January 1, 2018
Georgia - 54, Oklahoma - 48
THE MODERATOR: We're going to go ahead and get started here with Coach Lincoln Riley from the Oklahoma Sooners. I'll ask Coach Riley to give a quick remark about the game, and then we'll open the floor for questions. Coach Riley?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it's tough to describe right now. It's a hell of a college football game. You know, an epic Rose Bowl Game. You know, being on this side of it is difficult to describe, the disappointment, the hurt that we feel, that those guys in that locker room feel right now. Some of them came in telling me sorry and telling us sorry, and I said don't tell us you're sorry. Our team put it on the line. They laid it on the line every snap.
We weren't perfect. We did a lot of really good things on both sides of the ball, but we certainly weren't perfect. Had some opportunities, let the game get back a little bit closer there in the third quarter, and at that point it became -- it was going to come down to one play here or there, and it did.
But it's been a great run. The senior class has been tremendous. I mean, to win three straight Big 12 Championships, being in this College Football Playoff twice, and then just, especially this year, there are a lot of reasons this team could have turned the wrong direction. From the coaching change, the Iowa State loss, just all the things that this team had to battle through, and I'm proud to be their coach. It's been a great, great season, and I think we'll set the stage for even bigger things here in the next few years. So we'll go to questions from there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
Q. If you could pick out one thing among a number of things that you'll never forget or that really haunt you, the squib kick at halftime or them getting pressure on Baker or something, the field goal? What really eats at you maybe more than anything?
LINCOLN RILEY: I don't know that there's one thing. Just that we had an opportunity to win the game. We had some -- we'd separate ourself a little bit there in the first half and weren't able to maintain it. Probably just overall as a team how we played there coming out of halftime. We just didn't put our best foot forward.
But, look, give Georgia credit. There's a reason they're in this game too. They're a very, very talented team. But, no, I will never say one play in particular. There is no one play that lost this game for us or won it for Georgia. There was a ton of good plays on both sides of the ball, and they made one more than we did.
THE MODERATOR: We're now also joined by players Baker Mayfield, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Rodney Anderson.
Q. Lincoln, the squib kick at halftime, you brought that up. Did the team just lose some momentum there? What happened in the third quarter, because you dominated the first half?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I mean, I don't know that we necessarily lost momentum. That probably gave them a little bit of juice. They were able to steal three points on us. It was a good call. And Austin's been great with those. He just didn't hit it well and ended up going right to their guy, which that's the one thing you can't do and we did.
Then they did a good job of executing. It was kind of right there on the edge of do they throw a Hail Mary or not, and we certainly didn't want to give up the Hail Mary, so we went into a defense against that. He made a nice throw on the out ball and the guy made a bomb. So, yeah, give them credit. Gave them a little bit of juice, and then, yeah, we just didn't play well though early in the second half. That was the stretch of the game that I was probably most disappointed in.
Q. I think in overtime you threw into the end zone once with arguably the best player in the country. It got intercepted and you got a break on the offsides. Could you have been more aggressive as a play caller in overtime?
LINCOLN RILEY: We didn't get a break. We knew it was offsides. But, yeah, sure I'll look back at it, and there will be calls that I wish I would have done different. You know, I've never had a game, even the ones that have went incredibly well, where there wasn't some of that.
So you do the very best you can in that moment. I called the plays at that time that I thought were the very best, and, yeah. Will there be ones that I want to have back? Yeah. But, again, you learn from those, but I'm not going to dwell on them. You call enough plays, you're going to call some bad ones, so -- but we laid it all on the line, coaches and players.
Q. Baker, you spent a lot of time on the field after the game talking to teammates, Georgia players, the fans. What was that like for you?
BAKER MAYFIELD: Obviously I would have liked to have been on the other side of things, but I was taking in the last moments with my teammates and also trying to find Jake Fromm. You know, the true freshman that led his team to a playoff victory. You don't typically see that. He's an incredible player. You can tell he commands his offense and he has respect of his teammates. For me, that's about the greatest character trait you could have. Just told him to go win the whole thing. Got a lot of respect for him and keep working hard.
For him, I think the sky's the limit.
Q. Baker, can you talk about how you felt tonight? I mean, didn't start out in the half well in the third quarter, and then you had the 22-yard run and got that drive going. Was there any fatigue that was abnormal for you going through what you went through this week?
BAKER MAYFIELD: No, no, no. I felt fine. Just, quite frankly, just missed throws. Didn't make the throws I normally make and that showed.
Q. Baker and Lincoln, it looked like you had a lot of trouble protecting after halftime. What was the difference between the first half offensive, particularly the passing game, and then the second half where you didn't have a lot of time to do much?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I think early in the half we didn't run it as well. We got a little one-dimensional. I probably hung our guys out there a little bit too much, especially against a talented front. They're going to get there sometimes. They're good up front. We are too. We move the ball on them like nobody has even close all season. But they're a good defense.
