Offensive Media Session

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
DECEMBER 03, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel
Dec. 3, 2013

On if Trevor Knight’s development has been slowed since he’s only had four starts:
“We are where we are and it’s time to go lace them up on Saturday at 11 o’clock and play ball.

So, it doesn’t matter. We are where we are and let’s go play. You know, at the end of the day we’re only as good as the next performance, we’re only as good as the next play. We need our kids to take care of the ball, execute. These guys (Oklahoma State) do a tremendous job of creating turnovers, that’s been a big part of why they’re so successful this season; interceptions, fumbles, the whole deal. They run the ball extremely well, they’ve been great in the red zone; haven’t allowed you to score seven points, they’ve made you kick a lot of field goals and they’ve been great on third down defense, so that’s the name of the game this week.”

On Knight’s improvement from Iowa State to Kansas State:
“All those guys have gotten better, even when they haven’t been the guy, all three of them. Kendal [Thompson] when he got his opportunity to play, he got in there and managed it. Trevor [Knight] has to continue to get better, that’s what you expect from a young quarterback. From when you guys first saw him at the beginning of the year, some of the struggles were him, some of it wasn’t. We’re better around him with what we’re doing. We get one rep better each day and one game better every week, when he has the opportunity. So we expect him to be better than he was against Kansas State.”

On how watching Knight’s progress helps him as a play caller:
“I believe that he can execute the things that we’ve asked him to all year long. Certainly, going out and managing it and making the plays that are there, extending the plays and making plays, those are all signs that he’s feeling more comfortable, not just in what we’re doing or what the defenses are doing but in the flow of the game. It’s starting to slow down a little bit for him.”

On Knight’s ability to adjust to starting or not starting in any given week:
“Ever since I’ve been around here, we’ve talked to our guys about being ready when your opportunity comes. If you wait until your opportunity comes to get ready, you’re not going to be successful. I like that he’s continued to push, develop; he’s gotten better. He’s prepared every week, even when he wasn’t the starter. All those guys have really done that. Whoever the guy is this week, he needs to go out there and perform well.”

On the status of QB Blake Bell:
“I don’t know, ultimately, where he’ll be. I think Coach [Stoops] will be able to answer that maybe tomorrow or Thursday.”

On if Oklahoma State is different schematically on defense this season:
“Subtly different in what they’re doing, not a complete overhaul from what they’ve been. I think just as much as anything, on normal downs their corners are challenging the outside guys a little bit more. Those are situations where we have to be able to win one-on-one battles on the outside when we’re throwing the football.”

On Oklahoma State’s defensive depth:
“I think they’ve always been able to rotate a few guys up front and probably, more on the back end than most teams you see during the course of the year. There’s a lot of guys there that we’ve been playing  against for a long time and like I said, they’re doing a great job in the areas that you need to, to be successful.”

On players limiting outside noise:
“Don’t read, listen or watch; it’s pretty simple. The great guys around here, they really have. Jason White, when he was around here, or Sam Bradford, when he was going through it, those guys don’t pay attention to it. You can’t because whatever they’re talking about right now, today, you guys will flip and do a complete 180 the following week if you don’t perform well. You’re only as good as your next performance. That’s the world that coaches and athletes choose to live in, it’s about tomorrow. You have to keep on pushing for it.”

On his difficulty blocking outside noise in 2000:
“No, it wasn’t. I think that’s just who I am and also these kids are used to being on Twitter, Facebook, with constant interaction. I think that is harder for them than the guys I mentioned before.”

On what being ready at all times entails:
“Film, film, film and mental reps at practice. Our guys are constantly going through it on the back end, even if they don’t physically have the ball in their hands. They’re practicing the throw and going through the reads so it’s hard. I would say being a quarterback is probably the second hardest job in sports because of all the moving parts. There are 22 guys on a football field and things are happening incredibly fast. But the hardest job, to me, is backup quarterback, just being ready to play and take advantage of that opportunity. Trevor has done well, that’s why when he got his opportunity in the middle of a drive he went out there and performed well.”

On why backup QB is so difficult:
“When things aren’t going your way, you have to push on and prepare yourself for when that opportunity does come. You have no idea when it’s going to come. Landry [Jones] was here for four years and never missed a snap. This year, we’ve had guys go down twice.”

