Sooners Meet the Media

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 26, 2013


Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops – Press Conference Highlights
Aug. 26, 2013

Opening Statement
“We’re ready to start the 2013 season. I’m really excited about the way our players have gone through this entire summer camp. I feel like they really worked hard. They’ve been a really great group attitude-wise and in everything we’re asking them to do. We’re excited for it to be game week, and we’ll go through the rest of this week very much like we would every game week in how we practice and what we’re doing.

“Some things to note, we’ve named captains here last week with the players voting on it. We’ve got Gabe Ikard and Trey Millard on offense, Aaron Colvin and Corey Nelson on defense. The players voted on special teams captains which was very close so we named them both, Austin Woods and Michael Hunnicutt as special teams captains, so we’re excited about those guys and what they bring to the table with their leadership.

“With Louisiana Monroe coming in here this week I think everyone is very aware of what they did a year ago, and they have 18 starters coming back this season primarily in juniors and seniors. They’re a team that went to Arkansas a year ago and won 31-28 I believe, and then they went to Auburn and had a chance 31-28, lost by three points, and they had every opportunity to win the football game and then took Baylor 47-42 to the wire.

“With all these starters back they’re a team that is very used to coming into stadiums and places like this and playing well. They’re used to winning. They won eight games last year. Todd Berry and his staff have done a great, great job building that team over the last four years. Kolton Browning, their quarterback is probably, I haven’t seen their entire league over there, but I understand is probably the best offensive player in that league and from what I’ve watched on tape I concur. I think he’s a great player, and he has a lot of experience around him. He has a lot of returning receivers and four or five offensive linemen back; some running backs that got banged up a year ago are back. Defensively, they’re a team that gives you a lot of pressure. They’re kind of a 3-3 based team that will blitz you in a lot of different ways.

“Again, they’re a team that has proven they’re quality and an excellent football team that is capable of beating about anybody they play, so our guys are looking forward to the challenge and getting the year started and seeing what we’re able to do as we start our year.”

On his plans for the quarterback run game:
“Just a little bit. That’s something we’ll see as it goes, but there will be just some.”

On the decision to name Trevor Knight his starting QB:
“I’m not going to detail everything that elevated him to play because I don’t know that it’s fair to just publicly talk about the two of them and what was what. I think it’s just fair to say that though all these practices there has just been a little more consistency in the areas that we’ve been looking for. Blake (Bell) isn’t far off and it’s been a tight competition. We just really didn’t feel right determining it until when we did, but we still are very excited about Blake as well and his development and about his opportunities as far as a guy that we feel we can win with. With the way he’s prepared we feel that he’s a guy that can win for us, as well.”

On whether he foresees continuing to use the Belldozer package:
“That’s something that I was asked earlier today. Truthfully, yes. A year ago we were number one in our league in third-down conversions and number one in red zone conversions. I think we might have been fourth in the country in third-down conversions, and that’s a big part of it, as well as convert in the Red Zone, we pick up those yards. If we do we’ll feel comfortable expanding on that and give him more opportunities other ways in that package.”

On if Blake Bell will have opportunities outside the Belldozer:
“We’re not going to detail all of it for Louisiana-Monroe or anyone else. I think it’s fair to say we’ll see as it goes what do and don’t do with the two of them. I think a lot of it gets predicated by what we see on the field.”

On what is exciting about Trevor Knight:
Here’s a guy that is very athletic, has great speed, he’s got a very strong football that he throws with a quick release. He’s a strong leader as well, but again there are a lot of those qualities that Blake (Bell) has also.”

On if experienced offensive performers around him will help Trevor Knight:
“Hopefully those guys around are going to play to their ability and help support that position. Whoever it is dropping back to pass, if he’s not given protection, he’s going to struggle, or if you throw a perfect ball and it hits a guy between the eyes and he drops it on third down it’s not going to look very good, and it’s going to go on his stats when he did what he was supposed to. Players around him have got to step up and make plays, and we feel confident with this group of guys that they can do that because they’ve done it before.”

On the development of the defensive line:
“Yeah, we’re developing them. All those guys are coming along in a positive way. Charles Tapper is a guy that we feel is coming on and on. Jordan Phillips is in there along with Quincy Russell keep making big strides in the last several weeks. Geneo Grissom has gotten better. Linebackers, I’m really excited about Corey (Nelson) and his opportunity to make plays. When we blitz him different way he has a good knack for it as does Eric Striker. He’s a guy that moves in their good. Frank Shannon has improved, so I believe there will be guys who will step up.”

On stopping the running game:
“You’re not stopping the run game with just the line. It’s the linebackers and secondary that support and have to be a part of that. Again, when you say the lack of starts, that’s what’s going to happen when you graduate five seniors. These guys now have an opportunity, and it’s their turn to play here. Maybe weeks down the road we’ll be talking about, ‘Wow. I didn’t know he could do that,’ and it happens. It will happen here hopefully as guys mature and gain experience and keep improving.”

On the progress of DT Quincy Russell:
“It’s good. I think he’s in good shape. He just has to keep playing. There’s a difference between your summer conditioning and being on the field, but he’s working hard at it. That’s the exciting thing about Quincy is that he’s a big, strong, physical guy who really likes to work. He’s working hard.”

