OU 51, Tulsa 20 Postgame Quotes

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
SEPTEMBER 14, 2013

Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops

Opening Statement:
“Just to start off I would like to compliment Coach Blankenship and his staff and the Tulsa players. They’re a good football team that’s doing an awesome job over and they played a good, strong game today. I thought Trey Watts, as we knew and saw so much tape of, was outstanding. He made a lot of good plays, he’s a great football player. Getting on to our team, I’m proud of us, our team and the way we played overall to win a good, strong game. Blake Bell, story of the game, a guy that passed for more yards in his first start than anybody in their first game in the history of our program. He surpassed Sam (Bradford). We’re excited for him. Obviously, we were emphasizing and trying to boost and improve our passing game. He obviously did that along with the receivers. I thought our receivers’ execution was a lot better, a lot more competitive and better plays. They were more consistent. The offensive line blocking was really good. When you can run 80 plays with over 600 yards of offense, 51 points and have no turnovers you’re executing in a better way. There weren’t any drops or miscommunications. Roy Finch, all of those guys, Brennan Clay, Keith Ford, he’s a wrecking ball. He (Ford) ran the ball really well with a change of pace. The offensive line was really solid. Defensively, I thought was good but it wasn’t as good as maybe I feel we are capable. There were a few plays here and there where I thought we could have been a little bit better. If we could have been a little better on a couple of third downs that would have helped. Same with special teams. We weren’t as strong as we have been the last couple of games. The punt return was really poor coverage. The rest of it was great with Michael Hunnicutt hitting the ball well. Nick Hodgson hit it great. It didn’t matter which way he was kicking it, he was kicking them out. Anyway, there’s a lot to improve on, but a lot that’s really good when you can win 51-20 against a good team.”

On if he is surprised by Blake’s performance:
“Blake, obviously, has been here a long time. He has been in a lot of big moments. When you look at the critical moments he has been in the last couple of years on third and fourth-down pickups and those kinds of things. And we always said that he’s a good thrower. He really was poised and played great.” 

On if they are reverting back to the passing game and moving away from the offense from the first two weeks:
“No. We’re not. What are you complaining about? We had 600 yards, 51 points, no turnovers and we ate up the clock. What did we do wrong? What do you want to see? We’re going to mix, we’re going to choose what we run according to what defenses are out there and the personnel we have. If you noticed, their defense is not like what we had seen the last two weeks.”

On if he saw anything in training camp that would suggest Blake throwing for 400 yards:
“Sure. I’ve seen that from our other quarterbacks, too.”

On if he is ready to name Bell the starter for Notre Dame:
“Well that’s pretty obvious, yeah. So much for your controversy right now. It didn’t last long but you can’t deny what he just went out there and did. I’m proud of him and excited for him. Again, I think it also speaks to his character as a guy that was ready for it. He never got down, never changed his attitude. He got his chance and he took great advantage of it.” 

On Bell’s performance on third and fourth down:
“He was really good on third downs and fourth downs and that makes a difference. Those are important to pick up. They relate to points when you’re picking up third downs, it relates to time on the clock, moving the ball, field position, all of those.”

On the receivers’ performance:
“That is a part of it. Whether people acknowledge it or not, it’s the truth. Our receivers play was a lot stronger and better. They made competitive plays, got open, tracked the ball down and did a lot of really positive things and that’s a part of it. We executed our screen game a lot better and that’s what we worked hard on. We’ve been working hard on that and it showed up today. Those guys are complimented in a stronger and better way for sure.”

On Blake Bell’s performance:
“A lot of those swing screens and those kinds of things, if they’re not put on the money and they’re not timed properly, they don’t execute. He put the ball where it needed to be to get the maximum yards on a lot of those plays, and those add up. Those are long handoffs and when you are getting seven, eight, and nine yards off of those instead of when it’s not thrown properly with one, two or an incomplete pass it makes a big difference. He executed that part of the game really well. He played really well today with poise and consistency. He threw the ball great and was on the money.

On if the running game getting better as the game progressed was connected to the passing game:
“It’s connected to a degree. I think when we look at it we will see that we still feel we can run it. We still should have executed our run game a little bit better early. Give Tulsa credit, they’re guys did a nice job of slanting and moving and doing some things to cross the run game up. They tackled well. When you are throwing it well, it can loosen up the running game for sure.” 

On RB Keith Ford:
“Keith Ford is really a young, talented back. He’s physical, an incredible strong, powerful guy. He’s got speed, so every time he is out there he demonstrates it. He really ran hard and strong today. He’s a wrecking ball.”

