Media Day Quotes

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 03, 2013
  OU Football Media Day Quotes
 Head Coach Bob Stoops
 Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops
 Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel
 Co-Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell
 QB Blake Bell
 QB Trevor Knight
 LB Corey Nelson
 RB Brennan Clay
 WR Sterling Shepard

 OL Austin Woods
 OL Daryl Williams
 LB Frank Shannon
 DE Geneo Grissom

Head Coach Bob Stoops
Opening Statement:
“As we’ve been saying for the past week, all of us are excited for the 2013 season. It’s been fun here the last three days to have a chance to be out on the field again with our players. They’re doing a really good job and I’m really excited about the attitude and the chemistry and the way the guys are working together.

“Offensively, we’re disappointed that Kendal Thompson fractured his foot, though the procedure went really well. He is expected to return in six weeks, maybe a little less but the way it all went they were incredibly pleased about it. That’s always a positive sign that there was nothing unexpected and they felt really good about how it all went. That puts Kendal back in the mix very early in the season. The other guys, between Blake Bell and Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas, will continue to rep and battle it out here for the next couple of weeks. But like I told Kendal, we are very pleased and excited about what he’s done over the past couple years he has been here and the progress he has made has showed over the  last year that he can catch up and be a factor here for us after the first couple of games. That position though will really be supported in a great way with experience. That position will have a lot of experience in the huddle around them, hopefully able to support them and help them make plays.

“Defensively, we lose the most guys so there is quite a bit of inexperience, but we’ve been very excited and pleased about the talent in the young guys coming up and playing in a lot of those positions. A year ago there were a lot of games that were a little bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in that we had probably six or seven games where we played really well and a couple where we played incredibly poor. We’ve got to be more consistent defensively in our play and if we do, we’ll have a chance to make an improvement. There are two ways as coaches we can help put them in some better positions and some of the players who have the opportunities to make plays need to be able to make them.

“Special teams-wise I feel really good about Michael Hunnicutt. For three days, I think he’s been perfect in everything that we’ve kicked. Punter Jed Barnett is doing a really good job and right now would be the guy that we feel really good about.  We’ve got a challenging year ahead of us and it really starts from the beginning with Louisiana-Monroe on through. Our first many games are all bowl teams and really strong teams that had good years a year ago. We’re excited about being back at it and hopefully building for the year.”

On possible changes to the defense:
“You don’t want to tip your hand to things you’re going to do differently. There are different areas where we felt there might have been too much coverage and we needed to be able to put our guys in a little better run defense. We’ll change some things and manipulate it to a degree and be in a little better position to run with the pass.”

On the inexperience of the defensive line:
“The spring game had all the same guys in there playing a very experienced offensive line. Every year when guys graduate you’re going to lose some experience. Other guys have to be able to come in and play. I believe there are some guys coming up that have a chance to be good players, they just haven’t had the chance to be on the field as much yet. A year ago, was all about the receivers and the guys who weren’t going to play and who’s hurt and who’s gone. And now, they’re one of our better groups.  I’m not one to say anyone is the best, but they were one of the better ones. That was probably a surprise to everybody. Is there a Gerald McCoy? No, but there’s not going to be that every year, either.”

On Aaron Colvin’s leadership:
“Aaron is a great leader. He’s a great player and the other players recognize that. He’s very competitive and how he plays and he is one of our best leaders. He’s done a good job here in just a few days.”

On Corey Nelson:
“Corey looks like he is in tremendous shape. He’s worked really hard and looked good the past couple days. He’ll have a big role in what we’re doing.”

On the preparedness of the quarterbacks to throw a lot of balls in camp:
“Coach (Josh) Heupel always does a great job monitoring those guys. That’s why in spring and summer they’re throwing hundreds of balls a day to build up that endurance. The guys will get different reps but it won’t change what we’re doing. They’re getting a lot of snaps. They’ve had a lot of snaps.”

On splitting time between quarterbacks and naming the starter:
Anything is possible. Is it what I prefer? No. When we feel it’s the right time and feel a guy has really separated himself and we feel comfortable releasing it, we will. There have been times where we have known it and worked it for a week before we’ve released it. This isn’t anything new to us. We’ve won eight Big 12 Championships with six different quarterbacks. Not one, not two, but six. Our method of doing it has been very successful. We feel good about what these guys are doing.”

On how Coach Bedenbaugh has handled the offensive line:
“I like what Bill has done. Overall, the offensive line is a very cohesive group. I like the way they’re communicating and executing. It’s a really good group right now that I hope will continue to progress. Bill has done an excellent job coming in and really relating to them and helping them to improve.”

