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Bob Stoops Press Conference
September 16, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops
Press Conference Highlights
Sept. 16, 2013

Opening Statement:
“Reviewing the Tulsa game this past weekend, I was really excited to just watch and see how well Blake Bell played. Really the story of the game, Blake was 27 of 37, 413 yards, four TD passes. We were 12 of 16 on third downs, which were a big part of the game. I thought players around Blake performed better, in particular the receivers, who I felt in the first couple of games haven’t played to the level they’re capable of and I felt they stepped it up and played in a much better way in this game with catches, blocks, executing the screens, all those kind of things we’re a lot better and a lot cleaner. There was a big emphasis for us last week in just getting our passing game going and it sure was a lot better. Our protection was great through the day. Our offensive line blocked well. We rushed for almost 200 yards which is really good. The best part of the day is turnovers. We only had three penalties on the day and zero turnovers and that’s a pretty clean and strong day when you can take care of the football that way.

“Some guys who played well for us, besides Blake (Bell). Roy Finch, Keith Ford, Trey Millard, Gabe Ikard up front, Sterling Shepard had two touchdowns, Jaz Reynolds and young Durron Neal had some nice plays. The players of the game for us were Sterling (Shepard) and Blake (Bell). Defensively, I thought overall was a good day but not quite as good as we had been playing in the first couple games. We lost track of the back a time or two in coverage but it’s easily correctable. A young backer got out of position once or twice on the run but overall we had some good stops. After the big punt return we come get a three and out and force a field goal. Defense was pretty solid. Guys up there that we recognize, Julian Wilson, Kass Everett, Gabe Lynn, Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon, Charles Tapper. They had really excellent games. Michael Hunnicutt again perfect on the day, hit all his field goals. Jalen Saunders had the big punt return. Nick Hodgson had great kickoffs. Good solid game and anytime you can win 51-20 you’re doing a lot of things in a positive way. It’s still early in the year and we will take advantage of this week. Monday we’ll go out and correct mistakes and errors we had. Then we’ll start our preparation on Notre Dame. We’ll practice through Thursday and go through the week much like a game week. We’ll give them the weekend off which is what we’ve done in the past.”

On evaluating quarterbacks in practice on how they’ll react in game situations when they get hit:
“It’s always hard to evaluate. There are a lot of factors that are different from practice to games. You know, that’s the defense you see, the live action, getting hit. Sometimes we’ll recognize it and Coach Heupel reminds them of it. We’ll be in a scrimmage and they’ll hang onto the ball a lot longer than normal because they know they’re not going to get hit or the defense is only going to tag them. There’s a lot that’s different when you’re out there practicing as opposed to live action.”

On whether the differences OU showed on offense against Tulsa as opposed to the first two games had to do with who was playing quarterback:
“We would have been in four wides with Trevor (Knight) in the game (vs. Tulsa), too. First of all, defenses are different. We can pick and choose when we want to be this, when we want to be that. That’s all part of game planning. There isn’t an offense for one guy and an offense for another guy. They all have done the same things. Trevor has operated with four wides on the field and he’s thrown the ball, has done all the other things you saw the other night. Now the other night, the reads weren’t there for Blake to pull the ball and run. The one time he did, he shouldn’t have. A lot of the zone reads that are in there that are read options, the reads were to give the ball and that’s what he did. We don’t have two different offenses.”

On Tulsa’s playing style:
“They lined up differently than the other two. The other two were mostly in odd fronts and 50 fronts and blitzed a lot more. Tulsa played a different style.”

On Blake Bell’s confidence:
“I think the fact that Blake has been in for two years and critical, tough, high pressure situations on third and fourth downs, goal lines and red zones enough that he knew how to handle that. I recall back they said the first time (in 2011) we put him in at Kansas State to run one of those plays, he couldn’t even get it out of his mouth in the huddle, and he couldn’t even talk. That was two years ago but he was ready for it and took advantage of it.”

