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Coaches Comments From Monday
October 06, 2008
By Wendell Barnhouse
Big 12 Correspondent

Coach Art Briles was asked about No. 1 Oklahoma and if his team exposed any weaknesses during Saturday's game. "We certainly didn't expose any chinks in the armor, if there are any," he said. "They didn't disappoint." ... Freshman quarterback Robert Griffin had a solid game running but struggled passing against the Sooners' defense. "I'm not worried about his confidence," Briles said. "But we don't look at it individually. As a team, we've got to keep improving. We're just grinding and trying to get better." ... Baylor plays host to Iowa State Saturday. "They're a tough opponent, they've got a good thing going there," Briles said. "Every team in the Big 12 is good. We'll have our hands full, again."

Coach Dan Hawkins was impressed with Texas, the team that beat the Buffaloes 38-14 Saturday: "Texas is a really, really good football team," he said. "They're a fun team to watch. (Texas quarterback) Colt McCoy is playing with a lot of confidence. He's playing at full throttle and is very, very efficient." ... Colorado plays at Kansas Saturday. "There are a lot of great teams in the Big 12," Hawkins said. "You have to have a thick skin to line up and get ready to play because there's another great QB or great team coming each week." The Big 12 has some of the best offensive teams while the Southeastern Conference is averaging the fewest points in that league's post-expansion history. "It's always been my philosophy you win with defense," Hawkins said. "Ultimately in some of those games you've got to run the football. Maybe when you're spectacular on offense, maybe you can counteract that."

The Cyclones are 2-3 but can make the case they could be 5-0. Their last two losses have come in overtime and by two points. "Eventually it becomes a downer and something you have to overcome," coach Gene Chizik said of coming close but not winning. "This is a resilient bunch. The character comes out when you really struggle. We have to find a way to win those close games." ... Iowa State had a 20-0 lead against Kansas and lost. The week before, the Cyclones rallied twice from 21-point deficits to force overtime at UNLV. "We stress every week that we have flashes of looking like a really good team," Chizik said. "What we haven't done is put together four quarters. In this league, you've got to be able to play a full game." ... Against Kansas, sophomore quarterback Austen Arnaud took every snap for the first time this season. "He's playing with confidence and comfortable executing the offense," Chizik said.

The Jayhawks' comeback from a 20-0 halftime deficit was sparked by running back Jake Sharp, who through the first four games had been inconsistent. His 67-yard touchdown reception early in the second half got Kansas going. "That sort of triggered the offense a little bit and got us back into the game," coach Mark Mangino said. "Iowa State made a mistake in coverage on the wheel route and he ran it perfectly." ... Sharp was KU's main running back in the second half. "We decided to keep him in the game, we only spelled him a few times," Mangino said. "He got into a rhythm, saw things, blocked well, ran well. We needed him to do that." ... Kansas plays host to Colorado and quarterback Cody Hawkins, who has 272 yards passing in the Buffs' last two games, both losses. "They've lost some people on the offensive line and that puts pressure on a quarterback," Mangino said. "We're starting two redshirt freshmen offensive linemen so we understand."

The Wildcats' inability to slow Texas Tech's offense was two-fold. Kansas State's offense had too many three and outs and the defense couldn't top the Red Raiders on third down. "Defense is the issue for us," coach Ron Prince said. "Improving our defense is Job One." ... Despite allowing 58 points, Prince believes that his defense was close to making a number of plays. "We were a step away from putting significant pressure on their quarterback (Graham Harrell) but a step is all he needs," Prince said. "We were a step away from making a play on the ball on a number of passes. At times there was a little hesitancy and really good teams take advantage of that." ... The Wildcats play at Texas A&M Saturday. Both teams lost their conference openers. "There's a sense of urgency about conference play," Prince said. "We haven't proven we can win on the road in the conference. We have to do a better job of that."

Coach Gary Pinkel said he talked with Nebraska officials Sunday about quarterback Chase Daniel's accusation that he was spit on by a Huskers player before Saturday's game. “And as far as I’m concerned from the University of Missouri’s standpoint, it’s a dead issue," Pinkel said. “I’m not going to comment on it.” ... Oklahoma State visits Missouri Saturday night. Both teams have game breakers in receivers/returners Dez Bryant (Cowboys) and Jeremy Maclin (Tigers). "(Oklahoma State) had a punt return for a touchdown against Texas A&M, special teams can change games," said Pinkel, whose team has not punted in its last two games. "The kicking game in any big game will have a significant impact on the outcome. That will be an issue." ... Missouri faces Oklahoma State after winning at Nebraska. The Tigers' next game is at Texas Oct. 18. Can such a stretch wear on a team? "We're fortunate enough that these games matter," Pinkel said. "You like to be in that arena. Our players understand the focus and intensity level you need every week.