On decisions relative to the specialists:
Punters, Jed (Barnett) will be the guy, but I’m really excited about the progress of Jack Steed. He’s come on and doing well. I’m not sure about the kicker (for kickoffs) yet. Both of those guys have done well and it will be Coach Boulware’s decision. If he decides to let Michael (Hunnicutt) rest for field goals then we’ll go with (Nick) Hodgson.”

On if Trevor Knight was expected to start so soon:
“I would say any guy we sign we would anticipate them to be able to play at this level. As with young Cody Thomas, we’re really excited about what he’s able to do.”

On signing and playing athletic quarterbacks:
“I think we always have wanted to. I think what was underestimated about Sam Bradford is how athletic he is. We just chose not to read it and pull it with him because all the other things he did so well. But, I think it’s always been our philosophy that as long as he can throw and make the throws we want, the better legs the better.”

On the last four QB recruits:
“We’ve just been fortunate that we’ve found guys who we like how they throw and they can run, too. We didn’t take any of them looking at their legs first. It’s all about being able to throw and pass the ball first when we look at anybody. If there are two of them awfully close, maybe this guy runs a little better than the other. There are different reasons.”

On whether there will be one workhorse running back:
“I like what all of them are doing. It’s hard to please everybody out there who want to see all different guys all the time, but Coach (Cale) Gundy has a good idea of how he wants to play them. It’s fair to say those guys through a long game or an 80 or 85-snap game are going to have to be in there and help each other.”

On educating players regarding the new targeting rule:
“We’ve had two sessions of DVDs sent out from the league detailing what they look for and what is and isn’t targeting, so we’ve had two 20-minute session reviewing that and talking about the severity of it and talking about the consequences. If you do it in the second half of a game you’re out the first half of the next game, and we talked through it with our Big 12 officials when they were here on campus for one of our scrimmages, so we’ve done it as much as you can.”

On if targeting will be a problem in games:
“It could be. It’s something that in any last split-second you need to try and avoid the head to head contact and ducking your head and using the crown of your helmet, so again, it will be tough on some people when it happens, but I think for the long range future of football and just what the NFL is doing and what we’re doing, you need to emphasize a better way of doing it, and I think that’s what everyone is trying to do.”

Challenges for coaches with dual threat QBs:
“As offenses evolve, particularly in this league or anytime you’re playing against someone who spreads it out, the more they spread out the more you need people to cover, which that limits what you have inside to defend the run. When a quarterback can run he can account for everyone that’s in the box. The guy that has to make the play sometimes is 15 yards away. Someone either has to get off or you’ve got to find different ways to cross off the blocking schemes to get someone free or  where that guy has to be ready to come and make a good tackle.”

On if the offense has been challenging for Josh (Heupel):
“I guess a little bit, but we’ve been working on it for a long time now since last winter. I feel our coaches have a great comfort level right now for what we want them to do.”

On the secondary:
“I’m excited about them. I think that we’ve got a chance to be really good. Everyone knows that Aaron Colvin and Gabe Lynn have played a lot of football. Gabe playing in the deep position has really looked good. I’m excited about Julian Wilson with the way he played last year, and now he’s a year older. Quentin Hayes is in one of the safety positions and has really come on and played well consistently through camp and played well. Zach Sanchez and Cortez Johnson in the other corner have made good improvement, and our young guys, Ahmad Thomas and Hatari Byrd, all of them, L.J. Moore, Stanvon Taylor is an excellent player. They’re excellent players and we’re excited about them. Stanvon is a great player, as well. I think we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.”

On whether he has an idea of what he has with this team or whether the first game will bear that out:
“You’ve got an idea of what you have, but yeah you’ve got to get out there and execute and see it happen, so there’s always  a little mystery until you’re out there on the field.”

On what he’s looking for in the first game:
“I’m big on assignments, on playing smart, play hard, when we watch the effort that it’s great, and hopefully to be physical in everything we’re doing.”

On what he thinks so far:
“We’ll see. Hopefully we’ve got a good football team.”

On whether he thinks he needs to reassure Trevor Knight that he won’t get pulled if he makes a bad play:
“I wouldn’t think I’d have to say that. I’ve never said it to any of our guys. I’ve never felt the need to. They know there isn’t anything we do in our program that’s knee jerk. It’s all well thought out. When things happen sometimes they happen and it isn’t his fault. We’re always very aware of what’s happening around him, and to me the big emphasis is to not force any issues and just take what’s there and play smart that way.”

On easing Trevor Knight into the offense:
“What’s easing? Run the first three times and hand it off. I’m kidding. I just mean, he’s got to come out and run the offense. I don’t believe you can, I guess is what I’m saying. Coach Heupel is very good at ‘what are his favorites.’ You play to his comfort early, but you have to run your offense.”

Is it added pressure to Trevor about not knowing if he’ll play throughout the season:
“In Sam’s (Bradford) first year he didn’t know. I said that I’m sure way back when Sam was first introduced as a starter. Those other guys were guys we liked, too. When you’ve got a young guy coming up, that’s just natural. There is pressure. There’s pressure at every position. But, if you can’t handle that then you’re in the wrong place and the wrong position.”