On Bell’s perseverance:
“It’s a testament to his character that he didn’t get down, he didn’t get negative. He kept working and he got his opportunity and he took all kind of advantage of it. What people don’t see is after the press conference, he’s back at his locker and who’s over there giving him a big bear hug: Trevor Knight. These guys pull for each other. There isn’t anyone there trying to undercut the other guy or wish the other guy ill will. Blake’s a great example of perseverance and wait and get your opportunity and take advantage of it.”

On Bell’s arm strength:
“He’s very much the same as all the good ones we’ve had. I don’t think we’ve had one that didn’t have good arm strength.”

On what Bell showed in preseason practices:
“You can’t simulate live action. I’ve always said Blake could throw the football and finally everyone got to see that. At the end of the day, he’s always thrown it well at practice. He took advantage and he was really excellent when he was on the field.

On simulating live action more frequently in practice:
“All you can do is keep trying to scrimmage more but then you’re taking more opportunity for everyone else to get hurt. It’s not easy to do. You can say we’re going to hit the quarterback, but that doesn’t generally work out well. If you’re hitting him a bunch and all of a sudden he falls and breaks his wrist, it’s not like the NFL where you can go get more guys, it’s all you have. We’ve got a pretty decent track record on our quarterback situation through the years.”

On how Bell’s size helps him:
“He’s big. Sam’s similar height wise but you know Sam (Bradford) is 225-230 and Blake’s got about 20 pounds on him. Blake isn’t as quick as Kendal (Thompson) or Trevor (Knight), but he is stronger. He can run through arm tackles. If someone is bumping him in the pocket he can stand up to it and still be able to get his balance and deliver the ball. Those things are to his advantage. He can see over linemen, over pressure and those things help him. Those guys can throw from the pocket that are 6’1”. Drew Brees does it wonderfully. Whether he’s six-foot or 6’6” you still do the same things.”

On the success of the Tulsa game building confidence going into Notre Dame:
“Everyone has confidence in the direction we’re going. It should speak to the players too when we emphasize certain things in practice and they happen on the game field. It encourages them to keep practicing that way. We’ll build on it. It’s only the third game and we’ve still got a lot of younger guys that are gaining experience and we just have to keep improving.”

On the injury situation:
“There isn’t one really. Gabe (Lynn) was x-rayed and it was negative. He just got kicked, and everyone else is okay.”

On last year’s Notre Dame game:
“Last year was a (10-6) game going into the last quarter, and then they got one long run. It wasn’t like they ran the football up and down the field all day. It was a tight game, and they made some critical plays down the stretch when we didn’t. We had an interception and their big run, and outside of that it was a pretty tight game. We had a touchdown called back from the three yard line for a holding call. The problem was the last four minutes of the game.”

On the decision to start Stanvon Taylor over Dakota Austin in place of Aaron Colvin:
“He’s played the best in practice in being consistent in how he’s playing and what he’s doing.”

More on Stanvon Taylor:
“He played really well. He had a couple of pass breakups and tackles. He did a really good job. He was in position all day. He had to adjust the line once or twice because he gave up a play or two just how he lined, but those are some things that young guys do.

“Stanvon (Taylor) is great. He’s a great athlete, and a really conscientious and hard-working guy who’s going to have a good career. He’s a bright guy and he works hard at it. He’s talented.”

On a timeline regarding Trevor Knight’s status:
“I don’t know yet. We’ll find that out today or tomorrow. It’s possible that he’ll be back this week. If not he’ll be back Monday of next week.”

On if Bell is the starter for the remainder of the season:
“We’re not going to define that. Blake (Bell) is the guy right now, and we’ll see from now on how things go in practice and games, and we’ll see how Kendal (Thompson) and Trevor (Knight) continue to work. We’ll take it as it comes.”

On whether the Belldozer package still has a place in the OU offense:
“It still has its place. Third and one or third and goal at the one or two would still be important. It’s still important for us to pick up the first down. There will be a place for it.”

On whether the targeting rule can be adjusted mid-season:
“You would have to ask the Big 12 office. I would imagine it could if everyone is all for it. In the end you would think that if you’re going to review it and you see that it’s a clean play you’d think you would throw the flag away too, but that’s just how it is right now.”