On Chuka Ndulue’s progress:
“Chuka is really doing a good job in there. He’s gained some good strength and size and is doing a good job. I think he’s strong and he’s playing explosively so I think he’s in a good position. I think some of it is that he’s gained the strength and size to help him just inside. Those guys playing tackle aren’t small, either. So I think his ability to move and his quickness in there will help him too. As much as anything, learning the different blocks you’re going to get and getting comfortable with the blocking schemes you’re going to see on the inside as opposed to outside.”

On Jalen Saunders:
“As everyone saw a year ago, Jalen is a very exciting and explosive big play guy. He’s got a great quickness and feel in there. I’m hopeful and believe he can come on and make some really big plays. He has that ability for sure.”

On true freshmen being major players:
Jordan [Evans] is doing great and has a great feel in there. He is an excellent athlete in the linebacker position. We are really excited about him and Dominique Alexander. They have looked great. Linebackers and safeties shouldn’t have to be told much. The really great ones just feel their way. They feel where the ball is and they show up at the ball. In a few days, these guys are showing that. I am really excited about all the young guys. There’s too many to mention just one but they’re picking it up. We might have to put Jordan back there for kick returns.”

On the defense over the past three days:
“All those defensive backs are doing well and picking things up. The young guys up front are doing a real good job and showing signs of what you need. Ahmad Thomas and Hatari Byrd are playing well. They’ve got the size and speed and are showing they can play.”

On Mike Stoops’ second year at OU:
“I look for improvement and him having the opportunity to feel the pace of play and how teams will play in this league. I believe we will overall have a chance to be better.”

On Cortez Johnson:
“Cortez is a big corner that has really played well. He’s doing well here so far. He’s got a lot of range to him. We’re hoping he’ll continue to come on and be a strong player for us.”

On Aaron Colvin staying for his senior season:
“I told Roy Williams to leave. I told AD (Adrian Peterson) he needed to go. The NFL is so complex and what they look at. It’s what are you going to do at the combine and what are you going to weigh and run. Being prepared for the combine is the key. Aaron is already bigger, stronger and faster and that’s a big deal. Aaron had a good year last year and I think adding to that and playing consistently and making big plays can help him. He is the most experienced of anyone out there and hopefully he’ll exhibit that leadership.”

On the coaching staff changes:
“It’s really been pretty seamless with the transition. They’re all bright, excellent workers. They’re picking up what we’re doing scheme-wise pretty easily. For instance, Bill (Bedenbaugh) and what they’re doing at West Virginia has really been the nuts and bolts of what we’ve always done so it makes it fairly easy to do. I hope they continue to bring excellent coaching and strong, good ideas scheme-wise. They’ve already been working hard with recruitment.”

On the junior college transfers:
“Quincy Russell is still finishing some classes. Josiah St. John just got here and we’re getting him up to speed. Dionte Savage and Tony Feo are doing a really good job. They’re guys that have the ability to play in this league and play well. They’ll be in that rotation and if not, fighting for starting jobs.”

On Alex Ross:
“Just in a few days, he looks good. I’m excited about Alex. He’s physical and a big guy and he can run. Watching him out there now, there are fewer mistakes and he’s getting comfortable and knows what to do.”

On possibly becoming the winningest coach in OU history:
“I don’t know that there is much to talk about. All it means is I’ve been here a long time. I don’t think about it to be honest with you. I’m trying to do a job and I’m not a numbers guy so it really doesn’t matter. When I took the Oklahoma job, it was not a stepping stone job. You don’t come here to win and get another job or a great job. I took a great job. I didn’t know I’d be with the same president and athletic director for going on 15 years. It doesn’t happen that much in today’s world. I’ve been supported in an incredible way through great players and coaches and a great administration that built facilities that allow us to compete like we have in such a positive way."

Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops
Opening Statement:
“We’re excited to get back to work. In some areas, we’re a little disappointed in the way we ended [last season] defensively. That was frustrating in a lot of different areas: personnel, coaching, everything that kind of led to our collapse down the stretch. It’s something that we’re very conscious of. We want to make some adjustments in our style and our play; in everything we do. We want to a little more diverse in our looks and our approach. We were probably too predictable last year in our inability to stop the run. If you can’t stop the run, it becomes very difficult to play good defense. Our inability to consistently stop the run down the stretch was frustrating. We want to make good on that, and certainly that will play in to our chances of being in the thick of things and competing for another championship. That’s really going to be the key to all these teams that we look at. It’s who can make the adjustments and play the best and most consistent defense in this league. We have four starters back and some quality back-ups from a year ago. We have a lot of talented players. It’s all about getting a good scheme, getting our players to play hard and be efficient in everything that we do.”

