Defensive Media Session Quotes

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 12, 2014

Head Coach Bob Stoops

On WR Sterling Shepard returning punts:
“He is similar to some of the guys that we’ve had in that he has great speed and great elusiveness. He is stronger than Jalen (Saunders) and can run through some arm tackles. We are hopeful that he can give us some big plays that we are used to having.”

On LB Jordan Evans:
“I expect Jordan to have a great year. He is a guy that has really come on. He is probably the biggest guy we got. He is all of 220 pounds. He had a really good spring and summer. He is very natural in there and we are expecting him to really make a difference for us this year.”

On CB Jordan Thomas:
“He and Steven Parker are as good of players at corner and safety as we have every recruited. It is obvious though this number of practices how strong they are and how they are physically in a position to play and to handle it. They are intelligent and it is natural for them. You usually don’t get that all in one.”

On Steven Parker playing both safety positions:
“Safeties have to be interchangeable no matter what. He is working at strong and free. One safety can’t go do something without knowing what the other one is doing. In our minds it isn’t any different.”

On Geneo Grissom at linebacker:
“He is playing in the ‘Jack’ position which makes us bigger. Here is a guy who is used to going against tackles and is now going against tight ends. It has made us bigger out on the edge. It has made us more physical, taller and rangier. We can still put him in pass rush positions when we need to.”

On the progress of the running backs:
“They are all doing well. They have all stayed healthy and looked good. They are all much bigger than what we are used to (compared to Brennan Clay and Roy Finch). They are just more physical players. They have been really good. Daniel (Brooks) even has a nice compliment with his great speed.”

On Julian Wilson at cornerback:
“Looks fabulous. I am elated about him. He has natural great speed and his is long and tall with great range. He was recruited to be corner. It is working out great for him. He is so intelligent. He has played for two years and he can anticipate what is coming. He gets the game and he is physical in tackling. He has been great.”

On Wilson’s recruitment and attendance at summer camps as a recruit:
“That is what I loved about him. He was jumping in every chance he got. He was cutting in line and jumping in and competing at every opportunity. I remember that very well. His ability and size were great but that was the clincher. I loved his attitude to compete.”

Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops

On CB Jordan Thomas:
“He’s a terrific player and is very smart. He has great speed and quickness. He plays very natural and has a gifted feel for playing corner. He’s big and long.”

On LB Jordan Evans:
“Jordan is a guy we leaned on heavily a year ago. He knows our defense and I think the reps he got a year ago, and got thrown into the fire a little bit before he was probably ready, I think he’s much better prepared to help us.”

On the depth at linebacker:
“Caleb Gastelum is back with our team and has done a nice job. Tay Evans has, as well. We go four deep at that position.”

On preparing for games without knowing who will be available:
“We coach the players that are there. All we can control are the players that are on the field and that’s all we ever have controlled. We have guys that can get hurt and have guys who aren’t available and the next guy has to come up and do his job. That’s just how it goes.”

On the jump from freshman to sophomore for Jordan Evans:
“For him, it has a chance to be a really positive experience for him. He’s bigger, much stronger, and hopefully able to find the ball quicker. Linebacker is a difficult position to play as a true freshman.”

On Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander:
“They’re great Oklahoma kids who play hard and word hard. Those are guys who get after it and they’re good to coach. They understand the importance of what they do and what they represent. They’ve always carried themselves way beyond their years and we’re starting to see that physical and mental maturity develop on the football field.”

On the defensive line:
“I think all of our starters have done well, and I’m thinking Matt Romar has done some good things. Charles (Walker) and DJ (Ward), are younger guys. Our first guys are what we thought they would be, and we’re developing that second group with Charles Walker, DJ, Matt Romar. There’s a whole group of them fighting to get some playing time.”

On Jordan Phillips’ progress through injury:
“Jordan has been terrific. He’s been healthy. If he sits out it’s been precautionary. He doesn’t do two-a-days right now. He’ll just practice once a day. He practiced in the morning yesterday and didn’t in the evening, but that’s just precautionary. His volume will increase when we get out of camp and the natural reps will be the same, and through the first part of the season we’ll see if he can handle that volume or not.”

On the safety position:
“Four really good ones, and they all played very well. We’re trying to see who will start at free safety. That’s kind of up in the air right now. Those guys are battling. They all do good things. They all need to learn to be better positioned and playmakers, and that’s just through youthful inexperience and finding the football, and that’s just something we have to continue to improve. I’m giving Steven (Parker) an opportunity. I’m giving Ahmad (Thomas) an opportunity and Hatari (Byrd). There’s a lot of pressure out there that I put on those guys and we’ll see who can step up and be the guy.”

Linebacker Dominque Alexander

On helping Geneo Grissom transition to linebacker:
“I’m just helping him as much as I can because I know he has not done it before. That just comes with chemistry as well. We’ve been working on it since the spring. Sometimes if he is supposed to have the outside gaps and gets blocked down, I will just go to the outside instead of going in my gap. I just try to help him as much as possible. With the drops I know it is harder for him to certain things. I will just take his man sometimes.”

On living up to expectations:
“When we got here we said we wanted to be the best that we could be. Some people did not expect us to be much as linebackers because we were not five-stars. We just wanted to come in and do everything that we could and prove them wrong. We wanted to prove that we belonged.”

On settling in at linebacker:
“I have been playing linebacker since middle school, but I have always played everything. When I played safety I was always in the box anyway. I played at defensive end, running back, quarterback and everything. I always told myself that if I could focus on one position instead of having to do a lot then I would be able to be very successful.

