No. 8 Oklahoma Set for Opener

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 30, 2007

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NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma begins its 113th season of football competition when it hosts North Texas. The Sooners are opening at home for the fifth consecutive season and for the eighth time in Bob Stoops’ nine seasons. The game is slated for 6 p.m. on Saturday with a national telecast on FOX Sports Net. The game is a sellout.
This marks the seventh meeting between OU and UNT. Oklahoma has won the previous six, all in Norman, including four season openers. The Sooners scored 37 points against the Mean Green in each of the last three meetings, including a 37-3 win in the most recent, Aug. 30, 2003.

The Coaches
Oklahoma: Bob Stoops (Iowa ‘83) is 86-19 in his ninth season with the Sooners. He is 4-4 in bowls, 3-4 in January Bowls, 2-3 in BCS games, 49-10 vs. the Big 12, 27-7 vs. the Big 12 South, 22-3 vs. the Big 12 North, 3-1 in the Big 12 title game, 26-6 vs. non-conference opponents, 41-2 at home, 21-8 on the road, 14-8 on neutral fields and 22-7 vs. ranked opponents.
UNT: Todd Dodge (Texas ‘87) is in his first year as a college head coach.

The Program
• Oklahoma’s all-time record stands at 768-292-53.
• 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 524 victories.
• Some 142 All-Americans and four Heisman Trophy winners have come from the Oklahoma program.
This Week’s Opponent
• North Texas is under first-year college head coach and former Texas quarterback Todd Dodge. Dodge, most recently was a high successful coach at Carroll HS in Southlake, texas, still ranks No. 9 on Texas’ all-time list for passing yards (2,791) and touchdown passes (19). He played for the Longhorns from 1981-85 when UT was 2-2-1 against Oklahoma. Oklahoma can attest to the success of high school transitions -- Sooner women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale came to OU from Norman HS.
• The Mean Green won’t play at home until Sept. 22 when it hosts Florida Atlantic in a Sun Belt Conference game. Next week the squad will be at SMU.
• North Texas is located in Denton and has an enrollment of 33,500 students.

Ties With This Week’s Opponent
• There are five Okies on the Mean Green roster -- DE Blake Burruss from Oklahoma City, DB Robbie Gordon from Ardmore, DB Dominque Green from Lawton, DB Ellis Knight from Ardmore and K Steve Woodward from Tulsa.
• North Texas defensive line and special teams coach Robert Drake mentored OU kicker Garrett Hartley during Hartley’s prep career at Southlake HS.
• UNT defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Ron Mendoza has ties to Oklahoma. He played the first two years of his college career at Cameron University in Lawton.
• OU offensive guard Brandon Walker was teammates with two UNT players at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. The two are DB Roy Loren and QB Wilson Woody.
• Former Oklahoma softball All-American Erin Evans is now an assistant softball coach at UNT. Evans started as an outfielder for the Sooners from 2000-03.

For Openers
Oklahoma is 85-21-6 in season openers, including a 52-9-5 record in Norman.
• The Sooners saw a string of seven straight season-opening victories halted in 2005 with a 17-10 loss to TCU. Prior to that, OU had not lost an opener since a 24-0 setback to Northwestern at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1997. The last two openers OU lost at home both came to TCU, the other was in 1996, 20-7.
• Bob Stoops is 7-1 in openers, including a 6-1 mark on Owen Field. Oklahoma’s six season-opening victories under its current head coach were won by an average score of 40-13.
• OU is 44-8-5 when playing its opener at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Stoops' Openers
1999: Josh Heupel set school records with five touchdown passes and 31 completions in Bob Stoops’ first game, a 49-0 win over Indiana State.
2000: The highest recorded temperature for an OU football game hit 106 degrees. Renaldo Works scored the first three touchdowns of his career in a 55-14 win over UTEP.
2001: Big plays included an 88-yard kickoff return by Antwone Savage, a 47-yard interception return by Derrick Strait and a 12-yard fumble return by Rocky Calmus, all for TDs, as OU whipped North Carolina, 41-27.
2002: Antonio Perkins, in his first game as punt returner, logged the third-longest return in OU history with a 91-yarder for a TD in a 37-0 win at Tulsa. Quentin Griffin rushed for 237 yards.
2003: The first-game in the expanded stadium was also the first for Jason White after his second knee surgery. Jejuan Rankins became the second player in school history to score a touchdown on his first career reception. The Sooners thrashed North Texas, 37-3.
2004: Kejuan Jones (148) and Adrian Peterson (100) both eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in a 40-24 win over Bowling Green.
2005: The No. 7-ranked Sooners lost three fumbles and dropped a 17-10 decision to a TCU team that would go on to post a mark of 11-1.
2006: Adrian Peterson sprinted 69 yards with a short swing pass to score the final touchdown in Oklahoma’s 24-17 victory over a stubborn UAB team. It was the only touchdown reception of Peterson’s Sooner career.

