No. 3 Sooners Welcome Utah State

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Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
SEPTEMBER 13, 2007
Boomer Bytes
Photos Notes (PDF) | OU Quotes | Utah State Quotes | OU Depth Chart | 2007 Football Guide

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma, fresh off a 51-13 win against Miami, hosts its final non-conference home game of the of the 2007 season when Utah State visits Norman on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Sooners are ranked No. 3 in the latest AP poll. The Aggies (0-2) have held leads in each of their first two games, but dropped a home decision to UNLV and a road verdict at Wyoming.

The Series
It's the fourth meeting between the two, the fourth to be played in Norman and the fourth time that OU entered the game against an unranked Aggie team with a top-10 ranking of its own. The Sooners won in 1972 (49-0), in 1974 (72-3) and in 1991 (55-21).

The Coaches
Oklahoma: Bob Stoops (Iowa `83) is 88-19 in his ninth season with the Sooners. He is 4-4 in bowls, 3-3 in January Bowls, 2-3 in BCS games, 56-11 vs. the Big 12, 31-8 vs. the Big 12 South, 25-3 vs. the Big 12 North,4-1 in the Big 12 title game, 31-8 vs. non-conference opponents, 49-2 at home, 25-9 on the road, 13-8 on neutral fields and 25-10 vs. ranked opponents.
Utah State: Brent Guy (Oklahoma State `83) is 4-21 in his third season with the Aggies.

The Program
• Oklahoma's all-time record stands at 770-292-53.
• The Sooners own seven national championships (1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000).
• OU has 40 bowl appearances (No. 7 nationally) with 24 victories (No. 3 nationally).
• Oklahoma has won 40 conference titles.
• Since WWII, Oklahoma is the most success college football program with 526 victories.
• Some 142 All-Americans and four Heisman Trophy winners have come from the Oklahoma program.

Pay-Per-View Information
The Oklahoma-Utah State game will be televised live on pay-per-view by Big 12 Special Order Sports, FSN Southwest's pay-per-view division. It will be available on participating cable television systems in Oklahoma and Texas and nationwide to satellite dish customers. Suggested retail price is $29.95. A list of participating programming providers carrying the PPV telecast will be announced this week. Participating cable and satellite TV providers will offer the telecast to their customers on a designated pay-per-view channel. The game will be replayed on FSN Southwest on Monday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m.

This Week's Opponent
• Utah State dropped its opener to UNLV (23-16) at home before going to Wyoming an absorbing another loss (32-18) last Saturday. In that Wyoming game, USU led 18-14 with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter, but could not stave off the Cowboys. The Aggies were 0-of-13 on third down.
• The Aggies rank No. 12 nationally in net punting at 40.38 yards per kick. They are No. 20 in kickoff returns at 26.27 and No. 24 in punt returns at 16.25. The team has struggled offensively, currently carrying a No. 107 national ranking (257.0 ypg). USU is No. 56 in total defense (341.5 ypg).
• Punter and quarterback Leon Jackson ranks No. 6 nationally with a punting average of 47.09 yards. Wide receiver Kevin Robinson ranks No. 13 in all-purpose yards (197.0 and No. 18 in punt returns (16.25).
• This USU team returns 19 starters, 11 on defense, seven on offense and one specialist.
• The Aggies play just two of their first six games at home. For the season, Utah State plays seven of its 12 games on the road.
• USU was 1-11 last season and is trying to snap and eight-game losing streak. That victory last season came in sixth game when the Aggies nipped Fresno State, 13-12.
• The Aggies are 9-39-1 against the Big 12. They own six wins over Colorado and three over Kansas State.
• Utah State has an impressive history of churning out NFL talent -- Merlin Olson, Cornell green, MacArthur Lane, Jim Turner and Rulon Jones to name a few.

