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Bob Stoops Press Conference
September 02, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops
Press Conference Highlights – West Virginia Week
Sept. 2, 2013

Opening Statement:
“Welcome everyone. Going into last week’s game against Louisiana-Monroe I was very pleased overall with the play of our team. I thought our guys really came into the game focused. We were very aware of the success ULM has had in the past and playing in some of these types of games. Our guys were prepared for it and played well.

“Defensively it was one of our better performances in that when I’m talking about assignments communication, things we can control. Playing hard, playing fast, I thought all our guys did that really well. Any time you can hold someone to zero points you’re doing something right. I thought we were very disruptive and put pressure on the quarterback even though there was only one sack, we hit them multiple times and forced a lot of poor throws. I thought our coverage was excellent. Tackling this early on can be shoddy but I thought our tackling was really strong. You put your backups in and people score and ours had two three-and-outs. Defensively, the front line, Jordan Phillips and Charles Tapper and Geno Grissom were disruptive. Corey Nelson had eight or nine tackles, two for loss and a sack and all those guys did well.

“Offensively, we started slow. They did some things that we didn’t get a quick handle on but as the game went on they settled in and recognized what they were doing. We made adjustments even at halftime that helped. We rushed the ball really well. We were really strong overall. (Trey) Millard had a great game. Trevor (Knight) in his first start, really his reads and handling and communicating, running the ball was really good and strong. There were a lot of passes that I know he can make that we didn’t complete that we need to work on. I thought again, overall, anytime you can rush over 300 yards you’re doing a lot really well. Probably a different style than people are used too but equally as effective when you can win 34-nothing and have the time of possession be what it was.

“Kicking game was really good. We had a great punt return from Jalen Saunders. Exciting players as he is broke another one almost to the house. Stopped a fake punt and (Brennan) Clay came up and made a good tackle on that. We were looking for it; Coach (Jay) Boulware was alerting everyone that it was about time they did it. (Michael) Hunnicutt was perfect on the day. (Nick) Hodgson kicked out of the end zone. (Jed) Barrnett averaged 43 yards a punt with no return yards.

“Now we’re on to West Virginia, a conference game at home. We had a barn burner 50-49 a year ago so our guys understand the challenge of facing these guys. They’ve only had one game as well so it’s a bit different to have a conference game this early. It worked out best for us and them agreeing (to the early game) must have been best for them, as well. (Dana) Holgersen's groups do a great job over there as well. We came out of the game healthy and we’re looking forward to playing a conference game this week.”

On the reasons behind some changes to the defensive scheme:
“Some of it’s as much as anything personnel reason and flexibility in it. It allows for more speed on the field.”

On whether last year’s game against West Virginia influenced any changes:
“That one game didn’t determine anything. That one game didn’t have anything to do. We could have played some different coverages in that game that would have helped us in that game.”

On how well the defense and offense played:
“They played really well. Those guys up front on defensive were very disruptive and played well. And our offensive line, once they settled in, really blocked things up well and played physical. There’s some improvement to be made. We had some play action protections that should have been blocked up better to give the quarterback some more time. That will be corrected. I feel good about that.”

On the use of LB Corey Nelson in the scheme now compared to last year:
“We’re using him in different ways now and it’s positive.”

On who graded out the best on offense:
“Gabe Ikard and both tackles played great. Not like the guards didn’t do well, but I think those three graded out the best.”

On the new assistant coaches:
“I’m very happy and excited about what these guys are doing and how they’re working with their players. In those particular areas, their players played well. I’ve got a lot of confidence and expect it to get better.”

On the offensive tempo:
“The tempo was good. They had a hard time handling it. Part of it was good part of it wasn't. For instance all the screens off the run game weren’t executed at all what were capable of and we’ll work hard to get that smoothed out. Jalen (Saunders) drops one and it’s gone. It’s a 50 yard touchdown if he drops a ball right in his hands.”

On substituting vs. going up-tempo:
“Obviously you can’t go up tempo if you’re subbing personnel because they’re going to hold the game up. We’ve gotten to be pretty good at multiple formations with the same personnel.”

On FB Trey Millard:
“Trey had a great game and he is valuable. He can line up anywhere and is comfortable and we’re comfortable with him anywhere.”

On if there were any surprises from the defense:
“I wouldn’t say surprised me. I’ve been excited all camp. Going against our offense and competing against them every day. That’s a lot of practices and scrimmages and we’re going fast against each other and had success. I was expecting us to play well. I did expect Jordan Phillips to play well. He’s been having a good camp.”

