The following is a transcript of Coach Bobby Petrino’s press conference on Monday, September 26, 2011, in anticipation of the Southwest Classic with Texas A&M.
Coach Petrino’s Opening Comments:
Well, we are looking forward to tomorrow getting here so we can get out on the practice field and get to work for this game Saturday. It’s going to be another good challenge for us. You watch Texas A&M on video they are a very good football team. They do a really nice job with their defensive package. They made it hard on us last year. We did move the ball well. We did get it into the end zone when we needed to. They made it hard on us. They’re doing a good job on offense. We’re going to have to stop a really good running back and a quarterback that can make a lot of plays both with his arm and his feet being able to run. I just look forward to getting out on the practice field. We need to get better. Offensively, we need to get better at doing what we do. Running the ball, play action, throwing it and being consistent, not operating at a helter skelter pace, really being consistent in how we operate. It will be a fun week. I’m looking forward to it. We always enjoy going to Dallas. It’s a great venue for our players and their families and all of our recruits from Texas, and certainly looking forward to getting up early and playing an early game on Saturday.
Question: Injury wise, several guys came out of the game the other day. Where are you at?
Coach Petrino: Well, Tenarius Wright is out. He broke his arm, had surgery yesterday morning, approximately 4-6 weeks. I’m encouraged that everybody else will be available to play. Jake ran last night, much improved but whether that …as the week goes on, we’ll know more.
Question: A&M joining the conference add anything to this game at all?
Coach Petrino: I don’t think so. We were going to play them anyway. We’re excited that they are coming into the conference. I think that’s good for us. It’s good for our recruiting. There’s been a number of guys in the last three or four years that we didn’t get to come here. They grew up watching Big 12 football and maybe they chose a different school because they were use to it so much. All of the publicity, exposure everything that we get now with A&M coming in the State of Texas helps us a lot.
Question: Would you like to see this game be played in Dallas or would you like to see it become a home-and-home?
Coach Petrino: I don’t think that’s up to me. I’m worried about this game this weekend, and we can think about that when the football season’s over with. That is the one thing I’ve always wondered is why don’t we just do all this stuff after football? I don’t get why we’re doing it in the middle of the football season, but obviously, nobody cares what I think.
Question: You said after the game the other day that you guys have some hard to make this week. Could you elaborate on what you were… ?
Coach Petrino: I think really understanding, what are we doing on offense. What are we operating on offense? How are we going to block on the offensive front? How are we going to protect the quarterback better? Those type of things about… I still don’t feel good about what it is we do after four weeks into the season, so that’s what I was talking about. What’s our identity? What are we going to hang our hat on offensively? How are we going to find a way to run the ball to take some pressure off the passing game?
Question: Does that include maybe possible personnel changes on the line and coaching maybe call different plays?
Coach Petrino: I mean it includes everything. It includes everything. The sign that we have up, “Every Single Thing Matters.” So every single thing will be evaluated.
Question: You have that hanging up from the get-go, or did that just pop up this week? “Every single thing matters” did you all just put that up or… ?
Coach Petrino: No that’s been years, years ago.
Question: The two defensive ends that came in… they struggled a little bit but didn’t play too bad.
Coach Petrino: No, I thought they played pretty well. Trey Flowers, we were talking on Friday, “What’s our plan for him?” We felt like if we could get 8, 10, 12 good plays out of him and keep other guys fresh, that would be a good game. He was in there 30 something plus snaps, and he played extremely hard. He didn’t do everything right but his effort and his strength helped us. He held the point. I wish he would have made a nice catch. That would have helped, too, but he’s playing with a broken finger. We’ve got to get that thing healed up and ready to go. Chris Smith worked hard, played hard. He does a good job at rushing the passer, and he did tire. He did wear down so we’ve got to find some help there, some guys that we can rotate in.
Question: Offensively are you talking about, what do you mean like simplifying some things?
Coach Petrino: I am not necessarily talking about simplifying, no. I think we’re about as simple as we can be right now. We need to say this is what we do. Let’s go practice this week and get better at it.
Question: Watching Tyler take those shots that he took the other day, besides protection, does he need to get rid of the ball quicker?
