Sept. 22, 2009
HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
“Our guys are excited. We’re excited as a staff. Yesterday, as we had our lifting times, guys came as early as 6 a.m. The number of students that were around the building, cheering, as the players came in was great. When I was walking into work, everyone was hollering and screaming. It’s great for the university, it’s great for our students and it’s great for these guys because I don’t think it’s anything they’ve seen since they’ve been here. We really appreciate that as team, as a staff, as players. We appreciate all of the support.
“We also appreciate it if everyone Saturday night will be as loud as humanly possible. If anyone watched the game in Austin last Saturday, (Texas) Tech had a little problem early in the game with some false-start penalties. The crowd can really affect how teams on the road communicate. This is my public plea to have a little help from our fans. If they can create a little more noise, we would appreciate it. We’re looking forward to the sell in our own place. The amount of excitement and enthusiasm in the city and on our campus can only help us.
“This is a great time and a great opportunity for us. We have 12 opportunities this season and what we do with them is up to us. It’s about how well we play. As I said two weeks ago, we’re going to prepare the same way we did last week. We’ll worry about what we do, and the coaches will give the players a good plan. If we go out, execute it and play as well as we can play, we will successful. We’re going to have to do that this week because this is a really good week.
“What I saw in Austin last week, I was hoping I didn’t see. I saw a quarterback who is 6 feet 5 inches tall and 220 pounds that could stand in there and take a hit. He can throw the ball on the field with a little bit stronger arm than Graham (Harrell). He can throw the ball to the wide field and for some good throws inside. He can move a team in a very hostile environment.
“They had five different receivers with over five catches in the game. They spread the ball out really well. The average of their offensive line is right at 6-6. They have two guards at 6 feet, 7 inches. This is a big, big offensive team. We have our work cut out for us defensively just with how they do things with the number of people they spread the ball around to. They have a quick running back, which adds another dimension too.
“They might not have Michael Crabtree, which everybody would like, but defensively they have five guys who know what they’re doing. Offensively, they’re able to move the ball. Defensively is where a lot of people are not talking about them. They have eight tackles for loss against Texas. Texas did not score an offensive touchdown in the first half, which is pretty good defense.
“Statistically, right now they are 22nd in the country nationally and totaling in defense 268 yards a game. That’s counting last week’s game, so that’s pretty good defense against anyone let alone against one of the top teams in the country.
“They’re playing hard and being extremely physical. They are taking some chances to get behind, disrupt and create some negative yardage plays and get people off schedule. Plus, they have the speed to make up for it.
“We have a tremendous challenge Saturday night. For us, it’s another great opportunity for us to be at home and to be on stage in a game that’s meaningful.”
On how they are preparing to play Texas Tech:
“For us, we knew about this game three months ago so we’re preparing the same way we prepared the first week. We’re fine as long as we judge ourselves based on what we do day to day and not on what everyone else is telling us, good or bad. As long as we deal with ourselves, we’ll be great.”
On preparing for Tech’s defense based on how they performed against Texas:
“They’ve played plenty of different games over the past few years. I think it’s just their intensity level and how they play. They’ve always played hard and Ruffin McNeill has done a great job ever since he’s taken over. He takes some chances and tries to get you off schedule and sometimes it’s sound and sometimes it’s unsound. It’s only unsound if it doesn’t work, if you can’t figure out where the hole is. If it’s unsound and it works, it’s a really good blitz. That’s all part of the cat-and-mouse game that goes on every Saturday.”
On playing a team that tries to slow the pace of the game:
“I don’t know if that’s the case. I didn’t see Oklahoma State try to slow the game down. They had 77 plays. Tech had 80 or 82 against Texas. We want to be in the 80s. I don’t know what effect it will have except if it will be like the Oklahoma State game where there were some tired guys in the fourth quarter offensively and defensively.”
On expecting Saturday to be a high scoring game:
“People tend to think that. People thought that when we went to Stillwater (Okla.). Somehow when we play, people bring that up. That’s all I heard about that game – could we outscore them? We played decent defense against Oklahoma State. Our defense didn’t get enough credit for that game.”
On the hype about the team:
“We have 10 games left. We have a bunch of goals we haven’t gotten to. For our fans, for our city and for our alumni this is huge deal. We couldn’t be more excited about the sellout, the national recognition and everything else that makes us proud. For us, we can’t be jumping up and down and going nuts and then when something bad happens, we can’t cry. We have a long season to go.”
On what he learned about his team in Stillwater:
“I learned that we can win especially in a game like that. That’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned. After that third quarter, our team regrouped and made things happen. Everyone talks about the lucky bounce to score, but no one talks about the three balls we knocked down to win the game. We had our hands on more footballs defensively, and it was the first game since I’ve been here (in 2008) that was a real contest. We drew some confidence from what happened in Fort Worth. That was a true team win.”
On the No. 1 aspect for the team this weekend:
“Play well. We have to play with intensity because they are a hard-playing team. We’ve been playing hard and the things we’ve been talking about every week; playing hard and playing smart. This means eliminating penalties and turnovers in addition to being physical. That’s it; we can’t worry about all of that other stuff. We come out every week, give them a plan, go out and play hard.”
On Offensive Coordinator Dana Holgorsen:
“He’s done a great job. It’s evident by the numbers put up last year with Case (Keenum) leading the country in total offense last year. He’s done a great job with implementing offense and fine-tuning it. We left a lot out there last year. We worked hard in the off-season, and we gelled. We really didn’t have a running back established. We came into a situation with a quarterback controversy, the running back did a transfer and receivers that we didn’t have, supposedly, to run the offense. Coming from that he did a great job.”
