BOULDER University of Colorado head football coach Gary Barnett held his weekly media luncheon Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, as Barnett and sophomore safety Dominique Brooks addressed the media during the afternoon press conference. The following are excerpts from the gathering.
On the Texas A&M Game: “Briefly looking back at the A&M game it was an unbelievable atmosphere and environment to play in and for a college football game. The crowd noise was loud and beyond what we could prepare for. Our preparation allowed us to still function, but there crowd noise caused some problems. It was a great college environment to be a part of with the stadium and crowd. I’m really proud of the effort of our guys; we played well on Saturday. The players handled themselves with poise and did everything we asked them to do from that standpoint. I felt like we had a good game plan, we made plays and then we also missed plays. Looking back over the film we had 19 missed tackles on defense, 10 penalties, five dropped passes, and two turnovers. They (Texas A&M) only had five penalties, and no dropped passes or turnovers. A team that plays like that is tough to beat, and that was shown on Saturday. Their 12th Man was definitely a factor, two penalties can be attributed to them, and again, it’s just hard to beat a team playing like that.”
On Texas Game: “As we get ready for Texas, the problems that Texas brings are really on offense, especially in the run game. They are just so effective and so efficient at quarterback and with (Cedric) Benson, that we have got to find a way to control the running game. We have to force them to throw the football. Only one team has been able to do that and that’s been Oklahoma. But, I feel better about our chances; I think we’re playing with some confidence, but we have got to tackle better. We can’t miss 19 tackles and expect to win the game. We can’t have 10 penalties and we certainly can’t have five drops and two turnovers, especially if the other team is not going to operate on the same numbers.
“Offensively, we are playing against a team that is very good against the pass. We are trying to be balanced and trying to bring our passing game along. I feel like that’s an area that we are really improving in. We’ve got to find a way to get the ball thrown and to mix it up so that we can stay balanced, and we have to stay somewhat creative in our scheme. Texas has seven returners on defense. They are big and physical and have an All-American in (linebacker) Derrick Johnson who is just a really, really good football player playing the best defense that I’ve seen in a long time.
“We’ve got to have a great team effort in this game and we have to be more consistent across the board. Hopefully playing at home will be an advantage for us. I do think that our guys are not hung up over that A&M loss. They took it really hard after the game but they also watched the film and realized how well they played and how good they can be.
“This year, I think this (Texas squad) will be the most talented team that we play. Not only that, but they’re deep, which means they can roll one guy out and another guy in. They are pretty young on defense, only starting two seniors. Offensively they are a little older. This isn’t a senior-laden team. But, there’s still no one in the country year in and year out that has the talent that Texas does. That is a hard management issue. Too many great players is a hard thing to manage. I know that just from talking with Mack (Brown), the things that come with it. But, you wont see a prettier team or a better-looking team when they run out on the field, (or) a deeper team in talent than what these guys have.
“Texas is running the spread offense, so everybody’s in the shotgun. They’re going to look a lot like Missouri but they’re probably going to run the ball a little more effectively than Missouri. They spread you out and then just let Benson find the seams, or Vincent Young find the seams; he is part of an option attack. He’s just a great looking athlete. He can run and he’s really strong. I doubt he is any faster than the quarterback we just played (Reggie McNeal), though. McNeal was just the difference in that game, totally.
“Other than Oklahoma no one has really stopped them in the running game. They’ve been able to run the ball so effectively that it has really never gotten to that issue (passing the ball a lot). They’ve been able to mix in enough pass and run to keep you a little off balance, so you really can’t sit up there (on the line of scrimmage) so tight in the run game.”
On Colorado’s Offense: “We know that we have a young team and that they’re getting better and that you get excited about watching them get better. While you don’t know (what to expect always), it’s sort of fun not knowing. I don’t know if fun’ is the right word to put with it, but it’s definitely interesting. But you do know that they are going to come to work each day to get better and learn, and that’s what’s great about these guys. This whole team is that way. We’ve never had a day when everybody doesn’t come to work or come to get better. We have never had a bad practice day.”
On Building Off the Success at A&M: “Once you play at that level you know what it takes. Now we have to do that again; we have to keep that switch on or throw the right switches during the week so that you can do it again. At least you got to that level. We could have not gotten to that level, where we would have been really frustrated. But at least we got there and now everybody knows they can get there again. We got there against a good team. We know we can get there again; we just have to have the right combination of things. Like I said, there are a number of things that kept us from winning (at A&M), so if we can reduce those and play at that level with that kind of energy (CU will play well).”
On the Shotgun Formation: “I was pleased with the shotgun, and with what we did. I thought we were able to do something (A&M) hadn’t prepared for and they didn’t anticipate from us. We were able to throw it effectively and that really helped us on third down. A lot of those were third-and-7s that we were converting, so I think the shotgun helped us do that. I thought Joel (Klatt) had a good feel for it. It reduced the rush down to their front four guys. If you look at them statistically all their sacks come from in the secondary. So we knew if we could get into a shotgun formation we would reduce the risk of getting sacks from the secondary, focusing on just the four guys upfront. We felt we had a good chance of blocking those guys, as well, and giving Joel a chance to throw.”
S DOMINIQUE BROOKS
On CU Bouncing Back from the Loss: “I think we have moved on. You cannot dwell on the past, because that will get you beat (again). We have got to move forward now because we have a big game ahead of us, so we have got to play as hard or even harder to win this one.
“As a defense we knew we were capable of (keeping A&M out of the end zone often) and I think it makes us stronger as a team being put in that situation (in overtime). In the outcome of the game it will prepare us for those types of situations so we can come out and win.”
On Texas’ Running Game: “I think it will be the best running game that we’ll face. Cedric Benson is a great back. We will have to be physical and read our keys to play great ball.
“He is a big physical back. He has been (running) for a while, and he is just good at what he does. He is a strong runner and keeps his legs going after contact. He is just a good back. I think they (Benson and OSU’s Vernand Morency) are similar. Morency might be a little faster, but they are similar because they both run hard.”
On Injured Safety J.J. Billingsley’s Absence: “J.J. is good. It’s been hard not having him there. J.J. is a great athlete and his presence is felt. When he is in he makes plays. So not having him there is a step down (for the defense). But, having (Tyrone Henderson) and Tom (Hubbard), they have stepped up and have really been playing good ball, too.”