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Bob Stoops Press Conference
October 07, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops Press Conference
Oct. 7, 2013

Opening Statement:
“Recapping the TCU game from last week, again, just very pleased to win a hard-fought football game. TCU and Coach (Gary) Patterson do a great job and made us work for everything the entire day. Defensively, probably the story of the game is just how well both defenses were in particular. I was very satisfied with how our defense performed. They were outstanding. They didn’t give up a first down until midway through the third quarter. They were just really excellent in assignments, tackling, being physical at the line of scrimmage. All of our guys up front were recognized as players of the game. Charles Tapper, Eric Striker, Chuka Ndulue, Frank Shannon and Corey Nelson, those guys were all players of the game. The guys inside, Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson, played really well. I’m really excited about how they played and of course the secondary covered really well. I think Zach Sanchez had four passes defended.

“Offensively, it was tough to get something going. They moved the football well enough and made a big play in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead. Brennan Clay had a huge game there and a great cut. Some other guys, Durron Neal, a young guy at receiver is really starting to make an impact and had an excellent game, Sterling Shepard as well. Trey Millard also we felt had a really good game. Michael Hunnicutt, again, he set a record for most field goals ever here at the University of Oklahoma. He continues to hit the ball really well. Same thing with Nick Hodgson on kickoffs. He has really been excellent at getting touchbacks. It’s on to Dallas to play Texas here in the Cotton Bowl. Each and every year it’s always exciting and we look forward to it. Players always naturally get excited for the moment when they pull up and get ready to play. The big key for us will be just going through the week, continuing to make improvement. We need to continue to build on some of the things we have done well and eliminate some of the mistakes and some of the areas we felt we didn’t execute as well. Winning this game is always about preparation in the week of practice and putting yourself in the best situation you can when you get ready to play on Saturday. I’m excited about it though, we all are, and we’re looking forward to the challenge of it.”

On the possibility of LB Dominique Alexander replacing Corey Nelson:
“Dominique and Aaron Franklin also play at the Will linebacker so we will see who has the best week of practice. We’ll see who will be in that position, but both guys have excellent quickness and speed. They have the size, they’re good football players, so they will have to step up and replace Corey.”

On if Dominique Alexander and Aaron Franklin can drop to defensive end like Corey Nelson:
“They’re capable of doing that, but what we have done mostly is left Eric Striker in that position. We haven’t had Corey down there much here lately. These other guys can run and they are good players.”

On adjusting to Texas’ north-south running game:
“It’s just making sure that the linebacker position is reading the right people, to take you to where your run fits are and where your run responsibility is. Understanding the stunt we may have on up front, where we are moving people and when we are moving them where you need to be off of that movement. We will practice hard on it here all week and hopefully we have those guys in position.”

On the differences in preparation going into a rivalry game such as OU-Texas:
“Every week, on offense there are different plays that you have to defend with different personnel on the field and different formations. That’s what you practice for all week, is to make those adjustments and get familiar with the different plays you are going to see and the different defenses you’re going to see. You’re going to see different defenses, you’re going to see different blitzes, and you have got to recognize them, know how you are going to block them, how you are going to pick them up. We work hard on that all week to make sure that’s ironed out as good as it can be.”

On if it’s tricky to maintain your focus when energy and emotions are heightened:
“It shouldn’t. In the end, you practice through the week, you go over and over, and our method of operation doesn’t change. It shouldn’t be an issue. It’s what we do from week to week and we stay in that routine.”

On if the Texas game is still very important in regards to recruiting in the state of Texas:
“I don’t know. I think for some players, some recruits, it may be and for others it isn’t. In the end, this game is never the end-all for either program. We’ve won this game before and haven’t won the rest of them and that isn’t good enough. That’s how it is and that’s okay. That’s how it should be. We want to win them all. I think what means more to recruits though is your overall big body of work through one year or several years. Those kinds of things I think stand out more than one game does.”

On if he has spoken to LB Corey Nelson:
“I have. I saw him yesterday and saw him again today. You know he has really still been upbeat. He’s disappointed, but he is still going to remain a leader. In fact, he’s talking, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, he’s going to visit with the doctors and Scott Anderson. He wants to hold off until next week because he wants to be out on the field coaching and being around the guys. You love it. He wants to remain in that leadership role and do all that he can to help us. He’s even talking about possibly trying to get a redshirt year, being that he hasn’t had one. We’ll start going through that whole process with our administration. We’ll see where it leads.”

