Defensive Media Session

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
SEPTEMBER 23, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops – Post Practice Highlights
Sept. 23, 2013

On Notre Dame offensively:
“Well I thought that Michigan State really crowded them and made it uncomfortable and they weren’t able to hit any of those vertical passes that they pride themselves on. They’ll be much better this week. They’re not going to let you crowd them. They were very aggressive in their approach, Michigan State. They took away the run and just dared them to throw it. We have to find a balance in what we’re doing. The penalties really hurt Michigan State, playing so much man. So you have to find a balance. You take away the run, he’s (QB Tommy Rees) good enough to hurt you. Again, the big plays last year, the big post route off the run action. That’s what they pride themselves on and we have to be better in making sure we don’t give up big plays. I though Michigan State did a great job playing very aggressive and not giving up those chunk yardage plays.”

On if the defense will make any adjustments based on what he saw from Notre Dame this week:
“No. I think they missed three or four balls where guys were running free and they have to make. In the fourth quarter in our game that kid threw a play action post route and hit him in stride. That’s what they do. We have to be good enough and our coverage has to be good enough, we have to show them enough variations and pressures where we can still try to get pressure on the quarterback and still be good in the run game.”

On if Notre Dame is still a powerful and physical team:
“No, they’re not any different. They want to control the ball, they want to run it. They want to play action pass because they’re such a good run team and they make you respect the run game. That’s what got us a year ago. We missed a couple hits and they kept running it and running it and finally creased us and then after they did that they hit a big pass. Again, this is a very difficult preparation. (Tommy) Rees throws a very good ball, they have two go-to receivers. They can defend the whole field and they just missed some passes a week ago.”

On if the defense is better prepared to stop the run this year:
“We’ll see come Saturday but this is a different animal than what we’ve seen with the physicality that they play with. They’re going to keep coming at you and try to wear you down as the game goes on. Again, this is a very physical test for us but again we’re not going to sell out to try to stop the run and try to give up big plays. There has to be some balance in there.”

On how much having experienced players like Corey Nelson, Aaron Colvin and Gabe Lynn helps in a big game like this:
“They’re the stabilizing force behind everything we do. We have to go in there focus and just worry about what we need to do and nothing else. Our assignments and being able to execute and being disciplined I think that’s what wins for you. You have to play good defense. You can’t give up big plays, you have to be able to keep the crowd out of the game and that’s what Notre Dame did to us a year ago. We couldn’t get any momentum throughout the course of that game. When we finally did in the fourth quarter we gave up a big play and lost the tie there in the fourth quarter.”

On if Notre Dame’s third-down conversions last year were a key factor in their win over the Sooners:
“Yeah, I thought (Everett) Golson played great. We missed a couple picks where we were fractions away. I just remember down on the goal line Tony Jefferson almost intercepts the ball, it goes through (Tyler) Eiferts’ hands and he’s juggling out of bounds and he makes a great catch. They made great plays and you’ve got to give credit to them regardless you have to make plays regardless of the situation or what team it is. You’re playing a team like this on the road, you better make plays. When you go look back at the game a year ago that’s the thing that really sticks out to me is they made a lot of great play and that’s what you have to do to win.”

On if he talks to the younger players at all about playing on the road in an environment like Notre Dame:
“No. No, you don’t even acknowledge it. Guys that are out there are expected to play and play at a high level for us. It’s a 100-yard field, 53-and-a-half yards wide. Is that right? It’s no different than any other you have to block all that out regardless of where you are at. It didn’t do us a lot of good last year playing at home. You have to go on the road and play great defense. It’ll be a great test for us regardless of what you guys say or think. We have great respect for what Coach Kelly has done there. They know how to play and they know how to win.”

On if this team needs a signature win or if this game counts for more:
“Nope, it’s the next game. We want to win to keep our momentum, to keep our confidence high. We want to go play well. But no, there’s no more significance on this. You’d rather win a conference game as opposed to this. We’re about winning conference and competing for national championships so this is the next game.”

