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Meet the Press: Oklahoma

Oct. 6, 2009

Press Conference

Head Coach Art Briles

Opening statement:
"First of all, we're through touring the country - North Carolina, Connecticut, Louisiana and Ohio. We're back home and in our neighborhood. We're ready to take care of business on our home turf and it's good to be in conference with our visits all in the same direction."

On the unknown of who Oklahoma will be starting at quarterback:
"We're going to have to play well regardless of who the quarterback is. Of course, Sam Bradford is a Heisman Trophy winner, so his résumé is pretty full. Landry Jones has done a really good job since he's been in there. Both guys are good football players and are surrounded by good people so whoever is on the field, we've got to play up and make plays so it really doesn't change our preparation."

On Blake Szymanski:
"I'd tell you if I knew. I think I will know more at 7:00 p.m. tonight than I know right now. We'll see if he's able to throw and go through practice today. He did not throw Sunday and I think he threw a little bit yesterday on his own with the trainers, but we'll have to see how it goes today."

On Nick Florence's performance Saturday:
"I was impressed with his composure and intelligence. He really stayed within himself and didn't try to do too much. He protected the football and gave our team an opportunity to win which is what you should do at every position, but it glares a little more at that position. When you're prepared, you have the opportunity to have success and he prepared very well."

On perception of Oklahoma changing due to its trials so far this season:
"They're still a very good football team and they played a tough non-conference schedule. You jump out there regardless of who you are and there's a chance you're going to get beat every so often. Oklahoma is a very, very talented, well-coached, physical football team and we understand that."

On challenge of going into a hostile environment like Norman:
"The good thing is that a lot of our guys and coaches have been there. On our coaching staff, everyone has been in there at least one time with the exception of one or two guys and the same goes for our team. The thing about taking a team in there is if you're prepared mentally and if you focus is right and your vision is correct, it doesn't matter what's going on outside, as long as we can focus on what's going on inside. Our job is to go win for 100 yards for 60 minutes regardless of what's happening all around us. So if we're focusing on what we're doing, it shouldn't be a factor."

On Jay Finley's status going into this weekend:
"We hope that he's 100 percent because Jay is a really strong, tough downhill runner. That's a phase we're going to welcome back to our offense. One-hundred percent means you're completely healthy and I don't know if he's going to be completely healthy on Saturday; I'd say he'll be between 85 and 95 percent so we'll just have to wait and see. He's a guy that brings another dimension to the table for us offensively that's needed in a lot of situations. Jarred Salubi, as we know, has done very well the last couple of weeks. He has filled in nicely and done a good job. Then Terrance Ganaway has also done what we've asked him to do. They're just grinding to try and help us win and that's what it's all about; when you get an opportunity, you take advantage of it to try and help your team win."

Senior Linebacker Joe Pawelek

On being prepared to start Big 12 play this week:
"I think coming out of the four non-conference games, we have some setbacks with some season-ending injuries. I think that from a defensive standpoint we have really seen at times what our defense can do and we've seen at times what our defense doesn't need to do. I think that we are definitely ready to get going on Saturday."

On the unknown of who Oklahoma will be starting at quarterback:
"I don't think it really matters. More than anything, we need to focus on Baylor. Last week was a perfect example; it doesn't matter who is coming in or where we are going. For us to be successful, our defense needs to go out and make sure all 11 guys are handling their responsibilities and are playing hard. Whoever starts or plays, those are things we can't control and we definitely need to worry about the things on which we can have an effect."

On playing on the road and the type of atmosphere Oklahoma has:
"Those types of stadiums and atmospheres are awesome places to play. Being a college football player, when you think of big time atmospheres, you think of places like (Oklahoma). When the fans are involved and right at your back screaming things at you, it makes it fun out there."

Junior Cornerback Clifton Odom

On intensity level picking up going into Big 12 play:
"It doesn't pick up that much because every game is so important whether it's Big 12 or not. But it has picked up a little bit because it is Big 12 and that's why a lot of guys come here.

On preparing for the unknown of who Oklahoma will be starting at quarterback:
"Whatever the coaches tell us, that's what we do. There is nothing really specific. Whoever is going to be the quarterback will be their quarterback so we won't worry about that."

On Oklahoma's offensive game:
"Each week we try to get better at our fundamentals, but they have a good running game and a good passing game. They'll be the best team that we face so far, but we're a good team also so I'm sure we'll do well."

Freshman Quarterback Nick Florence

On starting his first game last week:
"My nerves actually weren't that bad; I was relaxed. (The) first drive was great getting that touchdown under us; I thought `hey, this isn't that big of deal, let's roll'. I did well enough to win. I feel there are a lot of areas where I made mistakes, which is going to happen being the first start. So I definitely got a lot of work this week, but we got the `W' and that is what matters."

On the opportunity to start on the road against Oklahoma:
"It will be a lot different. It will be fun. It will be a great atmosphere - a Saturday afternoon Big 12 football game. It will be a blast to be on TV. It is just another opponent and that is the way we are going to approach it."

On stepping up for Big 12 play:
"Every week we have to step it up. We can't be like we were last week. We have to get better every week no matter who the opponent is. So that is the mentally; we are going to step it up each week no matter who the opponent is."

Senior Quarterback Blake Szymanski

On his shoulder injury:
"It feels pretty good. We have made a lot of strides since last week. We are just going to take it day by day and see what happens."

On facing Oklahoma:
"It will be fun. It will be an exciting environment to go to in Norman. I think we have a good opportunity to go there and show how good of a football team that we have."

On having the experience of playing in the Big 12 before:
"That is what is going to help me. Not to say that I am going to go out there and start lighting it up. You can't really replace experience. That is something that you just have to gain. Having that under my belt is probably going to allow me to be a little more cool and calm and be able to make plays out there. I know what Norman, Okla., is and I know what it is all about."

On the difference between this year's team and the team that went to Norman two years ago:
"The depth at the receiver is night-and-day compared to what I had two years ago. The talent level is better. That goes all the way across the board to the offensive line that is doing a much better job. Then obviously the offensive line is going to help us a lot. If we can run the football, it is going to make us that much better."

Senior Defensive Lineman Jason Lamb

On how the defense is preparing for Oklahoma:
"We have to step up and have every player on the field do their assignment and not try to make the big play, but just try to do what you are supposed to do. If everybody does their job, I think our defense will be pretty solid."

On not knowing who the Oklahoma starting quarterback will be:
"I don't think it really matters who is playing quarterback. We are going to prepare the same way. I am not really concerned with who is back there throwing the ball, because Oklahoma has so many talented players on the team. If you focus only on who is playing quarterback, you are going to miss a lot."

On blocking two kicks Saturday:
"Blocking extra points or blocking field goals come down to how bad you want it, how aggressive you are. A lot of players take that play off because it is just worth one point or three points. So, I guess points wise it is not worth that much, but it is more like a big momentum swing. It is important."



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