On if Knight is improving at running the read offense:
“I think the more you do it, the better you get. No matter how you simulate it in practice, it’s not the exact same as in a game. So every time you do it, you get better. It’s no different than throwing the ball. Every rep you get makes you a little bit better. As much as a quarterback reads the run game, when it’s a critical third down and some of those options aren’t there, what he’s done to extend those plays shows growth. He actually went through a progression too, it’s not like he just drops back, looks at one guy and takes off.”

On how running the offense is different in a game situation versus practice:
“I think, as much as anything, it’s just a young guy. He’s had to work to that point. By no stretch of the imagination do I think that he’s a finished product, we’re still growing and in motion.”

Oklahoma Football
Co-Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell
Dec. 3, 2013

On how much starting a road game at K-State will help QB Trevor Knight play at OSU:
“I think Kansas State does a great job with their atmosphere; I think it helps. I think playing as well as he played on the road against K-State will really help his confidence. It’s more about just getting to play another game and taking all the learning experiences that you had, so I don’t think there’s a question he’ll take what he learned from the last game and he’ll use it this week.”

On the potential of cold weather on Saturday:
“Yeah, it was really cold at K-State. All of those things will help us to play in the weather, and we practiced in the weather before Kansas State too so that helped us just get mentally prepared. You always have some young kids from further south that have never played in cold weather. Austin Bennett looked at me and said, ‘I’ve never been this cold before in my life.’”

On how he prepares QB Trevor Knight for the cold weather:
“He’s been out in it and he’s thrown the ball in this weather and he threw pretty good at Kansas State so that will help. Hopefully it won’t be as windy there. It’s really the wind more than anything that affects you when it’s cold.”

On being from Wisconsin:
“Yeah, we didn’t even start playing until you could see your breath.”

On if the weather affects play calling:
“Not really. The wind is more of a factor than the cold so no matter how cold it gets you can still throw the football. We’re more concerned about the wind and how the wind is affecting the ball in the air more than anything else.”

On the footballs used in the game:
“We keep the balls dry and try to make sure they get fresh balls out there so I don’t think it’s much of a factor at all.”

On how important it is to complete passes against OSU:
“We’ve got to keep them balanced. That’s one of the things they did against Baylor is just load up the box and tried to make them one-dimensional so we’ve got to be able to have answers for that, throw the football, and be successful throwing it I think is the key. Baylor never really hurt OSU in that game and so they just kept pressing them up. And they’ve got good corners, but you’ve got to be able to have some successful passes and you’ve got to do it early. I think that’s the biggest thing in the Kansas State game is when we responded early and made plays in the passing game. It kind of set a tempo for the defense to know that we were prepared to do that and ready to execute it and I think it changed the way that they played us the rest of the day.”

On matchup with wide receivers against OSU’s secondary:
“I think it’s good. They’ve got a good secondary; they’ve played very well. They’ve had a bunch of takeaways this year, which is the reason that they have the record that they do. The biggest change in their defense is that they’re playing press coverage and I think that’s one of the biggest thing they’ve done is that they’ve taken the air out of their coverage from a year ago and they’ve challenged their corners to play more bump-and-run man and they’re having success doing it. So we’re going to have to do a good job at winning the one-on-one battles outside, we’re going to have to win inside on their safeties, and we can’t allow them to just press and take us out of our route combinations. So it’s going to be very important that we respond the right way there.”

On if he thinks OU has been good against that kind of coverage:
“Yeah, I think we have been good at times and then other times we need to be better, so it’s a challenge when you play a game you always have those one-on-one matchups whether you’re a wide out or the offensive line and you’ve got to win those individual matchups to really win the war so those matchups will be really important. And then we need to respond properly when we get challenged and attack it and have a plan for it and they’re working hard in practice to do that.”

On if he expects to have offensive linemen Adam Shead and Tyrus Thompson back:
“It’s hard to say. We hope to get everybody back in place but we’ll see. We still have a few days before the game and hopefully we’ll have as many as we can healthy.”

On OL Derek Farniok:
“Yeah, he’s responded well and at this time of year everybody’s got to be ready to go. We always start training camp and the guys that are starting training camp are rarely starting for you at the end of the year, so guys that are backups have got to come in and be ready to roll and have the right mindset when they get their opportunity.”

