{{ timeAgo('2022-09-20 13:10:00 -0500') }} football Edit

QUOTES + VIDEO: Chris Klieman speaks ahead of Oklahoma

Klieman’s opening remarks:

“Going back to Saturday and reviewing the film I really felt like we had a good week of preparation. Talking to the leaders and captains yesterday they thought that as well. Obviously, there are always a few things you wish you could do better Monday through Friday but the bottom line is we didn’t execute well enough really in all three phases. You start with the defense, we played really good at times on defense. In that game, we needed to play great. You’re going to get into low scoring games, you’re going to get into high scoring games. You’ve got to find ways to stop them in critical times. They beat us on explosive plays and unfortunately for us some of their explosive plays were on their scoring drives. So a little bit of that was probably our inability to tackle a few times and lose the cup as well as their quarterback made some big plays. Give him credit. Offensively, it’s pretty simple. We didn’t execute on third and fourth down. We had plays there and whether it was a missed block, whether it was a missed read, just not seeing whatever it was, the field, not seeing where the defenders were or what the pre-snap look was – all of a sudden it changed post-snap. We didn’t execute and you are not going to win any games doing what we did on third and fourth down. Then, probably the area that we need to excel the most in is special teams and I think we’ve got really good punt and kick returners. We didn’t give them an opportunity and part of that is them doing a good job of kicking it out of the end zone and us doing a better job of winning at the line of scrimmage to give Phillip (Brooks) a chance. It was both of those things. That phase we have to win. I appreciate our guys yesterday, if you asked our key special teams guys they would have said, ‘coach, we lost that phase because we typically win that phase.’ So an even matchup is a loss for us. Those are the things that we need to shore up this week. It is not panic time because we’re only three games into it, but we know it’s a time for us that we have to improve in all areas. I’m excited to see how the guys respond to adversity. We talked about the adversity that we’re facing and have faced it before. These guys need to attack it. We’ve got the right leadership, we’ve got the right guys in the locker room to get it done. We’ve just got to continue to improve.”


Klieman on what Tulane did to slow them down:

“The biggest thing they did physically is they tackled really well. Deuce didn’t have those breakaway runs that we had been accustomed to. Part of that is really good tackling and part of that is us not sustaining blocks. And then we had some guys open and we just didn’t see them. We’ve got to go through our progressions a little bit more and be patient with our progressions because some guys came open late. Sometimes guys came open late and there was a guy in our face and a couple times guys came open late and we maybe just didn’t see them. We’ve got to probably be less conservative and be more aggressive and that’s something we’ve got to keep pushing for.”


Klieman on Adrian Martinez being too conservative in trying to avoid turnovers:

“Yeah, I would say without question. (Collin Klein) and I had a long meeting and visit with Adrian about it and he would agree. He’s got to cut it loose and rip it. If a mistake is made, a mistake is made but be aggressive in what you see and what you believe. We’ve seen that in fall camp and now we’ve just got to see it on a Saturday. I know it’s there and I know he can do it. He doesn’t want to make a mistake – and I think we all know that – nobody wants to make the mistakes. But there’s times where you just have to let it rip and if something happens that’s a negative play we’ve got to bounce back and get a stop on defense. Shoot, we’re going to make some positive plays, too.”


On whether they need to alter the approach to the QB room:

“Not right now. That’s a better question for Collin (Klein) right now. We have talented players in that room, between Will and a young player in Jake Rubley we feel confident in that room. So, we’ll continue to distribute those reps.”


Klieman on how Martinez has responded following the loss:

“Well, I had my normal meeting with he and the QBs talking about some of the things that Oklahoma does defensively, them picking my brain and me picking their brain about looks and stuff. Collectively as an offense we had a really good practice yesterday. If there was one downfall from last week it might’ve been on Thursday too many balls were in the ground in some of our pass game stuff, and that wasn’t necessarily the QBs fault every time. Sometimes it was a drop, sometimes it was a miss-run route. But yesterday was really sharp offensively. Not many balls on the ground and it was a good day. Bouncing back I don’t think will be an issue for Adrian because he’s a really confident and mature kid.”


