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College Sports: Oklahoma quotable: Sooners’ defense stepped up in a big way vs. Kansas State

Here are the best quotes from Oklahoma’s 51-14 win over Kansas State:

Head coach Lincoln Riley

Opening statement…

“Great win. Our team played a really complete game and made some improvements, certainly, from the last week. I appreciate that the team – we put a few things in front of them this week that we really felt like we needed to do to play well against Kansas State and take the steps we need to take as a team and special teams was a big emphasis. Some operation things, as far as some of the small penalties we had the week before was an emphasis and our physicality. I think we were a very physical team on all three sides of the ball for three quarters We played much better on special teams, held down their explosive return units, got a turnover, did some really nice things there. Had a few too many penalties – most of them were the aggressive kind, which we know we’ve got to do better, but we did much better with just some of the different sub-packages on all three sides of the ball. Very few miscommunications that way. The team is listening. They’re responding and it’s fun when you get all three sides rolling like that. Great team win.”

On the defense’s improvements…

“I think we’re playing a little more consistent right now. That’s probably the biggest thing. I think getting some of these young guys back healthy has created competition with more ability on the field. Some of those young guys are certainly playing better and they’ve just got a good demeanor and mentally right now.”

On how he feels after the past two games…

“It’s week-to-week. You can play like the best team in the world one week and then not play your best if you lose your edge at all. I think we’ve taken some positive steps and we have a decent idea what we’re capable of, but we’ve got so many challenges ahead. We’re going to play a lot of good football teams coming up including the one next week (at Texas Tech), we’re going to play in some tough venues and have adversity. We’re going to have to be ready to face it. We’ve just got to keep working and take it week-to-week.”

Defensive coordinator
Ruffin McNeill

On Brendan Radley-Hiles’ big hit…

“I was asked about Bookie a couple of weeks ago. Bookie is going to be really special. Sometimes with freshman we tend to get ahead of ourselves – we do, the adults – but having been around it the game will begin slowing down for him. Even last week, you’ll start to see the game slow down just a little bit. Today, slowing down, able to recognize formations, sets, receiver splits, knowing the coverage, where’s his help… That play was very big for us as a defense, as a team, to knock the ball out of there. We don’t want to lose him. He’s okay. I got a big hug after the game. I’m proud of that play, but I’m proud of the entire team. We did a really good job of anything tough happens, and we move to the next play. That was a big play by Bookie.”

On the importance of continuing to improve defensively…

 “I think it’s very important. One of the things that Coach Riley preaches and that we do as a staff and as a team – they’ve heard these two words – ‘complimentary football.’ That’s offense-to-defense, defense-to-offense, and both offense- and defense to-special teams, so for us to keep improving is very important from the aspect of making sure we have great complimentary football. That’s not going to change. That’s been our message for a while. You want to be playing your best football each game. You keep getting better. We’ve got to keep doing a great job in practice. That’s where it starts – having great practice. Preparing in practice is how you play, and how you play is how you prepared in practice. As a group, we’ve got to remember that. I am probably one of the most fortunate it men in the business because of the staff I have… They do a great job all week long and during the game. As far as my role, it’s to be the spokesperson for them, but everyone is preaching the same language. Get better each week.” 

On playing young players… 

“(It’s) very important that we do that. This is ironic. The team and place that taught me to make sure that you have a number of players ready was the place I work at now, beginning with an ‘O’ and ending in a ‘U’ and that’s on my shirt. Sam Bradford, Jermaine (Gresham), and all those guys came in here, and that ‘Jump Around’ song that I still have nightmares about. That game taught me that as a coach, and my dad taught me that with high school basketball. You’ve got to have back-ups, and not just back-ups, but guys that can play. I remember coaching high school basketball. I had at least 10-15. To get guys ready to go in and be productive with their level of play still at a high level, you have to put them in situations. We’re not afraid of playing the younger players because the only way they can learn is by getting experience in front of a live audience. That’s always a part of our game plan. It’s methodically done and systematically done.”

Sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray

On OU’s simplification of the defense…

 “I feel like we’re moving to the ball really well, and I think that comes from not having to think as much. I don’t think that’s the whole thing, I just think my game, as a whole, has moved up another level. But keeping things simple helps.” 

On how the past two weeks have impacted the Sooners…

“I definitely think that sets the tone for where we’re going right now. We did some good things last week, just like we did some good things today, but at the end of the day, there’s always some stuff we can do better. So we’re getting in the film room, looking at the tape, things like that and figuring out what we can do, where we can get better.” 

On the defense’s execution…

“Another great performance by everyone around me, my DBs, my D-line, and the backs that play next to me, and the coaches put in another great game plan for us. We just went out there and executed, and that’s something we’ll do again next week.”

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