Once again, the Oklahoma Sooners managed to rally from a slow start and pull out a tough win on Saturday rallying from a 4th quarter deficit to knock off the Kansas Jayhawks 35-23 to remain undefeated on the season at 8-0.
After another nail-biting win, Sooner players and coaches discusses what went well and what went wrong in Lawrence.
Here are the best quotes from Saturday's postgame press conference:
"I give our team credit for rising up. I don’t care who you’re playing, if you don’t seize momentum early in a road football game, you’re gonna be in for a dogfight. I think Kansas deserves a lot of credit. They made some really nice plays. They were very efficient offensively, obviously gave us trouble, and had a good plan. For this team, we’ve kind of figured out our personality. Our personality is we can finish with the best of them, but it’s frustrating for us with how we’ve put ourselves in position especially not playing our best early in games where we have to finish. We have to finish all the times but when we need to finish well to win games. We’re going to keep battling with it. I think we had a good visit in there right after the game. I think our guys know what we need to do. It’s time for us to start closing the gaps and playing more consistent."
— Lincoln Riley
"The toughest opponent that we’ve got right now is ourselves and we beat ourselves too much. It’s bad football, and we did it on all three sides certainly in the first half. Again, ended up being a crazy low-possession deal and if you get into those, if you don’t play well in those possessions, just going to have limited opportunities on both sides. So kind of similar to the halves that we had kind of early in the year, kind of midyear. A ton of resiliency to bounce back — people think that’s just going to happen, that ain’t easy. I don’t care who you’re playing, where you’re playing, if you’re not playing well, and you’re getting beat, to be able to flip it is not easy, especially not easy on the road. I loved the way we finish and damn, if we’ll ever figure out how to play a complete game, with the way this team can finish, we can have something. It’s going to be on us and how bad do we want to become that complete team. The way we finish is elite but we’re just going to have to bring the rest of it around pretty quick."
— Lincoln Riley
"Well and that's just it. Why aren't we seeing that more? I think as opposed to saying, credit goes to us for making that comment, we constantly ... no one talks about it more. We've gotta do maybe less talking and more actual doing. Where are those snaps? Where are those gang tackles with guys stripping at the football. What are we doing wrong as a coaching staff to not convince guys of the impact of those plays? We keep seeing the impact once we do do that, so why is that not happening more? Maybe the second guy to the pile might be the first guy, but just all the way down to the ground, dying for that football, and the impact, you wanna get off the field? Make a play. Are you just gonna hope the opponent messes up? Key (Lawrence) stepped up. If I think about the guys that have stepped up over the recent weeks, that list is very short, which means we've gotta do a better job of preparing the guys."
— Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch on Key Lawrence's forced fumble
“You never want to end the game thinking ‘I wish I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.’ Honestly, you’re just leaving money out there on the field. You want to make the most of those opportunities, especially with the high-powered offense that we have and knowing what they’re capable of. You want to get the ball in their hands as much as possible with us getting stops, not by letting the opposing team score. It’s just something we’ve got to correct and something we’ve got to continue to take pride in. The best thing is that we have another chance to do it and prove it next week.”
— Defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas
"I just think we have to play better. Kind of like we said last week. That secondary gets better when you start pressuring the quarterback. That secondary gets better when you handle the zone run game with an athletic quarterback better than we did. The secondary gets better where you aren’t constantly having penalties that put them in plus situations. We know we’ve got to continue to get better there. We’re looking for that right lineup that we feel like is going to give us a spark, especially with so many guys out. Kind of like I said before, it will be a combination of the guys who have been getting all these reps need to take some jumps and need to improve. And then, obviously, we hope to be able to get a number of these guys back pretty quickly."
— Lincoln Riley on the secondary
"Honestly, we just played down to our opponent. We tried to fight for our standard to play hard for four quarters. We didn’t do that today. We just have to go back to the grind Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday for practice and just work and strive for that."
— Running back Kennedy Brooks
"I mean we’ve been down before, so it was nothing new for us. We just came out there focused on us and focused on finishing and doing what we can to come out with a win.
We just have to come out there and play us, play to our standards in the second half and see what happens. That’s what we did."
"You know, I don’t really have an excuse. We just came out kind of lackadaisical and that’s something that I want to address as a captain. So, no excuses. It just kind of happened."
— Tight end/h-back Jeremiah Hall
"I can’t attribute it to one thing. I need to find a way as a leader to bring out the urgency that my guys have in the second half — the second half of this game, the second half of the Texas game, the second half of most of the games that the played — and do a better job of bringing that to the first half. No specific reason, like I said before, but we’re gonna work on it."
— Hall on the slow starts
“I think that ultimately it’s just getting the right guys out there at the right time. I was walking to the locker room with (Alex) Grinch after the game. It was just a brief conversation, and the final words were that we’re going to figure it out. We’re going to get it fixed. The inconsistency is a big disappointing part because we see what we’re capable of doing when we get three-and-outs or stops when we need them. But it feels like when the game starts or if the game is a possession or two in our favor or something like that, it seems like that’s when the inconsistency started coming. But it feels like whenever we need a stop or whenever we need a big play, that’s when we need it the most. That’s just the mindset we cannot have if we want to be that elite team that we have the aspirations of being.”
— Thomas on improving consistency
"There's a theme forming over the last few weeks. An inconsistent unit. Who's fault is that? It's all of ours, obviously, specifically, me. It does come down to practice. That's where you attack those issues. It comes down to the plan, making sure from a coaching staff standpoint that you're asking them to do the things that put them in a situation they can be most successful. It's also having an awareness of every extra hat you put in the box, it limits you from a coverage standpoint, and making sure that we're taking care of some young DBs. That's kinda some of the issues that you're faced with defensively. In the end, what we need to do, is we have to find ways to make plays. Maybe a little guilty as a playcaller and trying to call some things to initiate that play, maybe that is the inappropriate thing to do. But trying somehow, someway to get that TFL that we've been so known for, as one of the better defenses against the run really over the last year or so, to see where we find ourselves today is extremely disappointing. We've all gotta take responsibility for it."
"He didn’t play very good in the first half. I thought more than anything there was a little bit of frustration. We had low possessions and weren’t playing well, especially the interception. We had a back standing wide open in the flat. He has to be a little bit more composed there. He handled the second half well. He understood what we were doing. He made some important plays. I thought he was pretty calm in the second half."
— Lincoln Riley on Caleb Williams