Sooners Preview AT&T Cotton Bowl

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
DECEMBER 18, 2012

View archived video of OU's weekly press conference provided by SoonerVision plus player video from OU Athletics Digital Media:
Video  Head Coach Bob Stoops
Video  Senior Quarterback Landry Jones
Video  Senior Defensive End David King
  OU, Opponent & Big 12 Game Notes
  Updated Depth Chart
All-Access Audio  Big 12 Football Weekly Conference Call
View complete information on this week's matchup including details for Sooner fans attending the game and broadcast options for fans following the Sooners from around the world.

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NORMAN, Okla. -- Head coach Bob Stoops, QB Landry Jones and DE David King meet with the media Tuesday in OU's weekly press conference from Norman. Fans can watch the press conference live beginning approximately at 12:05 p.m. Central by clicking the video above.
Also tune in live to the Sooner Football Press Conference show on FS Oklahoma. The show features Coach Stoops live at the podium, one-on-one interviews with Sooner players and analysis from hosts Chad McKee and Toby Rowland.
Oklahoma (10-2 overall, 8-1 Big 12) meets Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on January 4, 2013. The game kicks at 7 p.m. CT and will be televised nationally by FOX.
For complete coverage throughout the week, details on attending the game and broadcast options for following the Sooners from around the world, visit Sooner Gameday Central.
  Coach Stoops

Opening Statement:
"In the last game, against TCU, I'm just proud of our players to have finished out the season the way we did, going on the road at TCU and to come away with another victory. To have a part of our eight Big 12 championship is really special. It's difficult to do, obviously, when you look at the rest of the conference and what everyone has been doing. It's very tough and challenging. Nine teams are in bowl games, it's tough, but I'm very proud of our players who fought through the way they have to put ourselves in the position to play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
"Another excellent football team, 10-2, ranked eighth or ninth in the country, a team that has won five or six straight games down the stretch. It begins with their offense and Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner. Kevin Sumlin and his staff have done a great job transitioning from the Big 12 to the SEC. Offensively, they lead the SEC in every single category. They're third in the nation in total offense, third in the nation in scoring offense, so they have really played well.
"Defensively, they do a lot of really good things. They jump in and out of a 50-front and an even-front. Demontre Moore is an excellent player up front that really is disruptive. Really a solid football team. Offensively they spread the ball out but are very good at rushing the football, throwing the football. They stretch you like many Big 12 teams that we've seen this year. It'll be a big challenge but an exciting one. I think it's really positive the proximity both schools' fans. I believe it sold out in one day, that tells you the interest in the game. Both teams are used to playing each other, when you've played every year up until this year. It'll be a big challenge but an exciting one. The Cotton Bowl people are first class, we played in it several years ago and I thought they did things in a great way, a first-class matter. It'll be a special bowl game and we're looking forward to it."
On this year's Big 12 Championship:
"I don't know how to rank these things, but they did show a lot of fight, grit and resiliency to fight through the whole season the way they did, and to keep winning the way they did."
On whether Jalen Saunders will play in the bowl game:
"Those matters are handled internally. Once that's determined, I will say so."
On the off weeks:
"More than anything, the players had the last week of school and then finals. We gave them the entire time off other than to check in with Coach Schmidt and get three lifts in a week. Those are roughly 45 minutes, just to keep up their training. It was good for them to get off the field. We needed to go out and recruit. In the end, we lose a week of recruiting playing that late (TCU game on 12/1). That was tough to overcome. I think, scheduling wise, that's something in the future we have to pay attention to. The exciting part was, we got back Friday, after finals, had our banquet, which went really well. Saturday we could tell the guys wanted to practice, get out and do what they wanted to do. They had energy. we went for about an hour and a half, going against each other. We got a lot of young guys a lot of work. You could tell they were excited and anxious to get back on the field."
On the game having a Big 12 feel:
"It does feel like playing another excellent football team whether they're in the Big 12 or SEC. If they were in the Big 12 we would have already played them. It's interesting to me, all that debate about SEC defenses and Big 12 offenses, they seem to have done pretty good offensively. They lead in every single category. It hasn't hurt their winning either."
