Head Coach Dan Hawkins
“I just think that is the assumption sometimes, people think ‘Oh hey they are going to drop off.’ Well, it’s Division I football, there are scholarships, there are other guys that can play, and they will have other guys that can play. So I think to make that assumption [is wrong], and again if you watch their offensive line, they are pretty good up front. You know, guys like you and I could probably get some yards in there. They do a nice job of blocking people, they will have capable backups, and they have a good system. They aren’t just going to let you lay in there and hammer on people. Their quarterback is doing a nice job and they’ve got good receivers, I just think you can overplay that sometimes.”
ON WHETHER TEAM MORALE HAS IMPROVED AFTER A WIN—“Maybe to some degree, but it was kind of like “Groundhog Day.” You know, you wake up and go ‘Geez, we turned the ball over down there, we could have scored another touchdown [and we could have tried] to get a return going on [our] punt and kickoff return teams,’ so its always easier said than done, but I think you have to stay out of the gutter and off of the mountain top and stay in the middle and keep plugging.
“I think they were a little bit better, obviously it’s a boost in confidence, a little bit more reaffirming that way. But again, we always try to be fairly consistent in what we are doing, and not get too caught up in the highs and the lows of all that. Just try to carry that message through and I think they are pretty good about that.”
ON QB BERNARD JACKSON TAKING NO CREDIT FOR THE WIN AGAINST TEXAS TECH—“Yeah, he is a great kid and I think any great quarterback should take that approach and pass the credit and take the blame. I think that is a mark of a great leader and again, that kid continues to persevere and that is another testament to his growth. You know, I don’t really know who all he was last year or the previous years, so it is hard for me to totally judge that. I think he has certainly shown a little more maturity in terms of his approach to things. I think he is growing up and understanding his role; both as a father and a student and a football player and how all of that comes together, and accepting his niche and working to improve it. Every defensive coach will tell you that a quarterback that can run with the ball is a little scary. Clearly he can get out of some jams and make some big things happen, and I think it has some effects in other ways where you start looking at defenses and how they play against us. There is some concern about him running the football, so that eliminates some of the stuff they do up front. When you start getting into the coverage aspect of things, teams that want to play man now have to account for the quarterback. I think it has a residual effect of the rest of the offense as well, but you always have to account for a guy when he can run.”
ON THE PLAY OF THE OFFENSIVE LINE—“Yeah, they definitely have really done a nice job coming along. Coach [Chris] Strausser has really done a good job, I think, of molding those guys. Again, our style and our system of how we do things is quite a bit different from how they did it before, and that doesn’t make it right or wrong, it just makes it different. You can have—and I say seven, because you usually have two tight ends in the equation somewhere—You can have six of those guys playing great, and doing the exact right thing and one of them does something wrong and they all look bad. So they all have to think and move together and they are doing a nice job of that. And every O-Line coach in
ON DE ABE WRIGHT—“The thing about Abe is what I like to call a “divine spark,” and I think when an individual sort of invests himself in this idea of excellence there is a certain amount of spiritual energy that comes out of that. Abe is one of those guys who totally believes that he deserves to be successful, number one. And he plays with a certain amount of recklessness and joy and innocence that way, and I think that really helps him. He also has some God-given speed and agility and those kinds of things, but he just has a freedom about his soul that allows him to play at a high level most of the time.”
ON OKLAHOMA QB PAUL THOMPSON—“I think he does a nice job, he’s accurate, I think when you look at it and say they’ve got a former wide receiver playing quarterback you might think he would not be that way. But he’s a big, tall kid who can throw it and he’s accurate. He can hurt you with his feet as well, he’s done a really, really good job. I think for most people to think when they lost [former QB] Rhett Bomar they aren’t going to be able to do anything but hand it to Adrian Peterson, that has not been the case at all. They’ve thrown the ball, so he is very good in that area.”