On impact of younger players to the secondary:
“I’ve gotten to see all of the players we recruited on defense and am really pleased with our ability to become more athletic as a group defensively. We like all of our guys. Physically, [freshman defensive back] Hatari Byrd has been really positive in his three days of work. He’s played three different positions in three days. As a freshman, that’s a lot of work. He’s getting a lot of work and showing the versatility of his game. We’ve been pleased with all of the guys, including our two linebackers Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans.”

On making adjustments to stopping the run:
“I think in this league the ability to stretch the field with the run and the ability to stretch the field throwing it is our dilemma. Run-pass conflicts become very multiple in this league. [Offenses] are very good at it. Baylor is probably the best at run-pass. Do you put more [defensive backs] in, or do you let those receivers run down the field? It’s a hard dilemma, and you’ve got to find a balance and a way to be able to attack it and a way to be sound in the secondary. Hopefully, we will come up with some different ideas than we had a year ago.”

On the expectations for this season:
“Our expectation will be to play great defense. We’re not going to change that. Numbers aren’t relevant. You have to look at the totality of what we’re trying to do. To me, the biggest thing is making the offenses work harder and giving them more looks. That’s what we have to be able to do. We’re not good enough to just line up and maul people. Nobody really is anymore at this length; just the isolation on the islands because of the spread formations.”

On adjusting the definition of what it means to play great defense:
“I think we know what great defense is. I think our players know what the expectation is. Holding people to 17 points or 10 points in a game in this age is just not realistic. Now, letting them run up and down the field for 700 yards, that isn’t realistic either. The [West Virginia’s former wide receiver] Tavon Austin thing either – that’s embarrassing. There’s a balance in there. Again, we all made a lot of mistakes. Maybe we got lulled to sleep during the first eight weeks of the season. Even Baylor; we played well in the Baylor game. What did we hold them to, 24, and then they scored in the last minute to close it to eight? We’re up 15 with one or two minutes left in the game? That’s another very high-powered offense. They ran for 250 yards but only threw for 108. It’s give-and-take, and finding the right balance in this league is a constant battle. Those are the things where, as a defensive coordinator and players, we try to be realistic about what we can and can’t do.”

On the work of his defensive tackles:
“Jordan [Phillips], Chuka [Ndulue], Torrea Peterson, those guys have to come on and be productive players for us. We need more production out of our front. Charles Tapper, Geneo Grissom, all of those guys need to be more productive players. We need more production out of our D-line. Hopefully we’ll develop some playmakers.”

On Hatari Byrd’s play so far:
“He’s very knowledgeable. He’s easy to coach. He wants to be great. His maturity level is one of the highest I’ve seen this early on in a career. His maturity physically—we all know what he looks like—but his maturity mentally and athletically. That’s a very unique set of tools to work with in a kid this young. He may be the biggest, fastest guy we’ve seen at this age. Again, he possesses a lot of intangible qualities, but it’s only three days. So far, so good. We think he has a bright future.”

On the potential of his defensive backs:
“Cortez Johnson is a guy that, now that he’s getting his chance, has to step up and be a player for us. Zach Sanchez needs to step up and be a player for us. Those young guys, like Stanvon Taylor, have to step up and mature. He’s another kid that shows great maturity, great desire for a young kid. All these kids—I’ve been very pleased to work with all the players through the first three days. Now, how much will they progress? None of them are ready to go out there and play Baylor or Oklahoma State, I can promise you that, but they’re on the right track. They work hard and they’re very conscientious kids.”

On his comfort level in his second season:
“I think it makes it a lot easier. I learned a lot about each particular team throughout the course of the year. Situational football: What they like, how they attack you, do you take this away and what are they going to do? I think that’s all stuff you catalogue. You understand situational football better. You start thinking about each situation, what they did to you and how they hurt you. Believe me, I know what hurt us in each particular game and what situations. They’re going to make an adjustment; that’s what coaching is. We’re about being sound in how we attack those situations.”

On his personal comfort level:
“I think you feel much more comfortable. It takes a year to understand the players and a year for them to understand you: your expectations and how you go about it. Again, I think we’re just much more comfortable in our system and being a little bit more immersed in it should help us.

Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel
On the fast paced-offense OU has employed:
“We’ve had the personnel that have allowed us to play fast. They have some experience so they know what they’re doing. It’s been a weapon for us.”

On QB Kendal Thompson’s injury:
“There was nothing extraordinary about the play. He planted, made a cut and his foot just gave out. There wasn’t anything that happened. He didn’t trip or fall or anything.”

On how Thompson is handling the injury:
“It is a big deal for him because you appreciate all these guys in fall camp and what they’ve done throughout the summer. They’ve put themselves in the position to compete and be the players that they need to be to win a championship. He’s meant a lot to us as a program on and off the field. Because of the effort he’s put in you feel bad for him as a person and as a player. When I talked to him that afternoon, before he went into surgery, he was pretty down, but at the same time he’s optimistic about having the opportunity to come back, rehab efficiently and still try to compete.”

On how Thompson’s injury changes practice reps for Blake Bell and Trevor Knight:
“It doesn’t change us a lot. Those two guys are getting a bunch of reps now. We’re just minus one guy now so that has upped the reps for Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas.”

On the running back situation:
“I think we’re fortunate to have four guys that can carry the ball and take good care of the ball. They’ve been highly effective and efficient. Those four guys are Roy Finch, Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and even Trey Millard is a guy who has had the ball in his hands quite a bit. All those guys need touches because they can make plays effectively, they’re experienced and explosive. Is there a guy who may end up carrying it 20-25 times a game? Possibly. It depends on how these guys separate themselves during fall camp and throughout the season. Every year that has gone by here, even when you look back to the Adrian Peterson years, guys get injured and you need everybody. We need collectively the 105 guys who are here during fall camp to help us win a national championship. All four of those guys are going to have an opportunity and they’ve been great so far.”

On Roy Finch:
“A year ago Roy [Finch] got caught a little bit because of our situation at wide receiver. He bounced around a little bit between wideout and running back. For whatever reason he wasn’t playing the way he was capable of at any of the positions. The way he’s approached the offseason in the weight room, academically, in football practices and meetings, he has matured in a great way. Because of that, I feel like he’s going to have a great year.”

On the expectations at quarterback:
“The expectations here are really simple. As a football team we’re about competing for championships. Whoever the quarterback is, we expect him to play at a championship level. We don’t want him to do that in week 10, we want him to do it in week one. Guys are certainly going to get better the more snaps and the more opportunities they have, but I really feel like these guys are capable of playing at a high level.”

On when the quarterback will be chosen:
“When we chose Sam Bradford the team knew seven days before the first kickoff, and that worked out pretty well. Whenever the guy earns the job is when we’ll name the guy. I think the way that all the guys at that position have approached this, on and off the field, has earned them respect from everybody on the team, so whoever ends up being our guy, we’re going to have a lot of confidence in him.”

On quarterback run game:
“At the end of the day our guy, whoever he is, for us to win a championship, is going to have to play at the highest level and win football games for us by throwing the football. We want him to be able to distribute the football. That’s a little different this year because these guys have the ability to make plays with their feet, so we may design a little quarterback run, but most of it will not be. I think the balance that we’re always looking at is how much can our guy get hit without taking away from him being able to maybe play on third-and-12 or take away from his throwing power.”

On Bell’s offseason:
“Blake is actually the same weight. He’s done a great job in the offseason with changing his body composition, and because of that he’s been able to move a little better. He’s still big enough to run inside, though.”

On the new quarterback’s leadership role:
“When you have a guy who is the quarterback here and has been for a few years like Landry [Jones] was, you want those guys to carry themselves well, and they all have in everything that they did. When that guy is gone it gives new guys the opportunity to step up and take more of a vocal leadership role on your football team. Just in the huddle, Blake and Trevor have been great. That’s the great thing with college football is that you have graduation and you have young guys that have the ability to step up. It’s great to see them grow up and make those changes through spring ball. It’s great to come back in fall camp and see that they have a lot better grasp of what you’re doing offensively and they have a lot better command of their teammates because they are confident in what they’re doing. That’s been true with all the guys we have in the quarterback position.”

On how much high-tempo offense he’ll run:
“Spring ball and fall camp is all about finding the personnel that will play at a championship level and finding the guys who you can trust that are going to make plays. Then you have to put those guys into a position formation scheme to allow them to be successful, and that’s why you’re different every year offensively. The only way you can make those plays at a high tempo with speed is if you can execute them, and when you do that you have to know how to play the game, what your scheme is, seeing the defensive side of the ball and the pressures you’re going to see and being able to make quick, smart decisions. A year ago we didn’t play with much tempo early in the season because we had four guys catching the football that had never played in our system. We’re going to push beyond this year and see what all of our guys can handle.”