Ties with This Week's Opponent
• Utah State head coach Brent Guy was a defensive end/linebacker at Oklahoma State from 1979-82. He graduated from OSU in 1983 and started his coaching career as a graduate assistant there in 1986. He became the recruiting coordinator in 1988 before working as linebackers coach from 1989-91. He left for three seasons at an assistant at Utah State before returning to Oklahoma State in 1995 as linebackers coach. He remained there through the 1997 season.
• Utah State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Darrell Dickey most recently coached at North Texas, where he was 0-4 vs. Oklahoma. He also saw OU as a player when he quarterbacked Kansas State from 1979-82. His father, Jim, was defensive backs coach for the Sooners from 1969-72.
• USU wide receivers coach Greg Stevens was the defensive backs and special teams coordinator at Snow (Utah) Junior College in 1998. That same year OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel was playing his sophomore season at Snow.
• Utah State offensive line coach Vance Vice was born in Grove, Okla., and later graduated from Bristow HS. He was a defensive lineman and tight end at Oklahoma State from 1985-89 and graduated from OSU in 1990.
• Dave Kragthorpe, special assistant to the athletics director at USU, and formerly the AD there from 1983-84, is the father of former Tulsa and current Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe.

Oklahoma's Most Recent Game
Oklahoma blistered Miami (Fla.), 51-13, last Saturday in Norman ...
• Oklahoma never trailed in the game, but Miami did close to within 21-13 during the third quarter. The Sooners then reeled off 30 unanswered points.
• A crowd of 85,357, the largest in OU history, witnessed the game.
• Sam Bradford completed 19-of-25 passes for 205 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. Three of Bradford's scoring throws went to Malcolm Kelly.
• OU's rushing total of 116 yards is deceiving. The Sooners suffered a 44-yard loss after a high snap on a punt.
• Miami's defense struggled to generate any production. The Hurricanes rushed for just 52 yards and completed only 11-of-24 passes for 87 more. UM managed just seven first downs as compared with 25 for Oklahoma.
• Juaquin Iglesias had 110 yards in kickoff returns, the ninth-best total in school history.
• In spite of the new kickoff yard line, Garrett Harley had three more touchbacks.
the sooners briefly
• Oklahoma was tabbed for a second-place finish in the Big 12's South Division in a preseason polling of league media. Defensive back Reggie Smith was named the league's preseason defensive player of the year.
• There are 34 players on this team with previous experience as a starter for OU. That's up from 10 from the same time last season.

Sooner Stuff
• Oklahoma is 49-2 at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium under Bob Stoops and has won its last 13 in a row there and 33 of its last 34. During Stoops's tenure, which included home winning streaks of 19 and 17 games, OU has registered six shutouts on Owen Field.
• The last 57 Oklahoma games have been televised. A very small number of those were carried on a pay-per-view or tape-delayed basis, but the vast majority were either over the air or on cable through widely recognized networks.
• Bob Stoops is 31-8 vs. non-league foes, 26-4 in regular season non-league games and 22-1 in non-conference home games.
• Oklahoma has played exclusive Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) opposition since Bob Stoops' opener in 1999 (a 49-0 win over I-AA Indiana State). The entire 2007 schedule is comprised of FBS competition.

Stoops Era Attendance
Oklahoma has drawn 4,074,858 for Bob Stoops' 51 home games (started in 1999).
• All 51 have been sold out and the Sooners have prevailed 48 times.
• Last year's average home attendance of 84,561 was the largest in school history. The top seven seasons for OU home attendance have come on Stoops' watch.
• The crowd of 85,357 for this year's Miami game is the largest in school history. The 84,472 for this year's North Texas game was the largest ever for an OU opener
• OU has exceeded its listed capacity of 82,112 in 25 consecutive games.

 About the Offense

• Under Stoops, Oklahoma has produced its career leader in passing and receiving, while turning out the No. 3- and No. 4-ranked rusher in school history and the school record holder for single-season rushing.
• OU has scored at least one touchdown in every game dating back to Nov. 7, 1998.
• Under Stoops, OU has rushed for 200 yards 33 times, including 27 over the last five seasons.
• Also under Stoops, OU has 108 TDs of 25-plus yards and 227 scoring drives that took less than two minutes.
• OU's 2006 team missed perfect offensive balance by just 202 yards (2,682 passing, 2,480 rushing). The 2005 team missed it by just one yard and the 2003 squad was off by only 160.

