Offensive Media Session Quotes

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 11, 2014

Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel

On the new IPads:
“It’s a great tool for our players. They get to take it everywhere they go and it makes the communication process easier. This way they have their notes with them all the time, everything is in one spot for them. Like all technology, it just makes everything easier.”

On the progression of the tight ends:
“Great strides in everything that they are doing. Obviously Blake [Bell] is new to the position but they all have a much better understanding of the passing game, understanding space as much as anything, though they are improving in the run game, playing with a lot better pad level, hands are better. They’re taking the right footwork and giving them a chance to be successful on the edge.”

On evaluating the running backs:
“All those guys get an opportunity to compete; we are running the same stuff we’ve always ran. They have to be able to pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, so the skill sets we are looking for are all the same. They are all young. None of them have played a ton on Saturdays so we’ll see what we got when we get there but I like what we’ve got and the way they have competed through practice so far.”

On Ty Darlington at center:
“He’s doing a great job, competing extremely hard, displaying great leadership. He’s doing a real good job of identifying run plays, identifying pressure, making the calls, adjusting protection. So I like what he’s doing.”

On the progression of the backup quarterbacks:
“They have done some positive things in the scrimmage the other day, at the same time as a quarterback they made some mistakes that you can’t make and that are going to get you beat. They compete hard, they want to be better and they push for it every single day. The next week and a half is going to be critical for both those guys to make the strides that we need them to be ready to play.”

On the depth of the offensive line:
“When we’re healthy we have more depth than we’ve had in a long time. The guys that have come back from injury, Adam Shead, Tyler Evans along with the guys that finished out the year. We have more depth, especially on the interior, and all those guys have the ability to play at a high level and they’ve all shown that they’ve done that. So we want to keep them all healthy. You’ll see us probably rotate a lot. We’ve continued to progress through camp and we feel good about our guys.”

Co-Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell

On Sterling Shepard’s leadership role:
“I have seen it since early last spring and over the summer and then through camp he has been much more vocal with the other players. He is kind of spreading his wings that way. He is being more vocal and being more of a teacher. He is leading by example.”

On this week’s practice:
“We are still trying to push it to another level of execution. This week is incredibly important for that. We have had a week of training camp where we got started and knocked some summer kinks off but this week we really have to pick up the execution.”

On Blake Bell’s experience helping him at TE:
“He just understands the speed of the game. It is different playing a different position but he understands when plays have to be made and when you have to step up and the type of competitiveness you have to have to finish. Shepard has that and Trevor has always brought that. Certain players, your go-to guys on offense, have to set that tone for the rest of the guys.”

On Durron Neal:
“Confidence. Every player has to have confidence. He has always had athletic ability. He has the ability to run and adjust to the ball in the air. He is playing with confidence and that is such a key element. He and Trevor are connecting more on deep balls and they are finishing more deep balls. He has worked really hard. One of the things you need to be a good player is the ability to bring it every day whether you are feeling good or you are not. Whether you are playing well or not you have bring that focus every day and he has done that like a starter. That is why he is seeing the results that he is getting.”

On Dimitri Flowers:
“He is still a young player and there are a lot of situations that he has not been in but when you are athletic and you are smart you find ways to survive in those situations. That is what he is doing. He is getting more confident all the time. We have some grind sessions against our defense and it’s tough. For a young player it is really good because it is like playing a game every day. We are going out there every day in training camp and we are playing a game against our defense. It is physical and it is hard. You have to block great edge players like Eric Striker and that only makes you better. We have to take advantage of those situations every day in training camp to be ready for this season. He is one of the young players that has really made strides.”

On Michiah Quick:
“You know, when Ryan Broyles was a young player he was very athletic and very quick but he just had a feel for situations and getting open. Quick is like that. He is a bigger athlete than Ryan. He is little bit stronger than Ryan too but when you tell him to go out and get open on a route he just finds a way to do it. You don’t have to tell him a whole lot. He is a football player. Some kids just take information and apply it naturally. He is one of those guys. It is never a struggle for him. He finds a way to be successful. You find that you can do a lot with those guys because they can transfer from the meeting room to the practice field really well.”