On what he coaches when defensive players lose their helmet:
“You’re supposed to stop and discontinue your participation in the play, so we encourage them to stop. If you bang your head, running around without your helmet can be pretty dangerous. You can get kicked, hit by another helmet, so we try to get them to stop.”

On Roy Finch:
“He’s doing the things he needs to do in practicing, and all the right things on and off the field to have an opportunity to play. You don’t just get to play. There are a lot of things through the year that you have to be consistently doing right, and when you do you get to play. Roy (Finch) is doing really well right now.”

On using different running backs:
“We’ll keep trying to make everybody happy and give everybody some shots at it, but Keith (Ford) is physical and a hard runner. Our players all get excited when they see him out there too. He’s strong and physical, and he’s going to do well.”

On the young players:
“Most of all the young guys are doing well. Matt Dimon was in there. Hatari Byrd had some tackles, so the young guys are doing well. Dominique Alexander did well. He got out of position once or twice, but he’s playing really physical and doing really well. He’s a talented player.”

On Jaz Reynolds:
“I’m really excited for Jaz (Reynolds) to see him out there making plays, and he played well. He’s doing what he needs to to stay on the field.”

On the character of the team:
“These guys have been a really fun group in that we haven’t had a lot of off-field distractions. They’re a strong character group in the way they’re coming to work every day and the way they are acting.”

On Charles Tapper:
“He came all the way from Baltimore. Yeah, Charles (Tapper) is doing great. He’s a wonderful young man, and he only played high school ball for a couple of years. He was a basketball player. But, he’s doing great. He’s had three really good games. He’s active and fast, and he’s making a lot of plays. He stays on the field. He has great stamina. So, he’s been really exciting to watch.”

On the defensive line:
“Jordan (Phillips) has done really well. He’s been really consistent and strong in how he’s played. Quincy (Russell) has been getting more snaps and is getting better in practice. He and Torrea Peterson as well, I’m happy with the way all those guys are progressing.”

On Keith Ford:
“I’ve seen Keith (Ford) just run in to the back of a guard and flatten him. If you’re in his way he’s going to run you over whether you’re a defensive lineman or his own guy. Before that video he knocked a couple of our offensive linemen down that were in his way. Everyone takes notice. They all know that you better get out of his way if he’s coming.”

On whether is the most physical runner he’s had since Adrian Peterson:
“Maybe when you’re just talking about being physical. I’m not comparing him to AD (Peterson), but he’s definitely a powerful guy.”

On new quarterbacks in the Big 12:
“That happens when you have so many guys turn over at quarterback in one year. It’s just a matter of time before they all start catching their rhythm, and it’s exciting to see Blake (Bell) settle in and play like he did.”

On the strength of the conference:
“We’ve played three games. Fortunately one was a Big 12 game that is already behind us, and we won, so we’ll see who’s going to keep building on it and who keeps trying to get better.”

On preparing for Notre Dame:
“I’m excited to go to work today. That’s next week, but it will be a strong test. It will be tough going on the road. You have to keep your poise, your discipline and play hard, and you have to make plays when you get the opportunity to make them whether you’re home or away. You have to be able to perform the same way.”

On raising expectations as you progress through the season:
“You have to. All the teams here, whether it was Big 12 champs, national champs, or the year after those, you have to keep getting better as the season progresses. We’re nowhere near where we ought to be by the end of the year, so we just have to keep working and wanting more.”

On striving to get better:
“We’ll always want more, but I remember back in 2000 when it was our second year here, and we started of the year just so-so and we kept getting better and getting better, and we had a huge Texas win. I remember commenting on the microphone and saying ‘Wow guys. We’re pretty good.’ I started to realize how good we could be. That was one of those years that we made a lot of improvement through tough games, and we still have a long way to go here.”

On whether the upcoming schedule may not look as imposing as it did at the start of the season:
“How could going to Notre Dame be easy? At the end of the day, that’s ridiculous. They’re incredibly tough and physical. They’re a good football team. They have great quarterback play, so they’re tough. It will be a huge challenge. They’re all good. In our eyes anybody can beat anybody. When you’re the one that has to play you know that you can be beat, they can be beat. You’ve just always got to be at your best.”