On Will Howard’s position and how he prepares week-to-week:

“Yes. Last week was an interesting week for Will because he missed some time for personal reasons but he was back and he was back late in the week last week. I don’t want to get into that but everything is OK. But we’re going to give him more reps than we did last week simply because he missed a couple of practices last week. We’ve got great confidence in Will and I think the team does as well and Jake is continuing to improve. Adrian is going to be the one, unquestioned one right now, but we’ll continue to distribute those reps on those other two guys as they improve because we also know – or I know for sure that in my last couple years here we’ve always gone to our No. 2 here because of injury.”


Klieman on going up against Brent Venables:

“It might be harder for Brent. It was always harder for me when I’d go against a school that I went to. I think there are some of those feelings like that, but it doesn’t matter. It’s about what happens on the field between the two teams and the players. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for Brent. He’s a phenomenal football coach, a great human being. I’ve had a chance to be around him a number of times. He’s a great football coach and it is a credit to him for waiting around for the right opportunity. He had plenty of opportunities when he was at Clemson under Dabo (Swinney), but he waited around for the right opportunity and he’s in a great situation.”


On the similarities to the 2020 schedule in going to OU after a disappointing loss:

“There’s not enough guys from 2020 (to take anything from it). That was such a strange year. There was no one in the stands at all and so no, some of our guys just being there will help but it’s going to be a different crowd this year.”


Klieman on the offensive line and whether a rotation is needed:

“We need to rotate more. I talked to Coach Riley about that. We need to get more guys in so that we don’t wear down on the o-line. It’s something that I know we need to do. Especially Carver (Willis). Carver needs to play. Dawson Delforge needs to play a little bit. We’ve got (Andrew) Leingang in there. And we can be better up front. We missed some things up front and Coach Riley and I agree. Some stunts and things Tulane did. I anticipate those guys seeing those things better and picking them up.”


On Nate Matlack and his status:

“He didn’t practice yesterday. Won’t practice today. It’s a lower body injury so we have not ruled him out, the medical staff has not ruled him out for this week. He’s going through progressions and he was running today so it’s not like he’s in a boot and can’t do anything. He is running today but we are not practicing him today. We’re still hopeful.”


Klieman on who has been more vocal this week:

“Just in general all the time Seth Porter is. Not necessarily this week but every week Seth Porter is. Nick Allen is. I mean those two guys have been tremendous leaders. (Hayden) Gillum has been a tremendous leader for us. Ekow (Boye-Doe) and Julius (Brents) have done a nice job. Josh (Hayes) has done a nice job. We’ve got a core group of guys on our leadership council that are not afraid to step up and say something. Our captains are obviously really really good but we’ve got, that’s a thing that I feel comfortable with. I know we’re going into a tough situation coming off a loss and going into Oklahoma who is a terrific football team. And we need to continue to improve and continue to get better and have an opportunity in the fourth quarter to win the game, but I like the makeup of our guys as far as maturity and as far as handling whether it’s a let down or whether it’s handling situations, we’ve got a good group of seniors and a good group of leaders.”


On safety play:

“We feel better (than before fall camp). We got some good snaps out of TJ (Smith). Last week TJ missed some time and missed a game. Him playing has helped us. We’ve split the snaps between Drake (Cheatum) and Cincere (Mason). Cincere has been banged up so he hasn’t been able to play to the level that I know he can play, and part of that is he’s been banged up, we need to continue to get him healthy but I know he’s not out. Josh has been really really good and Kobe (Savage) has been good. We’re continuing to work. VJ Payne is going to be a factor. I’m glad he got a chance to start that first game because as the season progresses he’s going to be a big factor.”


Klieman on quarterback confidence issues he’s dealt with before:

“I think you always have that when you have somebody that’s new to your program, new to a system. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been, having success in a situation and oftentimes it is a practice that leads to a game and maybe in this case it has to be a game that leads to the next one in a game because he’s got a world of ability. We all know it. He knows it and the players know it, so we’ve just gotta trust in what we’ve seen for the six-and-a-half or seven weeks that we’ve watched it at practice and let it rip because he’s got the talent.”