On RB Damien Williams’ status:
“He didn’t suit up. He was suspended for team matters. He will be back this week.”

On if Blake Bell can run the same offense that Trevor ran the last two weeks:

On if Kendal Thompson is ready to go:
“He is ready to go. Bottom line: we wanted to get Blake as many snaps as possible leading up to a bye week and then going on the road. We wanted to get him more snaps.” 

On the targeting controversy:
“They did it just how it was meant to be. He (the official) initially thought it was helmet to helmet. They reviewed it and saw that it wasn’t so he (Gabe Lynn) was able to stay in the game.”

On Trevor Knight’s condition:
“We don’t know that yet. Initially, we thought it would be two weeks which would mean he would be able to practice the week of Notre Dame. That was as of Thursday or Friday. We’ll see, I’ll update everybody this week.”

On if he likes the scenario of OU having a bye week while Notre Dame plays Michigan State:
“Yeah, I have to like it. That’s what it is. To be honest with you, it’s one of the major reasons why we moved West Virginia up to get another game in before having to travel to Notre Dame. To have two off weeks and only two games wouldn’t have been very good, but I like how it’s set up now.”

On the state of the team through three games:
“There’s a ton to coach us up on, but I like the direction we are going and the way it’s progressing. We have a lot of work to do in two weeks.”

OU Coaches

Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel

On Blake Bell:
"He took care of the ball, was really decisive, had good command. Did all the things you need your quarterback to do. There were some things that he missed obviously as well."

"Everybody in the country recruited Blake, and they recruited him as a passing quarterback. We've said that around here for a long time. The package that he played in the past couple of years limited your exposure to what he was capable of. Sometimes because Landry Jones was a pretty dang good quarterback, third in the history of the NCAA in passing, it's tough to put your backup quarterback in the game to throw the ball. He's capable of it. He needs to continue to get better in some of the things that were deficient today, but we always believed he could throw the football."

On the offense's performance:
"Our guys executed a lot better. We played a lot cleaner than we have the first couple of weeks. That's just the growth of some of our young guys, being more comfortable in where they're at on the field and what we're doing. Took care of the football. We stayed ahead of the chains. We had the penalty on the first play, but other than that, played pretty clean. As much as anything coming out of this ballgame, we can execute better, certainly in the red zone."

On the offense's improvement:
"I think we've progressed. We made mistakes earlier in the season. Our guys have learned from their mistakes and gotten better and we are going to need to continue to do that if we're going to be the type of offense that, one, we're capable of and, two, that we need around here."

On the short passing game today:
"Your screen game, your quick, your intermediate stuff -- that needs to be efficient for you. A year ago, and really since Landry (Jones) was here, that was a big part of us offensively, and getting it in your playmakers' hands as quick as possible."

On Sterling Shepard's game:
"I grabbed him after the game and said, 'I'm extremely proud of you.' I think it's a great day for him to play that way with a picture of him and his dad on the cover of the game day (program). I think it was a big day for him. It meant a lot."

Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops

On the defense's performance:
"Not as good as we have. We weren't nearly as sharp on third downs as we were the first couple of weeks. Just kind of lethargic throughout the week, and we kind of played that way. I feel like they out-executed us on third down. That part was disappointing. I thought our kids played hard, just our execution wasn't where it's been. Certainly, you lose a guy like Gabe (Lynn) and Aaron (Colvin), they really hold down the fort in the secondary. It was tough, but we got some young kids, some good experience."

On how the younger defenders played today:
"I think they played OK. We gave up some things. I think third down was the most disappointing element of the game for me personally. We extended drives and couldn't get off the field on some drives, and that was frustrating, and that's for whatever reason. I thought Tulsa did a nice job. I thought the quarterback threw the ball in some good spots. We just didn't make some plays."

"When you're young, you rush. You're rushing everything, learning how to disguise and moving with the flow of the game. It's hard for young players just because they are so in a hurry to get things done. It's just things they'll get better at."

On facing Tulsa:
"We had kind of a lethargic week of preparation. We weren't as edgy on the edge as we were the first two weeks. Tulsa hadn't played this well. I thought they played really well. I thought they executed well. Three hundred yards -- I thought their offense did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage and controlling the ball. I thought they had four drives that drove a decent amount on us. I didn't think we really played as well as we needed to play coming up on the stretch of games we have."

On Tulsa running back Trey Watts:
"I just think he's a fabulous player. He can do so much. They got him on our linebackers, and he beat us in coverage on third down I think three differnet times. He's very versatile. He's one of those third down backs that can come out of the backfield, he can protect, he can run, he can do a lot of different things. And they do a good job utilizing him in space and getting him in good positions where he can do some work on some linebackers. He's a tough matchup."

