Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops
March 25, 2014

On the team coming back after spring break:
“They did fine, did really good. Everybody is getting a lot of snaps and working hard, so they were good.”

On the quarterbacks at the scrimmage (prior to spring break):
“We didn’t work much with Trevor (Knight) in the scrimmage, but the other guys did a great job. I’m really pleased with how they’re progressing. They’ve all looked good. Justice (Hansen) coming right from high school has the biggest adjustment. He’s really a talented guy with his arm and how he’s worked. Baker (Mayfield) looks good. You can tell he’s played. It’s obvious he’s been on the field when you watch him play. He looks comfortable and makes plays. Cody (Thomas) has been really good. I’ve been really excited about what he’s doing. They’re all doing good. Trevor looked great out there today. We got him in some more team sessions and he looked really good out there today.”

On TE Blake Bell:
“He looks great. He caught a touchdown out there today, a long one down the middle. He’s a big target down there and he looks natural. His obviously not having had the experience blocking will be the biggest thing we’ll concentrate on, but he works hard at it. He’s got strength and size. I don’t see why he wouldn’t pick it up and continue to do well with it. He has a natural feel as a quarterback trying to find open space what the quarterback is looking for from the receivers. He looks pretty natural at it.

“Everyone is always working on it, but he has good feet and he knows how to find space, and that’s how a tight end needs to be.”

On the running back corps:
“They’re doing well. Alex (Ross) has been impressive. He’s really shown up in a few practices, but Keith (Ford) and all of them are working hard and doing well.”

On WR Sterling Shepard:
“He’s really emerged as a strong leader for us on offense. He’s consistent. He’s had a great winter in the way he has worked. He’s pushing other guys. He’s going to be a guy that we have to focus on and find different ways to keep getting him the ball more, which is obvious to everyone. He’s been great.”

On whether Sterling Shepard’s performance in the Sugar Bowl got overlooked a little:
“It did even on me. Going back through once we got back from recruiting and studied the game again, wow he had a huge monster game. He was physical, even some of the bubbles he caught and made three or four yards when there wasn’t much there. He really played strong.”

On the impact of losing Sterling Shepard in the Baylor game:
“At the time I couldn’t talk a lot about it because when you lose Trey Millard and Sterling Shepard, two of your focal points on offense it isn’t easy. We didn’t handle it well. That’s on us as coaches and the players whoever the way we managed it didn’t work really well or it took us too long to adjust to it.”

On offensive linemen Dionte Savage and Derek Farniok:
“Dionte (Savage) is doing a great job. He’s a big, powerful guy and he continues to get better. Derek Farniok is a guy I’ve been excited about. He’s not there, but he’s making strides and getting better, so that’s a big positive, too. Those are two guys who have already made good improvement.”

On Blake Bell blocking at tight end:
“It’s a major part of running the football. Everyone sees the running back, good for him, but it’s not all him. It’s about what those guys do up front. Aaron Ripkowski and Trey Millard were two tight ends, and Aaron played at tight end a couple of games and played it great in the way he blocked. So, it’s a huge part of running the football.”

On using a true tight end more now that there are experienced guys:
“We did a year ago and again, the more with Blake (Bell) it’s something. Taylor McNamara is really coming on more. He caught a nice ball in the bowl game. There’s just not a lot of Jermaine Greshams running around there. You have to have the right people and they have to be experienced, so when they go on the field they have to be better than another personnel grouping you might have out there.”

On Taylor McNamara at tight end:
“Yeah. He’s working hard and with maturity and more time out there he is getting better.”

On the role size plays in being a good blocker:
“To a degree, but to me it’s all attitude. We’ve had some coaches that have been visiting us today that were marveling at how well our receivers are blocking out on the perimeter and there’s Jalen Saunders out there fighting them, all 155 pounds of him. He’s getting in there way and getting in there and scoring a touchdown. It’s attitude and effort.”

On WR Jordan Smallwood:
“He’s off to a great start. He’s going to be a really good player.”

On Durron Neal and other receivers:
“They’re playing better and more consistent, for sure. That’s just how it works at this level. Now they’re here for their third year and he’s been getting ready to play. Those guys are very capable of coming in and giving us the production we’re used to having.”

