Offensive Media Session

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
OCTOBER 15, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel
Oct. 15, 2013

On what the offense needs to work on this week:
“We just need to improve on who we are and what we’re doing. At the end of the day, we can’t turn the football over, we can’t have penalties that put us in third and longs. All of those areas we need to be better.”

On if this team is searching for an identity offensively:
“I don’t know if we are searching for an identity as much as we are trying to be more consistent with everything that we’re doing. At times, things are executed and we do a good job. Obviously, the last couple of weeks we haven’t been good on third down. At the end of the day you have got to stay on the field and score points.”

On getting into third-and-long situations against Texas:
“Up until that point, the previous two or three weeks, we had done a good job of taking care of the ball and hadn’t had many penalties. We were staying ahead of the chains and didn’t have sacks or tipped passes, all those things that put you in third and longs. We were in that situation too much on Saturday and you have got to stay out of that on the road. This (Kansas) is a good defense, they’re aggressive, they get after you, they load the box on first and second down, and they bring a bunch of pressure on third down so it’s going to be a big test for us.”

On if they are closer in the passing game than people might think:
“It’s a combination of everything. Blake (Bell) has some things open that he needs to hit. Our wide receivers need to win a couple of times for him as well. He has got to get himself within his progression with what they’re doing defensively and get them in the right spots, too.”

On getting his key receivers more involved:
“It’s not just one thing. You have to find schemes within what defenses are doing to try to get them involved. It’s tough on third and long situations to say you’re going to a certain guy, because they’re rolling they’re coverages, they’re bracketing guys inside. Blake (Bell) has to do a better job of getting through his progression and hitting the open guy.”

On if QBs Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson are ready to see action:
“Those guys have done a good job of continuing to compete and continuing to get better. If given the opportunity I think both of those guys will be ready to play well.”

On if Kansas has improved defensively:
“They’re much improved from last year. They got some junior college kids that have come in and changed their personality a little bit. They’re playing hard, they’re playing physical and they’re loading the box on first and second down and making it tough for you to run the football. We’re going to need to run the football, but we’re going to need to make some plays on the outside, as well.”

On if they need to make tweaks to the offense throughout the season:
“Absolutely. You’re trying to figure out what you’re quarterback is comfortable with and can execute, and your wide receivers, too. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do a better job of giving these guys an opportunity to win at times.”

On how they know when to make changes:
“We need to play better. We’re certainly capable of it. Sometimes people on the outside don’t understand how fine the line is between success and failure. It’s not just one guy, it’s 11 guys, but 11 different guys can’t take their turn. Last Saturday, we were capable of playing a lot better. You saw us execute at times. We just didn’t do it consistently enough.”

On if they had thought about trying something differently at quarterback late in the game:
“I didn’t think about that. I didn’t feel like we were far off of being able to execute and push the ball down the field and make some plays.”

On if it is tough to know what the quarterbacks are capable of until they play in the game:
“You never know with any of the kids, certainly at quarterback, until they are under the lights and they’re getting hit and momentum is going the wrong way, how they are going to respond. We’ll continue to find out who we are every single week.”

On what he has learned about QB Blake Bell seeing him play in games:
“I think after a couple of starts he was very calm, confident and poised. He was decisive with the football. This last week I didn’t like where he got his body in the pocket. That led to him not being accurate with the football the way he is capable of it. I felt like as the game went on we pressed a little bit and that’s not good at that position.”

On if QB Blake Bell got shaken up a little bit after the first interception:
“Initially, I didn’t think that. I tell all of my players that whether you’re up on the scoreboard or down, whether the previous play was good or bad, you just have to play that next play as it’s own identity. I don’t think we did that as well as we needed to as a group.”

On maybe moving the pocket a little more:
“At times we have tried it. It depends on what we’re seeing from the defense. We will continue to evaluate that as we move down the road.”

On how experiencing last year’s slow start could help with this year:
“Each year is different. Last year we were trying to find an identity of who we were. We went from playing with tight ends, to trying to play with tight ends, to finding out that wasn’t the right personnel for us. We were playing in a completely different offense than what we had played in. There was a little bit of growth there. We got a lot better as the season went on. We played extremely well down the stretch for the most part. At the end of the day this group, this personnel, this offense needs to play the way it is capable of this week and every week going forward. It’s not a major overhaul, although I know people will look at major things and say they need to be corrected. It’s really just doing the ordinary things and just executing at a really high level with precision.”

On seeing previous offensive coordinators becoming a target of criticism:
“It was that way as the quarterback. At the end of the day I don’t find my value or my worth as a person or offensive coordinator from what’s going on outside. Our players can’t do that either. You have got to be confident in who you are, know the direction you’re going, believe in yourself, believe in the guys around you and go to work every single day. That’s what everybody in here is doing.”