OU Players

Sophomore Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

On the change in this game:
“We had a talk with Coach [Jay] Norvell about our play through the first two games, and it just wasn’t good enough. We had to come back out and show the crowd and everybody that we can be a passing offense like we always have been. We definitely showed that tonight.”

On only having two catches in first two games:
“It was getting underneath my skin a little bit, but I knew I needed to just keep pushing and keep going and it will come to you.” 

On finding a comfort level:
“It felt good. Blake [Bell] was getting comfortable throwing it around, and we did a really good job of getting open.” 

On him and his dad being on the cover of the game program:
“They give us the programs in our lockers before the game, and I saw our pictures on it. I told myself that this is me and my dad’s game. I tried to step it up. The talk that Coach Norvell had with us before the game also made me know that it was going to be a special day.”

Senior Linebacker Corey Nelson

On the excitement level of the game:
“This was really exciting, especially offensively. They did what they needed to do. Defensively, we have to get better overall, but we got some young guys in there, and they stepped up and did what they needed to do.” 

On the difference between last year’s defense and the 2013 version:
We’re a lot more physical. We are a lot closer and we can depend on each other.” 

Senior Center Gabe Ikard

On Blake Bell:
He’s a very good football player and a great leader. He’s a competitor, and he’s one of those guys that you can just see the passion he has for the game when he’s on the field. He did a great job leading the offense.”

On taking advantage of the defense:
They were bringing a lot of pressure, so we knew we could have a great day passing the ball. That was based off movements and what they showed us on defense. We took advantage of what they were giving us, and that’s why we had a successful day.” 

Redshirt Junior Quarterback Blake Bell

On his first start:
“It was awesome. First off, I just went out there and had a great time. I just went out and played ball. Coach [Josh] Heupel had us prepared very well for this week. I came in, and I just wanted to be ready.”

On his mindset:
“Everyone just kept telling me that I had to be ready, and that’s what I did. I just put my head down and got to work, because you never know what’s going to happen.” 

On what he did when he wasn’t the starter:
“I just had to be preparing every day, because that’s all I could do. I came out and did a great job. There are definitely a lot of plays that I could have done better, but I just have to get in the film room tomorrow and Monday and start preparing for Notre Dame. I’ve just really had a great time.” 

On his game experience:
“It’s helped a lot being in big games like Oklahoma State and Notre Dame. When I went out today I actually felt really calm. I didn’t feel too nervous or anything. I obviously had some nerves, but that’s part of it. I just had a lot of fun with it.” 

On the difference between the “Belldozer” package and being the quarterback:
“There is a big difference. Last year with the package, I came in when Landry [Jones] was the main quarterback. I came in and my job was third and short and goal line, and that stuff was rough. I had to come in and lower my shoulder. Now, you see me out there on some of those runs, and I’ll slide. You don’t want to take any of those unneccesary hits.”

Sophomore Defensive End Charles Tapper

On how the defense can improve:
We had some problems with our technique, so we have some things to do. Coming off the ball a bit and being more physical.” 

On how the defense was different from the first game:
“It wasn’t that different; we didn’t come out as physical and up front we didn’t play with much technique.”

On the importance of the bye week:
It’s going to be a very important week to get our technique down and make sure that we’re running the right plays. Just being more relaxed and getting ready to go down to South Bend.”

Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker Frank Shannon

On how the defense played today:
I think we did well for the most part, we had a lot of young players out there. But we weren’t as good as we were the past two weeks. The defense just has to keep coming strong and working hard at practice.”

On the secondary’s performance this week:“They did pretty well for their first time on the field. They’re all young and still have a lot to learn, but as time goes on they’re going to be really good for the future of the program.”

Redshirt Senior Wide Receiver Jaz Reynolds 

If the performance felt different this week with Blake Bell:
It wasn’t different, we just had more emphasis on the passing game. The first two games we were more focused on the run, but today we passed a little bit more and it felt better.”

If Blake Bell’s performance today was surprising:
“I always knew he could throw. A lot of fans didn’t know because all he did was run the ball the first two years, but we always knew he could do it.”

Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship

On Tulsa’s third-down defense:
“I haven’t seen it, but I know we gave up several opportunities on third down in the first half and I’m sure it kept on because I don’t remember them punting until late. We couldn’t get off the field. I think Oklahoma exposed our youthfulness in the secondary and took advantage of that. They actually handled it really well. I think Blake Bell did a good job getting the ball to the underneath receivers and then hit us over the top as well.