On if Sam (Bradford) secured his place after his first game:
“Pretty much, unless he came back and threw four interceptions in his next game. That didn’t happen, so it’s hypothetical. If a guy comes out and plays well and lights it up and he does it again then it reinforces it, but I can’t project what’s going to happen.”

On if Coach Heupel will stay the same operating offense from the press box:
“We’ll operate the same way.”

When did Trevor Knight become something special:
“I saw it every day at practice when he was running the scout team. You see it early in the year and then mid-year it just didn’t change. It’s every day. He’s on the mark and he throws a great ball. He runs and takes off with it. We knew. All of us knew watching practice a year ago and would just shake our heads and think “Wow, did you see what he just did?” He would throw it into a little space, and he was making plays like that in practice quite often.”

On if moving from the scout team to running the OU offense has helped Trevor Knight:
“Early in Spring, it’s pretty easy what we do. Here’s a card and this is where I’m going, as opposed to there’s no card and you have to read it out. We always take it with a grain of salt that he’s looking at a card, but I remember some other guys saying the thing and being excited about the throws he’s making.”

On Kendal Thompson’s progress:
“Kendal is in great shape. I believe he’s able to start running maybe today in the pool. He’s progressing really well. He hasn’t had any setbacks with that. That’s positive. We really were excited about Kendal’s progress also and how he has come along, and he’s a guy that’s really been putting himself in position to be a guy we can win with.”

On what Trey Millard brings to the team:
“Trey is just so mature and a great leader. He’s an incredibly bright guy. With his skill set he can do everything. Here’s a guy that’s 6’3”, 255 who can be your running back, can be your fullback, can be your H-back. You can move him around. He’s got great hands. He just does everything, and he does it really naturally. He’s the best special team guy we have going on three years, so he just is an unusual athlete in that he can do so many things. When you watch him run the ball it’s so natural for a big guy, and it almost helps you sometimes. Some of the holes, the spacing opens up late and he isn’t quite as quick as Roy (Finch) or Damien (Williams), and sometimes it’s helpful because he just pauses and he has this natural gate that he finds things.”

On whether he thought he could someday pass Barry Switzer’s all-time win record when he took this job:
“I don’t look at things like that. When I first took this job I was just trying to win a game and to win more than I lost because they hadn’t done that in a while. People would tell me to just get the right number of people on the field for special teams. That’s not the case anymore. I think everyone is aware of that. So no, it’s not something I was thinking of when I took this job.”

On what approaching this record says about the program he has built:
“Well, it says two things: I’ve been here  a good while, and we’ve won a lot. There aren’t many places over the past 14 years have won more than 80 percent of their games. I think we’re one of only two, I don’t know. I feel good about the consistency, but we need more.”

On the ability of the young defensive ends to contribute immediately:
“We’ll see. They get better every day they’re out there, and they’re working. I like the whole group. Matt Dimon is a guy who really sticks out and from the day he got here he’s got great technique and very physical. Matt Rhomar, Charles Walker, they’re doing a nice job. In a few weeks hopefully Mike Onuoha hopefully gets back. Obo (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) has done a really good job. He gets better and better, so we’ll see.”

On a timetable for D.J. Ward’s return:
“I’m sure yet. I think everything went as expected and he’s healing really well. I guess we’ll just see. Again, I’m excited about when D.J. can and we’ll just see. With some of the by weeks you get a chance to get some of those guys back.”

On whether Jay Boulware has done anything new with the special teams:
“We were really good last year and I think that goes overlooked. I think we led the league in two or three categories. But Jay, I’m really excited. Jay has great experience in that area and along with being a tight end’s coach he handles both duties really well, and I’m excited with the drill work and what we’re doing. I’ve been very happy with him, and hopefully we can go out and execute and make some big plays and be strong special teams-wise. We need to be.”

On if he’ll go back to being a “gambler” with special teams:
“Hopefully not. Hopefully you don’t have to do that very much. But what people forget is I was more of a gambler when they were working. Then all of a sudden you go to Vegas and you gamble a few times and it doesn’t work and you sort of quit going to Vegas. You do here and there just when the opportunity seems right. I don’t know that I’ve missed a lot of opportunities where I’ve kicked myself Sunday that I should have went for it.”

On how the receivers are coming along:
“The receivers, it’s a good group. I’m really excited for some new guys. Lacoltan Bester’s had a great summer in our time on the field with him. He’s a guy that we’re expecting to really help us. The other guys you know of. Jalen (Saunders) is super. He and Sterling (Shepard) are really doing well. Trey Metoyer’s gotten better and better. Jaz Reynolds, Jaz has come and is doing some things. He’s set to play this week, too. He has shown up and is making plays and doing what we need him to do.

On the younger receivers:
“Austin Bennett has done a really good job. Dannon Cavil, those are guys who have really bright futures. Jordan Smallwood when he gets back, we were in the indoor the other day and I saw a guy come in with his hat down and it must be one of our former players back to see us. It was Jordan Smallwood and I was like jeez he’s a guy now. He’s been on that scooter but now he’s just in a boot so I didn’t recognize him. We’re really excited about him.”