Eventually they were going to make some plays, and they did. I've got to protect our guys a little bit better. But, again, it was a great battle. Both sides made a lot of great plays.
THE MODERATOR: Baker, did you have a response to that as well?
BAKER MAYFIELD: No, they blitzed a lot more on the first and second down. For us -- for me, it's getting the ball out of my hands out to the guys open. We had people open, and like Coach Riley said, they had some good up front. It wasn't like we were just blowing assignments. They have good players.
Q. What was so tough about stopping Michel and Chubb tonight? Was it anything the offensive line was doing for Georgia? They're obviously very talented runners?
OGBONNIA OKORONKWO: I mean, they're talented backs. You know, they're really good guys. We knew that going in. They're going to make plays. You know there's only so much you can do. You know those guys play divisional football too.
Q. You talked about how you were feeling physically during the game, but can you talk to us about your emotions while you were taking that final lap around the field and kind of what you're feeling right now?
BAKER MAYFIELD: Oh, I can't believe it's over. It's been a wild ride.
Q. Coach, how close were you to going for it on that 4th and 1 in the first overtime, and why didn't you?
LINCOLN RILEY: I was close. I was close. I went back and forth on it a little bit, and I had a lot of confidence in Austin like I have here the second half of the season. Then we had just held them to a field goal, I think, defensively, so I felt good about the second run at it. I don't know. My gut said to kick it, and we did, and we made it.
Q. Was part of the thinking that that still just gets you first down? That doesn't guarantee a touchdown?
LINCOLN RILEY: Sure, yeah, if it had been on the same thing, it had been on the 1-yard line, I probably would have went for it. But, yeah, I just didn't think -- I didn't think the risk was worth the reward, and plus, that's kind of their most-talented point right there is kind of stopping short-yardage runs. They're pretty good at it. And our kicker's good, so that's why I did it.
Q. You've obviously been a great leader for this program the last few years. In the coming days, what do you think you'll say to the young guys that are coming back, and how do you feel about the future of this program?
BAKER MAYFIELD: They're in great hands. Got the best coach in the country. I think they have the best coaching staff as well. We've had a lot of young guys that have impacted our team this year, and them coming here and having experience, knowing what it takes. Also having this sick taste in your mouth of getting this close but not finishing, that's going to motivate them. They're going to be just fine. Yeah, love to have it back, but they're going to be just fine. I guarantee they finish it up the right way in the next couple of years.
Q. Lincoln, when you have a big lead and there is a lot to lose in a championship game like this, a championship setting, do you have to battle the desire to not -- to coach to not lose? In other words, you have to battle against conservative play calling or prevent defense or going -- not going for it on third down versus a field goal, that kind of thing?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, I've never felt that at all. I think you just try in each individual situation to do the best thing for your team to win that game. We were still plenty aggressive at times when we thought it was appropriate. We've been able to win a lot of games around here, and hey, again, are there ones I wish I could have back? Sure. I've never had a game where there wasn't. But there was never a time where we were thinking conservative. We were always thinking how are we going to win this thing, and felt like we would until the last snap.
Q. Baker, they had that big run there in the third quarter, and it looked like they might run away with it. You guys went, I think, 90 yards or so, really, in three plays. What was going through your mind during that sequence and what happened there? And after you get the scoop and score, you're probably feeling pretty good at that point?
BAKER MAYFIELD: Yeah, no, we talked about it. We just need to do our job, and that was going to be good enough. We let them back in the game and made a costly error on the interception in our own territory and they scored.
So we needed to respond, and we did just that. The defense made a great play. So then that lit a fire on our sideline, had the energy back, and we were back in the game.
Q. Baker and Lincoln, you guys have had so much success over the last few years leading this program together. What will you guys cherish the most about being able to lead this program?
BAKER MAYFIELD: Being with the best coach in the country. There is a reason I'm sitting here today. There's a reason we've won three Big 12 titles in a row and that I've put myself in a good position going forward in the future. There's a reason our team's in the playoffs this year. Words can't describe what he's meant to me and for the other guys, it's the same.
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it's a little difficult to summarize right now. It's been a great run. It's been an historic run. He's been a big part of it, as have all the players. I just told them I appreciate how much they bought in and had my back all year. I made plenty of mistakes and they helped our team overcome them the entire year.
I love him, love the rest of these guys. It's been a hell of a run. One we'll be proud of for a long, long time, and one, again, that's going to continue to elevate this program to where we finish the deal here in the next few years.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, and thank you, players.
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