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UNIVERSITY OF TULSA FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE

September 10, 2019

Phil Montgomery

Tulsa, Oklahoma

PHIL MONTGOMERY: I thought our guys went and did what our plan was to do, we went on the road, got a big win, I thought it was a good team win. I thought our defense again played tremendously well, had a series in there where I think we had five or six different punts in a row which was outstanding by them. D-line played well, linebackers played well, secondary played outstanding. So those are the things that you want to see them continue to do, continue to improve and get better. So really pleased with the way they're playing right now.

Our defensive coaches have done a real nice job of preparing them and schematically getting them in position and the guys are just going out and doing what they do.

So offensively much better. I thought our offensive line came out with the football, played the way we wanted to play. I thought we were much more physical. Weren't always right in everything but I thought our effort and attitude outweighed all of those things and it was good to get those running backs involved. I thought Shamari had an outstanding game. I thought TK came in and played extremely well. I thought Zach did exactly what we needed him to do. I thought he was very accurate, I thought he handled situations extremely well, read through progressions well and made some really timely throws, made a couple of nice little scramble runs to keep drives alive.

Our receivers continue to get better and better. That's what we want to see, that type of progress throughout. So I was happy with what they did, never satisfied with where we're at, we still got a long ways to go.

We obviously have an extremely tough opponent coming in to our place, our first home game, and we're excited about that. Coach Gundy and his staff do an outstanding job, got a lot of respect for him and what they do. He's been there 15 years now, I think. The tradition that they have and what they have accomplished over those years is tremendous.

And so just like always they're very potent on offense, they're very sound and aggressive defensively. So we know we got our hands -- we know we have our job cut out for us, but we're excited about the opportunity and ready to be at home.

Q. Curious if -- you ended the 13 road losing streak --
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Thank you for bringing that up.

Q. Well it's over now, you can start a new winning streak.
PHIL MONTGOMERY: There you go.

Q. So curious if you tried different things during the, to, logistically, to arriving at different time or getting up a different time or anything like that and then how did that feel finally to have that over?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: It was a great feeling obviously to get a big road win. As far as what we did and changed, it's a new year. To be real honest, our travel plans went all out the window. Friday was all jacked up with flights and everything else. Our complete schedule got thrown on its ear. We changed a lot of things. I thought our guys did a great job of adapting and handling those situation extremely well.

We had a really business-like mindset. I thought the emotion and the passion that we played with, the way we started the game was exactly what we needed. I thought our leadership really held us together and did a nice job on the road.

Q. What are the biggest improvements from week one to week two after watching film?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Offensively I think obviously our offensive line played much, much better. We still have a long ways to go up front. Got a lot of young guys up there that are getting their first real, true playing time. I thought they came out -- again, still made several mistakes, obviously, but you can correct mistakes with the type of effort that they played with. They played with the right mindset and I thought or tempo really helped us in that. I thought our tempo was much better game one to game two. I thought Zach's improvement from game one to game two was clearly evident. Then just getting our running game going, that was a big part much it.

As far as defensively, totally different offense, and I thought our guys again played at a very high level and continued to work through it. And so I was pleased on both ends of that part of it.

Q. As far as the offensive line is the experience kind of the main thing, main hindrance up there right now?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Well obviously experience, those guys got to continue to jell together. We had a couple new guys that started off the game the other night. And so it's about finding the right combination of those guys and them continuing to grow together in what they have to do.

Q. Offensive line, to now be starting three sophomores and a red shirt freshman, I don't think you probably knew that that was going to be the case, but at this point do you feel like those young guys have a lot of potential though?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: I do. I do. And you know there's a lot of factors that kind of went into that, yet I thought those guys really stepped up and played extremely well. Our focus has always been here, since I've been here, we're going to put our five best guys up there. No matter position, we're going to try to find our five best guys to put in that scenario.

So our first couple of years we started some young guys and then, like Chandler, who -- he played 50 games in a row or whatever. Usually that's kind of unheard of for a guy to have that many starts, but Chandler was a warrior through all of that. We got some young guys stepping in there now, you're going to have some growing pains with them, yet I think those are our five best guys right now. They got to continue to keep getting better and growing. And they have got the physical attributes to do it, now they just need to get in games and have to work their way through it.

Q. Zach made some pretty difficult throws. I think to Carter was one of them in the end zone and Stokes on the sideline. What does that unlock for the offense?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Well, we're just continuing to grow. Where this is going to take us, who knows what that's going to be. The throw to Denzel, great catch, great throw, great protection. I mean he got to step up twice in the midst of that and make that throw. So those were good things to see.

I thought Sam had another good game, stepped up and played extremely well. Keylon had a couple of good catches in there, the one on the sideline, those 50/50 balls or those really contested balls, it's good to see us come up with those. The last couple years we battled that a little bit. So those young guys are starting to improve and I think a lot of that is going against our defense for as much as we have and all of those balls are contested. So we're getting better at that we just got to continue that upward trend.

