Mike Stoops Press Conference

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
SEPTEMBER 02, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops
Sept. 2, 2013

On the defensive performance vs. ULM:
“You’re always a little worried with the unknown when you put something different out that hasn’t really been tested against an offense that we haven’t seen or that is different than ours, but our preparation against our own offense helped us in a lot of different ways throughout camp because our offense does so much running the ball and making you be gap responsible and still have a throwing game. We thought it would work, and it probably worked better than we anticipated. There’s still some stuff that needs to be cleaned up, but we got our athletes on the field, and I thought they played fast and aggressive, and that’s really what defense is about in this league and with these spread offenses.”

On the difference in the defense:
“I thought we did a good job putting our players in positions to make plays. It was better than we did a year ago, and we let them use their athleticism and their aggressiveness on defense. We were a little more of a react team a year ago, and now we’re attacking more, but it’s still a controlled attack scheme. It worked for a night, and we’ll get a little better test this weekend with West Virginia. We’ll see if we can hold them under 778 yards (laughs). Hopefully we can do better than that.”

On the West Virginia game last season:
“Anytime you can’t leverage the football better than that, that’s a basic principle for defensive football is to not let the ball out-leverage you continuously through the course of the year last year. We just couldn’t control the ball getting outside of us, and that just stretches your defense even more. We opened up some holes inside. It was a learning experience in a lot of ways, and hopefully we can build upon a defense that can last and can still be aggressive and sound and be able to create indecision in the quarterbacks mind constantly. I think if there’s one thing we did well this weekend was we kept the quarterback off balance all night, and I don’t think they really felt comfortable where the pressure was coming from. You’ve got to make the quarterback work continuously or make their sideline work. Those are things I thought we did better the first time out.”

On the secondary:
“I thought we played good. I like our coverage. We felt good with our skill guys and our cover guys. Our secondary has good strength, and I think Quentin Hayes adds a dimension to our secondary that we haven’t had with his speed and athleticism. Gabe (Lynn) is another cover guy who comes down to cover slot receivers, and that’s what he’s done his whole career. We’re getting guys comfortable and doing things they feel comfortable doing.”

On LB Eric Striker:
“Eric (Striker) is a guy that really had a great camp, and he’s a very relentless player. That’s the thing I love about Eric is he plays very hard, and he’s very aggressive in the way he plays. He creates a lot of energy for our defense, and we need guys like that who can bring energy and enthusiasm to our defense. We’ve just got to keep finding ways to putting him in positions where he can be effective.”

On CB Aaron Colvin:
“Aaron (Colvin) got off to a great start. He can lock down one side of the field. We didn’t build much off of what they did, and we’ll have to slant as we go through the season. He’s a guy that can really help us create a defense that can protect the field or protect the boundary. Whatever we need to do, he gives us flexibility because he is comfortable out there covering.”

On DT Jordan Phillips:
“Jordan (Phillips) wasn’t perfect in his technique, but I thought he played a lot more aggressive across the course of the night, and he played with velocity and speed.

“I think he’s more comfortable, and I think Coach (Jerry) Montgomery has done a great job with those guys up front. He’s really taught them proper technique, and Jordan, as good as he was Saturday, can be so much better and so much more of a dominant factor as he continues to grow in this system. When we get Torrea (Peterson) and Chuka (Ndulue) back this week then we’re starting to get guys who are hungry to get on the field. That creates competition, and it creates good work habits and good play. A lot of guys aren’t self-motivated. They need to be motivated by competition, and we’re starting to develop that for a lot of guys.”

On DT Quincy Russell:
“He probably played 12 to 14 plays, so he did some good things. It was good to get him in there. Every day is a new day for him right now, but he’s starting to comprehend things, and he’s starting to put some things together. He’ll just get better each day.”

On CB Cortez Johnson:
“Cortez (Johnson) will be back this week I’m pretty sure. I haven’t heard anything different.”

