Tracking Mack: Oct. 31
Opening statement: Practice has been great this week. You get to the end of the season and you still have a lot to play for and the guys get excited about it. We've had great games with Oklahoma State and both teams have a lot out there on the line and they know it's going to be an exciting game. And they know they'll have a surge because we've been behind the last three out of four games that we've played them. It's always fun to play up there (in Stillwater, Okla.) because those fans really love their team and they yell at you and the stands are really close to you, and our guys have always enjoyed this challenge. It's been fun to watch these guys practice this week.
On Sergio Kindle: The first thing you notice about Sergio is his size and his speed and his ability to hit you. He is a force and he is a great addition to our kick teams. He covers those kickoffs as good as anybody I've ever seen. The coaches that we've played against talk about him to their players in film, and now he's starting to play a lot more and he's getting more comfortable with his coverages. He's a great blitzer, he's a guy that can get to the quarterback, and we think he's got a great future.
On pressuring Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson: Well, they gave up five sacks against Georgia in their opening game and they've given up two since, so they decided that they weren't going to give up sacks. They're running the ball so well, they're rushing for 256 yards (per game), they're fifth in the country, they're running a lot of play-action off their option stuff and off their zone and zone-read stuff like we are, so the two offenses mirror each other a lot with the type of plays that we run. It's been very, very difficult to get any pressure on him, so I wouldn't think that we pressure him that much this weekend.
On the flexibility of Oklahoma State's offense: Well they've got such a good running game that people have tried to play the running game and bring the safeties up closer, they've tried to play some man-coverage, and then (Oklahoma State) has as good of a wide receiving corps as there is in the country. So they're forcing you to stop the run, they're forcing you to put people around the line of scrimmage and play man (coverage) and then when you play man, they blister you with a deep throw.
On Oklahoma State's pass defense: I think it's very similar to what we did last year. They're only giving up 122 yards rushing, so they've decided that they're a little bit undersized, they're going to blitz 49 percent of the time, they're going to use twist and they're going to commit enough people to the running game to make you throw it to beat them. They're giving up 25 points a game and they're scoring 35 points a game, but they're stopping the run and forcing people to throw and hoping that you'll have a tough time in the passing game. It's very similar to what Nebraska tried to do last weekend.
On moving past the slow-start in conference play: I was bragging on them some Monday because I think they've now earned the right to get back in the mix with some things, and this weekend is huge for them. If we can beat Oklahoma State on the road, then you come back and have (Texas) Tech here and then you go to (Texas) A&M, if this bunch can end up with three more wins, then they deserve to be back in the mix, and that's still out there to be seen. Oklahoma State has won four or five (games) in a row at home now, they're running up big numbers, they beat Kansas State who beat us, so it will be a really, really tough game for us. But this bunch has put themselves back in the mix after two disappointing losses, and I'm proud of them. I like the way they're fighting, and I think they'll go up there and compete as hard as they can at Oklahoma State.
On special teams play on kickoff and punt returns: I think we've been okay, and we've been good in them, and we've talked a lot about that in the last couple of weeks. We feel like we're a block a way from a kickoff return or a punt return and we haven't blocked a punt recently, so we have a lot of things in that area to improve. Usually going on the road you have to be aggressive, you've got to take care of the football and you have to win the kicking game. If you go back to the Kansas State game, which is the worst game that we've played, if we don't have the two kicking game mistakes, we're still in that ballgame in the fourth quarter with a chance to win. I think we're doing good in the kicking game, we're winning the kicking game each week, but we're not dominating.