On this being Landry Jones' last game:
"I don't get sentimental about any one guy. I was that way whether it was Adrian (Peterson), Sam (Bradford). Landry is special, we all love him for sure, he's been a great competitor. The way he fought down the stretch, and the way he played. It's time. Every guy has his time in college and it's time for them to move on. He'll do well in college."
On the other quarterbacks preparing for 2013:
"They've gotten a lot more snaps in the last three days, and they're doing well. I'm excited about the way they're all exciting. Blake (Bell) throws a good long ball, he has an excellent arm. The other young guys are coming. Kendal (Thompson) has done some good things the last few days, Trevor (Knight) has been exceptional on our scout team all year. They have to get in there when it really matters though."
On the first time he watched RB Adrian Peterson:
"When you watched him play, he was just different than everybody, it wasn't close. You could tell the buzz of the players. There wasn't one conditioning drill where he wasn't first. It didn't matter the situation. He'd hit another gear, wouldn't let anyone beat him. He's just different. This isn't the first time everyone's seeing it. He's so competitive, tough mentally, that's what separates him."
On if Peterson can be the best running back:
"I would guess so, I don't see why he couldn't be. He's still fairly young and has a bunch of carries left in him."
On Texas A&M's defense:
"They'll jump in and out of an even front, a 50 front. They seem to like the 50 a lot and do a lot of blitzing out of that. Your standard coverages, zone coverages, and then they'll mix in some zone with blitz. You see a lot of that from everyone. Just handling their pressures. We've been pretty good at protecting, that'll be a big part in this game."
On Landry Jones' first game replacing an injured Sam Bradford:
"I remember, when we got in at halftime, he was genuinely excited to play, and looking forward to it. That's what you love. He was truly excited about going in to play."
On Adrian Peterson not winning the Heisman as a freshman:
"I don't think he didn't win it because he was a freshman. I think because Jason White got a good number of his votes, given that Jason came in third. Had Jason not been a part of it, maybe he would have gotten who knows how many he needed to beat the guy. I never felt Adrian didn't win it because he was a freshman. Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, we had another guy in the race. I think somehow it can make it tougher to win."
On defending Manziel:
"Sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody. He's that way, he cans scramble. He has a great knack, even on the blindside of the field, people getting close and spin a couple of times and get your way out. That's something we really have to work hard at to contain him, keep him in. You don't want to be tentative and not rush. That's a fine line that we'll work on and keep him in and try to get him."
On facing all three Heisman candidates:
"I thought about that, believe me. Excellent players, all of them. They're always a challenge."
On coaching changes in college football and whether the Coaches' Association could institute any changes:
"The only thing you could probably change is the entire recruiting calendar. This time of year is probably the most difficult. You're recruiting, coaching changes, talking to juniors, so many different things are happening. And bowl games. If you're in that situation, where you have turnover, it's tough to manage.
"First, you count on the guys who have been in the meeting room with him for years to continue with the same process. They know the process of how they go through the week, how they go through their plays. They're not going to change plays, it's just a different guy putting it together. When we've had that happen I've never felt that guy can be totally invested. I remember Kevin Wilson participating, but he wasn't calling plays, he was just coaching a position, just to help.
"Finishing it, saying goodbye. The bowls provide a break from recruiting. You can't be on the road, you're only allowed one phone call a week to a prospect. There's time to get with your family, finish out who you're with. Usually you can work it out that way and it's a positive thing. Anytime you get a head coaching job it's a positive thing. I remember when we first got here, Leach got the job after eight months and the guys didn't know how to feel about it. They were so used to losing coaches because they lost, they thought it was a bad thing. I said 'no, this is a good thing, we did so well they want to hire one of our guys. Get used to that.'
"When they go interview somewhere, they're gone and back the same day. You can't have everyone on the road every day anyway. Those never take long. That's not a big deal. It's easy to manage."