On how well the special teams played:
“I was very pleased with special teams. They were really strong, sound. We didn’t have the opportunity to cover a kick because they were all kicked out of the end zone.”  

On the secondary:
“The secondary played great. Coverage was outstanding. Zach Sanchez was all over his guy along with Aaron Colvin. They all tackled well, covered well. I don’t know that we had a breakdown in communication.”

On the new guys in the secondary:
“The new guys, Quentin Hayes, had a great game. Tackled well, was where he needed to be. Gabe Lynn is becoming more of a leader out there and getting everyone on the same page. Julian Wilson, you know had a good year last year.”

On CB Aaron Colvin:
“He is on par with any of the best guys we’ve had on the secondary. A lot makes him special; His talent, speed, coverage ability. His leadership and pride, he is a prideful player and he takes a lot of pride in how he plays.”

On QB Trevor Knight:
“The run game, getting all the reads and figuring out what’s there and pulling the ball and using his legs are all really positive. Later in the game he threw some really good balls, the touchdown to Trey (Millard) and Jalen (Saunders). He threw a couple other deep balls that I feel we have to be able to come up with. The run we come down with and the defender takes it away from us, that’s a play were the ball is where it needs to be and we need to make a competitive catch. So those throws were good, some of the screens and throws were not where they needed to be. He’ll improve on it, and I bet there was a bit of jitters going out there for the first time.  I believe he’ll calm down and throw the ball like I know he is capable.”

On how Knight handled the pressure:
“He was because he had to take care of the ball. That’s another thing, as a whole team, there wasn’t a fumble the whole game. We took care of the ball really well and Trevor is a big part of that as the quarterback.”

On investing time to learn zone reads in practice:
“The fans and the people think we all can do it, but just run it but it is a time investment; it’s big time investment. You ask anyone who runs the option, you don’t just run it. It has to be drilled, and drilled and drilled and it’s a huge investment with certain plays. So, yes, there was a time investment.”

On getting frustrated at practice with the zone reads:
“I would say I didn’t get frustrated, I just knew it was going to take time. Probably, now you see why we protect our practices so everybody isn’t out there filming it and see what we do with the ball on both sides early in the season.”

On his reason behind changing things offensively:
“I think first you see the success of the other teams who have this option, or that ability to add to what you are doing. Again, we still want to be great at throwing the football, and we know we will be. It still has to be a big part of what we do.”

On how the rushing game helped the defense:
“It makes a big difference. When your offense is on the field, your defense is resting and they don’t have the ball. Times here when we’ve had poor defensive performances, people don’t look at the poor offensive performances right next to it. If you’re out there for three plays and go three and out it’s only about 30 seconds and your defense is right back out there and it’s not really healthy. We played together the other night really well. And that’s why the score is what it was.”

On running longer drives:
I’ll never complain about a one-minute drive as long as it ends in a touchdown. There at the end, we stopped them on the punt fake and we ran one play and scored a touchdown. I’m all for that. It does aid the defense and statistics when you eat up the clock. There’s no denying it.”

On the importance of FB Trey Millard as a blocker:
“People fail to realize if Trey is running with the ball, (Roy) Finch is blocking for him and that doesn’t work as well. We do want Trey to be able to catch the ball, run the ball, do all kind of things. As games go it will happen. All those plays you see Trevor (Knight) coming around the edge with, he’s blocking and blocking well. He does what we ask him to do really well.”

On RB Keith Ford:
“Keith was really strong. Everybody saw it. He ran hard, fast. He’s physical and has a bright future.”

On the diversity of the running backs:
“If we can play like that, we’ll need them all and then they’re not banged up by the sixth game or wore out. They all have a different style but they all can be effective.”

On the different style between QBs Landry Jones and Trevor Knight:
At the end of the day, it’s just different style. I like what we’re doing and the direction was going. That’s where we’re at.”

On if CB Zack Sanchez will start Saturday night:
“Right now he will. It’s been tight all along anyway. Zach’s played really well all through the summer. It’s exciting to see him playing like that.”

On whether DL Chuka Ndulue starting Saturday:
“Chuka will have to earn his way on the field when he comes back. He can play inside or outside, he can do both.”

On having a good opening game:
“You start off in a good position so the players know the work we’ve done and attention to detail has paid off. Here are the things we can do better that we do every day at practice. Let’s change it and improve it. There’s a lot that can be cleaner and better in our eyes. Let’s get it done this week. It needs to be done this week.”