On his defensive expectations:
“Well hopefully getting off the field, executing and not having mental breakdowns make plays that you’re in position to make. That’s simple, if a guy runs into a hole you make the tackle or you don’t. And if you don’t, well you need to make that play and makes plays that you need to make. Don’t have mental mistakes, be sharp mentally. And the big things, third downs and scoring defense, you have to get your stops and find your ways to get your stops and get off the field.”

On if Chuka Ndule will play:
“Chuka won’t play Saturday.”

On if Cortez Johnson will play:
“Cortez Johnson will not play.”

On how he foresees QB Kendal Thompson fitting back into the offense:
“He’ll have to demonstrate in practice first how well he’s healed and then we’ll see. We’ll see how many opportunities he can get, but like I said we’re really excited about Kendal so we’ll just see where it goes.”

On his running back situation:
“Normally one guy gets more of them and last year as things ended up, that was Damien Williams. We’ll see as Coach (Cale) Gundy puts them out this week and how that goes. “

On if Trevor Knight being a dual threat quarterback can help improve the rush defense:
“All of these guys have. All of them have the ability to cover the down and run and have more run that way, so we have seen more of that as a defense, yes.”

On true freshman QB Cody Thomas:
“He looks really good. Cody’s an excellent athlete, he does a really good job, throws some good balls and is moving well. He’s running that scout team really well right now.

On how Blake Bell took the news of the quarterback decision:
“Disappointed but determined to keep fighting for the job, which you would expect and I want him to. I made sure that he knew we felt that he could be a winning quarterback, too and he would win for us whenever we needed him to. It’s never good, it’s not what they want but he understands, too that you never know what’s going to happen and he’s going to keep working for it, and we need him to.” 

On how he breaks news to players:
“To be honest with you I always start with Coach (Josh) Heupel or Coach (Chuck) Long back in the day. They’re in there day in and day out, every second with those guys so it starts with them. They understand by being in their meetings and on the field with them daily that it starts with those guys.”

On what defensive line coach Montgomery is doing differently with the guys up front:
“I think there is always a little bit of technique work; whether it’s foot work or hand work, those types of things. Mostly technique. I’m very pleased at the progress of these guys and how Coach Montgomery is working with them and dealing with them. The players seem to be really listening and eager to please him.”

On how Trevor Knight took the news of being named the starting quarterback:
“Like you’d expect. He was just excited and ready to come out and practice. Nothing overboard, he knows he has to keep working and earning.”

On how ULM’s success last season helps prepare the team:
“I hope the players understand that this tough, this is a challenge these guys are really good as I’ve said. They don’t go through those three games last year with a younger, more inexperienced team and play like they did without being an excellent football team, and they are.”

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops – Big 12 Conference Call
Aug. 26, 2013

On if he thinks the reputation of the Big 12 rests on the outcome of the OSU/Miss. St. and TCU/LSU games (given his comment about the SEC this summer):
“First of all, I haven’t talked a lot about the SEC over the summer. I was asked one question in one interview and gave a lengthy answer and only part of it was used, and then a lot of other people talked about it. So that’s the truth of the matter. So anyway I’m not worried about other people and who they’re playing, I’m worried about my game.”

On preparing for a tough ULM team:
“I have already talked to them (the team) about it. They went to Arkansas and won 34-31. They went to Auburn and lost 31-28 … and they always could have won easily. Then they played Baylor and lose 47-42. So that’s some good football and they’re a good football team and they’ve got most of those guys all back, so we’re very aware of it.”

On what is most impressive about ULM senior QB Kolton Browning:
“Really, about everything. He’s a good decision maker; he runs their offense you can tell really well. He’s got an excellent arm and he’s got the legs to pull it down and scramble and make some things happen and some of the zone reads when he pulls the ball. He’s a really good quarterback.”

On what impresses him about ULM on film:
“Defensively they give you a lot of problems, with the way they move around. They’ve got a lot of experience and excellent athletes.”

On the response from Trevor Knight after being named the starting QB for ULM and Blake Bell’s role moving forward:
“Well, we’ll see as time goes. Blake is continuing to work and compete and maybe unlike some other years where we’ve given all the…most of the… you know the bulk of the reps to one guy, we’ll be sure that Blake is continuing to get more reps in practice to keep him up to speed. So we’ll what his role is as we go. Trevor has handled it much like he has all camp. He’s always come to practice ready to work, they both have, you know ready to practice, ready to work, their minds being in it, they work hard in meetings. He’s working hard.”

On what Trevor Knight had to show to earn the starting role:
“It’s been a long period of time when you go through spring and all these practices in the fall. So he’s had to show consistency and ability this whole time so it’s a lot, it’s a big body of work to evaluate.”

On if the “Belldozer” will continue to be part of the offense:
“Well, we’ll see. No sense in tipping our hand, you know, how much or how little we’ll do of it. I think it is fair to say, I mean we led the league last year in third down conversions and red zone offense, and that part of the package has been pretty consistent and successful for us so it’s something I would envision us still having.”

On Blake Bell’s role and if this was the most difficult QB decision he has had to make at OU:
“It was challenging, difficult. These guys have worked really hard. Again, we want to keep developing Blake and you just never know where these situations will lead. We want to make sure, and he is, he’s ready to play. So how much we work that in we’ll see. There’s no sense in tipping our hand to that either.”