On CB Zach Sanchez:
“I thought Zach (Sanchez) did a great job, and I think he deserves the start.  We’re happy and pleased that he played well the other night.”

On time of possession:
“It was nice in the second quarter. I thought we gained our second wind. We were out there a lot in the first quarter, but our guys were very confident when they took the field. That was very different than before. I just felt like we were in control early in the game, and it’s virtually the first time we’ve put this out there against a very good offensive football team, so our preparation was very good, and our players did really good with control. They played very confidently and very aggressive.”

On this year’s West Virginia team:
“I think this is a different team. I don’t think you can judge much by the William and Mary game. They were very vanilla. They have a lot more offense than they showed in that game, so it’s a tough preparation. They worked us pretty good a year ago. They run the ball and they have some pretty good backs. They moved Tavon Austin back there. They have a pretty solid running game, and they throw the ball. He’s always throwing the ball. They throw a lot of good screens, and they’re going to try to attempt some of our aggressive play, and that’s where we’re going to have to be smart and be able to counter it. That’s really what plans are all about. They’re going to try to take away what we do well, and we’re going to take away what they do well. That’s what football is all about.”

On what QB Trevor Knight does for the team:
“Trevor (Knight) creates a dimension, run-pass guys who can run the ball as well as he can, I know you guys are skeptical about his throwing, but we certainly aren’t. He’s a very confident player, and I think that’s one of his greatest strengths. His arm strength, there’s no question about what he can do throwing the football. I laughed at the criticism. He wasn’t accurate. He’ll gain control of what he’s doing. Those easy throws are very correctable. He’s a very complete player, and I love the way he carries himself. We love what he can do.”


On changing the defense:
“A lot of it was through our ineffective play throughout the course of last season. When you get run over like that, we didn’t want to be stubborn, and we had to make some changes to create better angles of attach and better leverage on the football. Those are things you look at, and when you can’t do them very well you better find a way in this league. That’s what it basically came down to. We’ve got to get faster, smaller people on the field. You don’t want to be playing with a ton of big guys when they don’t have a tight end in the game. Very rarely last year did we see a tight end in a tight end position, so you don’t need those big guys.”

On the West Virginia game last season:
“It was disappointing and frustrating. It happens. It happens to everybody. Football is a very humbling game, and as good as we were the other night we were equally as bad that night, so you’re usually somewhere in between. We weren’t that bad, and we’re not always going to be as good as we were the other night. You want to be somewhere in between. I didn’t put players in good enough positions as a coach to make plays, and that’s frustrating. It was a long difficult night, but between that night and what happened in the bowl game, it obviously convinced us that we need to adjust our defense and be more flexible and diverse and put more pressure on the quarterback.”

On the time of possession:
“I think our ability to run the football cuts snaps, and I think it takes the offense out of tempo and lose their flow. The longer the offense has the ball, our guys cool off and they’re not right there on the field again. We went three and out the first two series, and it didn’t bother our guys. We play these games, and we want to be able to control the line of scrimmage. That’s key to any game, and if you’re running the ball then you’re controlling the line of scrimmage. At times last year we weren’t able to do that on either side of the ball, and that’s what we have to get better at. We’re making a conscious effort to be more physical at the line of scrimmage on both sides.”

On keeping the first-unit defense in the game:
“We wanted to get work done, and we were only up 27-0 going into the fourth quarter. The game was still not in that far of separation, so we wanted to get our guys a lot of good work.”

On rotating players:
“We rotated. The secondary guys played probably 90 percent of the game. The starting back seven played probably 90 percent. I think the twos played probably 10 percent. The front four was probably 70/30ish. We only played probably 70 snaps, so it wasn’t too much stress on our guys up front.”

On changing the defense through the season:
“I think we have a lot of flexibility. We can go a lot of different ways. We’re going to continue to change our package week-to-week, and it’s built off a lot of the same principles, but different angles, different people, different alignments, you try to change and give offenses more to look at as the year goes on.”



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