On the new assistant coaches:
“I think there’s some comfort and familiarity in our systems not being drastically different. I think that’s made it easy for [offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh] to transition to what we’re doing offensively in our staff and also with our players as well. As much as anything there are two new guys coming in on the other side of the ball. They are doing a great job. They’re great teachers and great motivators and they’re teaching toughness at those positions. I’m excited to see how those positions turn out when the season comes.”

On the offensive linemen:
“I do believe that the size and strength that those guys have gained during the off-season and the depth we have at those positions is creating a better scenario for us where I think we will be tougher and more physical to run the football a little more efficiently and consistently. We ran the ball well at times a year ago, but I think we could be more consistent.”

On if there will be a special package with a quarterback:
“I don’t know what we’re going to do yet. We’re trying to find out who our starter is going to be, and from that we will adapt. With some of the struggles we’ve had when you look at 2009 and 2010 when we need short and goal-line situations and then early in 2011 we felt like we needed to make a change, and that package was really successful for us and then even last year a little bit.”

On how much of a role the tight end will play in the offense this year:
“I don’t know of a school that has a better tradition at the tight end than we do. When you go back to what happened a couple of years ago in December and January. We had a couple of young tight ends on campus that we feel will be good football players and the next thing you know those guys are gone, and it changes who you are offensively. At the same time you look at Trey Millard with his versatility. He plays a little running back and a lot of tight end. You can call him a fullback, but he’s on the line of scrimmage and we’ve used him multiple ways and we’ve gotten him the ball in a lot of different cases. So yes, we want to use a tight end and we want it to be a part of who we are because I think it can change some of our perimeter line game. As long as we feel like the guys at that position will allow us to compete for a championship then we will play them.”

On Trevor Knight:
“He’s smart, he’s competitive, he can make any throw you want him to make. He’s a good decision maker and he’s grown tremendously in understanding what we’re doing. He is an extremely talented, competitive and smart football player who has great leadership skills, as well.”



Co-Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell
On versatility of players being important in a high-tempo offense:
“Trey [Millard] is great because he can play different positions without bringing another player on the field. We can move people out and put pressure on the defense without changing personnel. The versatility of players like Trey allow you to play fast. The key is to keep personnel on the field. He gives us versatility because he can play in the backfield, on the line, or he can play out in space. He’s done all three of those things for us and we’ve got a couple of other guys who are giving us some of that same flexibility to get into some different personnel moves and allow us to play with more edge players. 

“Last year we had some kids walk into our program at a critical time that were pretty good perimeter players, and we just felt like last year we had to make a change quickly to give ourselves a chance to score a lot of points. We had a guy like Jalen Saunders who we feel can make plays and Justin Brown who can make plays, and we just thought we needed to put those guys on the field and give Landry [Jones] the chance to make plays as experienced as he was. We’re different now. We’re different personnel-wise. We’re different in the experience of our quarterback and I think we’re going to give those guys an opportunity to have success without putting pressure on them as best as we can. Every year is different in college football. You have different kids graduate. You lose players and you just have a different personality on your side of the ball. This year is different than we’ve been. We have inexperienced quarterbacks. Blake (Bell) has played some and had some success, but the younger guys are learning quickly and they’re competing and our personality is going to be different.”

On young players and their opportunity to play:
“They have to continue to show that they understand. The one thing we have this season is a lot of guys who have gotten a taste of what it’s like to play really competitive games. Sterling Shepard has stepped up. We’ve got some guys who have played but are really trying to find themselves like Trey Metoyer. Derrick Woods is coming off the redshirt and he’s been here a year, but he’s ready to compete at a high level. We’ve got a lot of guys that have the opportunity to step up like Lacoltan Bester.

“The younger players have an opportunity to compete like K.J. Young and Austin Bennett. Those guys have done a really good job. They’ve showed understanding, athletic ability and playmaking ability. These days of camp are critical even though we just started because we get a little taste of what they’re capable of doing. Next week when we put the pads on and they get hot-headed we’ll see how they respond, but right now those kids have a chance to help us. K.J. is a return man as well and that’s a way he can help us this season.

