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Sooner Report: Physical Football
September 10, 2013

Heupel Speaks on the QBs

Despite the fact that Blake Bell will get the first start of his career this weekend against Tulsa, co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel emphasized during interviews Tuesday that the redshirt junior quarterback has been preparing at a high level just like he always has during his career.

“Blake has played in a bunch of football games, a bunch of big games,” Heupel said. “He’s played in high-pressure situations. He’s pretty confident as a football player so I expect he will handle himself the right way and play well on Saturday.”

Famous for the Belldozer that earned him a reputation as a punishing runner, Bell, like Trevor Knight in the Sooners’ first two games of the season, gives OU another dual-threat option at quarterback. Heupel added that although fans have not seen Bell throw much, it doesn’t mean he can’t.

“Through camp he really [threw well],” Heupel stated. “He has this week, too. I’ve said it for a long time, the package that we used with him didn’t give him a chance. You have Landry Jones who is third in NCAA history is passing, so it’s tough to put the guy in there and drop back a bunch with him when you have Landry sitting on the sideline.”

Redshirt freshman Kendal Thompson also practiced Tuesday as he recovers from injury and has come back well.

“He’s done a good job of trying to keep his arm in shape and once he was able to be in the boot and put pressure on it he did a good job of throwing it,” Heupel said. “Other than that, it’s just him trying to get through his progressions and get the feel of the game a little bit, the speed of it. He’s doing well.”


Running All Over ‘Em

Nine members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Three Heisman Trophy winners. The most dominant running back in the NFL today.

That OU rushing style has churned out yardage and a lot of great players in the process. The Sooners are no stranger to a solid ground game and this year is no different. Already in 2013, the Sooners have had two 100-yard rushers and back-to-back 300-yard games as a team.

In fact, the Sooners are seeking to register three straight 300-yard games for the first time since doing so against Colorado (360), Kansas (463) and Oklahoma State (424) back in 1988.

Under Stoops, Oklahoma is 15-0 when rushing for over 300 yards and leads the Big 12 by averaging 310.5 rushing yards per game.

Currently, four of the top five Sooner rushers are averaging at least 6.0 yards a carry while the top three average 70 or more yards per game, including Brennan Clay (106.5), Damien Williams (80.5) and Trevor Knight (72.5).

“The line is blocking along with [fullbacks] Aaron Ripkowski and Trey Millard,” said OU head coach Bob Stoops. “They’re creating some space and Brennan has been hot in seeing them. He’s been feeling the right spaces and jumping in them and waiting for them to open.”

Stoops named Millard and Clay the players of the game following the win over West Virginia. Millard, whose blocking was “sensational” according to Stoops, also caught a 1-yard touchdown pass. Clay set a career-high with 170 rushing yards, the most for a Sooner since DeMarco Murray posted 208 against Utah State in 2010.

“I believe in myself,” Clay said. “It’s just a matter of being able to get on the field and be 100 percent healthy. There aren’t any nicks on my body. I feel really comfortable out there and, like I said before, the offensive line did a tremendous job.


Coach Mike Discusses the Big Guys

While the Sooners’ running game is plowing over and through opponents, the OU defense is giving opposing teams a whole lot of the same when it’s their turn to come on the field. The proof is on the scoreboard – no other FBS team but OU has allowed a total of seven or fewer total points to two FBS opponents this season.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops admitted that more than a few adjustments have been made since last season and that, so far, they seem to be working.

“It’s just different. Schematics are different, our alignments are different, everything is different,” Stoops said of the defense.

“Again, everything seems to be going in the right direction. It’s just two games. We are going to play physical teams as we go along. So, we will wait and see, but they practice hard, their attitude is much better, I believe their effort is much better. I believe they are becoming very disciplined players. We are very optimistic and encouraged by the first couple of weeks.”

Stoops especially pointed out the play of individuals on the defensive line in OU’s 16-7 defeat of West Virginia last Saturday. Fresh faces in the trenches are clogging holes and disrupting the quarterback, helping the Sooners rank fifth in third-down defense and 20th in total defense so far this season.

“I thought Jordan Phillips was very disruptive for the most part all day Saturday,” Stoops said. “Getting him to understand to get under the nose like that, that creates a lot of problems for the offense getting up to the next level against our linebackers clean. I thought him and Geneo [Grissom] and Charles Tapper are really good. I think Geneo gets better every time he steps on the field. They’re starting to be playmakers for us, and that’s something we haven’t had in the past, so [defensive line coach] Jerry [Montgomery] has done a really nice job with those guys.”

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