On if when he was a quarterback he had to go through things similar to QB Blake Bell:
“It’s not easy to do. It’s easy to talk about. It’s his first time as a starter. It’s the first time that you’re maybe down on the scoreboard in a tough environment. Hopefully he has learned from that and he’ll be better and move forward. I remember some of the plays back in the Texas game in 1999 that I would have liked to have back.”

On if RB Keith Ford is someone they are going to look to in the future:
“Absolutely. He’s fast and explosive. He got the ball out on the sideline and got away with that, but for the most part he has done a really good job of taking care of the football. He’s a guy that needs to continue to touch the football. He has a chance to make a lot of explosive plays for us.”

On if there are pros and cons to having either one feature back or a committee:
“I don’t think it matters as long as they are all playing at a high level. Those guys have done a good job for the most part of taking good care of the football this year. We want to make that last defender miss a little bit more as we move down the road. At the end of the day all of those guys are capable of playing at a high level.”

On what he thinks the identity of the offense is:
“We’ll continue to move forward and figure that out each and every week. We’re a football team that even last week we rushed it well enough. We need to be better in the play action pass. We need to make special plays in the pass game, obviously and make more out there in the run game too. As much as anything we need to be able to do that. The big plays are what is missing for us right now.”

On using the zone read more with QB Trevor Knight than QB Blake Bell:
“Well, Blake still has some running ability. He’s a different style of runner and we saw us running some power read stuff with him a week ago. He’s just a different style of runner than Trevor is.”

On if he wants to have tight ends as a part of their offense:
“Yeah, we want to have tight ends as a major part of what we’re doing and setting the edge. We want someone who is explosive as a vertical threat down the middle of the football field. It’s something that we have had here for a long time but we have missed the last two years.”

On if coaches second-guess themselves after the game:
“I think you always go back and you’re critical of your calls, what you’re doing with your plan, how you worked over the course of the week. Did you give your kids enough certain looks? Why did you see what you saw from the defense? What are they seeing from their perspective? Those are all things you look at.”

Oklahoma Football
Co-Offensive Coordinator Coach Jay Norvell
Oct. 15, 2013

On what’s missing from the offense and improvements that have to be made:
“I don’t think we played well on Saturday. I think that’s the bottom line. I wouldn’t flip the switch all the way that way. We just didn’t play well, particularly in third down we were really poor. We’ve got to find better execution on third down. We haven’t been very good the last couple weeks actually. We just got to tie up our execution. We got to do a better job of route-running. We got to do a better job of hitting open guys. There’s really no magic to it. We just have to get back to work and get going at it. It’s important to keep improving and shore up those areas of the game we need to improve. Obviously, you can’t turn it over and you’ve got to convert on third down to be able to stay on the field and score points.  That’s where we’ve got to improve this week.”

On receivers’ performance against Texas:
“I don’t know. I don’t think we played very good Saturday. We didn’t play good enough to win. We’ve got to play better and we’ve got to execute better. That’s something that’s important for us to understand.”

On what receivers need to do to make quarterback’s job easier:
“I think we have to, offensively, do a better job. But the wide outs got to make plays. The wide outs, their job is to get open and catch the ball. We got to do a better job of that. We got to help Blake (Bell). All season long, we knew we had new quarterbacks and we knew we were going to have to do a better job getting open and finishing plays. Then we got to finish competitive plays versus man coverage. When you play in a Big 12 season where you’ve got familiar opponents, they know, they’re used to playing us, they know what we like. You just got to do a great job of technique and effort. We played an opponent that was really good last Saturday and we’ve got to do a better job getting read for that challenge.”

On Blake Bell’s ability to throw the deep ball:
“Blake (Bell) has done a pretty good job throwing the deep ball. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing and finishing. I don’t know that there’s any magic to it. He does a good job in practice. We just got to do a better job executing in the game. It wasn’t that long ago I heard the same things about Landry (Jones). It’s not something that happens that often, but when it does, you got to make people pay and we’re working towards that.”

On Kansas:
“They’re very aggressive. They’re very improved defensively. They do a lot of bump-and-run coverage. It’ll be a very similar challenge to last week. We got to be up for the challenge, especially on the road. They caused five turnovers last week. They’re a very stingy defense, they really make you work to get open, so we have to do a great job this week in the passing game.”

On defenses coming after quarterbacks:
“I think every week is like that. In this league, you better be able to throw the ball and be balanced. We’ve done a good job running the ball at times this year, we’ve done a good job passing the ball. We’ve got to do a good job at both to have the success we want to have going down the stretch. This’ll be a big road challenge for us. We’ve got to bounce back and be more consistent in both the run and the pass. We need guys to step up and play well, both on the inside and on the perimeter. It’s important. This will be a big challenge for us this week.”