Klieman on wide receiver play and it being limited to the three starters:

“That was one of the philosophical changes that Coach Klein made, that I agreed with when he asked about it and made it. You can go all the way back to bowl prep. What had been in the past that CK asked me and said, ‘here’s what I’d like to do, I’d like to make it an earned thing,’ where I’m going to play the best guys unless they can’t and I agreed with his thought on that and wanted him to take the reigns and we did a great job of that in the bowl game and it was Landry and then Landry got hurt so Kade (Warner) became the guy. So there’s enough guys getting those reps, but the top three are going to be the top three because they’ve proven week-in and week-out at practice that they are the best ones. Those three kids, we have to find ways to get the ball to those guys. Malik (Knowles) didn’t get enough touches in my mind. Phillip (Brooks) didn’t get enough, Kade got a few and made plays when he had the opportunity. Those three guys along with Deuce (Vaughn) – and we know how people are defending Deuce – we’ve got to find a way to get the ball to those three guys.”


On RJ Garcia and where he fits in the receiving room:

“He’s probably the fourth or the fifth. And part of that is you look at the guys that are in front of him – and RJ is a really good player and RJ understands it. You look at the guys in front of him, there’s a lot of snaps of experience for those guys in front of him.”


Klieman on the blocking across the board against Tulane:

“It was just OK. It needs to be better. We could’ve popped some things and maybe we didn’t sustain a block. Give them credit. They got off blocks and when we did pop something maybe we didn’t hold the block at wide receiver or tight end. It’s just collectively we have to be better. When we’re good we’re getting double digit explosive plays and we had three. We’re not going to win very many games not being explosive with our run game and our pass game. Oftentimes, it’s been Deuce. Well when they shutdown Deuce we’ve got to push the ball down field or get the ball in space to those three kids that I mentioned so that they can make some things happen.”


On his thoughts on Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel:

“Tremendous football player. I watched their three games and followed him when he was at UCF. He’s very confident. He’s got a good arm. Very good athlete, he ran one for 61 yards against Nebraska. He’s a really good player.”


Klieman on replacing Shawn Robinson:

“You know, Desmond (Purnell) has made that situation a lot better. Let me address Shawn. Shawn was not kicked off this football team. Shawn left for personal reasons that he needed to step away. I’ve got really good respect for that young man. It was not a bad situation. I didn’t want that to seem like on Saturday night – because it just kind of blindsided me and that’s OK – that it was something that went wrong. Tremendous amount of respect for Shawn. He stepped away and I supported him stepping away. He was not kicked off. He hadn’t been with us for a while, so Des has taken all those reps for the last three-plus weeks and Des has done a really nice job. It’s been a great spell for Khalid (Duke). Des is one of our better special teams guys. He cares so much. He’s a Kansas kid that wants to do great. He’s just a redshirt freshman with a bright, bright future and I’m excited about Des’ progression.”


On DJ Giddens showing Saturday and potential for him to do more:

“Yeah, hopefully. We’ve got to have the ball more and we’ve got to do something with it so we’re getting some rhythm so we can get guys in and out. He had a lot of those reps when Deuce was out but that was a thing that was difficult for us in general offensively. We didn’t have great rhythm so it was hard for us to get sustained drives and that’s something that when we do do that I’m hoping DJ does become more a part of the offense. There’s nothing the kid can’t do. He catches the ball really well. He’s a downhill runner. He’s got speed on the edge. He’s a redshirt freshman as well that didn’t play last year that’s still learning and he’s learning from the best in the country in my mind in Deuce Vaughn. So, we’re excited about where he’s at and know he’s going to continue to improve.”


Klieman on the SAM linebacker position:

“Krew (Jackson) made a terrific play on kickoff. Got off a block, forced a guy out of bounds and made a big-time play. Krew has continued to improve. We’re just trying to flip him between SAM backer and WILL backer and he’s continuing to develop as a young player. I was excited for Krew because he made a big-time play on kickoff.”