On how practice went during the bye week:
“Well I think you get more in. You’re able to watch more tape. So I would anticipate they will try to break some of their tendencies. So you don’t want to overreact to what you see. You want to be able to counter what they’re seeing and what we’re seeing. So it’s a game you have to play. They’re not going to change their offense in one week but I’m sure that they were anticipating that this is what we’re seeing so that’s what all teams do. Try to change things, tweak things. Just minor formations and nuances within their offense that try to get your eyes moving so you can’t zero in so much on what they’re doing.”

On if Notre Dame not having a mobile quarterback will make them easier to defend:
“A little bit but they still throw it and he throws it on time. He’s a great thrower of the football. Again, I think they hit a couple of those plays, they have to hit a few of those plays to loosen the defense up and they weren’t able to do that. They got a lot of interference penalties but they missed a lot of plays down the field so Michigan State just kept crowding them. That’s hard to do in any offense. If people are crowding you you’re going to have to get the ball down the field to your playmakers. They tried to do that they just weren’t as successful as they usually are.

On the depth at defensive tackle:
“We’re developing depth all the way across our defense. I think on the defensive line and certainly every position we’re getting more comfortable with more people but still there are starters for a reason.”

On DT Jordan Phillips:
I think he’s maturing. He knows he can be a very productive and good player. Taking that next step has become very important to him. He’s become a more prideful player and works harder and is more consistent. I think he sees that building up to making more plays and I think that excites him. You can see the light starting to go on. We hope he continues to work like he has because he can be a very… you know he’s perfect for what we’re trying to do in there.”

On if the defense will play more four-man fronts against Notre Dame:
“We can get in and out of a three-man front. That’s not problem for us. We’ve played more spread teams so no one has put two tight ends in the game against us I don’t believe. We’ve seen a little bit from Tulsa. They were in a bigger set more than they had been but nothing like these guys can do.”

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Back Aaron Colvin
Sept. 23, 2013

On how tough it’s been the past couple of weeks being out due to injury:
“It’s been rough. As a competitor you want to be the best and when you don’t get a chance to prove that every week, it’s tough.”

On what playing at Notre Dame will be like for him:
“It’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience. It’s my senior year and as a leader, every week is a big game for us. Especially for me, this is my last go-round so I’m not treating this week any differently. I’m going to prepare like it’s going to be my last game.”

On if he realizes how important his leadership, along with Gabe Lynn and Corey Nelson’s, is:
“I do realize it, but at the same time I have full faith in my guys that they can go out there and do the job. We have a lot of young guys out there getting experience and it’s going to be like that your first time. It’s a learning experience but we do realize that we are kind of the back voice for this defense and we need to be out there.”

On what he feels like the younger guys need to know about playing on this type of stage:
“I don’t think I have to tell them anything. I know we have a lot of young guys that are going to have to step up and play this week but I feel like those guys are fully capable of going out there and playing well. I don’t really have any doubt in them. It’s going to be a hostile environment and that’s probably not something they are used to, but I have full faith in those guys.”

On how dangerous the Notre Dame quarterback is:
“He is a very smart player from what I’ve seen on film. It doesn’t seem like he makes a lot of mistakes so we know that we’re going to have to be on point every play and we’re going to have to be consistent with our play.”

On if he is expecting Notre Dame’s wide receivers to be physical:
“Yeah, they try to be physical. But at the same time, they’ve got some quick guys that can do that, as well. They’ve got a little bit of both and we face that every day so we’ll be ready for that.”

On what he feels like will be the keys to victory this week:
“Consistency, physicality and just playing within the scheme.”

On the balance of being aggressive but not overly aggressive:
“Their coach does a great job of keeping the offense balanced as far as the play-calling is concerned, so we know that we can’t play one call too much or one play too much because they have the vice versa to every play. We just have to stay within the scheme and do what the coach tells us to do.”

On if he feels like the team needs a signature win:
“No, I feel like every week is a signature win. Not a lot of people picked us to win the first three games. There were some people that picked us to lose some of those games so we’re approaching every week the same. We know that any team can beat us, so every week is a big week.”