On if replacing LB Corey Nelson changes how much they get linebackers on the field:
“Yes and no. In some of our packages, yes, we will probably leave Frank (Shannon) out there in certain instances where Corey would have been. Frank can do that and he does it well. That’s something we will tinker with through the week.”

On why Dallas Skyline HS (alma mater of Nelson and Frank Shannon) is so productive at LB:
“They do an excellent job of coaching and developing their players. They have a group of talented players in the area that are always in school there. Great program.”

On if Texas struggling against the quarterback run game is something they will focus on:
“Well, we’ll see. It’s something you have every week and to what degree it always varies. I can’t tell you what they’re asking players to do, there’s just been a time or two where they haven’t had somebody in position for the quarterback.”

On the play of DE Charles Tapper:
“He has been great. Charles has really started the year off playing great, continues to be very active, disruptive and Charles is a big, strong athlete. He’s about 6-4, 265, he can run, heck he ran the quarterback down last week. He is playing up to his potential and I still feel there is a lot more coming and he is going to continue to get better.”

On RB Brennan Clay’s improvement over the last year:
“He just continues to make plays. He made a lot for us a year ago and he continues to this year. He is one of our most reliable players. If you watch Brennan, he’s great at protection, he’s great at carrying the football, he finds his spaces in there, he has great pace to him. For instance, the cut the other night he waited for it and jumped in it. He does a lot of things really well.”

On what QB Blake Bell needs to do to reach his full potential:
“Blake has shown great poise, he just needs a few games. I’m really excited just about how he continues to run the offense and his leadership out there at the line of scrimmage. Everything has been really good and we haven’t had issues at the line of scrimmage. He continues to throw the ball well. I think as much as anything he can, at times, continue to stay in the pocket and trust the pocket and deliver a few more throws. That should, the more he plays, continue to improve.

On if QB Blake Bell held onto the ball longer against TCU than he did before:
“Again, credit them for squeezing the coverage. They’ll do that to you. They’re good at that. Sometimes I felt like our receivers in some instances need to do a better job of getting off and getting away and breaking open. Sometimes he’s waiting on them and by then maybe the protection starts to break down.”

On WR Durron Neal’s emergence:
“Durron is coming on that way. He’s getting more confident, I believe, with the more he plays. He is sure of himself with how he is releasing and using his hands. Hopefully, that will continue.”

On what the key has been to beating Texas with less “star” players in terms of recruiting:
“I don’t know. I feel we have, as far as recruiting and I’m not comparing anything to them, we like the stars that we get. We like our players, meaning when we recruit a guy or decide to offer him it’s not because of how many stars he has. We feel like he fits, we may like his intangibles, we may like how tough he is and all kinds of different reasons. I feel with that part of it that we have good players too. Fortunately, just in some of these games and the last few we have played well. Mack (Brown) and I don’t play. At the end of the day it’s players on the field. Last year we played well. Our guys executed and played well in all parts of the game.”

On if there are any common denominators in the four blowout wins he owns over Texas:
“Like I said, we played well.”

On the differences between Texas QBs Case McCoy and David Ash:
“They’re similar players in that both of them, I think, run in a similar fashion. I don’t know that there are any schemes that are different that way. They both show maturity. I think (Case) McCoy as you watch him out there, is very comfortable running the offense so you can tell he’s had good experience, is going to his players around him to make plays, but I see them as very similar in how they play.”

On if it seems like he has been coaching here as long as he has:
“Heck yeah. When I came here I’d probably leave here and go run four miles and now I can’t walk around the block, so I’ve got to get on a bike or something now. I can’t run anymore. So in some ways, yeah, sure. It other ways, no it doesn’t. It feels like yesterday to be honest with you. I can’t wait to go to practice today; I can’t wait to see the players. Looking forward to, in our meeting, critiquing our last game and getting the scout report for Texas. Monday is a fun day.”

On what he knows now that he didn’t know 15 years ago:
“I know too much about you guys (the media).”

On the Texas running game and the Texas running backs:
“Strong running game, strong backs in how they come downhill at you. A lot of schemes similar to what we see in this league, so they’re back to playing more like a lot of the teams we see now. So, the quarterback can throw it and run and little bit. It’s probably not as big of a threat as it was a week ago with (Trevone) Boykin, but still it’s there. They’re solid with their run game, for sure.”

On if the past couple of Red River Rivalry games give the team a mental edge:
“I was asked that earlier today. I don’t look at that at all. One year to the next. To me, they’re totally different teams. They are, we are, that’s a long time ago now. So in the end, you earn it year to year with what you’re doing, not because you may have won it the year before.”