On what Trevor Knight showed last year, particularly during bowl preparation, and how it carried over to working for the starting job:
“Well some of the things he did a year ago while he was being redshirted were: going against our defense everyday he was incredibly consistent every day, made a lot of great throws, showed the ability to run around and make some plays. Even on the scout team he just showed a lot of leadership. He just continued those things through the spring. Again, Blake has been a great worker and leader, as well.”

On whether he’s encouraged by the defense and who will emerge as playmakers this year:
“Yes, I am encouraged; I think our guys have really worked hard in what we’re asking them to do. I believe we’ll have players in positions to again make plays. Some playmakers… you know Aaron Colvin people know of, Corey Nelson has had a great great camp. We really expect him to come on. Some other guys in there, Quentin Hayes and Gabe Lynn in the safety spots have done really well. Up front Charles Tapper, you know Jordan Phillips, some of those guys made a lot of good improvement. So… and a young guy at linebacker has done well, Eric Stryker is guy we’re hopeful can make some big plays here and there.”

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops Highlights
Aug. 26, 2013

On his feelings starting the season:
“We are excited just to be on the field competing against somebody other than ourselves and seeing what improvements we have made over the end of the year last year and see how some of these changes helped us. We are trying to be more multiple in everything we do and give the quarterback more looks. Our players have been good and we will see on Saturday.”

On young players in backup spots:
“We have got a lot of young players on the two deep but the nucleus of our team and the bulk of our leaders are certainly seniors and upperclassmen.”

On who will start for Cortez Johnson:
“I would imagine Zack (Sanchez) will start at corner. We have multiple guys after that that we will look at and hopefully have the opportunity to see what they can do, as well.”

On if he’s anxious to see the defensive line against another team:
“We have to be better up front. We are trying to become more productive with our front, and give them more opportunities to be productive. Hopefully, that will pay off come Saturday and try to get them in position to make plays and not just take up blocks.”

On having playmakers up front:
“Charles Tapper, Geneo Grissom, Jordan Phillips and hopefully we get Quincy Russell some work. Some of the other guys will have to fill in. It is going to be a committee. The first game, we are without Chuka Ndulue, as well. That limits our rotation a little bit and we have got to go a little bit deeper this week than we normally would, but that’s okay.”

On DT Quincy Russell:
“Quincy is getting better. Again, it’s a lot to grasp in a week. I’m sure his head is spinning a little bit but hopefully we can get it paired down by Saturday where he feels like he can go out and play and not think. Certainly when you are thinking on the football field, that’s not a good position to be in. You want to be reactive and certainly try to give him as many reps as we can without trying to overload him.”

On Russell’s upside:
“He is a big, strong, physical guy than can run. He has a great motor. For us up front he is a big body that can move exceptionally well for a guy that big and that strong. I think he is just kind of growing into the position and understanding what we are doing. I think it is going to take a while. I’m hopeful that we can get him 20 to 30 snaps possibly Saturday night. This team (ULM) averages 98 snaps a game. We are going to need multiple players to try to keep everybody fresh. It is going to be a hot night. We are going to need to quality depth.”

On S Quentin Hayes:
“He’s really kind of coming into his own as a player, his cover skills, his speed to cover the field has really been exceptional this camp. He shows up a lot. He seems very confident for a guy that hasn’t played a lot. I think he’s anxious to go out and show his skills. He’s been one of our better players throughout camp and has played really well. Hopefully he will get off to a good start because I think he can be an impact player for us.”

On problems that ULM will present:
“Certainly their quarterback is dynamic in virtually every element of the game with his ability to throw the ball, his ability to scramble and throw the ball, his ability to scramble and run. He’s a foolproof guy who can make a lot of things happen and certainly when they are playing well he can make things happen. We have got to try to disrupt him and get him off his spots and take away some of his easy throws that he likes. You have got to disrupt him to disrupt the tempo of their team. If he’s in rhythm, they get into a rhythm and they start moving then they can really put you on your heels. We are going to have to try to be proactive in our attack.”

On the process of bringing Quincy Russell along:
“He has the whole package. You can’t practice him to the point where he’s not going to be able to function but you try to bring him along and certainly try to let him understand certain concepts of our defense and the way they operate. Coach Montgomery has done a great job. Jerry (Montgomery) has mapped out where he needed to go. We feel like he’s picking things up well.”

On the defensive tackle position being less expansive in terms of a learning curve:
“Yeah, you are either going east-west, north-south and there’s only a certain amount of techniques you play whether it’s over the guard, whether it’s over the center or whether it’s in the gap. It’s football to him. Conceptually there’s a lot of calls that go along with our defense and it’s not just left, right or straight so that gets complicated for any young player in the system.”

On what he saw in QB Trevor Knight from a defensive standpoint:
“He is an explosive guy and he can make explosive plays. I think that’s the one thing that you know about him. He can make a bad play a good play. He has that uncanny ability to make plays with his feet and he can make plays with his arm. He’s very multi-dimensional. He brings a variety of different skills to the game. His ability to run away from you is no joke either, I mean he’s legit. Hopefully we get to see all of his repertoire on Saturday night because he’s got a very complete game, he’s a very accurate thrower and he’s very poised for a young player. Again, he’s done a lot of good things. I think with any young player it comes down to consistency, limiting mistakes and getting us the best things we can get in.”