On Austin Woods:
"Austin has been an incredible inspiration. It's just remarkable what he's been able to do. All through two-a-days, all through the season. He hasn't missed a day or two when he's out getting chemo, then he's back the next day. He's such a tough inspirational guy. The players love him. I don't think he missed two workouts all summer. What 300-pounder wouldn't want to miss one of those days where you're working out for two hours. He never ever missed anything, he just fought through it and has helped us a bunch. We all had a big standing ovation because his cancer was in remission. We were glad to announce that to the team. Hopefully he'll continue on a positive path."
On going up against a former assistant in Kevin Sumlin:
"It's not that different. Kevin and I are great friends, our wives are great friends. In the end, once you get to playing, you're playing. Bowl games are a positive thing, so you're in that situation and both in good shape. It's something you have to go do, so it's really not that different."
On Kevin Sumlin:
"He's bright, he's got a good offensive mind. He's a great working, he relates to kids well. He's competitive. Kevin has all the great qualities you need.
On Texas A&M in the SEC:
"I didn't have that many thoughts about what they're move may be. I knew he was going to an excellent program and he'd do an excellent job. I was just excited for him for the opportunity. They've transitioned in a very positive way, it's pretty obvious because of the situation they're in and how they competed in the year."
On if he wants the Big 12 to get more recognition on how difficult it is after Texas A&M's success in the SEC:
"Their style of offense is exactly what you see here, and it's tough. It's pretty obvious they did pretty well moving the football. You look at them offensively, and there's nobody close to them.
"I think it's a little bit of both. The offenses are tougher to deal with in our league, and then defensively, we need to play better. They're having a hard time in the SEC dealing with their offense too. They didn't win the championship, but they beat the team that did, in the last week of the year. Obviously, they're tough to handle."
On if the talent on defense in the SEC is better:
"I think for sure. Overall it's fair to say. In particular up front is the biggest area. We'll continue to improve our offenses too."
On Gabe Ikard:
"I'm proud of the whole offensive line's attitude. Gabe Ikard, the captain up there is really the leader of that group. To fight through the injuries like they did, they kept hanging in there. When one guy got hurt, another was just getting healthy enough to come back and play. It was a challenge but they did a great job of just fighting through it."
On Ben Habern being replaced at center by Ikard:
"I knew that would be fine at that position, but it makes you thinner at guard. Still, Ben was an excellent football player. You miss him, but I knew Gabe would play well there."
On the time off helping the team heal and making them better:
"I think it's going to help. It will help everyone. Damien Williams has been limping around the last three games, and he's had no limp the past few days. He's healing, and most of the other guys aren't limping as much and are feeling better. It's got to help some, I believe it will."
On Lane Johnson:
"He's been a great young man, very responsible, has worked really hard. It took us some time to find the right spot for him, but it's really paid off for him. He's played great for us the last two years. The indication is he'll go in the first couple of rounds, and hopefully that's the case. He's worked hard for it. He's got a big upside. He hasn't played offensive tackle that long. He can go, he'll test well. He has a lot of upside."
On whether OU will be carrying the Big 12 flag in this game:
"Everybody says that, but in the end, we have an OU flag we're trying to carry, too. So how many flags can you carry? Our pride is always on the line, we want to play well."
On recruiting rankings:
"Those recruiting services, they've been accurate and inaccurate just as much. We haven't signed a full class yet. It's not like we have all 25 in and we're done. We're in great shape, I think we have a lot of great players and we're working on others. We're a long way from being at February, so we'll see how it goes. That's not a big deal. Remember, Sam Bradford was a three-star guy."
On a bowl win carrying momentum into the offseason:
"It's always positive. You answer a lot more positive questions than you do negative ones. In the end, the team will be different. Once that game is over, you have seniors leaving, transitioning to a whole new team. It's always that way."
On whether it would have been difficult this year to pare teams down for a playoff system:
"No matter what, it'll always be hard to pare down. As far as an exciting game, a challenging game and one that everyone's looking forward to, definitely. And a great venue. The Cotton Bowl, (Cowboys) Stadium, Jerry Jones' stadium there is fabulous. The fans will be there, rabid, it'll be exciting."
On if he watches the big screen at Cowboys Stadium:
"No, my neck isn't that good, I like to watch the players. I watch replays everywhere. Only the ones that were painful for me to see the first time that I need to see what went wrong. Or to be sure what I thought I saw happened, so we can hopefully make a correction."