On if running the football is a point of emphasis this week:
“Sure. Who knows, maybe our guys were patted on the back a little too much for the way we ran it a week ago (against Notre Dame) and needed to run it better the other day. And again, credit TCU. They’re good. They do a good job in how they work you and scheme you and their players play hard and so they’ve made it challenging for sure.”

On the new uniforms for the Red River Rivarly:
“I like them. I like the gold accents they put on it. Looks good.”

On what they will do without LB Corey Nelson in the leadership role:
“Yeah, Corey’s being a great leader. He has all year. It’s really been exciting, the way he’s played up to this point. And he can continue to do that – be the leader out on the field coaching and helping and really demanding the players in practice that we perform and concentrate and focus the way we have been. It’s really made a difference. We practice a lot better, we seem to have a lot fewer mistakes come Saturday, and that’s happened for us. He’s been big on just making sure that’s happening while we’re out there day to day – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – so hopefully he can continue have that kind of influence”

On who will be calling the defensive signals in Corey Nelson’s absence:
“Other guys like Frank Shannon will do it, Dominique (Alexander), the other guys have to do it with the safeties. They’ve got to be able to communicate with each other.”

On if he keeps up with the news surrounding the Texas coaching staff this year:
“Some I catch. The obvious one, when you know a coach has been changed, you have to pay attention to that. A lot of the other I don’t pay attention to. A lot of the other doesn’t concern me and I’m not much on stuff that doesn’t pertain to us at practice and us making improvement. I don’t have a whole lot of time for it.”

On what he was told about the OU vs. Texas game when he first started coaching at OU:
“That all anyone cared about was just winning that game. They were lying; you’ve got to win them all.”

On his thought process when making coaching changes or changes on the field:
“I’ve never said one way or the other on any coaching changes through the years. When someone has decided they wanted to do something else on their own, or whether it’s been suggested to them, either way. So in the end, I like what we’re doing right now and hopefully we can get better at it here this week.”

On describing the culture of the program here at Oklahoma:
“One that continually tries to develop its players. I’m not afraid to say demanding, in that what we expect and how to work in the off-season, how to work during the season – those kinds of things. But most young people, they want to be All-Americans. They want to be NFL-type players. Well, the only way that’s going to happen is by us being demanding and developing them. So that’s what we’re constantly trying to do. Sure from year to year we may do it better one year than some others, but we’re continually reminded, or remind ourselves, of making sure that we continue to challenge our players for improvement and development.”

On what areas he presses QB Blake Bell to improve the most as far as running or passing:
“I think in both areas he can continue to improve. He hasn’t played all that much yet and he is throwing the ball well, but again, I think there is still room for improvement there and we still have to find different ways to get him running the football and to try to break him loose from time to time.”

On if he talks to his team about being over-confident:
“Not really, no. We constantly talk about, ‘how are we going to be at our best?’ TCU, Texas, Kansas next week. How do we put ourselves on Saturday to be at our absolute best? That’s what we’re always working for.” 

On FB Trey Millard’s success in the Texas game last year:
“I can’t say that you know that he’s going to break out like he did. You feel he has some opportunities, and we did, and that’s why we tried to get him the ball like we did. But then, you know, I can’t say you always know when the big play is coming. But Trey is a great player. Just like the other night, he has a nice touchdown and bends it back and at times he has the right pace. So he had a big game last year.”

On if big plays mean more in a game like this:
“They mean a lot in any game. Those kinds of big plays, you know, you’re grinding and all the sudden you pop something. Just like the other night, they generally make big differences in games. No matter which game it is.”

On if QB Trevor Knight warming up against TCU meant they thought about putting him in:
“No. We weren’t contemplating that. He probably learned his lesson in the Notre Dame game that all of a sudden I’m in and I haven’t thrown the ball in a half hour, you know, you’ve got to stay loose.”

On if there is temptation to go for a ‘home run play’ to swing momentum in big games:
“I think you’re always trying to. You never know when you’re going to pop it. We didn’t intentionally say, ‘Oh, we’re going to hit a 95-yarder’ last year when Damien (Williams) took off. I mean, you want to do that every time you hand it off. So anyway, the only time you intentionally know you’re going for something is when you’ve got a go-ball, you feel you’ve got somebody beat, and you’re trying to run past him.”

On if he feels like he has barely scratched the surface on how good the offense can be:
“I don’t know about barely scratch the surface, but I feel we still have a lot of upside here, definitely, for improvement, offense and defense. We’re still ironing little wrinkles out here and there that we’re pushing ourselves to get better.”

