Q. Coach, you reference that you had some near misses last couple of years. Obviously that’s frustrating. When you review those four quarters, if you will, what seems to be the commonality, what keeps happening that you are coming up short in those situations?
COACH MARK STOOPS: Part of it is play-making ability. When the play is on the line, you have the ability to make plays. There’s several games. You look at Auburn game last year where we throw a ball down to the three-yard line and came up fractions off from catching it. We need to make that play. We need to do the things I’ve talked about in the offseason. Pay the price to put yourself in those positions, whether it’s training. We need to finish the season better. Again, that goes to training and training our players to be able to handle more in all situations.
I think it comes with depth and, you know, there’s been, you know, just a few of those games where we really outplayed an opponent and lost. You know, maybe one that stands out in my mind. The rest of the time they’ve been some very even games, some very good competition, could have gone either way. We have to find those inches, those yards and those plays to make the difference.
Q. Those collapses, do you think it was all basically physical or talent, or do you think it got to be psychological also?
COACH STOOPS: I think you used the word “collapse.” I don’t think I would ever use that word because they weren’t. I just said they were very competitive games. Very good games that could have gone either way. Certainly we have to do a good job as coaching staff and with me to put them in a position make those plays, to do the things in the offseason, to do those things.
Again, to think you’re going take this program in three years and everything is going to be steady and pretty and nothing but a steady climb, it’s not going to happen. You’re going to go through some ups and downs. There’s a game or two and one in particular that jumps out at me that really bugs you because you felt like you outplayed the opponent and lost.
So I would never use the word “collapse.” I would think it’s very stiff competition from a bunch of teams that have been doing things right for a long time, recruiting great players and doing a lot of things. As a lot of coaches mentioned, there’s a lot of close games in here. Certainly we have to do our part to do what it takes to make those plays.