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December 13, 2010Oklahoma's offense is going through a period of transition with Kevin Wilson taking the head coaching job at Indiana University. Eric Mensik talked about the changes over the weekend as well as the excitement surrounding OU's chance to end their BCS losing streak in the Fiesta Bowl.
Do you guys talk about the past Fiesta Bowls and maybe playing teams that you were expected to rout and then not playing so well?
Exactly. We were always told against Boise State and West Virginia that we were going to win and we ended up losing both of those games. It's a little bit different now because we can't listen to the hype and we have the possibility of that happening again. We've got to take it like another game and as another opponent.
What's this week been like as a team with all these rumors floating around and then you end up losing an offensive coordinator? What's it like for a team going through that in the dorms, in the locker room?
You just keep going. We're happy for Coach Wilson and we're glad he got a head coaching job but we're just going to keep doing our thing like we've done all season long and continue to prepare like we've been doing all season.
Is there a lot of speculation in that situation? Do you have like a junior TMZ reporter in the locker room saying, 'This is what I heard today?'
No. No. It wasn't anything like that. We've heard that he was going through something with Indiana and that's fine.
How have you guys adjusted without him in practice so far?
All the coaches are doing their part. There's not one coach that's stepped up. They're all just kind of continuing on with what Coach Wilson was doing here.
So we heard you're calling plays Saturday?
(Laughing) Yeah, we'll see.
Have they talked to you about a timetable or anything like that? What they're going to do?
They haven't said anything or mentioned anything.
Would you like to see Coach Wilson stick around for the bowl game?
I mean, that's not for me to say. That's for him to decide. That's not my part in any way. I can't say. That's Coach Stoops and everything.
Other than they've won their last five games and they're in the Big East, what do you know about Connecticut?
They've struggled in the past but Coach Patton said their line has big, solid guys. We've had a little time off so we haven't really gotten to watch a lot of film on them. But we know they're solid up front.
The plan is to come back after finals and start looking at them?
Exactly. Yeah. We have practice today and we have practice tomorrow and then we start on Monday watching film on them.
Can you honestly tell us you're excited about playing them?
Oh obsolutely. This is the BCS bowl game and every one I've been to, we've lost. Last year we beat Stanford in the Sun Bowl but this is a big year for us. We had a great season and we've won the Big 12 and so we're just going to prepare like we've always done and just know this is a really important game for all of us. Especially for me being a senior, I get to go out as a Big 12 Champ and beat Nebraska and they leave our conference with only two or three Big 12 titles so it's always good to have that. It's a big game, it really is.
You're not buying into the conventional wisdom that this is a mismatch, there's no way Oklahoma can lose?
Last time we did that we lost both games. There's absolutely no way we could do that. Then we'd just be shooting ourself in the foot.
Does it just kind of suck this time of year until finals get over?
The weather starts to get a little bit colder and then the long season starts lifting but we're really looking forward to it. We didn't win the Big 12 last year so we're coming off of a higher note so it's a little bit different feel compared to last year for sure.
But is it just kind of a grind getting through finals and everything before you can really start focusing on Connecticut?
Yeah. This whole going through finals and stuff and having to study with everybody, it's been a little tough. It's like you said, it's been a little grind but once that's over with we're able to come in here and really focus on what we really need to do.
What do you remember about those two Fiesta Bowls (Boise State and West Virginia)?
I really remember the Boise State game as a battle. It just kept going back and forth and then we got down to that goal line and they ended up doing that damn statue of liberty play and ever since then at least one time a year they've always showed that play. It's just like, 'c'mon now'. It was a fantastic play, it was just against us. That wasn't the cool thing. Then the quarterback ended up making the cover of NCAA I think.
In the '07 game it seemed like one bad news after another. I think you lost Reggie Smith who broke his toe and you guys had no momentum going into that game...
It was just a bad deal that year and everybody's healthy, everybody's doing good and that's kind of what's helped us through this season. Nobody's just gotten really hurt that we really needed. That's really good.
What good memories do you have of Arizona?
Let's see. Honestly, none. The hotel was nice and the food was great but other than that - if I had to choose to go back to Arizona, I'd rather go to Florida or something else. This is a BCS game and I'm looking forward to it and we have another opportunity to play for the Fiesta Bowl. It's great.
I think like a month ago we were talking about fourth quarters and road woes and you guys dispelled both of those. People are asking about BCS games and the Fiesta Bowl and you have an opportunity to eliminate that. Do you guys see that as a big opportunity?
We want to win of course and we want to prove we are still a team that can play in the BCS. We've proven that all season long. You know, like every team we've had our ups and downs and stuff. We're just going to go out there and do our thing and play some ball.
You've been around so much and you think about the BCS games that Bob Stoops has been in throughout the years. The one that's been the monkey on your back has been the Fiesta Bowl. Do you think seeing that trophy and winning that game has more significance?
I think so because I've been there, I've seen it and I've stood next to it. It's just been out of my reach and we've never been able to bring it home. I think now being a senior and other guys being seniors, we really want to take that trophy home with us. We've seen it before, we've been there before, the sights and smells of the University of Phoenix Stadium - we've all been there before. We really want to take this one home and do our part.