On how this compares to visiting Florida State in 2011:
“It has some of the same vibes because this is a really good team. It’s a traditional school and they’ve got a lot of history there. We know that the crowd is going to be hostile, much like Florida State was, but this year, we’re just focusing on each week. Notre Dame is who we play this week so we’re going to be ready to go out there and play.”

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Lineman Chuka Ndule
Sept. 23, 2013

On the Notre Dame offensive line:
“I want to say they are the same as last year. They are tough fellas that play hard and play with technique. They want to run the ball down our throats, so not really much has changed since last year.”

On playing against a pro-style offense:
“It opens stuff up for everybody. We have a good plan and the coaches know what they are doing and what they’re talking about. We had a bye week which gave us some great preparation for [Notre Dame]. Anyone can make a play this game basically, just stay in your gap, know your assignment and do what you’re supposed to do.”

On the game against Notre Dame being a measuring point for the defense:
“Every game is the same philosophy: dominate the man in front of you. Basically if we come out there and dominate the guy in front of us, don’t let them run the ball, get after the quarterback, we’ll be alright.”

On remembering the loss from last year:
“If you go to the University of Oklahoma you have a sense of pride. Last year what happened in the fourth quarter they flat out beat us and we didn’t execute. That is in the back of our minds; we’re all prideful players and we have respect for them so we have to get after it.”

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Back Zack Sanchez
Sept. 24, 2013

On playing with discipline against Notre Dame:
“Last week against Michigan State they showed a lot of new stuff that we hadn’t seen before. I think it’s to kind of keep us on our toes and keep us guessing. We have a game plan and we are going to go out there and execute the way our coaches want us to. There shouldn’t be anything we shouldn’t handle.”

On having a bye week to prepare:
“It’s good that you get more film to see what their tendencies are, what kind of routes they like to run and how they attack different defensive backs. So having a week off really helped us with figuring out their tendencies and what they do here and there.”

On the defense having the ability to make the difference in a close game:
“We have the most confidence in each other. We feel like our offense matches up with anyone in the country, so seeing them every day we feel like there is nothing that we haven’t seen and nothing that we can’t stop. We have that much confidence going into this game.”

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Lineman Charles Tapper
Sept. 23, 2013

On how he is feeling about the game this weekend:
“Going through this week there’s a lot of anticipation. We’re going to go out and practice extra hard this week. It’s a lot of fun and I just can’t wait to get out there Saturday.”

On how he felt the off-week went:
“It was a great preparation week. We got a lot of mental reps in and our bodies felt rejuvenated.”

On what he remembered about last year’s game against Notre Dame:
“It was a hard fought game. Notre Dame had a great team. Watching all their great players –Manti Te’o, the front three- that was a great game to watch and it was upsetting that we lost it.”

On the challenge ahead playing an offensive line like Notre Dame:
“It’s going to be a great fight in the trenches this week, especially with Notre Dame. They’ve got one of the greatest offensive lines in the NCAA right now so it’s going to be a fun task to see if we can compete with those guys.”

On if he feels like this game is an important test:
"Yes, because they are such a great team. They’re ranked in the top 25 and this is going to be our first away game, so it will be a lot of fun.”

On the challenge of playing away for the first time this season:
“It’s going to be way different. We won’t have the fans behind us on third downs so we just hope to keep the stadium quiet. We usually have the stadium rocking so it’s going to be a big difference.”

On if Bob Stoops has prepared them for the type of atmosphere they will be playing in:
“We haven’t really talked about it. We’ve just been worrying about our technique and just worrying about the little things we have to do to win this game.”

On what he thinks is most important this weekend:
“Playing with technique, being aggressive, putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback and just standing our ground.”

On how much of a measuring point this game will be up front:
“This is the biggest one we’ve had yet. Notre Dame has some great offensive tackles, great offensive guards, great center and their tight ends are very powerful so it’s going to be a great task for us.”



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