Head Coach Bob Stoops
Big 12 Conference Call
Sept. 16, 2013

On if he was surprised by Blake Bell’s performance:
“Yeah, I thought he had that in him. We’ve been watching him here for several years, the way he practices, the way he works. So I was very pleased to see him come in with such poise and play like he did.”

On how close the QB competition was and Blake Bell’s attitude when Trevor Knight was named the starter for Week 1:
“The competition was very close. He did keep a positive attitude and kept working. Weekly, he was set to play and was working hard and again he knew that if he had his opportunity he was going to be prepared for it and that’s what happened. He had his opportunity and took advantage of it.”

On the open date this week and if he’d rather be playing:
“Yeah, I’m good with the open week. With how the schedule originally set up, it initially set up with us having another off week for when we played West Virginia. Fortunately, for West Virginia and us, it must have worked for their schedule, we were able to bring them up and play them in the second week to get another game in. Otherwise we’d have only had two games going into this off week. The fact that we moved West Virginia into that other open week, this one works just fine.”

On how the defense performed this week:
“They did a lot of things really well. We lost track of the back a time or two in some pass coverage. But overall they did another good job.”

On what his message to Blake Bell was after Trevor Knight was named the starter in Week 1:
“As much as anything what I talked about, to the whole team, is that this isn’t the end all. We’ve got a long season in front of us. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you have to prepare and be ready for your opportunities, and in any position the starter could be down and you’re in the game and you’re going to play the whole game. You need to be prepared for it and I talked about Jason White and Nate Hybl, how they had a quarterback competition, was tight. Jason White ends up winning the job, gets hurt in the second or third game, tears his knee, and Nate Hybl goes on, leads us to a Big 12 Championship and a Rose Bowl victory and he’s the Rose Bowl MVP. And he didn’t start the year, being the guy. So you just don’t know, when you go through a long season, how it’s going to unfold.”

On if there will be another QB competition when Trevor Knight gets healthy or if Blake Bell is “the guy”:
“Well, Blake is the guy right now. We’ll see how things go as he continues. That’s just something that we’ll see as time goes, but right now there isn’t an issue.”

On if he has an update on Trevor Knight’s injury status:
“No, we’ll know something here later in the week.”

On the offensive identity moving forward:
“Well some of it is predicated on what they’re doing defensively. This structure and defense was fairly different from what we’ve seen the first couple of weeks. But we still ran the ball for 194 yards so it isn’t like we didn’t run it. We handed it off 44 times and threw it 37 so we still ran the ball. Just some of the passing game was clicking in a better way in this game. The receivers were executing a lot better to go with it.”

On the performance of Sterling Shepard and the receiving corps:
“Sterling Shepard had a big big game, some big plays, really played well. Jalen Saunders also a guy stepping up, Lacoltan Bester. Those guys just played like they are capable of in this game. I didn’t feel like they had kind of lived up to what they are able to do in the first couple games. I thought in this game they were much more disciplined, competitive and made some big plays that they are capable of making.”

On if he has seen a decline in the way that defensive players tackle because of the targeting rule:
“No, again I think that some of the targeting issues are, we had one in our game, and I think it’s the right thing to do. I know my player was very aware to not target the helmet. He hit shoulder to shoulder, did it exactly like you want and it was still a physical, violent hit, but done the right way. You would like to see the penalty part of that maybe done away with when you see that it’s a perfectly clean hit. Still, some teams, tackling is tackling. I think what’s hard to do anymore, it’s hard to practice it and do it enough with the limited rosters. How much live action do you get? The way to get really good at tackling is to do it and it’s hard to do when you’re practiving for fear of injuries to your own team because that’s all you have to practice against.”

On how you get around those limitations and teach good tackling:
“You do what we’ve always done. You form up in practice, you get your hips and feet in position and we try and lock people up at practice even though we aren’t going to the ground. I think some of it too is just talent. The more talented guys just tackle better.”

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