On distributing touches between receivers:
“I just prefer production. I don’t care who or how or how many. It’s just execution. That’s what we’re looking for. I think it’s always positive when there are a lot of guys who are doing it. It affords you the opportunity to stay healthier.”

On the officials:
“I thought the officials did a great job on how the game was managed and handled. It was positive in my experience.”

On playing a conference game early in the season:
“We got one. Why am I going to complain about it here on Monday? Why would we have moved it? For the whole schedule it worked better. I don’t think it has an effect. You have to play it at some point.”

On the upcoming game against West Virginia:
“Dana (Holgorsen) has his plays that he stays with and they do it well. They were pretty vanilla in their first game but I know we won’t see a vanilla scheme in what they’re doing against us. It’ll be different so we’ll prepare for a lot of what we saw last year.”

On West Virginia’s quarterbacks:
“I thought they both looked pretty good but I’m guessing since Paul‘s (Millard) been in there system they felt more comfortable with his experience. They’re both similar with throwing the ball. He’s not going to change offense regardless of who is in there. (Clint) Trickett was really good. He made some nice throws and did well when he had his opportunity.”

On LB Jordan Evans:
“He’s a good middle linebacker, very athletic. We’re thin at the linebacker position so he’s getting more ready to play. He’s an excellent athlete, plays on special teams. He and Dominique are good, young backers.”

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops
Big 12 Teleconference – West Virginia Game
Sept. 2, 2013

On QB Trevor Knight’s performance Saturday:
“He did some things really well, obviously, with his legs when you rush for over 100 yards that part of it was really good. Throwing the ball early wasn’t very good but I have great confidence in how he does throw the football. Once he settles down and I believe gets more comfortable with the situation I expect him to throw the ball in a better way. He made some nice throws, particularly in the second half. He has got a great arm, so it’s just getting him comfortable enough to manage and handle the situation a little bit better early.”

On playing a conference opponent (West Virginia) this early in the season:
“We had an open date, they had one. Obviously when we both agreed to it, we feel as far as the season goes it’s the right thing to do for your program. Otherwise we would have had another open week and then we have an open week in a couple of weeks. It fit better for us. It is challenging. You have got to be ready whether it’s a conference game or not.”

On what they can do to get Trevor Knight more comfortable early in the game:
“Just keep getting snaps.”

On Trevor Knight’s personality with his teammates at this point in his career:
“He is a great leader. Players realize how hard he works. He’s a great teammate. He’s a bright kid, so he’s got respect. No question. For all those reasons he’s a serious kid and how he works.”

On if West Virginia is doing anything differently on defense this year:
“They’re still in the 50-front and doing a lot of movement and blitzing. Just trying to get pressure from that area. I felt like they tried to do that a year ago. They looked fast and they looked aggressive. I thought they played well here in their first game.”

On West Virginia’s offense:
“Dana (Holgorsen) doesn’t change his system much. At the end of the day he shouldn’t. They do an excellent job. I’m familiar with the way they run their offense being that we have had it for a long time, too, way back to Mike Leach. We still have a lot of parts of our offense that are the same as what they are doing. Dana does it well. You still see a lot of the same things. No surprises, maybe a little more emphasis on running the football. I know that Dana likes to run the football and he ran it on us a year ago. That will be a big factor in this game again.”

On the defensive line’s performance on Saturday:
“We played more of a 50-front than we did a four-man front and had some movement out of it. We had faster guys out on the field that made more plays. Our defensive line was very active and so were our linebackers. They executed well.”

On if he is pleased with his defense's performance against ULM's veteran offense:
“I was very pleased. They (ULM) are a good offensive team, they averaged nearly 100 plays a game a year ago. They had eight starters back on offense and everybody talked about that this was their year. Compared to a year ago, they are more mature. I do respect Louisiana-Monroe and the offensive team they have been. It was pleasing to play so well. What I was pleased about, I thought our adjustments and communication for the most part were as good as we have had in a long, long time. We had very few mistakes and communication problems, adjustment problems and those kinds of things. The players really did a great job of being where they needed to be and I thought our effort tackling was really good. Those are things you can really build on.”

On the Big 12’s performance against FCS teams in Week 1:
“I’m very aware in today’s world with the parity and limited scholarships that everybody is allowed to have that there are good players everywhere. Anybody, for the most part, can beat anybody on any given day. If you’re not at your best and the other team is playing at their best it can happen and it does every week.”

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