On the returning players:
“We have started at a much higher level this year. We have a chance to take it much higher this year. We have so many big guys who have played. We have so much depth inside with our guards. They are big and they are physical. That gives us that foundation that you can lean on and you don’t always have that every year. That is the thing that gives us the most excitement offensively. We have that big, strong, physical foundation with depth. We can roll people and keep pounding on people. That allows our skill guys to do what we need to do to win.”

On Jeffery Mead:
“He is an incredibly gifted athlete. At 6-foot-7, I have never coached anyone that tall in my life. He is gifted agility wise. He is becoming a great route runner and he really studies the game. He has that type of mind that lets him understand what we are trying to do. He asks the right type of questions and he is improving very quickly. Smart and athletic guys end up being really good players and we are excited about Jeffery.”

On high school athletes playing more than one sport:
“We love to see them play more sports. Kids that don’t specialize, kids that play a lot of sports, improve more in college because they are focusing on one thing. You can see them make a huge jump. I expect him [Jeffery Mead] to make a huge jump in this first year of how to play football at this level. He is an exciting guy to see progress already.”

Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

On what Trevor Knight’s running ability gives to the offense:
“I would put him as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. That is always a positive when you have a guy who can throw and do it on the ground, as well. It adds variety to the offense. As a quarterback you want to be a guy who can throw first and then run if you have to and that is what he did in the Sugar Bowl. Hopefully he keeps doing that the whole season.”

On Dimitri Flowers:
“He reminds me a lot of Trey Millard. He has gotten a lot bigger in the offseason so he is moving guys now. Not only is he blocking guys but he is running routes and he catches everything that hits his hands. He is looking really good.”

On potentially earning the starting punt returner spot:
“I am looking forward to that. I sat behind on that for longer than I would have liked. It’s my turn now and I am going to try to step up and do that. We have had some great punt returners in the past with Justin Brown and, of course, Jalen Saunders. I am just trying to do something back there.”

On learning from Jalen Saunders:
“I was with Jalen for two years so I got to sit back and watch how he does things. I still watch film of him every day. The way he gets a hold on the ball and then what he does afterwards is just all instincts. I think I have that part down. I just have to get to it and catch it.”

On what stood out from Saturday’s scrimmage:
“We saw some young guys get after it and we want to see which young guys are going to be able to help us. As far as receivers it looks very good. Michiah Quick looks really quick out there. He is moving great. Some of the big guys are looking good, Jeffery Mead and Mark Andrews, so everyone is making progress and that is what we want to do during camp.”

Tight End Taylor McNamara

On getting more reps this year in camp:
“It’s important. I told you guys last year, I want to be a playmaker and I want to be out there. It means a lot, and I want to help us be good this year.”

On his catch in the Sugar Bowl:
“It was big for me just to be out there and playing. The catch, I mean that’s what I expect from myself when I’m out there. I want to make the plays that I’m supposed to make. It was big to be out there playing and fighting my way back into the lineup.”

On the threat the tight end position can create:
“I think it can be big. We’ve got four guys out there that can be really big playmakers. I’m excited. I just want the year to get here.”

On if being a quarterback first helped Blake Bell transition to tight end:
“I think that’s what has helped Blake pick it up so fast is that he went from having to know the whole progression to just having one job. That’s not too tough for him to pick up. That’s what helped him make that adjustment so fast.”

Tight End Blake Bell

On what he worked on transitioning to tight end:
“I did different lifts in the weight room, just working on getting stronger. I wanted to lean-up a little bit. Being a quarterback, you don’t have to move around as much. You’re not running routes, and all of a sudden you have to run back and block and do that stuff. I felt like I was a little out of shape, so that was what I wanted to do in offseason is get back in shape and slim down a little bit.”

On how he is progressing:
“That’s been the most difficult part of it, but I would say it’s going well. Each day I feel like I’m getting a lot better. I’m going against guys like Geneo (Grissom), Strike (Eric Striker), Tap (Charles Tapper) and those guys. It’s good work for me because I feel like those guys are some of the best in the country, so it’s helped me out a lot.”

On having depth at tight end:
“It’s good for us in our position. There are some times when we can put two or three tight ends on the field at the same time. We’re going to need a lot of guys. It’s kind of different than the quarterback position where you only have one guy going out there and everyone else is on the sideline. There could be times when I’m out there. There could be times where it’s me and Rip (Aaron Ripkowski) out there, or there could be times where it’s me, Rip and T-Mac (Taylor McNamara). It could go a lot of different ways. It’s going to be fun.”