  QB Landry Jones

On turning the season around after two losses:

"It feels good to end the season the way we did. We came out and played really well at the end of the year. It feels good to be in the spot that we're in and get in the bowl game we're in."
On how he personally has closed out the season:
"I started off a little rocky and didn't play the way I felt I could play or play the way I wanted to play. Fortunately enough for me, this being my final year, I've gotten it going a little bit and started playing some good football and build some confidence throughout the year."
On how a win could impact his legacy:
"It's just another big bowl game that we get to go to. Another good team, a team ranked in front of us; it's going to be a challenge for us. For me and my legacy here, it's another game where I get to go out and prove myself and hopefully play to the best of my abilities."
On what he thinks his legacy is:
"I didn't think too much about 'legacy' or anything like that coming back, I really wanted to make the right decision for me and my family. Like I've always said, I hope my legacy here is bigger off the field than on the field - a guy that always tried to push his teammates toward Christ and always made that very evident that He is the answer in their lives and to our lives and the reason why we're here on the Earth.
"On the field, I hope I go out the way I want to go out and go out with a win and play very well. We'll just see on Jan. 4 how that ends up."
On Johnny Manziel:
"It's a big challenge for our defense. They have a very explosive offense. Coach [Kevin] Sumlin has done so many good things around that place, and Manziel, obviously has done a lot of great things for the game of college football, won the Heisman this year and was an All-American so it's going to be a big challenge for us and the defense."
On if he'll try to watch Johnny Manziel during the game:
"If you get a chance to watch it's in between series. For me, I'm usually communicating to the offense. If you get a chance to watch the defense or the other team, it's kind of a bonus through the game."
On if he'll have a chip on his shoulder with the success of Johnny Manziel:
"I don't think so. You play against so many good players throughout the year and you look at the teams that we have played, we played Notre Dame who had a Heisman finalist, we played Kansas State who had a Heisman finalist and now we play Texas A&M and the guy on their team won the Heisman. I don't know if it's necessarily a chip on your shoulder, but it's just more of a way you want to go out and compete the way you can compete. If he has a great game, he has a great game. I don't really have anything to do with his playing and what he'll do on Jan. 4."
On playing his final game on the same field he played his first game:
"[Wife] Whitney [Hand] pointed that out to me actually the day after the Cotton Bowl was announced, she said that. It's interesting to see how I've come full circle here."
On his first game:
"I remember all of it. You definitely remember your first start and the first time you play. I was confident to go in there and play the way I knew I could play. But there were still nerves that you go through in your first college game, so I was definitely nervous. I played my hardest and unfortunately we didn't come out on top, but I learned a lot of things through that game."
On comparing his nerves from his first game to his last game:
"Just more experienced. You know what teams are going to through at you, what game plan you're going to be in and how to prepare yourself for games. It's a different kind of nervous, more of an excitement-nervous."
On if he was prepared to play in his first game:
"Yes and no. In my mind that day, yes I was prepared, but looking back on it now I probably wasn't as prepared as I would be now, knowing what I know now."
On how his quarterback play has improved this season:
"I felt this year I moved better in the pocket more than I ever have in the past and made more plays that way. I think that's the one thing I really had to improve on. I feel like I've made good strides in that direction."
On spreading the ball around more this season:
"Yeah, I do feel that way. But then again, when you look at a player like Ryan [Broyles], why wouldn't you throw him the ball? If people want to knock that, then they want to knock that, but in our offense, if you have a player like Ryan Broyles, why wouldn't you want to throw it to him 10 or 11 times a game?"
On Austin Woods:
"It's a story about great perseverance. Austin never complained about [cancer]. He never took himself too seriously about it. There was always a lightness around him. Even though he was going through a terrible situation and terrible circumstances, just to see the way that he persevered through that, but also persevered through it with a good attitude. He didn't come around the locker room with a bad attitude. He came around always up-beat, always ready to go to work and I think that's a testament to the type of person he is."