Bradford Has Special Ties to OU and State
Three players competed through the spring and first three weeks of August before redshirt freshman Sam Bradford earned the starting QB job.
• Bradford is a certified Cherokee Indian. His great, great grandmother (father's side) was Susie Walkingstick. Oklahoma is home to more Native Americans (250,000+) than any other state.
• Bradford's father, Kent, was an offensive lineman at OU. He lettered in 1977 and 1978.
• Bradford completed his last 18 passes of the North Texas game and his first four against Miami. That string of 22 straight broke Jason White's school record of 18 and challenged the NCAA record of 24 set by Tennessee's Tee Martin.

One for the Thumb
One Oklahoma player has had a hand in scoring five touchdowns in each of the first two games. In week one, DeMarco Murray ran for five touchdowns and in week two Sam Bradford tied a school record when he threw for five.

National Numbers
Oklahoma's offense has vaulted itself to the upper echelon of the NCAA statistical categories ...
• No. 1 in passing efficiency at 241.64.
• No. 2 in scoring with 65.0 per game.
• No. 6 in total offense with 539.5 yards per game.
• No. 7 in passing offense with 349.0 yards per game.
• Sam Bradford is No. 1 in passing efficiency at 237.73, Malcolm Kelly and DeMarco Murray are tied for No. 6 in scoring with 15.0 points/game and Kelly is No. 15 in receiving yards 110.0/game.

More on Malcolm
Malcolm Kelly has 103 career receptions for 1,684 yards and 17 touchdowns. Kelly ranks No. 10 (tied with Josh Norman) on OU's career receptions list, No. 5 on the receiving yards list and No. 2 (tied with Travis Wilson) on the receiving TDs list. Current Baltimore Raven Mark Clayton set the touchdown mark at 31.

Tight End Tandem
Oklahoma features one of the top tight end tandems in the nation in 6-6, 261-pound Joe Jon Finley and 6-5, 263-pound Jermaine Gresham. Last season, the two combined to average 1.9 receptions per game. Thus far in `07, they're averaging 6.5. Another tight end, Brody Eldridge, who often lines up as the H-back, is on the preseason list for the Mackey Award.

O-Line of Historical Proportions
With an average height of nearly 6-5 (76.6 inches) and 322.4 pounds this is one of the biggest offensive lines in Oklahoma history. During the Stoops era (since 1999) this is the heaviest line. The 2004 line tipped the scales at 307.8 pounds. By height, this is the third-tallest line of the Stoops era. The 2002 and 2003 lines both measured 77.2 inches.
• At 6-8, Phil Loadholt is tied as the tallest football player on record at Oklahoma, and the tallest starter. The only previous player at 6-8 was Chris Watkins, recruited in 1988 from Amarillo (Texas) HS. Watkins lettered in 1991, but never started. There have been 17 OU players at 6-7 (for research, only measurements from a player's final season at Oklahoma were used).

 About the Defense

• OU has forced at least one turnover in 96 of Bob Stoops' 107 games and has at least one interception in 71 of the last 94 games. The Sooners have multiple picks in 27 of their last 63 outings.
• Opponents completed 50 percent or more of their passes in less than half of their games against Stoops-coached OU teams -- 52 times in 107 games.
• Oklahoma has nine shutouts under its current head coach. Opponents failed to score more than seven points 28 times and scored less than 14 in 54 games.
• Last season, only two of the 14 opponents reached their scoring average in games against Oklahoma and just two were able to exceed their average total yardage figure. After game three, only one team exceeded its scoring average and none met their yardage number.