“We’re always cautious to say a guy is ready to go. I see different maturity in them. I see different focus in them. When a player starts playing with confidence on a consistent basis, we really gain trust in them. It’s really obvious around here that we’re trying to gain trust in all of our guys.”

On Trey Metoyer:
“Everybody’s different. They’re human beings and they have different makeups. Kenny (Stills) was just a really high-level football intelligence kind of kid. It’s interesting, we talk to receivers all over the country and Kenny came in and caught 66 passes his freshman year. There’s not many freshman receivers that can do that. There’s not that many NFL rookies that have that kind of success their rookie year. There’s so many moving parts to being a receiver. I think it’s coming together for Trey, I think he understands our offense, I think he has been around our players and quarterbacks. He is getting to the point where he becomes more confident in what he’s doing.
“I don’t know if it was so much about the expectations as much as it was that success wasn’t coming to him the way he wanted. He was frustrated, he’s used to playing well at a really high level, most of our players are. We don’t recruit players to redshirt, we recruit players to come make plays for us from day one. Now, it doesn’t always work out that way, and it’s not always best for a kid to play his first year. When that happens, we make that decision. But when you walk in that door, you better come in here expecting to come and play, or you’re not really at the right place. That’s the kind of mentality he had walking in the door and when he didn’t have that kind of success, it was frustrating."

Redshirt Junior Quarterback Blake Bell
On this offseason compared to others:
“One of the biggest things that has been different is Landry [Jones] being gone. This time is kind of odd just because we are coming in and now it’s us [the quarterbacks competing for the job], and we are taking control. Other than that, I’ve been treating it just like any other off-season. I’ve been doing what I have to do to prepare to play.”

On changing his shape this off-season:
“I feel like I am moving as good as I’ve ever moved. I’m still weighing about 250, 255, somewhere in there. You’re losing a little weight during camp, but that’s just water weight. I feel like I had a great offseason. Coach [Jerry Schmidt] did a great job with the staff getting us ready to play.”

On if he feels the quarterback position is his job to lose or his job to go win:
“I feel like it’s a job I’ve got to go win. The only thing I can do is go out there each and every day and show them what I can do on the field and I feel like I’ve done that and I will continue to do that.”

On possibly getting a chance to run a complete offense:
“I tell people that I have a job. My job last year was third-and-one, goal-line stuff. Landry (Jones) was the starting quarterback. I knew that. People could say what they wanted to say, but he was the starting guy and I loved learning from him. I came here to play quarterback, so it is going to be fun just getting out there and being able to stay out there first, second and maybe just not third-and-short or goal line.”

On the quarterback competition:
“Even if they don’t say you’re the guy, a quarterback is a competitor. You have to approach everyday like you’re the guy.”

Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Trevor Knight
On what he thinks he has to do to win the starting job:
“Coach Heupel from the beginning, once Landry [Jones], left said it was an open competition and even if it wasn’t an open competition, he still wants us to prepare every day like we are the starter. So I take every day like I am preparing to be the starter, and I just go out and compete the best I can.”

On what he has to do to separate himself from the other quarterbacks:
“I guess just not make as many mistakes¬¬¬ as the other guys. It’s as plain and simple as that. Whoever performs is going to be the guy.”

On the first few days of camp:
“Going through the spring was a big learning period. So going through the whole summer, getting in the playbook, getting in the film room, it made it a lot easier to come out at the start of two-a-days and just get it going.”

On if he thinks the team is kind of under the radar:
“Everyone says that, but we talked about it the other day that there’s a tradition here, and we’re not going to let anybody on the outside tell us what we are. We are going to strive to be the best like they’ve always been here.”

On the injury to Kendal Thompson:
“You know, I wasn’t over on the field, but I heard he had to leave because of injury, but I didn’t know how bad it was. Then we got the word that it was a little bit worse than normal. It’s never good to have a guy like that go down. And people are saying it helps you, but no it doesn’t help you because you want to compete against a guy like that. Just a real good guy to be around.”

On if he talked to Kendal that night:
“Didn’t talk to him after surgery, but I talked to him the next day, and he was in good spirits. He had already watched film of practice that day. He’s still doing good things.”

On if he and Coach Heupel talked about him getting more snaps:
“Not necessarily like that, but we’ve always talked about being ready to step in and play. You know Landry [Jones] stepped in his freshman year when Sam [Bradford] got hurt, and you never know when it’s going to be your time, so you always have to be prepared.”

On where he feels he is as a quarterback:
“Getting better every single day. Getting in the film room. You can never be good enough. I feel like I’ve come a long way this summer and hitting fall camp. It’s feeling good.”