On being more multiple on defense and possibly switching from a three and four man front:
“Well, we want to be multiple in everything we do so we will mix and match based on where we are getting personnel. It’s all predicated really with what the offense brings.”

On advantages of possibly using some three-man front:
“Well, it gives you more diversity from different edges, from pressure looks. It just gives you more pressure opportunities.”

On the emphasis on forcing turnovers:
“It’s a big area of concern and certainly our inability to put constant pressure on people I think leads to that. We need to try to force more opportunities for ourselves and be more aggressive.”

On getting more linebackers on the field:
“I would imagine we will see two linebackers on the field at all times on Saturday. I think Corey (Nelson) has had one of his better camps. I think he has played exceptionally well and he’s a guy that I think can be very productive for us and we need to get him opportunities and Frank (Shannon) has been a very consistent player so hopefully those two guys will grow and be playmakers for us out on the field.”

On the challenge of playing against the run and playing in space:
“The tricky part about it is that you have to cover so much ground and there’s a lot of run-pass conflicts. These teams run it as well as they throw it. There’s stress everywhere. These spread offenses move you from sideline to sideline and when they have that ability to run the football they can really stress you. That’s what’s happening and what football is about now. It’s getting people in space and trying to create matchups that are positive for offenses.”

On the challenge of linebackers playing in space:
“You have got to watch matchups and how we are trying to match things up when you have got a linebacker on a skill guy. Those are all things you have got to be very sensitive about and build your scheme around and where to help your linebackers when they are going to need it. It’s all part of it, it’s part of the game plan and it’s part of being more multiple. I would say we played man probably 80 percent of the snaps a year ago. You can’t play man if you are going to match those guys up on speed so you have to be more zone-oriented if ‘backers are going to be in the game, because they certainly can’t match up with a great skill guy in the slot. We will try to implement some of those concepts.”

On LB Corey Nelson:
“I think he is more focused and certainly seems more engaging in what we are doing and hopefully that will lead to more production on his part. We have put a lot of responsibility on him in this defense, so he has to be more of a playmaker for us to be successful. We have got to have him on the field at all times. He has played as hard as anybody all camp. He has really hustled and has really been a leader for us. He deserves that right wholeheartedly. Hopefully, that will show on Saturday and he will be able to go out there and make some plays.”

On if he has an idea of what he has on defense:
“I don’t think you really know what you have until you go out there and play somebody other than yourself. Our players understand tendencies and how to react to our own offense. They have been going up against them for three straight weeks. How we are going to react to what we see from them is really the test. This team will test us in a lot of different ways. They’re very multiple, they have a lot of formations and a lot of movement. Our system I going to get a good workout right off the bat, I’m sure.”

On freshmen defensive backs Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas:
“Ahmad is further ahead than Hatari just because he was here all spring and summer. Hatari was just here for most of the summer. Hatari is a little bit behind, but safety positions are more difficult because there’s more movement to a safety. A corner is easier to learn, but harder to play. A safety may be easier to play but harder to learn. They are kind of backwards when you really look at it. Safeties have a lot of different formation challenges, rotation challenges, there are a lot of different movements to a defense based on what the call is. Getting players to understand all of that is extremely difficult. Safety is one of the hardest. We moved Hatari from nickel, to strong (safety) to free (safety) and probably didn’t do him any favors but the guy is very multiple in what he can do but we have got to zero in with him on one position right now.”

On how much the defensive unknowns concern him:
“It’s very unsettling. I’m nervous, too, I’ll be just as nervous as anybody. But you have got to trust your players, trust the system, make some good calls, and get them in the right position to make some plays. We feel like we can matchup. We have to limit our mistakes Saturday night and that’s going to be the key for us. Make sure we know what we are doing, how we are doing it and what we are supposed to do and if we can do that I feel very good about our players. I think they are very skilled and I think we cover the field very well. We just have to understand where we need to be and get there in a hurry. Hopefully, we are playing and not thinking. That’s my biggest concern Saturday night.”

On if he noticed how special Trevor is leading up to the Cotton Bowl:
“I knew he was a very complete player. I coached him, so I ought to get most of the credit. I coached him for a year, so I take a little bit of that pat on the back myself for getting him ready.”

On defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery:
“Jerry has done a great job. He understands systems very well. He is very multidimensional from a defensive perspective. From a defensive coordinator’s perspective, he understands the complexities of the whole system. It’s good to have a d-line that teaches his players how the whole system works. Not just what we do, but how we do it, why we do it and what everybody else is doing. It’s been good and Jerry has made a lot of improvement with our younger players.”

On freshman defensive lineman Matt Dimon:
“Matt has worked into the rotation too. He will be our third or fourth, probably our fourth, guy in at tackle. He will play tackle and end.”


Oklahoma Football
Senior fullback Trey Millard
Aug. 26, 2013

On Trevor Knight:
“After being named the starter, he has definitely tried to be more of a leader now that it’s kind of decided. He’s a great player, definitely excited to see him come out and play.”