South of the Border Success
Bob Stoops is 32-7 against teams from the state of Texas, including a 17-1 mark in Norman.

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.
• Last season, OU was 10-3 overall and 7-1 in the Big 12 South. The Sooners won their fourth Big 12 crown and 40th league title overall before advancing to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Home Field Honchos
Oklahoma is 47-2 at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium under Bob Stoops and has won its last 11 in a row there and 31 of its last 32. During Stoops’s tenure, which included home winning streaks of 19 and 17 games, OU has registered six shutouts on Owen Field.

TV, TV and More TV
The last 55 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 29-8 vs. non-league foes, 24-4 in regular season non-league games and 20-1 in non-conference home games.

Oklahoma Tackles Full 1-A Slate Again
Oklahoma has played exclusive Football Bowl Subdvision (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.

Noteable Rules Changes
• Timing rules have reverted to 2005 standards.
• Kickoffs will occur from the 30-yardline unless relocated by penalty.
• These situations now added to reviewable instant replays -- series of downs, bench inteference and whether a kicked ball was caught or muffed.

Record-Setting Attendance Numbers
With 507,366 in attendance for home games in 2006, Oklahoma has drawn 3,905,029 for Bob Stoops’ 49 home games (started in 1999).
• All 49 have been sold out and the Sooners have prevailed 47 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 85,313 for the ‘06 Texas Tech game was the largest ever to see a sporting event in the state of Oklahoma.
• OU has exceeded its listed capacity of 82,112 in 23 consecutive games.

 About the Sooner 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 lest one touchdown in every game dating back to Nov. 7, 1998.
• Under Stoops, OU has rushed for 200 yards 32 times, including 26 over the last four seasons.
• Also under Stoops, OU has 103 touchdowns of 25-plus yards and 220 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 Gets Nod at Quarterback
Three players competed through the spring and first three weeks of August before redshirt freshman Sam Bradford earned the starting job. His back-ups are junior Joey Halzle and true freshman Keith Nichol. Bradford is the 53rd QB at OU (dating back in records era to 1938) and the 20th to make his first start in an opener.
• 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.

First QB Starts in the Season Opener
• The best passing total by a first-time OU starter was set by Josh Heupel in 1999 when the junior threw for 353 yards in a 49-0 win over Indiana State. He eclipsed Garrick McGee, another junior, who threw for 276 in a 30-29 victory over Syracuse in 1999.
• The best passing total by a freshman QB in a season opener was 143 by Eric Moore in 1995 when the redshirt lifted OU to a 38-22 win over San Diego State.
• OU is 14-5 when a quarterback makes his first career start in an opener.
• Oklahoma has won 19 games and been to a pair of bowls over the last two seasons, yet neither time did it enter the campaign with a quarterback of much starting note. The 2005 season featured two that entered the season with no starts and the 2006 season featured a QB with one. OU has won four Big 12 titles with four different quarterbacks -- Josh Heupel (2000), Nate Hybl (2002), Jason White (2004) and Paul Thompson (2006).

O-Line of Historical Proportions
With an average height of nearly 6-5 (76.8 inches) and 316.6 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.

Filling in on Phil
At 6-8, Phil Loadholt is tied as the tallest football player on record at Oklahoma, and stands to be 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 Sooner Defense

• Oklahoma has forced at least one turnover in 94 of Bob Stoops’ 105 games and has at least one interception in 70 of the last 92 games. The Sooners have multiple picks in 26 of their last 61 outings.
• Opponents completed 50 percent or more of their passes in less than half of their games against Stoops-coached OU teams -- 50 times in 105 games.
• Foes scored less than 14 points in 48 of the 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 53 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.

OU in the NCAA Stats
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)

Very Hands-On
Last year, Oklahoma defenders touched the ball 93 times in the form of 61 pass deflections, 18 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries. Over a 14-game schedule, a Sooner defensive player touched the ball an average of 6.6 times per game and claimed 2.3 takeaways per game.
• Players who accounted for 13 of the team’s 18 interceptions last season return for 2007. The same is true for 11 of the 14 fumble recoveries.

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.

Secondary Improvement was Primary
Oklahoma made substantial improvement in the defensive secondary as a young group from 2005 remained relatively young in 2006, but much more experienced. In 2007, 10 of the 11 defensive backs who saw action, including six of the seven who drew starts, return. The only one who is not back is Jason Carter, who started one game last season. Here are some examples of how the defensive backs improved from 2005 to 2006 ...
• In 2005, Oklahoma defensive backs accounted for 23 of 47 pass break-ups, or 48%. In 2006, that number jumped to 35 of 61 for 57%. In 2005, the Sooner secondary had six of the team’s 13 interceptions for 46%. In 2006, it had 14 out of the 18 for 78%.