On depth at receiver position:
“I feel fine about it. We’ve got plenty of guys. I really want to play more guys, to be honest with you. It’s just more about being cleaner execution-wise and guys getting open and making big plays. That’s like anything else, it’s a confidence thing. Once guys start doing it, then it becomes infectious. We just got to get back to doing that.”

On getting ball to Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard:
“We always want to get the ball to those guys. Those are guys that can do big things when they catch it, so we always want to get the ball to Jalen and Shep (Shepard). We’re just going to keep working. Those kids played really hard last week. They did a great job blocking the perimeter. Sometimes that effort doesn’t correlate to production in the passing game, but it’s got to start producing production in the passing game. There’s no shortage of effort. I’m really proud of how those guys played on the perimeter. That’s just got to correlate into production in the passing game.”

On chemistry of Landry Jones, Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard and how to translate it to Blake Bell, Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard:
“That kind of chemistry comes from playing in games and making big plays. When guys make big plays in a game, they gain confidence in each other and that’s when it grows. The combination of (Ryan) Broyles and Landry Jones… They played in so many big games together and they had so much confidence between the two of them. That just doesn’t happen overnight, it happens from playing and throwing balls and making big plays on third down and having a guy you can trust. We’re building that. We’ve got new quarterbacks and we’ve got new kids playing. That’s something we need to establish in games and that’s something, through playing the rest of these Big 12 games, we’ll find that kind of chemistry.”

On playing former OU player Justin McCay who transferred to Kansas:
“I don’t think it’ll be strange. He’s a great kid. We were very close when he was here and with recruiting and everything. It shows the kind of head coach we have here, allowing Justin to transfer and go home and be closer to his family. That was something most guys wouldn’t do, especially in conference. We care about Justin as a person. We wanted to see him have success. His high school coach (Tim Grunhard) is actually the line coach there (at Kansas). He’s a great guy. It’ll be good to see him. I hope he’s doing well. We play against friends all the time, so we’re used to that.”

Oklahoma Football
Offensive lineman Adam Shead
Oct. 15, 2013

On the importance of getting the run game started:
“I think it’s very imperative for us to get the run game going because, as you can see, it really hurt us on Saturday. That’s not the position we want to be in, third-and-long. It’s absolutely important for us to get the run game started on first and second downs.”

On what the offensive line can do to make the quarterback’s job easier:
“We can give him more time, give him cleaner looks. We haven’t been particularly good in third-and-long because they can pin us back and come after you. We can help him out a lot by cleaning out the pocket and letting him step into those throws and finish the play.”

On Kansas:
“They’re a really good team. They’re better than people give them credit for. They really play hard. They’re very active. We just have to get out and be physical and get back to playing our football. “

On after losing to Texas and gaining a better feel for how much focus it takes:
“It was a reality check for everybody. The Big 12 is a pretty tough conference this year, I think. You don’t have the big offenses anymore, the defenses are stepping up. I think it will be another test this week with Kansas because… the defenses in the Big 12 are getting better.”

Oklahoma Football
Running back Brennan Clay
Oct. 15, 2013

On Keith Ford’s performance against Texas:
“I think he did well in that intensified atmosphere. He controlled the ball well and got yards when we needed him.”

On pregame advice older backs gave to Ford:
“We talked to him. We just told him to be conservative on your energy before going in. It’s going be really energized. Just focus on the game, don’t focus on the stands and the crowd noise and it’ll be fine.”

On playing multiple RBs:
“It’s hard for a back sometimes. You wanna be able to get in a rhythm. It’s kind of tough if you get five carries throughout a game. They’re doing what they need to do. We’re figuring out a game plan. We’ll be fine. We have so many backs here at this university and they can all do special things with the ball, so we’re just trying to figure out ways we can dip and dap.”

On Blake Bell’s performance against Texas:
“Blake has so much experience, but not as a true quarterback yet. He’ll be fine. He’s been in those pressured, tight situations before. That was a big game. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way, but we’ll be fine.”

On days after loss to Texas:
“It was rough. Sunday was more in shock than anything. We prepared really well throughout the week, so it was more of a let down. I feel like we didn’t show up on Saturday. We’ll be fine. We came back positive with a lot of energy, so now we have to prepare for Kansas.”

Oklahoma Football
Offensive Lineman Gabe Ikard
Oct. 15, 2013

On practices following the loss on Saturday:
“They’ve been rough. Today was a very intense day of practice. We got a lot of good work in and we know that we have to improve and we’re working hard at it. But overall, it was a good day and I think that we got better as a team.”

On the focus on third-and-long situations:
“That’s something we’re always focused on. But with the lack of success last week on third and longs, we need to be better on first and second downs, especially first downs with our run game and our quick passing game. Overall, we have to improve everywhere and at every position. Today was one of those work days where we really got after it. Hopefully, we’re gaining every day.”