On the announcement of the starting quarterback:
“I honestly didn’t really know. It’s been a really close competition the whole way through camp and all of last spring. That was coach’s decision and we just kind of have to roll with it.”

On how Blake Bell took the news and how he will continue to react:
“Looking forward, he knows that he still has a chance to play. He will still continue to compete. If he gets the opportunity he will come in ready to play, and he will play well.”

On what set Trevor Knight apart:
“Like I said, I thought it was a really close race the whole way through. They both made a lot of plays. A lot of it was just about consistency. I don’t see all of those every single day because I’m focusing on what I’m doing. They both made a lot of plays and it just came down to consistency and playing well.”

On the type of player Trevor Knight is:
“He’s a freak athlete. This guy is really fast. You saw a little bit of that maybe in the spring game and stuff, but he is a guy who can definitely run the ball and run it really quickly. As far as quarterback stuff goes, he is a great thrower. He’s still just learning some of the reads and growing as a player. He is going to be a good one.”

On how Trevor Knight changes the offense:
“With both guys, they are adding the run aspect. You will just kind of have to see.”

On whether having an inexperienced quarterback increases importance of senior leadership:
“I think so. The last two new starters were redshirt freshmen as well, both Landry [Jones] and Sam [Bradford]. We have guys all over the place that have played a lot of games, and we are definitely going to be behind him.”

On how ULM has competed with BCS opponents:
“The first game is always the one where you want to come out and get tested. They are a good team, upset some teams. They have played a lot of close games with some good teams, so we know that they are no joke.”

On what stands out about ULM:
“They play hard. They are not scared of whomever they play against. We know a team like that that comes in with nothing to lose, they’re always dangerous.”


Oklahoma Football
Senior linebacker Corey Nelson
Aug. 26, 2013

On if Saturday has been “a long time coming”:
“Oh yeah, absolutely it’s been a long time coming. We are so excited to get back out there and to start the season off right.”

On what it was like going against Trevor Knight when he was on scout team:
“It was pretty tough. Trevor is a mobile quarterback and he can do it all. Going against him on scout team made us better, especially as a defense last season. Going against him and watching him become the player that he has become is magnificent. His skills have increased greatly.”

On if Trevor Knight made a step while preparing for the Cotton Bowl:
“I feel like he made a drastic step, especially during that time, because he kind of knew the situation and he knew the outcome of what would happen after Landry Jones left. He took advantage of it.”

On if he thought at some point last year Trevor Knight had a chance to start this year:
“Yeah, there was. The defense, we would get together sometimes after practice and we would kind of just talk about: “Man, Trevor was tearing it up out there on scout team. He is going to be the next big thing coming. We have got to look out for him.” There was talk about him.”

On what Trevor Knight does to frustrate the defense:
“The dude can run; that’s one thing. I feel like if you put him in Texas A&M’s offense, the same way they have with [Johnny] Manziel, and you take Manziel out it will be the exact same offense that they have because his skills are equivalent to Manziel’s. He is able to run, he is so mobile. He can throw it on the run, which is outstanding.”

On if OU’s offense is similar to Texas A&M’s:
“I can’t really say. I don’t really pay attention to that. I feel like our offense does it all. They do everything. Anything that you could think of offensively, they have those assets because we go against them every day. There is always something new, always something different that the offense put in. They have so many personnel, and they are so versatile.”

On Trey Millard:
“Trey Millard is an outstanding athlete. He can go back there at halfback and run the ball, he can be a tight end, he can be a fullback, he can go out there in the slot if you need him to and he’s also a special teams guy. He starts on multiple special teams. That is a valuable asset to our team. That is what makes him so great. He can basically do anything and everything that the coaches ask him to.”

On if the defense is ready for ULM’s offense:
“We are ready for them. We don’t take any team lightly, especially Louisiana-Monroe. They had a great season last year. They had great games against Auburn and those other SEC teams. They play well, and we are looking forward to them. It’s going to be a very good game.”

On ULM’s two-quarterback system:
“It makes things a whole lot more difficult for us. Coach [Tim] Kish gave us an article about them and they were talking about the dual quarterback system that they have and the option quarterback that they have. It makes it hard, especially on any type of defense that goes against option quarterbacks like that.”

On if they have played against a dual quarterback system before:
“Yeah, we have. Texas. A few years back they had David Ash and the other quarterback that was there. They had both of them rotating.”


Oklahoma Football
Senior offensive lineman Gabe Ikard
Aug. 26, 2013

On if there was a specific point during camp he realized that Trevor Knight could be the starting QB:
“Several instances. Both of those guys battled each other really hard but Trevor, a couple of plays and a couple of scrimmages, he made some really big plays with his feet and with his arm - just really impressive stuff. He is a very gifted athlete. Blake [Bell] and Trevor both worked extremely hard. Obviously Trevor coming out on top is a coach’s decision and we’re going to roll with it, but he really is just a gifted football player.”

On what we can expect from Trevor Knight:
“He’s a player. He’s going to get out there and he’s going to use his abilities. He has a great arm and he’s extremely fast so we’ll get to see an all-around quarterback that makes good decisions. I know he hasn’t played any games yet, but he is a rare talent and it’s very exciting to have him behind us and we’re excited to see what he can do.”

