They
just really do things sound and are very powerful.
If I'm playing a team that's throwing the ball all
over the place, there's things you can do. You can
scheme against it a little bit. If teams are lining
up and running smooth over your rear, I haven't figured
that out in 20 years how to fix that. That's what they
try to do to people and that's what they're going to
try to do to us. We have to get ready for another dogfight."
Can you compare Paul and Sam Bradford?
"That would be hard to do. I'm biased because I work
with Paul every day. He's a guy that is making me a
pretty good living right now. I'm pretty happy with
the guy I've got, but I'm very impressed with Sam Bradford
on film. He's come in as a freshman and has handled
the chores. He has an unbelievable cast around him
and he does a good job of managing the game. He doesn't
look real emotional. One of the things we looked at
in 2005 is that we could rattle (Rhett) Bomar a little
bit. We'll see. I'll be able to compare them more on
Can Malcolm Kelley play at the next level?
"He's pretty good. He's as good a wideout, as far as
a big and physical. He's definitely a guy that's a
go-deep guy and goes to get the ball. If he stays healthy,
he's going to have a successful career."
Did you vote Oklahoma No. 1?
"I'm not one of the coaches that vote. But if I did,
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- Quotes courtesy Tulsa Athletics Media Relations