On the biggest area of growth he has seen in QB Trevor Knight:
“Just his confidence. When you first get a chance to play you’re excited and everything goes so fast and I think we saw that start to slow down that week. I think he was focused, I think he really saw the plays that were coming to him I think he had a good idea of what he wanted to do versus the defense he saw and then he followed through an executed and I think that confidence will allow him to slow down even more now and see what the defense is giving him and make the proper decision and as players play. That old saying, ‘The game slows down,” you just really settle in and see things and execute better so I think he’ll feel a lot more comfortable this week especially playing another road game against a really good Big 12 opponent in a real challenging environment so I think he’ll be that much better this week.”

On RB Brennan Clay’s winning touchdown in Bedlam last year:
“I just think Brennan (Clay) is the greatest example of being ready when your number gets called. And he’s never been the full time starter, but he’s had some huge moments in his career and really that’s the ultimate compliment, is that you’re ready when you’re called upon and Brennan has always been that way and he’s always responded in the right way so it’s another opportunity for him in a big game. He’ll look back on his career and he’ll have some fabulous moments that he can always be proud of and that certainly was one of them. That was one of the biggest touchdowns at the end of a game that we’ve had since I’ve been here so it’s exciting and I know he’ll be ready for the challenge this weekend.”

On seeing confidence in QB Trevor Knight:
“You can tell when a player starts to see things clearer and just he responds efficiently. Trevor (Knight) is a tremendous athlete. It’s kind of like watching Russell Wilson play for the Seahawks; he’s a really bright guy and a really good athlete and when he responds to things properly, boy it really pops, and Trevor is that way. We saw that in the first quarter of the game last week. He responds with great focus and athletic ability and he becomes a tremendous weapon because of his speed on the perimeter but also his ability to throw and execute in the passing game so he becomes very dangerous when he plays that way.”

On if he could see the growth in Trevor Knight even before the Iowa State game:
“Oh yeah. I think he had success in the Iowa State game and then it just carried over and that’s the important thing. Good, smart, players – they learn from the experiences that they have in games, so he’ll only be better. I just think regardless of who we’re playing, it’s the next opportunity for him to play better. We presented him with a game plan, he’s been working on it hard, and he gets a chance to execute it Saturday at 11 a.m. He’s the kind of guy that continues to improve because he works so hard and we’ll get a chance to see that on Saturday – where he’s at.”

On what OSU’s defense has been doing differently this year:
“The biggest difference in their defense this year is the press coverage and the way that they are pressing receivers and taking the air out of their back end. I think they have good athletes out there that can run with wide receivers and they’ve done a good job at turning the ball over and staying ahead in the turnover ratio so that’s been the big change in them from a year ago.”

On how OSU has changed in recent years:
“They are very similar, really. They haven’t really changed schematically that much with probably the exception of the coverage but I think that’s also one of the reasons that they are successful because they haven’t changed so much. They have good players, they play hard, and they believe in what they’re doing. And when you do that, you have success. The good teams usually don’t do a lot of things. They know what they do, and they are who they are, and they try to go out and execute every week and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve done a good job with turnovers. The two good years that they’ve had in the last three years, they’ve been off the charts turnover wise and this year is the same way and that’s what gives them a big edge in their games because they turn the ball over and get short field in that offense and they’ve got good players on offense and they convert so it puts a lot of pressure on you. So we’ve got to take care of the ball and make sure we don’t turn it over and give them a short field.”

On if he has noticed a difference in OSU’s depth:
“No. They’ve got good athletes and good players and they are well coached. I’ve been here six years and they’ve been a talented, tough, defensive unit every year that we’ve played them and it’s always been a great challenge. So I don’t know that I see a difference in them this year except the fact that they’re playing a lot more press technique and challenging you more in the passing game than they have in the past. A little more pressure.”

Oklahoma Football
Fullback Aaron Ripkowski
Dec. 3, 2013

On preparing for Oklahoma State:
“We treat it just like every other game and work just like any other game. Preparation is no different and we attack it the same we do every other game; just looking for the next win.

On the past month:
“It has been a little bit more weight on my shoulder but I have had two years to prepare and it's normal jumping in there and doing what I can do.”

On the biggest adjustment:
“I would just say more playing time in general.”

On OSU's defense:
“They are athletic. They are fast, and they definitely are a tough defense. We are going to have our work cut out for us.”

On the weather and establishing run:
“Oh yes. The run game is a huge factor in cold games.”

On the weather at Kansas State:
“It was normal, just like anything we had been practicing with.”

“It is just football when you get going.”

On what Trey Millard has taught him:
“He has been helping out with some tips here and there and ways to improve. He has been like a side coach as well.”