On the freshman in camp:
“They are getting it. Last week it was new to them being their first week in camp. They have been here a week now and I am trying to help them as much as I can. I know how hard it is to be a freshman. I’m trying to show them the ropes. They are getting it now and they are starting to play a lot faster.”

Linebacker Geneo Grissom

On adjusting to his new position:
“It is all about getting better and trying to live up to expectations. Playing a new position is always a new challenge. I have a long way to go and I am getting better.”

On DT Jordan Phillips:
“Jordan looks good. He is getting his strength back and we look forward to seeing what he can do in a game situation. It is going to be very exciting.”

On LB Devante Bond:
“He has been looking very good. He has great feet and coming around the edge he has great pad level. I would not be surprised if he sees the field this year.”

On what he can learn in game situations:
“There are things like coverage rules. Those are completely foreign to me. I’m just adding that to the skills set I learned at defensive end.”

On his performance in Saturday’s scrimmage:
“It could have been better. I am one of my biggest critics. I didn’t play as well as I could have o should have.

Linebacker Jordan Evans

On his expectations:
“I think it’s just from where I left off last year after (Texas) Tech and then after the spring game, they just expect more out of me. I’m a better player. They expect me to take care of my job and help the team do the best we can do and win games.”

On getting more opportunities to play this year:
“It’s a great opportunity, but I’m really just trying to get on the field any way I can just to help my team at linebacker, in certain packages or just on special teams.”

On the energy at camp:
“Everyone is in there. It’s camp. You really have to turn it up in camp. Everyone is just working hard and it’s a time to prove yourself. Nobody wants to be a sideline player. You see a lot of energy from every player all day.”

On depth at linebacker:
“Frank (Shannon), Caleb (Gastelum) and me, we’ve all been here so I expect greatness from all of us. Dom (Alexander) has been doing good, and same thing with Aaron Franklin. Obo (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) has really stepped up this summer, and then the two freshman who came in, Curtis Bolton and Tay Evans, obviously as freshman you come in a little lost, but they came in and they’re picking it up, and I’m looking forward to see how they’re going to help us produce."

Defensive Tackle Chuka Ndulue

On if it's more of a mental or physical task going through two-a-days:
“It’s a lot more mental, actually. You just have to know that if you have a horrible practice, I’m talking about just physically exhausting; game day will be a lot easier. If you’re dog tired in practice, you just have to know you’re getting your mind ready for game time. The young guys sometimes take a while to figure that out, it took me awhile to figure that out so I just try to tell them, 'Y’all are freshman, you got a lot of energy, enjoy it.'”

On how much faith he has in Jordan Evans:
“I have a lot of faith in him. Our coaches brought him here, they know what they’re doing so if they say he’s ready, he’s ready. He’s a special player.”

On Jordan Evans and the jump from being a freshman to a sophomore:
“It’s a huge jump. Now it’s more mental. And that’s what I figured out. You think you just have to keep getting bigger and faster, but it’s more mental than anything. When you figure that out, life gets a lot easier for you because everything slows down and I believe it’s starting to slow down for (Evans) and he is starting to see the formations, so he’s doing a great job. But like I said it’s all mental so you just have to find that out.”

On if he is one that others come to for advice:
“Yeah I’m like the grandpa. It’s like I’m even starting to walk like an old man, listen to old people music so I’m just Uncle Chuka. At first it was weird having some guys know my name and me not knowing theirs, but it’s nice. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here five years, it feels more like two. I still remember running around as a freshman being lost not even knowing how to get into the right stance and all that, and now it’s like 'Hey man, how’d you do this? How’d you do that?' I just know I can’t joke like I used to, I have to be more serious and know there’s a responsibility I have to live up to. That’s a big difference, being more mature now.”

Cornerback Julian Wilson

On his move to cornerback:
“I like it; I enjoy it. Corner was what I was recruited here to play so really getting back out there on the island, it's fun out there. You’d have to ask Coach Stoops how they feel I’m playing. I feel like I’m going out there every day and making sure I don’t make the same mistakes I did before. Just coming in with the right mindset, compete and just make plays.”

On the recent changes in NCAA policy:
“I’ve been here five years; I feel like I’ve paid my dues. I like the unlimited snacks, and I think for the young guys it will be great. As the old head I’m able to tell them 'Hey, we didn’t have that when I got here so enjoy it.' But I’m glad changes are starting to be made.”

On becoming the cornerback he was recruited to be:
“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. Basically, I had a title of not being a “OU kind of guy” and really that’s something that’s always stuck with me since I’ve been here, and I remember that every time I step onto the field. It’s to the point now I know the expectations I have for myself and the confidence I have in myself as a player but really going out there playing for a top-tier program is motivation enough, but still the chip on my shoulder is heavy. I just want to go out there and compete, can’t really mind what other people have to say.”

On his performance in Saturday's scrimmage:
“I felt real good, just knowing what I’ve been doing in practice every day, trying to make plays and that’s really big at corner because you have to make those big plays since it’s just you and one other man out there. It’s just you and him so if he comes up with the ball, it’s your fault. Being a veteran, I feel I know the whole defense so I’m able to help some of the young guys who are working at nickel since I played it for two years. I know the ins and outs of it so I’m able to help them out, but sometimes at corner I may go ask a young guy like (Zack) Sanchez how to do this or how to do that, but it’s nice helping those guys out at safety.”

On seeing the hunger from the defense:
“Yeah, Coach Stoops always does a good job of making sure we keep our head out of the media, and not getting too caught up in what’s said in the media, so it’s really held that chip on our shoulder that we had last year because people still doubt us, and we still have things we can improve on.”



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