On if it's strange to face former Big 12 foe Texas A&M in a bowl game:
"Yeah, it is a little strange. People say this is an out-of-conference game, but I said "Well, we played them last year.' Both sides are familiar with each other. It's a little different playing them in a bowl game just because you're used to playing them in the Big 12 when I was competing against them."
On if he still sees Texas A&M as a Big 12 team:
"In my mind, it still seems like a Big 12 game because they're only a year removed. Now if this was 20 years down the line, I'm sure it'd be a whole different game and different feel to it because I'm sure these future Oklahoma teams won't play Texas A&M every year."
On Texas A&M's defense:
"Very capable. Watching them on film, they do a lot of different things on defense and do a lot of things really well. Like any Texas A&M team, they're going to have athletes and they're going to recruit top kids in the nation each year so it'll be a big challenge for us and our offense."
On playing in the Cotton Bowl and not in a BCS game:
"Did we want to go to a BCS game? Absolutely, who doesn't want to go to a BCS game? But that's not the way it turned out for us. But if you look at all the other BCS games and, because of automatic qualifiers and those sorts of things, this might be one of the top two or three games in the country. I know there is a lot of hype behind it. I know that our team, and I'm sure Texas A&M is, is extremely excited about this game. It'll be a great game and great for college football."
On if the stadium will resemble an OU-Texas game:
"Yeah, I'm sure. I don't know how long of a drive it is from Texas A&M, but I'm sure they'll have fans there. And I know for how we travel that we'll have a ton of fans there, too."
On the importance of Gabe Ikard:
"He kind of held that offensive line together. He was always the center and always making the right IDs. I think he's been extremely important. He's had a pivotal role among the offensive line as the leader of that group."
On the last time he ended the season with a loss:
"My sophomore year in high school. I think we went to the semifinals and lost there. Or actually, if you count in 2008, we didn't win the national championship, but I didn't play in that game."
On Lane Johnson's career:
"He's probably one of the best all-around athletes on the team if you look at his size, his capabilities and what he's able to do athletically. He's 305 or 310 [pounds], somewhere in that range, and he can run a 4.7 40 [yard-dash]. He's extremely athletic, and he's made huge leaps in his technique and playing that tackle position this year alone. I think he has set himself up to make a lot of money in the future.
"This is only his second year ever to play tackle and he's starting at a place where they predominantly have pretty good offensive linemen."
On a bowl win giving momentum heading into the offseason:
"It has a lot to do with the offseason just as how positive it is and how positive of an attitude the coaches and players have into it. I think it's huge to always try to do your best to win that last game regardless of what bowl game you're in."
On what he'll remember most from playing at Oklahoma:
"I think the championships that I've been a part of, the bowl games and Texas-OU games, those games like that will always be the things that I'll remember about this place."
On playing Nebraska in Cowboys Stadium for the Big 12 title:
"I remember it was an extremely competitive game. I remember a couple plays from that game and that Cam Kenney had a really good game against a really good cornerback. There are little things you remember about those games, but just the feeling of playing in Cowboys Stadium; it was a great atmosphere. And then winning the Big 12 championship there, it was a fun game and really competitive game against a really good defense."

On if he'll be watching the giant videoboard during the game:
"Yeah, the jumbotron definitely attracts your eyes, but during the game, for me, I'm more communicating with my guys and talking through different scenarios of what the defense is doing."
On when Sam Bradford got hurt at Cowboys Stadium in 2009:
"I remember it was a blitz off the outside and we didn't have enough guys to block it. Sam tried to roll out and make a play there, but unfortunately he got sacked and got hurt. I remember I was on the sidelines watching the game.
"It dawned on me that I was the backup quarterback and that I was going in the game and was going to have to play, so I was grabbing my helmet and getting myself prepared and ready to go in there."

  DE David King

On defending Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel:
"We can't allow him to run on us all day. Obviously, that's what he's been doing, and he's been very successful. That's how he won the Heisman. He's a playmaker. If it's not there, he's going to just run, and teams have had a hard time stopping him. We're going to have to have our best game of the season by far to contain him and not let him do what he wants to do."
