October 23, 2013

Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship Q&A

Tulsa's Bill Blankenship is not used to dealing with adversity after going 19-7 in his first two years as coach, but his team is 2-4 heading into Saturday's game against Tulane at the Superdome. In an exclusive interview with Wave Report publisher Guerry Smith, he talked about those struggles and what he has seen on video that makes Tulane so much better than it has in previous meetings with the Golden Hurricane.

What is quarterback Cody Green's status?

"He's been practicing each day for us this week. He's still not at full speed. We're going to try to get him through Thursday and evaluate him at that point. I would categorize him as probable. That's what he got banged up at down at UTEP."

Having already lost one Conference USA game to Rice in overtime, how important is it to beat Tulane?

"We've pretty much got our back against the wall. Because we dug a big hole to climb out of, each week to us is a critical week. It's a cliché obviously, but this is really the only week we can focus on right now. We've certainly got our hands full. This team is playing very well."

What do you see in Tulane that makes it so much better than in recent years?

"It's interesting that when you put film on, you can actually see confidence, which is kind of a weird thing. But there's a lot of confidence coming out of this team. They are playing very aggressive defensively. Their speed on the field looks to be improved. I say this as a compliment. As you look at, the whole is much more than all the parts. That's what they've got is a group playing together really, really well. Offensively it's night and day from what we saw a year ago. They are really executing at a high level, not making nearly as many mistakes. I think they've settled down a little bit and kind of found their identity. Certainly Montana's made a difference for them."

Why are Tulsa's averages per carry down so much from last year?

"There's a lot of fingers in holes trying to figure all that stuff out. I would tell you early in the year we had made some changes trying to involve Watts a whole lot more in the passing game and I think that took away from some of his touches in the rushing. We're playing with three new offensive linemen, so we knew there would be some measure of transition, and it just took a little longer than I thought. I still believe the talent level is there, but it took us a little longer to jell."

How frustrating has this start been for a program that's not used to being 2-4?

"It's been incredibly frustrating. Our players have kept a really good focus of not pointing fingers and not trying to get caught up in that deal, but it's not lost on them at all that this is not the way we usually do things. We just had trouble getting traction in the early games for a number of reasons. We weren't throwing and catching very well. We just couldn't establish a balance on offense. We knew our defense was going to be young. That's where the frustration came in as the defense actually was holding up. They weren't making a lot of plays, but they weren't getting us just run through, and the offense just wasn't clicking at a high level. So it's taken us four or five or six games to get going, and I think we're playing a little bit better now than we were three games ago, but it's still three steps up and two steps back."

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