On if it is tough to take a leadership position without knowing if he will be the starter:
“No, it’s been good. Between Kendal [Thompson], Blake [Bell] and I, we’ve all accepted that we’re going to be the guy, and we’ve all stepped up in leadership roles in different ways, and it’s really been fun working with both those guys. They push me every single day, and I feel like I push them, so it’s been a fun summer.”

Senior Linebacker Corey Nelson
On the Big 12 Race:
“It is going to be a wide open race. I’m not one to talk trash or talk down on anybody, but it’s going to be an open race. I’m actually excited to be in the position that we’re in. I’m excited to just get it started.”

On the defense this offseason:
“The offseason is going very well. I have to continue to lead the guys, Aaron Colvin has to continue leading the guys and [we need to] be the leaders out there. But, overall, it has been going good so far. We just have to continue to pick up our intensity on and off the field and just continue to stay focused.”

On being more comfortable in Mike Stoops’ defense:
“Absolutely. They understand the different positions that each player can play and they also understand the way we may want to play defensively so that they decided to buy into that and it has helped tremendously. Things are pretty awesome.”

On players who have stepped up on the defensive side of the ball:
“Aaron Colvin, obviously. Julian Wilson, Gabe Lynn, Chuka Ndulue, Geneo Grissom, Jordan Phillips, those guys have improved their game tremendously, also, Frank Shannon, as well, and Aaron Franklin. Those guys, from last year compared to now, they have definitely improved their skills.”

On Julian Wilson:
“He’s more physical now. Just watching him out there on the field, he’s way more physical now. He’s playing more like a linebacker whenever he has to roll into the box.”

On when to defend the run or pass:
“It is a tough deal, it is. That’s what linebackers have to do. Coach [Tim] Kish always tells us there is no excuse for when things like that may happen because we have to be the ones to stop it. We’re the core of the defense. It can happen, and it can be stopped. This year it’s what we’re focusing on more and preventing that from happening.”

On the increased use of linebackers: 
“Yes sir, I am, and it’s very exciting to be able to see that and also to see the chemistry that we have with our coaches.”

On defensive performance late in the season:
"I want to just let Coach [Mike] Stoops answer that, but in my eyes I felt like we did pretty good. Especially the second half of the season, because we were second in pass defense in the Big 12, so that’s a big accomplishment when you accomplish that. That was an improvement from the year before that, as far as pass defense goes.

“I feel like we could have done better, absolutely could have done better. There were things that we could have done to make things better and make it not as hard for the offense. The offense did have to bail us out in a few game."

Senior Running Back Brennan Clay
On being able to establish a dominant running game:
“I believe so, I am excited we have three senior running backs, myself, Roy [Finch] and Damien [Williams]. All of us, once we touch the ball are capable of doing things and we are so excited to be putting the pads back on; we had a little pop today. This carousel of running backs we have is pretty good and I think we have one of the best backfields in the nation.” 

On the competition for carries:
“Oh of course, we are always competing. It always about getting to the next level, and it’s also about helping this team win. We’re going to do whatever we can to help this team win first and foremost, and I am excited to do so.”

On the offensive line trying to be more physical:
“Yeah, I’m excited for that because they’ll be able to open some big holes up. The offensive line did a great job last year as well, opening up holes for Damien [Williams] and myself. Just to see that they’re improving and they’re getting bigger and stronger is kind of exciting and I’m just waiting to see how it goes.

On the experience at running back helping the quarterback:
“Oh, tremendously. I believe that with our young quarterbacks, or just inexperienced I should say, that having these running backs that are much older and have been on the field a lot and being able to protect them. The O-Line is mature as well so I don’t think they have so much of a threat of being hit as much and the thought process, they can slow it down and be able to deliver the ball.

On Keith Ford:
“Keith Ford is good, people. I like the young buck. He’s doing well and went well through summer workouts. We’ll see if we get him on the field this year.”

On Alex Ross:
“I’ve always seen impressive things out of A-Ross. He’s very strong. He’s a speedster as well. He’s a big body. He’s about 215 I would say. He can take the rock and go to the house with it every time. He has the capability of doing so. A-Ross, don’t count him out at all.”

On finding rhythm with four running backs competing for the job:
“Sometimes, but we all get the same amount of reps on the field, and everyone has a chance to shine and do their job.”