On differences between Manziel and Kansas State QB Colin Klein:
"He's faster than Colin Klein. He's got some shape to him, some wiggle, so he can get himself out of a lot of stuff. Colin Klein is a physical guy. He'll try to run you over. Manziel is the type of guy who will try to get around you and let his downfield blockers put people on the ground so he can run 30 or 40 yards. He'll be a tough task."
On facing all three Heisman Trophy finalists this season:
"We're 0-2 against two of them, so we're going to try to end this season on a win. With him (Manziel) being the Heisman winner, it's going to be that much more exciting to play him."
On difference between this year's Texas A&M team and last year's:
"They're a lot different. It starts with their quarterback. He's a new guy, a freshman, and he kind of caught a lot of people off guard across the SEC and the country. He's taken a lot of people by storm."
On Texas A&M's offense:
"They focus a lot of their offense around him (Manziel), getting the ball in his hands, whether it's throwing or letting him run. They've got a lot of QB run game. We've just got to stop the run and make him throw and make plays all day."
On motivation to beat the Heisman Trophy winner:
"It's extra motivation. We've got to sit around here for a month and watch ESPN, and all they talk about is 'Johnny Football' or 'Johnny Heisman' or whatever they call him now. The whole national media is scrutinizing our defense about how we can't stop the run. We're underdogs in this game, so we've got a lot to prove. On Jan. 4, we'll be ready to play."
On inspiration of watching Oklahoma offensive lineman Austin Woods' battle with cancer:
"Just super courageous with the cancer and the whole ordeal he had to battle. He went through summer workouts while he was going through chemo. Summer workouts are tough. You kind of look over and see a guy on the ground and it's just a regular workout. Then you see Austin, and he's going through chemo and the summer workout, and it's like, 'Come on, get off the ground. If Austin can do it with cancer and a bunch of chemo, you can do it.' It's just kind of motivated us all. We had one of our better summers, offensive and defensive line wise, because that's who we worked out with every day. Just seeing him out there with us every day, not missing workouts except for when he had to get his treatment in OKC. I'm proud of him. If anything, it has made us closer as a unit. I'm glad he's over it and is back out there with us."
On Texas A&M's transition from the Big 12 to the SEC:
"They look like a good football team. They run a spread offense, which I don't think is very customary in the SEC. You see that more in the Big 12, so I think they kind of took the SEC by surprise with that and the way they've been able to execute it. On the defensive side of the ball, they've got playmakers over there, too. It'll be a good game, probably the best game outside of the National Championship Game to watch."
On not receiving a BCS bowl bid:
"It took us by surprise, but we can't control what happens with the BCS. The only thing we can control is winning and losing. A lot of people were upset we didn't get the Sugar Bowl bid, but it happens. We're over it now. Everybody's excited. A lot of people are going to be going back home to Dallas because about half the team is from the Dallas area. It's sold out, I think it sold out in a day or so, so we know we're going to have Sooner Nation out there to come out and support us and be loud the whole game. We just want to give them a good show and walk out of Cowboys Stadium with a win."
On facing a former conference opponent in a bowl game:
"It's strange for two reasons. One, because we're playing them (Texas A&M) in Dallas, and we play in Dallas every year. We did play Texas A&M every year for so many years, so it's strange for two reasons. At the end of the day, it's a bowl game and you've got to win it to set the momentum going into the offseason. It's going to be a huge test for us with their quarterback being the Heisman Trophy winner, their playmakers and offensive line, and I'm sure they're going to present challenges on the defensive side of the ball, too. We've just got to play our best game of the year and come out of there with a win."
On importance of a bowl win:
"You don't have to sit around for three or four weeks and think, 'Oh man, we lost the game,' and sit around and mope. It makes it better for the fans to go into the offseason with a win instead of them sitting around and bashing the football team for what we did wrong in the bowl game. When we get the win, it makes it easier for everybody."
On importance of finishing his career with a bowl win:
"It'd be great, knowing that I'd be 4-0 in bowl games I've actually played in. Not many people can say that across the country. It'd be the perfect ending for my senior year and for a lot of the guys on this team."



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