On being named a Midseason All-American:
“I’ve definitely improved this season as a football player. Coach [Bill] Bedenbaugh has taught me a lot and Coach [Jon] Cooper has worked with me a lot individually on improving at the center position and the mental aspect of the game. They’ve really made me a better player this year. I’m honored to be on those. I wish we were 6-0, instead of 5-1. I’ll take all of that stuff I can get, but when it comes down to it, my job is to lead this team and get us ready for Kansas.”

Oklahoma Football
Quarterback Blake Bell
Oct. 15, 2013

On improvements that could have been made versus Texas:
“Looking back, the main thing was taking care of the football. Obviously, it starts with me. I’m not on the same page as my wide receiver then; I step back and overthrow the ball. I’d say protecting the ball is one thing and then other than that, everyone getting on the same page. It seemed like everyone was a little bit out of rhythm. So as long as everyone gets in rhythm, we’ll be good. And that’s what we’ve been practicing this week and striving for.”

On why they’ve been out of rhythm:
“It’s easy to do. It could have something to do with being out of rhythm on a route or I could be out of rhythm on a drop, or maybe the offensive linemen on protection. Two of those can be good, but if one’s not, it’s going to throw everything off. Things like that are what we need to work on.”

On being able to throw down field:
It’s a part of the game, for sure. Like I said, it’s a work in progress. That’s why we’re out here practicing; we’re going to get better each and every day. Me and all the receivers, the more we get timing down and know what we’re doing, we’ll be able to make plays like that and hit some shots down the field.”

On if he thinks he is close to more completions when he watches film:
“I see the same thing. On film, it’s just the little things. It’s really close to breaking out like that. Just being out there at practice and staying out there with Jalen (Saunders) tonight and getting some extra deep routes or routes that we need to work on is really going to help us out. I’m still learning some stuff and those guys are still learning, so I think we’ll be all right.”

On his struggles with the throwing a deep ball:
“I think I’m real close. At Notre Dame, I had a couple of deep outs I missed; they were just a little too wide. That whole week, I had been hitting Sterling (Shepard) and we had been perfect all week so maybe just a little something being off. Like I said, we just need to keep working. Like Coach [Josh] Heupel says, ‘You’re going to take a lot of shots and you’re not going to hit them all. But just keep throwing them.’”

On his attitude when the score is in favor of the other team:
“I felt like I did a good job. I just tried to forget about the last drive and just keep coming. It’s not about the last play; it’s about the next play. So I just tried to keep coming and doing what I can.”

On the team’s mentality on third down conversions:
“We started out good. After Notre Dame, we’ve been going down a little bit. But, like I said, it could be a little bit of me, a little bit the receivers or a little bit the offensive line. As long as we’re all moving in the same direction and getting better each day and trying to put it all together, I feel like it’s going to come for us.”

On how he deals with fan comments after a loss:
“I’m just playing the game, so I don’t listen to that. We’re in here as a team and we’re going to push through and win ball games. All I can do is get in the film room, learn from my mistakes and get better.”

On defenses changing their methods each week:
“We saw some man to man coverage, but we see that from a lot of teams. Obviously, if a team is doing something that’s working, then the next team will probably will sprinkle in those things. You just have to be ready for things like that.”

On Gabe Ikard being named a Midseason All-American:
“Gabe’s a great player. He’s one of those guys that he can make any call up there and see anything coming. He can pick up a blitz and tell any guy what to do. He’s a great guy leading the offensive line and he can even let me know stuff that’s coming. Off the field, he’s a great guy and a great person to have here.”

Oklahoma Football
Running Back Keith Ford
Oct. 15, 2013

On how he thinks he played getting his first taste of a big rivalry game:
“I thought I played alright. You’re always going to make mistakes on the field. My first college rivalry was pretty exciting. I had a lot of nerves.”

On if he has always been a downhill runner:
“Yeah, since high school my coaches always have stressed to go vertical and not sideline to sideline. It just kind of sunk in.”

On when he felt he was starting to carve himself a role in the offense:
“I really don’t know. I didn’t focus on that. I just kept working and working and tried to step on the field.”

On if there has been a ‘welcome to college moment’:
“There were a couple of big hits in the preseason, but that’s part of the game. You just have to shake it off and go on to the next play.”

On how important it is to do well in the things he is doing without the ball to increase his role:
“Pass protection in the spread is something that I really need to work on. I just want to focus on the little things and become a better player.”

On what advice he would give himself going into preseason practice:
“Don’t overthink things and be patient. If you keep working at it your time is going to come. At first I wasn’t very confident about it, but I kept talking to my parents. My dad was telling me to be patient and do what you are doing. Good things will happen.”



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