JUNIOR QUARTERBACK Case Keenum
On the Tech Defense:
“Their defense is very talented; they play extremely hard; it’s going to be a big challenge for us and will be one of the best defenses we have played so far.”
On preparation for the game:
“We are going to do everything the same; prepare the same way, watch the same amount of film and have the same practice schedule this week. We have had some time off last week, but we wanted to stay focused and stay sharp mentally, so it was more of a bye week than an off week.
‘It’s nice just to focus on ourselves; there are a lot of other things going on and a big atmosphere, but we need to just worry about doing our job; and everything else will take care of itself. We can’t control all of those things and we don’t try; we just practice hard and go out there Saturday and play hard.”
On students lining up:
“I heard they were lining up the night before, and a lot of people are excited about Cougar football, which is awesome. I’m really excited for the game and for all the fans and students that are going to be there, hopefully they come early and are really loud for us.”
On Taylor Potts:
“I used to play basketball with him a little bit, I’ve known him a while, but we are more acquaintances than friends. It’s really good for Abilene that both quarterbacks are from there; a lot of my high school goes to Texas Tech and I’m looking forward to playing against some people I know.”
On the Texas Tech defense:
Their defense is very talented. I think they have a plethora of very talented players and they play extremely hard. They’re probably the toughest defense we have faced yet. I’m looking forward to the challenge. They are very sound and don’t make very many miscues. They do a very good job of being in the right place in the right time and capitalize on your mistakes. We need to focus and execute. It’ll be helpful to convert some third downs, and string some drives together and to get some points on the board.”
On his teammates:
“My job is to get the ball out of my hands and into my teammates, and they do a great job. The offensive line does an incredible job blocking for the skill players. These guys are a lot of fun to watch with the ball in their hands.”
SENIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Carl Barnett
On school spirit:
“You used to always see people on campus wearing Texas Tech and A&M clothing, but now you’re starting to see people wear UH clothing, so to bring that school spirit and pride back is a really good thing, and it helps the team a lot to see our fans backing us up and that they want to be at the game.”
On the importance of the game:
“It’s a big game because of what we are trying to do right now, but we have played a lot of big games before, for example, the Conference Championship game and the OSU game a while back.”
“Just to win as many games as we can, to win the Conference Championship, the Bowl game and to finish the season on a good note.
“We are trying to take every game one by one and will just try to win the next game. You can’t see the future; you just have to play the game that is right in front of you, take it day by day, and do what we need to, to get to the overall goal.
On the crowd:
“The crowd noise won’t affect our game. We’ve been practicing our silent count and we ran it up at Oklahoma State. So if the crowd becomes loud, we won’t have any problems.”
On the homefield crowd:
“We need to ride our crowd. We want them to be loud as they can and cheer. We need to take their energy and use it to our advantage. It’s going to be a late game so we’re going to need them to help keep us fired up.”
SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER Tyron Carrier
On the Tech Game:
“We only need to worry about ourselves; it will always come down to who is going to make the mistakes, but if we concentrate on ourselves, everything should be ok.”
SENIOR CORNERBACK Carson Blackmon
On the Texas Tech running game:
“Their running backs are very shifty and quick. They operate very well in space so we need to be good when we tackle them in the open field.”
On school spirit:
“We haven’t seen anything like this since the Conference Championship week. It’s good to have it back but we still have to win the game. And we still have a long season left. It’s a very exciting opportunity. Being ranked makes it more exciting but I didn’t think it would be this big. I’m looking forward to playing it.”
On Taylor Potts:
“We have to be ready for anything. He has a very strong arm and can fit that ball into very tight places. We have to be on edge and ready for every play.”
SENIOR LINEBACKER Matt Nicholson
On the fan support:
“It’s been great. It’s been great lately with all this fan support, and we’re very thankful for it. We really want to end it with a win.
On Taylor Potts:
“He’s a very talented quarterback. If we can get some pressure on him and get some coverage on the back end, it’ll make things more difficult on him.”
On the Texas Tech offense:
“You really have to be perfect against an offense like this. You can’t have busted coverage. A lot of their scores come from busted coverage. You have to respect every receiver and be very solid in your coverage.”
On the Texas Tech running game:
“They have a few good running backs and a big offensive line. They run behind those big guys. They don’t get as much credit for their running game as they should.”
SENIOR LINEBACKER CJ CAVNESS
On the expectations for Houston:
“I think expectations are high for us. Our performance has got everyone excited but it’s important that we stay focused on our goals. We need to stay focused on us and not let the hype get into our heads.”
On the buzz around campus:
“It’s hard not to listen to what my fellow classmates say to me in class. But you have to stay focused on what it takes to win. You just have to say thank you and move on. I acknowledge what is happening is exciting, and it will make for good memories later but our goals are much bigger than where we are right now.”
On staying focused:
“The coaches remind us a lot. They’re still getting onto us when we mess up. It’s the same. We don’t get special treatment just because we beat Oklahoma State. That’s not what it’s all about. Our goal wasn’t to just beat Oklahoma State, it’s bigger than that.”
On playing a team like Oklahoma State:
“We knew how good they (Oklahoma State) were. But it’s not about how good they are; it’s about how good we are and how well we play. We can’t worry about who we’re playing, we just have to worry about us.”
On the atmosphere at Oklahoma State:
“It was a great atmosphere. You just need to channel that energy and use it for yourself. We set the tone early defensively and I think that was important to win the game. We’re not going to back down because of someone’s reputation, we’re setting our own reputation.”