Q. A follow-up on Zach, you said he showed improvement from week one to week two. Break it down for us. What did you see that you really liked, whether it was picking a part the defense or deciding where to go with the football or what he was seeing, whatever.
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Yeah, I think more than anything he hadn't played in a while, so we're still kind of knocking off some rust. He hasn't been in this offense in a long time. And so it's kind of the little nuances of being in this. Especially in the second half I thought he really started allowing the offense to work for him. Him taking advantage of some of the opportunities that he had -- had some of those in the first half we just didn't take advantage of. In the second half I thought he really stepped up and started really spreading the ball around to a lot of different folks. When we started doing this our run game opened up even more and so that balance and that give and take between the run and the pass I think he's seeing how all of that is meshing together again.

And then just some little things. He did another good job of staying in the pocket and finding receivers and working progressions. He made a couple of really good third down throws on some crossing route stuff that I thought he performed really well on. And then he stepped up and scrambled a couple times to keep drives alive. That's obviously not his strongest suit, but he is definitely able to do that for us and it was good to see him kind of take control.

And I thought his leadership Saturday, just his demeanor on the sideline the way he handled himself in the huddle, around those guys, was right where we want it to be.

Q. If you could describe the challenges your receivers face this week with a couple of really battle tested corners. That looks like a real challenge.
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Yeah, it's going to be. They have always got a couple guys in the secondary that are extremely talented, their corners play extremely well, but so do all five of them back there. So we're going to have to do a good job as far as just manipulating our routes and making sure that we're on the right trend there. We got to do some things as far as helping each other. Hopefully formationally we can do some things to help each other get open. But those guys are, they're battle tested corners and our guys outside have got to do a good job of being great route runners and then creating separation when they can find it.

Q. Did I see you getting in the dance circle after the win? Was that you on the video?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: I don't know if it was me or somebody else. But it was, it's been awhile, as John reminded us, that we got to enjoy a road win. And so wins in college football are hard to come by, especially on the road. So we're going to celebrate those, we always have, and so those guys enjoy letting their hair down, we need 24 hours to enjoy that, and then we got to obviously focus on the next one and it's right here in our lap now. So it was good to see those guys cut loose and have a good time. Plane ride was a long ride home but a happy ride and those things are always good.

Q. I was talking to a coaching buddy from McNeese State and he said what we got to do against OSU is not let Wallace beat us. So how tough is that guy to stop, even when you're putting so much focus on him?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: He's an electric type receiver and he's done it in a couple different ways this season. His first touchdown the other night, they're just throwing a little now out to him and he gets back outside, makes one guy miss and then he outruns three or four other ones down the sidelines. So had a lot of yack to that play, but he's also stretched the field. He ran a little sit down route through the field, broke one tackle, gone again. So he can be electric when they get the ball in his hands, we know that. We have got some battle tested corners too. I think it's going to be a great matchup and I'm looking forward to seeing our guys go against him.

Q. The return home, playing an in-state rival of Oklahoma State, how do you stop their crowd from getting into this game knowing that you're playing a team that's in state, they don't have to travel that far, silence their crowd and get the W?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Well hopefully we're going to have more blue than orange, and that's the goal to have in our stadium, and then we'll start with that part of it. Then I think you got to eliminate those explosive-type plays, those are the things that really light fans on fire. If we'll do a good job of that, eliminating the explosive plays from a defensive standpoint, a lot of that can be handled.

And then on the other side of it offensively we have got to do a good job of controlling what we can control. Creating some explosive plays on our end, maintaining the football in certain instances, trying to keep their offense off the field. If you look at what they're doing defensively it's unique to them, they have got a lot of different people and a lot of different places bringing it from a lot of different areas. Coverages are changing and things like that.

So we have got to do a good job of sustaining drives, getting points and then our defense has got to eliminate those big plays.

Q. Do you have any clarity or status up date on Taylor?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Yeah, it's kind of day-to-day right now. We'll find out more today as we get a chance to kind of visit with him and kind of see where he's at.

Q. Is he going to play again? You're confident he'll play?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: I'm confident he will play at some point, yes, sir.

Q. So TK, seems like the most important guy in your run game is your second running back to keep it going. So what's your level of confidence that Wilkerson can be a sustained productive guy?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Yeah, I'm very confident in TK. I think he is a different style runner than the other two. I think he has his own unique skill set to him. He's a big dude, he can really run downhill. He's done much better, Coach Hill and TK have worked extremely hard on being sure that he's running behind those pads and using all that strength. Coming out of high school he was pretty tall as he ran and gave a lot of surface to hit. He's improved in that area quite a bit and he's go the some weight behind him.

So I like what he's doing, he's done a much better job in the pass/pro side of it and I think that's probably been his greatest growth and that's why I feel so much more comfortable about plugging him into games and using him in that way.

Q. Is it just the most uplifting stat sheet you've seen in a while, with almost 50/50 balance running and throwing and then you were 11-18 on conversion downs. You were 75 percent completion. I mean, is this as good as you felt about the offense in a couple years?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: It was, it felt more like us, I'll say it that way, the other night. The balance was there, the explosive plays at times were there. I thought our tempo was really good. We ended up in some third and longs, but converted on a lot of those. Ended up in some third and shorts and fourth and shorts and converted on those. So that's the kind of style we want to play, that's what we're the best at we got to continue working towards that trend each and every week.