On him and Damien Williams competing with each other:
“No not at all [it isn’t weird]. We lived together last year during the season. We’re cool. Once it comes out on the field, we’re on the same team. Our ultimate goal is to win, and we’re both going to do whatever we can to help the team win.”

On if his or Damien Williams’ team won more when they played each other in high school:
“My team won. You can ask him. I was the reason… We broke the 11-year streak. I scored the game winning touchdown against him at home. You can ask him.”

On what the game-winning touchdown in Bedlam meant to him:
“It’s cool and all, getting praise for it, but that’s what the O-line does. What we do all day is grind the ball out, and Landry [Jones] did a great job that game as well, threw for over 500 yards I think. It’s just, we broke their will power. It just so happened to be me in that position, and I stepped up and made that play.”

On being the only member of the Cali Trio left:
“Not at all [he doesn’t feel left out]. I’m so excited for them [Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson] and so proud of them. They’re like my brothers man. I wish Tony and Kenny the best. I talk to them maybe three or four times a week, just staying up with them, see how they’re doing. They’re both doing well, and being the last one here, I just got finish it out, finish out strong.”

On his expectation for himself this season:
“It’s pretty high, I’m shooting for 1,000 [yards], believe it or not. That’s what my ultimate goal is. We got to get this Big 12 and this national championship. My ultimate goal is that national championship and that Big 12 Championship.”

Sophomore Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
On the play-making ability of the wide receiver unit:
“We pride ourselves on making plays so that’s definitely what we want to do, through the three practices we’ve had already. I’ve seen a lot of plays being made so I don’t see things changing through the season.

“I think I’ve settled down a lot more. I worked on my routes a lot in the offseason, so my routes are gonna be a lot cleaner; just trying to find the open spots.”

On younger players who have caught his eye:
“Dannon Cavil has definitely caught my eye. All of the freshmen are pretty good guys. We have got a great group of freshmen. We have Austin Bennett, and there are a lot of great route runners already.”

On being more comfortable in his second season:
“I feel a lot more comfortable. I think the game has slowed down a lot for me. As a freshman, you have got to try to learn the plays, and the pace is a lot faster. Everything has slowed down, and I know all the plays, so I don’t have to worry about messing that up or anything.”

On his role in the offense:
“Just help the team any way I can. Make catches and try to get in the end zone.”

Senior Offensive Lineman Austin Woods
On whether a new quarterback may mean more emphasis on the running game:
“We want to execute the plays that the coaches call so that’s what we’re really worried about. But we just work hard to win games and we’re confident in our plans. So, if we run the ball more it’s really no big deal to us.”

On his confidence in returning players:
“Yeah, it always helps. We have a lot of guys that have played a lot of snaps here and it’s always good to have people who know what they’re doing and know what they’re expected
to do out there.”

Redshirt Junior Offensive Lineman Daryl Williams
On what’s he’s seen from the quarterback competition:
“I’ve been impressed with all of our quarterbacks, really. If they’re doing well and competing, that’s good enough for me.”

On his focus for this season:
“Stay healthy. Every single year, I’ve been hurt so that’s what I’m focusing on.”

Thoughts on the offensive line this year:
“We’re one unit and the togetherness and communication is a lot better.”

Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker Frank Shannon
On the new NCAA “targeting” rule:
“It’s a good rule. Tackling is a part of the game so now you just have to be careful on how you do it.”

On the different tactics Mike Stoops is taking to prepare for Big 12 offenses:
“It’s been the same; the same intensity, nothing really too much different. We just have to come out there and play hard.”

His focus during the off-season:
“Just becoming a better student of the game and being able to be a leader.”

Redshirt Junior Defensive End Geneo Grissom
On questions about the lack of experience on the defensive line:
“Nobody wants to be told that you’re not expected to be very good, so that’s driving us. It’s a kick for us to get better every day in camp.”

On the other defensive ends:
“Charles [Tapper] is a great athlete. He’s a big, strong, physical guy. He’s really fast, too. We’ve got a lot of young guys who are probably going to get a good chance to play, guys like Matt Dimon and maybe even Charles Walker.”

On Chuka Ndulue playing tackle:
“He looks great. Chuka is just a fantastic athlete. You could put him anywhere on the line, and he will dominate. I think he is somewhere around the 290 [pound] range, or 280. I just know he is going to be a successful athlete, regardless.”

On moving back to defensive end for the Cotton Bowl:
“I started playing a lot more in a few of the previous games. That Cotton Bowl game, that was a big moment for me. It was my first start here at OU. It was a great moment and very exciting.”



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