Quarterback Trevor Knight

On the tight end position:
“The tight ends are doing great. T-Mac (Taylor McNamara), Blake (Bell) and Dimitri (Flowers) are on the inside, and even some of the younger guys are stepping in there and really playing well. They’re understanding reads and seeing coverage really well, and they’re working really hard.”

On what different dimensions the use of the tight ends would bring to the offense:
“It really opens it up. It adds another dimension. QB-run game is a dimension and tight ends out running routes is another dimension. I’m proud of the way they’re working, and we’re going to have to use them this year.”

On Taylor McNamara:
“He’s had to overcome a little adversity and he’s finally getting into his groove and is playing really well. He’s always been a hard worker. He’s just battled the injury bug a little bit. I’m excited about the way his camp is going. He’s playing really well, and we’re going to have to use him also.”

On how the offense builds chemistry:
“It’s a rhythm, and it’s about coming together as a collective unite. When guys are out there getting in a rhythm themselves, you get on the same page and that’s how you build chemistry.”

On Blake Bell:
“Blake’s (Bell) done a good job. He’s continuing to improve on his blocking game, and he’s really getting physical down in the trenches. He’s working on his route running and working on finding and beating his coverage. He’s really doing a good job transitioning and getting better each and every day.”

On Cody Thomas and Justice Hansen:
“They’re doing really good. They’re working really hard and competing every day, not just against each other or against me, but against themselves, as well. They’ve progressed throughout camp and have gotten better every day. Justice (Hansen) is a young guy coming in, but he’s done a great job picking up on things.”

Fullback Aaron Ripkowski

On if there is more pressure on him this season:
“I wouldn’t say there’s more pressure, but knowing this is my last year I’m trying to get a jump on it and trying to get better than I have been. I want to progress more than I have in the past years.”

On how using tight ends helps speed up play:
“Everybody knows the 'Y' and the 'H', so no matter where you’re at in the spot, you can call different sets and everybody just picks it up and switches spots with seamless transition.”

On tempo:
“Tempo is something we’re always working on. We’re always trying to get a faster play of game and work on game speed.”

On getting better at receiving during the offseason:
“In the offseason we’re always working on our hands and eyes. That’s something we can work on every day all day long.”

Guard Dionte Savage

On the offensive line:
“I feel like we’re getting a lot better, playing harder and more physical as a whole group. I feel like we’re a whole lot better as a whole group.”

On playing left guard:
“Left guard, right guard, I go with the ones at left guard then rotate on the right with some two’s.”

On his comfort level this year opposed to last season:
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable, especially with my technique, running the plays and just knowing my job and going out there and doing it. I focused on my technique and my steps and those were basically my weaknesses from last year so that’s what I’ve been working on in the offseason and I’m looking forward to it paying off during this season.”

On who are the leaders of the offensive line:
“Definitely Daryl Williams but I mean all of us seniors. We know our role and we know we have to step up. We know how to get the job done. We just have to go out there every day and execute.”

Fullback Dimitri Flowers

On what position he is playing:
“I’m just moving around. Wherever they tell me to go is where I line up and do my job.”

On enrolling early:
“I feel like it helped me tremendously. Honestly, I feel like it was one of the best moves I ever could make in my life. I can say because, I mean, looking back, I’ve had seven months to prepare and if I would’ve gotten here in May I only would have had two, so I just feel more prepared now.”

On getting to play early in his career:
“Everywhere you go you want to be able to play early but coming in knowing Trey [Millard] was a fourth-year senior knowing he was about to leave so I feel like if I can do what he did that can get me some playing time.”

On comparisons to Trey Millard:
“It’s all the time. People off the field joke around calling me Trey 2.0 or Little Trey or something like that, it’s fun I’m just trying to go out and make a name for myself as well.”

On the difficulty of being recruited as a fullback:
“It was. I was just classified as “athlete” really but in high school I was never hand in the ground. I was always running back, quarterback or wide receiver but Oklahoma found me and luckily for me they did, because now I’m here.”

On who has been his mentor:
“I look up to Aaron Ripkowski mainly. I mean he’s been here the longest but Blake [Bell] just knows the offense so well coming over from the quarterback position so I look to those two mainly.”



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