Coach Bo Pelini said he had communicated with Missouri's coaching staff about the allegations that a Nebraska player spit on Tigers quarterback Chase Daniel before the game. "It was a lot of he said, he said," Pelini said. "I addressed it with the team and it's over." The Huskers tied a school record with 14 penalties against Missouri. The Huskers have been penalized 46 times in five games. The record for most penalties in a season is 89. "Some of the penalties are just ... I can't comment much on officiating," Pelini said. "We have to play with more discipline and that comes from me and the coaching staff." ... Linebacker Cody Glenn, who switched from running back in the off-season, was injured early in Saturday night's loss to Missouri. Pelini said that Glenn is "day to day." Pelini declined to say Glenn's loss hampered the Huskers' defense. "It hurts anytime to lose a good player," he said. "That didn't determine the outcome. We got outplayed and outcoached."

The No. 1 Sooners face Texas in the annual Red River Rivalry game. Both teams are 5-0 and ranked in the top five. "People have a misconception that just because you're excited you do well," coach Bob Stoops said. "You've got to manage that excitement. Everybody's different. Some individuals perform better when they're more excited, others need to calm down and think. These kinda games do rev you up but we don't count on that to win. We count on what we do and how we play." ... Texas has a new defensive coordinator in Will Muschamp. "He has definitely had an impact there, I think that's obvious to everybody," Stoops said. "But I don't want to slight any of the past defenses, they've had some really good defenses." ... After gaining just 25 yards rushing against TCU, Oklahoma had 217 yards against Baylor. "There was some growth there, overall we were more consistent finishing blocks," Stoops said. "But it's week to week, you face different styles of play. It's obvious in both those games that no matter how they tried to defend us we still had all kinds of opportunities throwing the ball."

The Cowboys are second nationally in rushing, averaging 315 yards per game with 20 rushing TDs. The next-closest Big 12 team is No. 17 Baylor. "We always want to run the football," coach Mike Gundy said. "We put in a lot of practice time running the ball. At times the defense doesn't give you the opportunity to run it and we try to be versatile enough to throw it." ... Cowboys quarterback Zac Robinson has attempted just 86 passes, fewest in the Big 12. ... Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin are play makers as receivers and punt returners. "Special teams are important every week," Gundy said. "Both of those guys are worthy of being compared to any play makers in the nation. They make a difference not only on offense but also on special teams. They're making a lot of plays."

Last year, Texas and Oklahoma lost their last games before their annual Red River Rivalry game in Dallas. In 2007, the Sooners lost a 21-point halftime lead at Colorado. The Longhorns had a 21-0 edge on Colorado at halftime Saturday night. "We told our team that Colorado would feel like they could have the same magic," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "It will be more fun with both teams 5-0 and playing at a high level." ... The Oklahoma-Texas rivalry has had its profile raised by the coaching tenures of Brown (11 years) and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (10 years). "It's hard to imagine a coach making it 10 years especially at high-profile programs like Texas and OU," Brown said. "Bob has done a super job there. He's done as good a job as any coach that has been there and you're talking about coaches like Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer."

Coach Mike Sherman said that the playing status of senior quarterback Stephen McGee (sprained shoulder) is still to be determined. Sherman said he would know more after Tuesday's practice. ... After facing Oklahoma State's offense, the Aggies face Kansas State Saturday. "Everybody has different nuances to their offenses," Sherman said. "The spread offense has taken over college football and that's new for me. But there are more differences, team to team, than you would think." ... Sherman assessed Jerrod Johnson's interceptions against Oklahoma State: "Sometimes he tried to aim it and the ball went a little askew, the ball was tipped and interceptions. You can't aim a football, you have to throw it." ... Sherman praised Oklahoma State's defense. "I was confident we could move the ball and at times we did," he said. "The interception returns for touchdowns were tipped balls. They were opportunistic. They were at the right place doing the right thing at the right time."

Coach Mike Leach on Nebraska, the Red Raiders' opponent Saturday: "Missouri had a few big plays on Nebraska and Nebraska unraveled here and there. I don’t think it changes the quality of athletes that Nebraska has, and some of the good things they have going on there. But I think they gave up some as they got frustrated." ... Leach on how history will view the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry during the Mack Brown-Bob Stoops eras: "The last nine years, Oklahoma as the best record in the Big 12, Texas has the second-best record and Texas Tech is third. I'm just trying to figure out how to beat those guys." ... Running backs Shannon Woods and Baron Batch have combined for 654 yards rushing and an average of 6.4 yards per carry. "We want to be the most productive in the country out of that position," Leach said. "Both of those guys are really competitive, versatile and they're complimenting each other's play."

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