Coach Petrino: Yeah, it’s everything. It’s protection. It’s the timing of the routes. It’s the offensive line one on one sometimes. It’s getting the ball out of your hand in time, sometimes. It’s trust in your protection and not moving in the pocket. So that’s what I’m talking about where we get everything working in sync.
Question: Is there a fine line between getting rid of it, or staying in there to make the throw and to take the shot at the same time?
Coach Petrino: That’s what courage is all about as a quarterback. It’s to be able to sit there, understand what’s coming, stand in there and throw a touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton and get hit in the chin. That’s part of being a quarterback. That’s what you have to do. That’s being courageous as a quarterback. There’s other times where everything’s broke down… I got to get rid of the ball. The ball comes out on time when somebody’s open. It’s all part of playing the position.
Question: You were asked about last week the state of the team, you said, “We’re alright guys” this and that. Do you still feel like you’re alright? How do you feel about their ability to rebound?
Coach Petrino: We’re going to find out, really, I think. I think we went down there and got beat in all three phases, and that always challenges you about how you’re going to come back. What our attitude’s going to be. What our work ethic is going to be. I’m excited to get to practice tomorrow and see that… see how our players, see what their attitude is going to be, see who’s going to over the leadership and provide the energy that we need in practice.
Question: Chris Smith, does he start in Tank’s place?
Coach Petrino: I mean he started Saturday. It’s kind of early to say who will start for us but he was a starter last Saturday.
Question: (inaudible) What do you think of the tackles?
Coach Petrino: I think they learned a lot. They battled. Their sets were better. They got our hands where they needed to be. We made a couple of errors, assignment errors still, but we battled.
Question: You mentioned Texas A&M’s defensive scheme. I think they are leading the country in sacks right now. What is it that they implemented last year that helped them there?
Coach Petrino: Well they brought in the 3-4 pressure package. It’s like the game the other night. They blitzed the first four plays of the game. That’s what they do. They’re going to try to show one way, bring it the other, bring an extra guy, something he’s been doing for a long time— their defensive coordinator. He did a great job with it at Air Force Academy and brought it there last year. They are all experienced. They’re pretty much, not all the same guys we played against last year. They’re missing a nose that played real well for them, a defensive end that played real well for them against us. They’re missing one of their inside linebackers, but a lot of the same guys, and obviously they’re missing a great outside linebacker that was a tremendous player for them, but they rotate a lot of guys in, so most of the guys we see on video at some point played against us last year.
Question: You said they got a lot better, have they gotten better in the second part of the year?
Coach Petrino: Yeah, they are executing it pretty well. They do a good job. You know they played a team last week that threw the ball well, got a lot of completions against them. They run a lot of plays. They got 106 plays there on video from Oklahoma State’s offense so they were going at a heck of a pace.
Question: You’ve seen Tanneyhill obviously he brings a different dimension then the last couple of years, but what has he brought to them?
Coach Petrino: First he’s brought a calming confident effect to their offense. When we played them a year ago, they were a little out of sync. I think their quarterback was frustrated, and he threw the ball away a lot against us, and he was not going to take a sack and just chucked it out of bounds a number of times. That was one of the things he was doing and since Tannehill has been in there, they’ve been very calm. He operates the offense. He can make plays running the ball which is a concern… a very good athlete had a real nice touchdown run the other night, and he’s doing what they’re asking him to do in the passing game and he can throw the ball.
Question: What about Isaac and Tramain? They both came out. Are they day-to-day?
Coach Petrino: No, Isaac should be alright I think. Tramain just came out. We just made a change at the position. He didn’t get injured.
Coach Petrino: That’s the key is to be able to slow down their running game. Put them behind the sticks. Be successful on first down. I think that is the number 1 key for us in defending A&M.
Question: Coach, what did you think about your linebacker play?
Coach Petrino: Well, they had a lot of production and I thought Highsmith did a really nice job of running to the football. I think he had like 8 tackles and a sack. We had some missed tackles, though, too. We had some missed tackles at linebacker which hurt us a couple of times, but I thought they played well as a group.