On his curiosity of how the team will look in the post-Landry Jones era:
“It comes with the territory of a new team every year, but this year especially with some guys that have been around here for so long now gone, it’s interesting. I know from the offensive perspective we’re excited to see how many points we can put up on the board with some of the new things we’re doing. I’ve got all the faith in the world in the guys on defense. They’ve been giving us a great look in practice, and they are very sound in what they’re doing so I don’t have to worry about that, but we are very excited on offense.”

On how different he expects the offense to look with Trevor Knight:
“It will be different, for sure. Kind of how the game is evolving now with a mobile quarterback, things change a little bit, but we aren’t going to be doing anything drastically different than what we’ve done. We’ve still got all the same guys behind the scenes.”

On the difference a new QB will make on the offensive line:
“It’s the same thing for us. Our first priority is to open up holes in the run game and then protect, but it can be convenient to have a guy like Blake [Bell] or Trevor [Knight] behind you when you maybe get beat, he can get away, but that’s not something you can rely on. We’ve implemented some things that take advantage of those guys’ athleticism so we’re excited to see how those plays turn out for us. Other than that, it’s pretty similar to what we’ve been doing.”

On if there were any moments during camp Trevor Knight impressed him:
“There were several moments. Some throws [Trevor] made, dropping it in a very small window, and then the things he can do on the run are very impressive. He’s very athletic, and when he gets in the open field, he can go so there were several moments in camp where we were kind of deciding, ‘Man, that guy is fast.’ Trevor is excited for his opportunity; we’re excited to see what he can do for us on the field and honestly just excited to play someone else.”

On importance of the team supporting whoever the QB is:
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy decision between those two guys. We knew that the coaches were just going to kind of let us know, so we prepared the whole time like it was going to be either one of those guys. They have similar skills, it’s just, with Trevor [Knight] getting the nod, we’re going to be behind him 100 percent. In an offensive line standpoint, you don’t really worry about who is behind you; you just know that you have to protect him. No matter who is behind us, we’re going to treat it the same way. With having a guy that hasn’t played on the field yet behind us, we know that it’s one of our responsibilities to make him feel as comfortable as possible.”

Oklahoma Football
Senior defensive back Aaron Colvin
Aug. 26, 2013

“We respect them. They beat a lot of good teams last year and they have a lot of good players returning; a lot of starters coming back. We know that they are confident and that is what you have got to be if you are going to be a good team.”

On the NCAA’s new targeting rule:
“Coach Stoops has done a great job of keeping us updated on the new rules and the new penalties that come along with it. He has definitely installed it in our minds for us to be conscious of where we are hitting and just to be safe.”

On DB Quentin Hayes:
“Quentin has looked great  to me since the day he got here. He just had to wait for his chance, and now it is his chance.”

“I have always had faith in [Quentin], and I have always known he could get the job done. I am excited to see what he does this weekend.”

On DB Zack Sanchez:
“Zack’s confidence has grown a lot, and when you have confidence as a corner it allows you to make a lot of plays. That is his main suit right now. He has good feet, he has good quickness and he is really smart; really aware of things. When he goes out there he makes plays and he always finds a way of getting a hand on at least two or three balls. I know he will do the same this weekend.”

On defensive expectations this year:
“I just want to see us get back to that championship swagger. I have talked to a lot of the older guys that have been successful here, and they all have told me to just stay focused and that there are no excuses. You have to go out there, and you have got to make plays and perform well. That is what those guys did, and that is what we have got to do here.”

On being named team captain:
“It is very humbling. I am blessed to have that role for this team and it is an honor for those guys to respect me enough to vote me as a team captain. It is not like Coach [Stoops] picked me or anything, it was amongst my pears. So it is a great feeling, but I know my job isn’t done. I still have to go out there and lead and be that captain they voted me on.”

Oklahoma Football
Junior Defensive Back Julian Wilson
Aug. 26, 2013

On how he’s coming along:
“Everything’s coming along good, I’m just coming out every day trying to get better with the team and get ready for the first game on Saturday.”

On the ULM’s Quarterback:
“He’s a really good player overall, and the receivers are good, too. They’re really good at what they’re doing and they know what to do. So really we have a tough task at us this weekend and we’re going to come in prepared.”

On what the ULM Quarterback does:
“In a way he kind of reminds me of Johnny Football. He gets the ball out quick and he keeps a lot of plays alive. His scrambling ability is also really good. His fundamentals are really good.”

On his role for the team:
“I have a big role, I have big shoes to fill as people have been telling me. Coach Stoops expects a big year out of me, so I have to uphold his word and basically go out there and be more of a playmaker than I was last year. Last year I wasn’t really confident in myself and this year I feel way more confident in my role.”

Oklahoma Football
Sophomore Linebacker Frank Shannon
Aug. 26, 2013

On the new scheme for the linebackers:
“It’s really good to have more linebackers on the field this year. It gives us a chance to contribute more to the defense and be better leaders out there on the field.”

On linebackers being more aggressive:
“We’re just going to go out there and play hard. That’s just the life of a defense; you’re always going to play hard.”



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