A History of Great Defense
Oklahoma consistently ranks among nation's best in the key NCAA statistics of total defense and scoring defense. Here is a look at those Sooner rankings under its current head coach ...
2006: No. 16 in total defense (287.1), No. 20 in scoring defense (17.3)
2005: No. 13 in total defense (306.7), No. 37 in scoring defense (23.1)
2004: No. 13 in total defense (299.0), No. 11 in scoring defense (16.8)
2003: No. 3 in total defense (259.6), No. 5 in scoring defense (15.3)
2002: No. 10 in total defense (293.1), No. 6 in scoring defense (15.4)
2001: No. 4 in total defense (262.8), No. 4 in scoring defense (13.8)
2000: No. 8 in total defense (278.9), No. 7 in scoring defense (16.0)
1999: No. 39 in total defense (344.4), No. 16 in scoring defense (18.4)
• The current Sooners are No. 1 nationally in tackles for loss (13.0/game), No. 6 in rushing defense, No. 11 in total defense and No. 15 in scoring defense.
• That tackle for loss figure is impressive because 12 different players have a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Eight of those were sacks.
• With an interception return for a touchdown, a fumble return for a touchdown and a safety, Oklahoma's defense has accounted for 16 points this season (including PATs).

Paper of Plastic?
It's probably too early to be tracking, but for the sake of conversation Oklahoma is averaging four sacks per game. That average is on track to tie the school record of 48 set in 1986. In an era of spreads, shotguns and quick releases it's worth noting.

Touchy, Feely Defense
Sooner defenders have already touched the ball 10 times this season with six break-ups, three interceptions and one fumble recovery. OU is averaging 29 yards on interception/fumble returns with a pair of touchdowns.

Stoops Era Staple: Run Defense
Nineteen times, Bob Stoops-coached Oklahoma teams have held opponents under 40 rushing yards in a game. Four times the total has resulted in negative yards. Last season, thanks in part to five sacks, the Sooners limited Baylor to -48 yards on the ground. That was the best single-game rushing defense performance by any team in the nation in 2006 and the best by an Oklahoma team during the Stoops Era.
• OU has ranked no worse than 23rd in national rushing defense over the last seven seasons. Three times in that span it ranked among the top 10 and six times it was among the top 20.

 About the Special Teams

Oklahoma's special teams under Bob Stoops ...
• There have been 24 special teams TD, including 17 in the last 56 regular season games. Those 17 came via five different kinds of plays -- 10 punt returns, two faked FGs, two blocked punts, two kickoff returns and a faked punt. The special teams also own one safety in that span.
• In total, OU has returned six kickoffs and 14 punts for TDs on Stoops' watch (since 1999).
• The Sooners have blocked 20 kicks.

Leg Weary
K Garrett Hartley tied a school record when he made 11 extra point kicks in the opener (11-of-11), but he also kicked off 12 times, which means he had 23 kicks during the game.
• If the new kickoff rule is supposed to hinder Hartley, it doesn't show. He is averaging 68.5 yards per kickoff (ball lands inside the two yard line) with six touchbacks in 21 attempts.
• Opposing teams are averaging just 16.9 yards per return after Hartley's kickoffs.

Many Happy Returns
Information on returns during the Stoops era ...
• Kickoff Returns -- 52 returns of 25 yards or more with six TD. n Punt Returns -- 45 returns of 15 or more yards with 14 TD. n Interception Returns -- 60 returns of 10 or more yards with 18 TD. n Fumble Returns -- Four returns of 15 or more yards with four TD.

Got-R-Covered
• Over the last three seasons, Oklahoma's average rank in NCAA kickoff return coverage was No. 10. Oklahoma's "worst" season-ending national ranking in that category came in 2005 (No. 15). The 2004 team ranked No. 4. Last season, the Sooners ranked 13th and gave up just 17.4 yards per return. The longest return by an opponent was 34 yards. Prior to Bob Stoops' arrival, opposing teams had averaged at least 22 yards per kickoff return in five straight seasons. Since he arrived, the best opposing average was 18.9 in 2001.
• OU has ranked among the top 10 in punt return defense in five of the last seven seasons. Last season, the team ranked No. 9 at 4.2 yards per punt return. The longest punt return by an opposing player was 14 yards. The 2006 campaign marked the third in a row in which the Sooners held their opponents to less than 5.0 yards per punt return.