“Footwork. He has really helped me with footwork, him and coach are both on me a lot for my footwork.”

Oklahoma Football
Quarterback Trevor Knight
Dec. 3, 2013

On returning back to practice:
“It is going good. I felt like we got a good start last week with the three days, and then we took a little time off, little break, which was nice, but now we are hitting it hard for these last two days, and I feel like we picked up right were we left off and are headed in the right direction.”

On improving in games:
“Absolutely, it is just about getting into the rhythm, getting that confidence down. Like I said several times, the more snaps you get the more confident you will be.”

On understanding his skills better after Kansas State:
“Absolutely, because you get to run several different plays rather than design plays. You kind of figure out more of the game plan that you like and the direction you want to go.”

On boosting confidence:
“A lot. Every time you hit a play you feel more confident with it, obviously, so it makes a path through the game plans of the stuff you like and don’t like.”

“Getting competitions and starting fast, something we have been talking about all year, it sets the tone for the game. Hopefully we can do that this week as well.”

On what he takes away from the Baylor game:
“What I took from Baylor was to always be ready. Always be ready to go in, always be ready for your opportunity. We didn’t start as fast as we wanted to but it just about the next play, it’s the most important one, so you just need to keep pushing through.”

On Oklahoma State's defense:
“They are very good, very technically sound. They play hard, they play physical and they are going to be a tough matchup.”

On the weather:
“I think that answered a lot of questions [playing in Kansas State], we haven’t played in cold quite some time and I have never in my life. Playing up there was a confidence booster and gets me ready for this week.”

“We practiced in it all week so it wasn’t a huge surprise. It was actually windier in here so going up there was second nature.”

On preparing for playing at OSU:
“It is a good atmosphere in Stillwater with them banging on the walls and everything, of course coming off the big win against Baylor they are going to be rocking up there. It is a big rivalry so there will be a lot of fans going crazy and the atmosphere will crazy but we just need to stay even-keel and do what we need to do.”

On getting the offense going fast:
“Big time. That is important in every game. If you come in and match them on the ball, it sets you up well.”

On plays moving slower:
“Yes. Like I said before, every time you get reps things start to slow down and you see things a little bit easier.

“I think it just happens throughout the games, the games I have gotten to play a lot in. You slow down and you start to get the rhythm.”

On being able to make plays in the zone:
“You get a feel for it as you run it more and I feel like I do a pretty good job of it. It is all about feeling it. Sometimes it could be a give thing and I pull it, it is kind of just playing football, which is fall. It is about being an athlete. Going forward, you have to be technical with it. There are definite give reads and definite pull reads that help in making in precise decisions.”

On improving on making precise decisions:
“Definitely, you have to be precise for the simple reason that you do not want the ball on the ground. The mesh point is extremely important and you need to be decisive if you are going to take or give the ball so the ball doesn’t end up dropping.”

On developing end zone reads:
“I think it just tailors to our strength. Us three quarterbacks have the ability to run the ball so we will continue to do that.”

On OSU's defense getting a lot of fumbles:
“We just need to take care of the ball and make precise decisions, especially on the pass game. You do not want the ball on the ground. We put the ball on the ground twice last week and were lucky enough to get back up on those. We need to wrap up and finish things with the run game.”

On working with the running backs:
“I have worked with Brennan Clay quite a bit but all the quarterbacks work with all the guys in practice.”

“They all do a really good job.”

On Stillwater being loud:
“Obviously it is the rivalry game so it will be a little bit louder than normal but we have played in loud games before. I have experienced The Cotton Bowl, twice, and that is as loud as you can get. Games last year on the sidelines, it is nothing I cannot handle.” 

On the seats in Stillwater being the closest in college football:
“I have heard that before and it has been running through my head, but at the end of the day you need to get it done on the field and you cannot worry about that stuff. You need to ride that energy and use it to your advantage.”

On his intensity level during game:
“No, I feel like I am a pretty even-keel guy. I get hyped a little here and there but I stay pretty even-keel throughout the game.”

On staying competitive as backup quarterback:
“It is tough just knowing you will not be in for sure, but you have to have a strong mindset and a thick skin. You will never know when your opportunity will arise.”

“You just need to find stuff to be competitive in. When you do get those few reps in practice, to make the most of them. Lifting is a competitive area as well.”

On football talk over Thanksgiving:
“I hung out with my family most of the time and saw some extended family. They were just congratulatory towards me and didn’t ask any serious questions.”



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