Tracking Mack: October 25
General comments: We had a good practice today. The guys came back out, and they are really tired and beaten up after the seventh game of the year. That is pretty typical this time of year. They just got through with midterms, and they do go to school and have a lot of things on their minds. They are excited about being number one [in the BCS]. We have discussed, since the start of the year, that at the end, we need to be one or two. Obviously, to play in the national championship, it doesn't really matter which. Our guys aren't foolish. Southern California has won two national championships and 29 straight games. We feel like they are the defending national champs until somebody beats them. They have the crown. They are the best team in right now in college football. And being number one right now is exciting. We understand that number one or two, again, really doesn't matter. It really didn't change our guys' mentality at all. We are still in the position that we need to be in as we continue to play. But we need to win [the remaining games] so we can win our conference championship and be in the mix for the last game of the year. To do that, we have to beat Oklahoma State.
On being ranked No. 1 vs. No. 2: I think the good thing about where we are right now is that Texas and USC are separated from everybody else. The best thing about the ratings this week is that they put us as the clear best two teams in the country right now, with the combination of the BCS. That separation is good, since, three weeks ago, people were talking about us possibly getting jumped [in the rankings].
This team has played a hard schedule so far and they have answered the bell every time. I think it is a team that if we went out, all the numbers would say we are one of the best two teams in the country. Likewise, we need to play well. That is something that is important.
On his feelings about this Saturday's Oklahoma State game: This is their homecoming, which is always special to young people. I don't know when the last time was that the number one team in the nation came into Stillwater. But that will make this game even more important to them than if we were number two. It still would have been important if we were number two. They have got a motivating factor that they were ahead of us 35-7 last year and got beat. I am sure that will be something the coaches will point to. When you have lost a couple of tough games in a row, what better medicine than to beat the number one team in the country to save your year and get back on track? We feel like we will see the most motivated team that Oklahoma State will have had this year.
On preparations for Oklahoma State: Our guys have got to get rid of the tiredness and the soreness. That was a really physical game on Saturday. Our defense was out there for about 95 plays, so that is a lot of legwork in that heat on Saturday. But they will be excited about playing on Saturday. I am happy that it is another national TV game, and I feel like they will embrace that 55-degree weather.
On last season's comeback win over Oklahoma State: It was great. It was one of the best games I have ever been around as a head coach. To know that we could do it, to see the guys not get down, was great. I thought our fans were wonderful; they never quit. As much as our fans have been beaten up over the years about being bad fans, they gave us an ovation leaving the field [at halftime] when we were down 35-14, and that has not happened many times around here. It thought the fans were a big part of it.
We have won 14 games in a row, and I thought that one was a spearhead. We probably thought too much about Texas Tech going into this one last year, which is something we should realize now. But when we got in trouble, the guys really flipped the switch and I thought we played the best second half that we have played since I have been here.
On physically recovering from the Texas Tech game: It just takes them a little bit longer, after a really physical game, to get going again on Tuesday. We had a slow start today but they practiced well at the end. The other part of it is that you are having to get through with one and get the next one going. When you take Mondays off, Tuesday is a big part of that. We feel like the other thing about Tuesdays that is very physical is that they have to look at all of the different changes. You go from a four and five wide-out, no huddle offense throwing it 64 times, to a power, pro-style offense that uses a lot of play-action and power plays. So your defense, especially, has to change the mentality of everything that you are doing.
On Quan Cosby: We are excited about Quan. The fact that he is 22 years old helps his maturity and has made him a faster learner. He was in summer school and was able to be out there with the guys. He has been a quarterback. He has not played football for four years and he has never played wide receiver. He had a little setback with the shoulder [soreness] against Rice. We are pleased with his progress and I think he can be an impact player here at the end of the season.
On the emergence of key players: There is an old saying in coaching that you either get better or you get worse; you never stay the same. To be a great team at the end of the year, a lot of guys have to get better and make plays. That is what this team has done. We are still a work in progress, because I don't feel that we have played our best game yet. There is still work to do.