Two-Headed Punter
Oklahoma used two punters last season and both return ...
• Michael Cohen handled long kicks and averaged 41.0 yards. He had a long of 75 yards and another of 72. Nine of his kicks traveled at least 50 yards and he spread those over six games.
• Mike Knall kicked on a short field and averaged 39.7 yards per boot with nine of his 11 tries downed inside the 20. He had only one touchback.

Sooners Have Hart-ley
K Garrett Hartley was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award and is on the watch list for that award again this year ...
• Hartley was 19-of-20 on field goals and 49-of-50 on PATs in 2006. His lone field goal miss was a blocked kick at Oregon. He kicked off 78 times with 31 touchbacks.
• His field goal made percentage of .950 was tops in the nation among kickers with at least 10 makes. He made his last 11 attempts of the season.
• Hartley ranked No. 20 nationally in field goals made per game with 1.36 and was No. 21 in scoring with 7.57 points per game.
• Hartley made a career-high four field goals at Oregon.
• Hartley has three career makes of 50 yards or longer. His long last season was 46 yards, which he accomplished twice.

 Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops

History is one tough customer at Oklahoma. The tradition, so rich and so long-standing, is as daunting as it is impressive. To be among the best at Oklahoma is to be among the best in college football.

Such dramatics are lost on Bob Stoops. The Sooner head coach befriended the would-be albatross of OU's successful past from his first day on campus and remains steadfastly focused on tomorrow and the championship it holds.

It falls then to the observers and experts of the game to define Stoops' impact. Rarely have the pundits had it so easy.

Under Stoops, Oklahoma has won 88 games (88-19), been ranked for 120 weeks in the AP Poll (69 consecutive at one point) and 1198 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, played in seven bowl games, four of the BCS variety, and captured three Big 12 crowns. His 2000 team won the national championship. On a playing field leveled by scholarship limits and parity, this era stares down the Oklahoma standard and does not blink.

The achievement dulls the memory of what Stoops inherited. When he arrived in Norman, the proud Sooner program was five years removed from a winning record, four from bowl play. Those atypical days of angst are so forgotten now that they might as well be mentioned with the land rush and dust bowl.

Stoops has been characterized as a grounded family man, brilliant big-game coach, relentless recruiter, disciplined leader and a person with uncommon perspective. His success emanates from a disciplined style true to his roots in the Steel Valley of Ohio, but he is far from inflexible. The principles to which he holds are the tried and true axioms of the sport ... mixed with cutting edge strategy and an appreciation for the calculated risk.

During his time, OU has produced record-setting passers and receivers, three 1,000-yard rushers, suffocating defense and special teams units that rank among the most dynamic in the land. Every facet has been impacted.

His players have snagged 16 national awards, including the 2003 Heisman Trophy won by Jason White. There have been 58 academic honorees, 53 All-Big 12 players, 22 All-Americans and 32 NFL draft choices.

Stoops has won a total of 10 national coach of the year awards and has been consensus Big 12 Coach of the year in three times.

The son of a coach, Stoops was a four-year starter at Iowa. He began his coaching career in 1983 as a volunteer in the Hawkeye program under Hayden Fry. He worked through the ranks until he became co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State (1991-95) during Bill Snyders rein.

With the Wildcats, he played a key role in an impressive turnaround. During his final four seasons there, K-State was 35-12 with three bowl appearances. Eventually, he left for Florida and a three-year stint as Steve Spurrier's defensive coordinator. In 1996, he was part of a national championship team. It was with the Gators that the spotlight found Stoops and made him one of the hottest names in the profession.

Stoops, who was born Sept. 9, 1960, in Youngstown, Ohio, graduated from Iowa in 1983 with a degree in marketing. He and his wife, Carol, have three children: daughter, Mackenzie, and twin sons, Drake and Isaac.

 Individual Player Notes

LB Lewis Baker: One of the top special teams contributors and the wedge-breaker on kickoffs ... started against Miami and had five tackles.

DT Cory Bennett: Came off the bench in the opener then started against Miami.