Q. Everybody loves to be involved in a big game, so -- and your defense has gotten a lot of celebration and they played really well. And now they play OSU, which might be offensively what Michigan State was defensively. So are your defensive guys like super charged excited about this?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: They're excited. Obviously we have got a tough schedule all the way through it. This is an extremely talented offense and an extremely talented team on both sides. So I think our defense is excited about stepping on the field and getting better. They know they're going to be challenged in a different way this week. So they're looking forward to the opportunity to kind of continue to measure ourselves and where we're at each and every week.

Q. How was Trevis the first two games?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: I think he's been outstanding. I think he is obviously our team leader, not just defensively but overall. And he's a guy that does everything right, plays with a lot of heart and passion and he has, in my opinion, has caused a lot of problems for opposing offenses.

Q. When you were in Stillwater a couple years ago I can't remember how much he played that season?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Probably very little.

Q. People talk about his coming of age since he first got here. But even since, then two years ago, can you put in perspective what kind of leap he's made?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Yeah, you know, you got to remember, when we recruited Trevis and he stepped on campus I think he was 205 pounds. He's been very diligent in taking care of his body, eating the right stuff, living in the weight room, working extra.

There's probably, just like with every kid, that part, early in your career, where you want to be more active in what's going on, you feel like you're ready but you're not quite ready, and his determination and discipline, but also patience in that I think was a big key and when he got the opportunity, man, he just, he took full advantage of it and from that point on he has never been satisfied, he just continues to work, continues to grind, and I think that's what makes him, him.

Q. We always hear how no one game is more important than the other one. Does this being an in-state game, especially against a team you don't get to play often does it carry a little more weight to it?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Well we're fixing to play them a lot from that contract we just signed. Wasn't that an eight-year deal or something like that? But you're right, not all the time do we get to play them. I don't put any more on this game than I do on any other game. It's the next one on our schedule, obviously you got a great opponent coming in here, we're going to get challenged, as I look at our conference and you look at the teams that are involved in our conference we have got a lot of big games still ahead of us. So this is just the next one on the list. And our schedule's extremely tough, so there's no easy ones in there. So this is the next big tough game.

Q. Curious if through the first two games you've had motive or opportunity to tap into the four-game red shirt rule.
PHIL MONTGOMERY: We have -- I'm trying to think -- we played a couple of guys I think, very sparingly. Right now it's kind of one of those deals you kind of want to keep that in your pocket a little bit and some of the reasons behind that you never know what injuries are in the future, hopefully none. And then those guys just having a little bit more time to continue to develop and learn and then as you get a little bit further into it I think that's, last year that's kind of when we started using it and it paid dividends for us.

Q. Bill mentioned how OSU is offensively kind of what Michigan State was defensively, but we talked about Michigan State and it's opposite. Do your focuses change when your opponent stands out so much in a particular phase as opposed when you're playing to Michigan State and their defense and OSU and their offense?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: I think they're pretty good on both sides of the ball. They have blown out their first two opponents. And a lot of that is because of what they have done offensively and a lot of that is what they have done defensively too. So I don't know that it changes our mindset, we understand what we got to do in all three phases, we have got to play really sharp and crisp, we got to be disciplined, we got to come out and operate and if we do that hopefully we'll give ourselves a chance.

Q. You played Gundy quite a bit and OSU in the past. With him you mentioned how long he's been there. Do you know what you're getting into every time you play OSU or does very much change year to year?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Again, he's had a bunch of different coordinators and all those guys have been good, offensively and defensively. The one thing that's been constant is their personnel is always very athletic, they're long, they can run, and they always play with the type of effort that you have to play with to have a winning football team. I don't know what the stat is, but Bill you can probably tell me. What is it? The last 10 years he's had nine or more wins than the last 10? Is it something like that?

Q. 10 of the last 11 years.
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Yeah. So.

Q. (No microphone.)
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Yeah, so I mean the consistency has been there and a lot of that is due obviously to Mike and his leadership.

Q. Yesterday his press conference Gundy immediately mentioned Jackson Player in Trevis Gipson. I don't think it's a surprise that coaches are talking about Gibson, but Jackson is just now getting into the starting lineup. Has he surprised you two weeks into the season?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: Absolutely not. Jackson did this last year, he's going to continue to do it, I think he's doing it at a better level than he did last year because he's continuing to get better. But I think you can mention a couple of guys up there. Those two stand out, they have made explosive plays I think for us. Shamari I think has played the best two games that I've ever seen him play. I think Big Cat has been right in the mix of all of that too. So there's a bunch of guys that kind of fall into it, but Jackson and Trevis are I think explosive players that have had impacts the first two games for sure.

Q. How big is the defensive line in this, especially with them having a young quarterback?
PHIL MONTGOMERY: I think in every matchup, whether you're talking about offensive or defensive lines, if you can win the trenches you're always giving yourself an opportunity to win and our mindset won't be any different this week.

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