 About the Sooner Special Teams

Oklahoma’s special teams under Bob Stoops ...
• There have been 24 special teams TD, including 17 in the last 54 regular season games. Those 17 came via five different kinds of plays -- 10 punt returns, two faked field goals, two blocked punts, two kickoff returns and a faked punt. The special teams also own one safety in that span.
• In total, Oklahoma has returned six kickoffs and 14 punts for TDs on Stoops’ watch (since 1999).
• The Sooners have blocked 20 kicks.

Many Happy Returns
Information on returns during the Stoops era ...
• Kickoff Returns -- 48 returns of 25 yards or more with six touchdowns.
• Punt Returns -- 44 returns of 15 or more yards with 14 touchdowns.
• Interception Returns -- 59 returns of 10 or more yards with 17 touchdowns.
• Fumble Returns -- Three returns of 15 or more yards with three touchdowns.

Opposing teams have found it difficult to return any kind of kick against Oklahoma.
• Over the last three seasons, Oklahoma’s average rank in NCAA kickoff return coverage was 10th. 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.
• Oklahoma has ranked among the top 10 in punt return defense in five of the last seven seasons. Last season, the team ranked No. 9 as opponents could muster just 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 the long kicks and averaged 41.0 yards on 51 attempts. He had a long of 75 yards and another of 72. Nine of his kicks traveled at least 50 yards and he spread those long boots 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 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 87 games (86-19), spent 69 consecutive weeks in the national rankings, 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 Big 12 Coach of the year in three of his six campaigns in Norman.

This is one of the finest coaches in the history of one of college football’s most storied traditions.

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: Started seven games at SS in ‘05, then moved back to LB in the spring.

DT Cory Bennett: In the rotation in the deep defensive line ... started the 2005 opener.

OT Branndon Braxton: The starter at right tackle, he started three games at that position last year ... from the same hometown as Bob Stoops -- Youngstown, Ohio.

WR Quentin Chaney: Had two receptions for 26 yards while playing in six games last season.

FB Matt Clapp: Spent most of ‘05 on special teams ... competing for starting FB job.

SS Keenan Clayton: Redshirted last season, but the frontrunner at strong safety now.

DT Steven Coleman: Stellar off-season, maturation vaulted him to the top of the depth chart.

C Jon Cooper: Missed the last two games last season after suffering an injury at Texas Tech ... had won the starting center job before going down.

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

DT DeMarcus Granger: Redshirted last season, but figures to play considerably in 2006.

RB Jacob Gutierrez: Knee injury suffered in the Holiday Bowl kept him out of spring practice ... rushed for 173 yards against Baylor last season.

QB Joey Halzle: Mid-year transfer who has displayed an accurate throwing touch.

DB Nic Harris: Got two starts at FS last season. Could see time at the nickel this year, too.

K Garrett Hartley: Enters his third season as OU’s placekicker.

DB Lendy Holmes: Switched from WR to CB in the spring. Enjoyed a solid preseason and picked off two passes in the final public scrimmage.

WR Juaquin Iglesias: Enjoyed an outstanding true freshman season, highlighted by five catches for 85 yards in the Holiday Bowl.

WR Manuel Johnson: Caught the longest pass thrown by OU last season, a 55-yarder against Oklahoma State ... working through a nagging ankle injury.

WR Malcolm Kelly: One of the top freshman receivers in the country last season when he led OU in catches, receiving yards and receiving TD.

P Mike Knall: In the battle for the starting punter job, he was a back-up last season.

LB Curtis Lofton: Played sparingly last season as a true frosh, but is bound for more significant playing time in 2006.

QB Hays McEachern: Holder on OU placements.

OL Chris Messner: Starter at left tackle ... he started at right tackle most of last season when he pulled down the line’s highest grade.

OL Sherrone Moore: Transferred at mid-year from Butler County (Kan.) CC ... candidate to play at guard.

RB Allen Patrick: Back-up at running back, who is a good receiver and elusive runner ... will likely see action in a kickoff return role ... converted DB.

DT Carl Pendleton: Appears entrenched as one of the starters at defensive tackle.

RB Adrian Peterson: See information listed earlier in the release.

LB Demarrio Pleasant: The starter at strong side linebacker ... made one start last season in which he registered 10 tackles at UCLA.

OL George Robinson: Versatile sophomore who could play guard or tackle.

CB Reggie Smith: Slated for duty at CB, PR and possibly WR ... started 10 games at SS last season as a true freshman.

WR Fred Strong: The soph will likely see the most extensive action of his career.

CB Marcus Walker: Has battled back from two shoulder surgeries and will be a factor at CB ... he has four career starts there.

FS Darien Williams: Emerged last season to start the last four games at free safety.

DE John Williams: Back after suffering a season-ending injury in last season’s opener.

CB D.J. Wolfe: Had two interceptions last season, including one that he returned 65 yards for a touchdown against Kansas.

FB Dane Zaslaw: The former linebacker is competing for the starting fullback job.



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