OT Branndon Braxton: Started the opener at right tackle, worked in a reserve role in week two.

FB Matt Clapp: Listed a back-up at fullback.

P Michael Cohen: Handles long punting situations for OU ... averaged 43.5 yards on two punts in the opener, 43.0 in week two.

DT Steven Coleman: In the four-man rotation in the inside positions.

C Jon Cooper: The starter at center, he is the most experienced of OU's linemen.

DE Alonzo Dotson: Got his first career start against Miami and logged one of the Sooners' two sacks.

DE Auston English: Played sparingly in 2005, then redshirted the following season ... got his first career start against North Texas and responded with four tackles and one sack.

TE Joe Jon Finley: Has added 41 pounds since coming to OU ... excellent hands.

DT DeMarcus Granger: Got his first career start in the opener, then worked in a reserve role against Miami.

TE Jermaine Gresham: Had a career-high eight receptions vs. Miami and one of those went for a touchdown.

RB Jacob Gutierrez: Went over 500 career rushing yards in the North Texas game.

QB Joey Halzle: Was 4-of-5 for 40 yards with no interceptions while playing a back-up role in the opener ... threw his first career TD pass when he hooked up with Adron Tennell on 61-yarder against Miami.

DB Nic Harris: Starter at FS, he returned an interception 24 yards for a TD vs. North Texas.

K Garrett Hartley: Tied a school record with 11 PATs vs. North Texas ... four-year starter.

DB Lendy Holmes: Started at WR, moved to CB and is now a safety.

WR Juaquin Iglesias: Team highs with seven grabs for 128 yards vs. North Texas ... three kickoff returns for 110 yards, the ninth-highest yardage total in school history, against Miami.

WR Manuel Johnson: One catch for five yards in the opener ... had his first career pass attempt and completion against Miami when he hit Malcolm Kelly on a 25-yarder.

WR Malcolm Kelly: Brilliant in the North Texas game with four grabs for 118 yards and two TD ... four catches for 102 yards and three touchdowns against Miami.

P Mike Knall: Handles short field punting situations ... one punt vs. North Texas for 34 yards and it was inside the 20.

LB Curtis Lofton: Career-high 11 tackles vs. North Texas ... leading tackler for OU with 16.

RB Mossis Madu: Tied DeMarco Murray for rushing honors against North Texas with 87 yards (1 TD) on nine attempts.

QB Hays McEachern: Holder on OU placements.

RB DeMarco Murray: Scored five touchdowns against North Texas, all via rushing, to set an OU record for most TDs in a debut game ... led OU with 15 rushes for 64 yards vs. Miami.

QB Keith Nichol: True freshman was the No. 3 QB against North Texas when he rushed once for eight yards.

RB Allen Patrick: Could have played in the opener, but was held out ... carried seven times for 47 yards against Miami ... suffered a sprained right ankle early in the August drills.

LB Ryan Reynolds: Got his first career start against North Texas and finished with three tackles and one sack ... six tackles vs. Miami.

OL Duke Robinson: Versatile sophomore who could play guard or tackle ... starter at LG.

CB Reggie Smith: In his first full year at corner ... preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year ... also a kick and punt returner ... 61-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Miami ... has three career touchdowns.

WR Adron Tennell: Silky smooth back-up to Malcolm Kelly, he had three catches for 35 yards against North Texas ... 61-yard touchdown reception from Joey Halzle against Miami.

CB Marcus Walker: Has battled back from two shoulder surgeries to become on of the top corners in the Big 12 ... broke up two passes against Miami.

FS Darien Williams: Slowed by leg injury after a productive 2006.

DE John Williams: Got his first career start in the opener ... was sidelined in 2005 by a knee injury and in 2006 by illness ... forced the fumble that Reggie Smith returned 61 yards for a touchdown against Miami.

CB D.J. Wolfe: Moved to strong safety during preseason drills and was so impressive that he won the starting job.

FB Dane Zaslaw: The former linebacker is now in his second season as a fullback ... got his first career touchdown on a nine-yard reception against Miami.

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