Offensive Media Session

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
APRIL 03, 2014

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops
April 2, 2014 

On spring practice so far:
“It’s been really good. All the quarterbacks keep making progress. Alex Ross had a nice scrimmage the other day. Blake Bell has looked good at tight end. He scored a touchdown in one of our team deals. He got a little dinged at practice today but he checked out and looks okay. Jordan Smallwood continues to look good. Everyone on defense is doing a nice job. I can’t go through everybody. Ahmad Thomas made a special play the other day. He and Hatari Byrd continue to look good. Stanvon Taylor and Dakota Thomas are playing the best out there at corned. Cortez is still in that mix very strongly.

On the speed of the team:
“We’ve got great speed up front there when you look at Geneo Grissom, Eric Striker, Charles Tapper; those guys can move. Even Jordan can move for a 330-pound guy. Everyone in the backend can run. Those guys on offense have exceptional speed coming in to go with Sterling Shepherd and those other guys.”

On the number of players on the roster allowed:
“It’s what we usually see. Because of Title IX and gender equity, we’re only allowed 115 in the fall on our roster. So when all those seniors leave and the freshman aren’t in yet, we’re at the same numbers we are almost every year. It’s always a struggle. You can only have so many walk-ons. Our numbers are actually fairly good. Probably better than half of the years we’ve been here. Gender equity is what it is. I’m not knocking it; I’m all for our women’s sports and equal participation. We do our best to get good walk-ons and we actually have a pretty strong pool of them coming in this fall.”

On the backup quarterbacks:
“They’re doing a nice job. They still have a ways to go naturally. That’s why we’re out there simulating games, moving the ball, getting them game type snaps. They’ve got all the physical tools, it’s just continuing to get them snaps.”

On Cody Thomas playing spring football and baseball:
“It hasn’t been an issue for us. Coach Heupel is figuring out the times to work with him and he’s been at every practice. I hope it hasn’t hurt him much in baseball. He’s probably not where (baseball) Coach Hughes would want him to be, but I’m sure he’s doing the best he can.”

On the Northwestern players trying to unionize:
“It’s hard to tell until they have what the specifics and the parameters are around it. I would say that I’m all for whatever things we can do to enhance all of the student-athletes experiences and not just football. As soon as you make it better for one, someone else is going to pay the price for it. This sport may go away and that sport may go away and I don’t believe that would be a good thing. I don’t know that that would happen but until you have more specifics, I don’t know what to say about it.”

On paying for athlete medical needs:
“We always take care of our players. You use family insurance first and whatever it doesn’t cover, it’s my understanding that we cover the rest. I don’t know that we’ve ever had an athlete that’s had to pay for an injury they’ve sustained. That’s always been the case. I’ve always renewed scholarships. I’ve never removed a guy for any reason other than he removed himself or habitual team policy violations.”

On the confidence going into the Sugar Bowl and after the Sugar Bowl:
“I felt that the guys felt that they had earned the right to carry that kind of confidence and to play that way. I think you have the chance to carry that from after that game. So many of these guys are back that they’re projecting that confidence and leadership. It has a chance to carry in to summer.”

On opening practice to OU students on April 10: 
“It’s just giving them more opportunity to participate with our students that are athletes. It’s just giving them an opportunity to be around the players a bit more being that our guys are students, too.”

On the Final Four:
“I love watching it like everybody here. Once it gets down to about 16 is when I start paying attention.”

On FB Dimitri Flowers:
“We’re elated about Dimitiri. He’s very natural and a very good athlete. He has the size very similar to Trey Millard. We’re elated about him. He’s shown every indication that he’ll be ready for the fall.”

On FB Aaron Ripkowski:
“Aaron’s last three games, you watch him at Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Alabama, he really played outstanding football. He was excellent. He played in a great way down the stretch.”

On TE Blake Bell:
“He’s taken to tight end as natural as can be. He looks really good there right now for as little as he’s been there. He looks the part when he’s running down the middle too.”

On G Dionte Savage:
“He’s been a great kid here. His attitude every day and the way he works and steps up, he’s a guy that we really want to earn a starting job. He sure has worked for it.”

Co-Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell
April 2, 2014

On spring practice so far:
“It’s typical spring. It’s good to see some of the guys who played a little last year step up. It’s great having Trevor Knight back. His experience is starting to show a little bit. We’re playing without some guys and it’s giving some other guys some more experience. Our skill kids are all competing. It’s gonna be hard to tell where we’re at until we get into more competitive situations. Spring is working every day and trying to get better. It’s not always pretty, but we’re getting better for sure.”

On FB Dimitri Flowers:
“Dimitri is a very versatile kid and a real smart kid. He’s able to do a lot of things. It reminds you of Trey Millard. He’s a very natural receiver and an ability to adjust in space. You can play him on the edge or the backfield, which is something we need with Trey graduating. He does certain things naturally in space which you get excited about as a coach.”

On RB Keith Ford:
“Keith’s had a good spring. He’s had a ton of opportunities. You know when Brennan Clay was here and had a great feel of where to run and how to slip defenders and he made so many big plays. And Keith has to learn that. It comes from experience and he’s getting those opportunities. He’s made some great plays and he’s a physical back. He’s got to be more consistent.

“Coach Gundy is pushing him hard. He’s had a good spring and he’s got to continue to. When you’re a freshman sometimes you don’t value the ball the way you need to and he had some issues with that. That’s been an emphasis for him. Spring practice tests your will. It’s long, you get a lot of reps, and you get hit every day. You’ve got to be able to push through that and be tough minded.”

Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel
April 2, 2014

On how the quarterbacks look:
“We did some positive things. Turned the ball over a couple of times but I think they’re continuing to push and get better. Like you expect in spring ball, there’s some ups and downs from day to day but they’re doing it the right way.”

On the backup quarterbacks’ progress:
“They’re all young. I mean Trevor (Knight)’s heading into his second year. The rest of those guys have been out of high school less than 12 months. They’re all young so they make some mistakes, some simple things that you’d like them to make sometimes. They just need more time on task and they’re getting better every day. They’re recognizing defenses and understanding what we’re doing and they’re making the strides we want them to.”

On Justice Hansen’s experience thus far:
“It’s extremely hard on every one of our players who come in here, but especially on our quarterbacks. It’s extremely difficult; there’s so much thrown at you so quickly. Within six weeks of being here you’re on the practice field going against guys that have been here, they’ve been through the system and understand the system. It’s overwhelming at times, but the first four days before Spring Break you saw him get better each day. Since they’ve been back he’s comprehended things even better, so I think by the time you finish spring ball, you get through summer and you come back into fall camp, he’ll be really comfortable with what we’re doing and I expect him to grow leaps and bounds by the time fall ends.”

On the development of the offensive line:
“Right now you’re working as individuals. As guys move from A group to B group, or ones to twos and back and forth and you have an injury, another guy bumps up. It’s about developing not just five guys as a cohesive unit; it’s about developing individually and playing with better technique. All those guys are getting better.”

Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Jay Boulware
April 2, 2014

On the work he’s been doing through the spring:
“A lot of work. We’ve had a lot of meeting time this spring, which is a little different than last spring when I first got here. We’ve been focusing on drill work and identifying our personnel and trying to get them in the right spot. We’ve been fortunate this spring to be able to work a lot more guys. We had some mid-semester guys come in here and some guys that were redshirted, so I’m in the process of evaluating all those guys and try to put them in the right place.”

On how close he is to finding returners:
“When we get our whole football team on here in the summer, that’s when I’ll identify and make final decisions on that. We have a lot of freshmen coming in and we have a lot of guys who are busting their butts right now. We won’t make any final decisions until towards the end of fall camp.”

On Blake Bell being with the tight ends:
“It’s awesome. Blake has done a great job, we’re very fortunate to have him there and he’s fit in very nicely with our guys. He’s really excelled and he brings an athlete, which is what we’ve always said we need, we need blockers, we need guys who can run down the field and make plays on the ball and Blake can do that.”

On how the tight ends are doing:
“They’re doing very well. The guy that I’ve been really pleased with is Dimitri Flowers, he’s a tight end/halfback, but he’s listed as a fullback, but he does the same things for us as Trey Millard did last year. He’s played on the line of scrimmage, he’s played in the backfield and he’s played at wide receiver. He has receiving skills that are exceptional. We’re still working on his route running and that’s getting better and better everyday. I’ve been very pleased with him and where he’s come along. Obviously we still have (Aaron) Ripkowski in the room, he’s doing a good job. And Taylor’s (McNamara) coming a long, he’s still maturing as he goes. That’s kind of what we’ve got going right now.”

On if the tight ends are in a better position to get on the field:
“First of all we were on the field quite a bit last year. I keep telling everybody I had two kids that played 50 something plays a game in Trey Millard and Ripkowski and when Trey went out it was Ripkowski and whoever else, a combination of Brannon Green and whoever else, whether it was Taylor or whoever. I had a guy in my room who was playing 50 some odd snaps. We rushed for more yards last year on our offense than we have in I can’t tell you how long here. Our tight ends have a lot to do with that, it’s not just the o-line, our tight ends and fullbacks pave the way as well. As far as our productivity in the throwing game, that’s where we have to improve and that’s what we’re working on this year, because play wise and rep number wise, we’re there. We’ve got to get our hands on the ball and we have to have guys who are athletic enough to get their hands on the ball. With the edition of Blake and Dimitri Flowers, we have that now.”

Quarterback Trevor Knight
April 3, 2014

On how the offense did in the scrimmage:
“I think we did OK. I think we’ve got a long way to go, but guys are out there competing and playing hard. We’ve got some areas that we need to get better and fine-tune some things up. But I feel like we played hard and I’m excited about moving forward.”

On if he’s found playmakers:
“Absolutely. There’s guys that are stepping up in a big way. Alex Ross for one, he’s been playing great so far.”

On throwing to Blake Bell:
“Oh it’s great. Blake’s a big body and it’s fun to throw to a guy like that; we haven’t done that here since I’ve been here, haven’t had a big guy like that. So especially down in the red zone, he’s a lot of fun to throw to.”

On Alex Ross:
“He’s playing explosively. He’s just having fun playing. He gets the ball in his hands and he’s done the field real quick. It’s good to watch.”

On how he feels he’s throwing the ball:
“I think I’m throwing pretty good. I’m getting better every single day, still trying to improve but getting better.”

Sophomore running back Keith Ford
April 2, 2014 

On the size of the running backs:
“We’re all getting bigger. I’m gaining weight. I was 205 last year, now I’m like 213. We’re all trying to get bigger, stronger and more powerful.”

On getting extra reps this spring:
“It’s great. Last fall, I didn’t really get that many reps because of the three seniors in front of me. Getting that experience helps out a lot. I’m getting more comfortable with the game and everything.”

On Dimitri Flowers:
“Dimitri is a big freshman. He reminds me of Trey Millard a little bit. He’s a very, very good player. He came in and seeing him in action is a surprise. He’s tremendous and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the fall.”

On what he learned from the seniors:
“How to watch film, how to read things. More of the little things. In high school they tell you how to run left, run right, block this guy but here it’s more of a standpoint where you have to see more blitzes and understand the mental aspect of it.



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