On if he has ever worn the Golden Hat:
“I think I might have had it on for only a couple of seconds a year or two ago, or I think it was last year – I’m not sure. They snuck it on me and I let them go for a minute but I haven’t had it on much.”

On if he is superstitious about the uniform change:
“No. Keeping up with the times. Kids like to see it. We’ll probably have some other stuff coming here and there. Gold accent looks pretty good.”

On if uniform changes will be like Oregon and OSU:
“Probably not to that extreme.”

On if Nike chose the accents:
“Well we have to approve them. So we had some meetings a year ago and who knows what’s coming.”

On if he felt superstitious about the uniform change after the Texas Tech game in 2009:
“Nothing superstitious about me.”

On superstitions:
“I have my same spot at chapel every week. I don’t know how many years ago that started either, but we have chapel before games and players know – that’s coaches spot right there.”

On his favorite memory from the 14 games he has coached at OU against Texas:
“Any of the ones you win. I’ve loved them all, when you win, of course. When you win big, of course in those instances you get to enjoy the fourth quarter a little more. But what’s more exciting than Roy Williams jumping over the goal line, forcing a turnover to win the game? You know, those are fun. Or, we’ve had a shut out one time. Any time you win, sure anybody would say that, they’re always special, and you always remember certain plays from those wins.”

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops – Big 12 Conference Call
Oct. 7, 2013

On his experience playing in the Red River Rivalry:
“Well it’s always exciting. It’s a great experience. The State Fair, the Cotton Bowl, the tradition and history there, two teams here that have been in the same division when we had divisions and the atmosphere of the game with the stadium split in half. It’s always really special. It’s kind of like a bowl game in the middle of the year. It’s a great game.”

On if any particular memory from this series stands out:
“Oh there have been a lot of games, heck any time you win there are positive memories and in more than 15 years we have won our share here. Those are always fun. I have probably too many to just say one.”

On what he likes about his defense and the challenges it faces this week against Texas:
“I like the discipline we have been playing with and the speed we’ve been playing with. We’ve been getting great pressure to quarterbacks and have played great run defense. Last week, a team that we felt wanted to run the football, and we really didn’t allow them to. Tackling, playing physical, all those things have really been happening so far and we’ll need to do all those things the same way playing Texas here this week.”

On how much LB Corey Nelson’s absence with impact the defense:
“It will be significant. Corey is a captain and a guy right there in the middle of the heart of the defense so it’s hard to minimize that. He was having a great, great year and it’s just unfortunate for him. You hate to see that happen to a guy in his senior year.”

On how this year’s Texas team differs from those of the past couple of years:
“Well, offensively they are trying to do some different things that obviously we are more familiar with in our conference with spreading it out. A year ago they were trying to do more with tight ends and more focused on running the ball in different ways. They are just sort of doing that differently now so it’s back to more of what we’ve seen from people in our league. Structurally, defensively they’re not doing a ton of things but they are playing good sound football so they force you to work it to beat them.”

On how the split crowd affects momentum, particularly after turnovers or big plays:
“At the end of the day the fans don’t impact it. The way you play on the field does. When you are making plays your crowd is loud for you. So the more plays you make the better chance you have of keeping that momentum.”

On the transformation of the defensive scheme this year:
“We have just done a good job, Mike (Stoops) and all the defensive coaches, of playing well to our personnel. Playing in the 3-4 has given us more speed on the field and we feel like the way we have been matching up with people so far, it’s been positive and it’s allowed us to adjust to some of the formations we get in a better way.”

On how much QB Blake Bell’s experience against Texas will help him in this year’s game:
“I think more than that his experience at Notre Dame with help him more than anything. That was a good game, a significant game and a game that he impacted in a major way. He will just build on that and going into this game he just needs to take what’s there and continue to operate like he has.”

On Baylor’s offensive numbers to this point:
“Yeah, it’s not the usual… what you see. So they are obviously doing a great job.”

On the possibility of Dominique Alexander and replacing Corey Nelson at linebacker:
“Dominique and also Aaron Franklin is a guy who has played a lot for us there in that position. Dominique is a young guy, very talented, a strong, physical player at linebacker. He has excellent quickness and speed. He’s a quality football player. He just has to keep gaining experience.”

On his team’s toughness the past two games, particularly in the fourth quarter:
“It is pleasing. You like to have that kind of character and that kind of conditioning and fight to be able to finish through the games the way we have. We just have to keep doing it and keep building on it.”

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