Klieman on defensive changes this season:

“We did sub (SAM linebacker) out a little bit on Saturday and had Josh or VJ come in to look a little bit more like what we did last year with Reggie (Stubblefield). But from a pass rush point and a run-game standpoint you’re better off having that bigger body in and to what everybody can see, we’re the most thin at linebacker and especially when Nate was healthy, where we were probably best at depth-wise was defensive end. So there was no reason to have Khalid be a rotate guy with Felix (Anudike-Uzomah), Nate (Matlack), (Cody Stufflebean) and (Brendan) Mott. So we moved him and said this is what we’re going to do. That’s been something where we’ve tried to make sure we keep Khalid in the game. Josh Hayes is one of the best man coverage guys in the slot that I’ve ever been around. That helps us. That’s where we had Reggie last year and it helps us because Josh can do things at the position that Reggie did.”


On Khalid Duke’s development:

“We all know he missed most of fall camp so it’s been a process. But from game one to game three – and I’ve been talking to him and asking him – a, he’s finally starting to feel stronger because it’s been about a year since he got hurt. That’s typically what we’ve seen with that injury, it’s about a year. He’s feeling stronger and I know he played better in week two than he did in week one and better in week three than in week two.”


Klieman on the need to overcome adversity and specifically how Adrian Martinez does:

“Just watching him. Watching the way he works and does things after practice. The way he communicates with Coach Klein and the offensive guys. Once again, the guy has played a lot of football. He’s had adversity playing the game and he’s in a new environment. Let’s not forget he’s replacing a guy who was a pretty dang good football player in Skylar Thompson. And that’s not the easiest thing to do. So I want to let the kid breathe a little bit and encourage him to cut it loose. But it’s not the easiest situation to come into when you’ve missed all of spring ball and got to replace a guy who is on an NFL roster that was beloved here. The kid is a dude and Skylar was one of my favorite guys. He’s proven it at that next level. So I want to give Adrian that belief for starters – because I’ve seen it, CK has seen it and the team has seen it. I don’t want to put so much added pressure on him. I think he’s already had that at his previous place.”


On what the process is like to cut it loose offensively:

“Just not having that fear of failure. Sometimes you’re not going to be perfect. There’s not one of us in anything that we do professionally or as an athlete that you’re going to do perfect. He’s going to make some mistakes and that’s OK. We’ve got to let him be him and not anything other than himself. When he’s himself, from what we’ve seen he can be a really special talent. Let’s push him to be that.”


Klieman on what OU’s defense has changed:

“Quite a bit. There’s a lot of different defenses that they’ve played in three games and I think part of that is Brent trying to find out what his identity is and what is his best personnel. It’s hard to in the spring when you’re just trying to learn people’s names and then you get into fall camp and you’re trying to incorporate your new guys and see what you have, Brent knows more defense than almost everybody in the country because of his reputation and resumé, so I think he’s trying to put guys in different positions to see what they excel best in. He also understands that it’s a young season, it’s a long season and you want to make sure that you have a couple different answers if something goes awry. Whether that’s an injury, a performance or something. We’ve seen a lot of different looks in three games so we’re not quite sure what we’re going to get. That doesn’t surprise me just because I think he’s trying to put his team in the best position moving forward.”


On the tight end position:

“(Ben Sinnot and Sammy Wheeler) can play a lot of different things. Will Swanson is the third there and I think we need to see Will a little bit more, it just depends on if we’re going to be in a two tight end set or a one tight end set. If it’s two tight ends we need to see Will a little bit more, if it’s one then probably not – those guys can split it. Then, just based on the 21 personnel stuff, Jax (Dineen) is back healthy now. Christian (Moore) is doing some good things. We don’t have enough snaps based on personnel to the question asked a while ago about having three wideouts in the game. Then, you’re only going to have one other guy, so we’ve got to pick and choose the time that we use a fullback or a tight end.”


On the QB run game:

“There always is going to be that in what we do. It’s been that way since I arrived here and Collin obviously as you guys know loves the run game with the quarterback. So it’s definitely a big part of our plan.”