ON WHETHER STARTING 0-6 WAS A BETTER LEARNING EXPERIENCE THAN STARTING WELL—“Is it more important, I don’t know. But it is definitely important because you know in the long term, and we will, we’ll be on the other side. There will be a time when we’re in this room and people are going ‘You’re 7-0, and you have the greatest running game and your quarterback is awesome and I’m going to go ‘Guys we’ve got some things we need to work on.’ So, part of that whole maturity process is learning how to handle defeat and handle success and all that stuff coming in there together. There have been a lot of guys that have called me this week and asked me about that, and again I think the biggest thing is this consistency aspect, what your approach to it is and I think our guys have learned a good lesson that way and they’ve learned to come out of it and understand what it takes for long term success. I think that sticks with them, not just as a football player but as a person as well. So, there are definitely some [experiences] you have to go through before you can get your feet on the ground.
“I would say this, the people here have been awesome. I’ve got an unbelievable amount of fan mail from faculty and students and fans and stuff about ‘Hey, hang in there we believe in you, you’re going to be fine.’ That has been awesome; there has not been a huge change that way. It is interesting a lot of people that are close to me in the coaching profession called and they were funny because they said ‘Hawk, I know you were loving that, I know you were loving going through that. I told my wife Hawk is loving that right now.’ And I was like ‘Yeah I kind of was,’ and they sort of understand who I am and what I’m all about. Then again a lot of them have gone through that and they know that in the end you will come out. I know that some of them were going ‘I bet you are coaching better than you have in the last five years,’ and I said ‘Yeah, I am. I’m doing more things, and being more creative, I’ve done more things for sure.’ They kind of appreciate that, they’ve been around a while and can appreciate those things. Even when we were “0-for” everyone has really be supportive, the fans have been great, the community has been great and I couldn’t ask for more than that. In a sick sort of way [I did enjoy being 0-6], you know. Again, I’ve said this before that the easiest thing for me to do would have been to stay where I was [at
ON THE MIAMI/FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL FIGHT—“I did not show it [to the team], but I am one of these guys, I always have things to learn from. I always point them out to them, in practice, and some of them are football related and some aren’t football related. I related it a little bit to a story that I had read earlier about some guys that went to Iraq about “heroes” that they ask you when all of this stuff starts happening what do you do, run, hide, shoot, you know, what do you do? Most of those guys, you make up your mind before that happens, what you are going to do. You already plant that seed in your mind, you know, ‘Here’s what I’m going to do.’ So I translated that incident into, ‘You guys, here is exactly what you are going to do if that happens. And here is what we’re going to do, because as you guys know it’s a very volatile, violent, emotion packed [game]. You’ve got testosterone flowing, you’ve got a lot of that stuff going on.’ So it takes a plan of action before you get into that is what I told our guys, and I’m not trying to pass any sort of judgment on them at all. But you use it as an example. First of all, if you are on the sidelines, nobody comes off the sidelines, nobody. You don’t leave the sidelines ever, and if you are on the field, your number one priority is to get our guy out. That’s it, you don’t fight, you try to get somebody else, you don’t try to pay back, you get our guy out and that’s it. That’s the sole thing, and does everybody understand that and [the team is] like, ‘Yeah.’ I said at that time, ‘You don’t know exactly what is going to happen,’ but I said ‘Guys you know, I don’t know what’s going to go on here but clearly there are going to be some ramifications and they are going to be bad for the coach, for the school and maybe for those individuals not just from a football standpoint but maybe even a legal standpoint.’ I kind of reminded them, we’re all thrown into these situations and you have to tell yourself before hand, what am I going to be like? It’s like being 0-6, what am I going to be like? What’s my attitude going to be like? So I used it sort of as a learning tool for those guys to say if this ever happens this is what we’re going to do, and I totally expect that out of them. If I don’t get that, there will be serious ramifications and I told them it’s easy to sit back when you are 3,000 miles away and make the judgment. I told them, my first reaction when something like that happens, we go ‘We’ve missed the point, somewhere, somehow along the way we’ve missed the point. We’re going to give the game to you guys, walk in and see if we can’t start over and figure this thing out.’ I told them ‘Don’t put it past me. I’ve already taken a lot of bullets, what better bullet to take, to say we don’t take that, we don’t stand for that.’ I just tried to use it as a learning thing for our guys.”