“I think any defense and offense understands that winning third downs is big. It is incredibly frustrating to not only give up third downs, but to give up touchdowns on those third down conversions, no question.”

On defensive strategy:
“We came into the game wanting to crowd the line of scrimmage. We knew they would want to run the football and we felt like that was the best opportunity we had, is to try and load the box up to take away the run and force them into throwing the ball, hopefully when they didn’t want to. But we didn’t get enough pressure and then we had a couple of busts early that had a couple of guys running free and you just can’t overcome that.”

On whether or not OU’s strategy caught them by surprise:
“I can’t speak specifically for the defense; I don’t think so. I don’t look at their offense as much as (Defensive Coordinator Brent Guy) does. I didn’t see them do anything unique to what we had seen. Defensively, I know they played pretty much what we expected them to play.”

On whether or not Blake Bell’s passing caught them by surprise:
”No. We have some coaches that actually recruited him out of high school when he was a very productive passer. I think he had gotten put into a little bit of a niche of a guy that didn’t throw. I think compared to Landry (Jones) he is not as good, but he had a good day today.”

On Trey Watts:
“I think Trey Watts could play anywhere in the country. He is one of the finest competitors I have ever been around. I was proud he had the kind of day he did. He would have liked to have been out there at the end of the game if I would have let him. The guy wants to compete every play. He is one of the special ones out there. He could play anywhere in the country.”

On settling for field goals:
“I think those were opportunities we let slip away. We certainly wanted to get points, but we need to get into the scoring territory with a touch­down, those were huge. We got down deep a couple of times and I thought we gave ourselves some opportunities; we didn’t cash in on all of them.”

On this game compared to others:
“Offensively we moved the ball better. We were more consistent on offense. We still had a critical turnover that hurt us; we dropped a pass that might have been another big play. We just have real high standards. I think we are an improving football team but we got exposed on defense today. We are very young and it is what it is, but they didn’t let us hide behind that today.”

On Cody Green:
“We went into this game believing that the key was going to be to run the football effectively and to take care of the controlled passing game. We did not want to get into a spread-it-out-and-throw-it-everytime kind of game; that in my opinion is what their defense is built to defend. There is speed all over the place. We really wanted to get into a little more of an old-fashion game, blocking and running.”

On playing with a high number of freshmen:
“They don’t give you extra points because you are playing young guys. You have to bring the guys you have and play. Call it crazy, but we believe we can come in and compete and we didn’t at the level we thought we would, that is what I’m disappointed in. Not that we kept it close, that is not what we are about.”

Tulsa Players

Tulsa Senior Running Back Trey Watts

On game today:
“It’s always fun playing football. It’s the game I love and I love playing with my teammates and being out with my guys, but our goal is to win the game. If you don’t win the game, it’s a buzzkill; especially when we feel we had chances and we got in the red zone and couldn’t put the ball in the endzone. We have to give credit to their defense for keeping us out of the endzone.”

On father’s (J.C. Watts) legacy and obligation to play well at Oklahoma:
“I’ve been thinking about this game since I stepped on campus. I’ve wanted it for a long time, but we just couldn’t get it done today.”

On mood of sideline after being stopped inside the ten:
“We do a pretty good job of keeping our heads up. We have a bunch of veterans on our offense that know we just gotta keep plugging, keep pushing. We never hang our heads. We just try to clear it and move on to the next play.”

On getting a bye week:
“Two losses early, it’s a chance to regroup and get fresh and prepare for next week. You take a bye week any week you can get it. People get banged up every week in college football, so you just have to take it when you can get it.” 

Tulsa Senior Linebacker Shawn Jackson

On frustrations about game:
“We have to get out of the field during third downs. That was the most frustrating thing today. We’ll look at film and correct that. That was the major thing. For the most part, we had a pretty good day.”

On Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell:
“He’s a terrific player. He threw the ball extremely well. We didn’t expect him to throw as much as he did today, but he threw the ball good. I have to give him credit. We were surprised he threw the ball as much, but we knew he could throw.” 

Tulsa Senior Wide Receiver Jordan James

On scoring 20 points and how Tulsa competed:
“We’re a team. At the end of the day, we want to put points up on the board and do everything we can. We missed opportunities in the red zone a few times. You got to give credit to our quarterback. Cody (Green) threw very good balls, he was on the money most of the time. We just have to meet him halfway. I feel like there was good things you can take out of this, but at the same time you never want to lose a game like that. We’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities that we missed, go back and watch film and get ready for Iowa State.”



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