On WR Derrick Woods:
“Derrick is doing well, but he’s needs to be more consistent at that and he’s showing that so far. He made a lot of special teams plays helping us and that’s part of it. You’ve got the intensity and focus in those moments to make plays, and it’s still early, but we expect him to be one of those guys who produce.”

On the progress of defensive linemen Devante Bond and Charles Walker:
“Really good. Devante (Bond) is a really explosive guy. His head is still spinning trying to figure things out which isn’t unusual when he’s dropping and rushing and when am I dropping and when am I rushing, but he’s got a great natural, knack for doing it like Eric (Striker) and Charles (Walker) is 300 pounds now. He runs great. He’s really picking things up. It’s too early to say he’s ready to go, but he physically is close. Now it’s just getting technique right and consistent on every snap.”

On using guys in different situations on defensive packages:
“We’re light years ahead of a year ago. A year ago we weren’t in systems yet. Now we’re not only in it, we’re expanding it and thinking smooth and polishing it out. We’re giving these guys some rolls of dropping and rushing. Now at times when we’re rushing at a certain spot, Eric (Striker) is 10 times the rusher that Julian Wilson is at times, so I’m starting to feel with Mike (Stoops) and the defensive coaches, we’re getting our guys in the best spots, and I think it will really help us.”

On using WR Sterling Shepard in the return game:
“He’s been catching them the last couple of years. We’ve just had the good fortune of having two experienced guys in Justin Brown and Jalen Saunders. They both had a year of doing it. Both were so good at it that Sterling (Shepard) hasn’t had to, but he’s caught balls for two years. He’ll be ready for it. He’s strong and can run balls, so he’ll be comfortable with it.”

On the competition in the secondary:
“They’re coming on. It’s a tight race between Stanvon (Taylor), Dakota (Austin) and Cortez (Johnson) competing for it. Those guys and we have a good group of guys coming in too. They’re all good hard workers and they’re all talented guys, so they’re doing a nice job. It will keep getting better the more they’re out there.”

On if having an experienced line will help the secondary:
“Hopefully it will help a lot. It will be easier on them. In the end it can only help them so much. But, I don’t think we’ll need a lot of help in the secondary we have a lot of talent there. It’s getting it consistent. Zack Sanchez did it a year ago.”

On letting Eric Striker drop back in rush coverage:
“It’s not accurate in that on normal yardage we probably rushed Julian (Wilson) twice as much as we did Eric (Striker). We get in third down and Eric always rushed. First and second downs it can be a little bit reversed. That’s all we’re saying is that giving him more opportunities to do what he does best.”

On the new HBO show about academics:
“It doesn’t bother me a bit. They talked to one guy out of thousands who have been through here. Pretty simple to say and all you have to do is listen up to Gabe Ikard who just won a scholastic scholarship and was up for the scholastic Heisman who is multidisciplinary studies and he’s going to be a doctor when he’s finished, and Trey Millard, one of the other captains, who graduated in three or three and a half years in psychology and earned a post-graduate scholarship. Not all bad. I wouldn’t imagine Eric Mensik is the only 25-year-old that doesn’t have the job he wants, right? I bet there are quite a few out here that are trying to get a better job. He’s a great young man, and I don’t know all is going to be, but I know we’re very proud of how hard we work with our guys. Bottom line, I was a business major and no one told me what I had to do. I did what I wanted to do and fortunately ended up a business marketing major and I don’t know if I ever used my degree. I guess everyone has different talents and either does really well in school or doesn’t do well in school so that’s across the whole country, kids in athletics and kids out of athletics. It’s competitive in that schoolroom too, especially in today’s world. If you look across the country the average SAT score of all the people going to college, it’s a tough, competitive environment. The football field isn’t just competitive. The degree field and the life field is pretty competitive, too.

“It’s interesting that they didn’t want to talk to Gabe Ikard or Trey Millard or a hundred other guys we’ve had.”

On the impact of NCAA APR standards impacting academics:
“That may be some part of it, but the point is, our whole general student body. The multidisciplinary studies, there are a multitude of them doing it, too. At the end of the day if you want to be a finance major and you fail calculus you’re going to have to find something else to do. I’m talking to you, no one else. That’s just the real world. Depending on where you’re strong on your test scores, you may be stronger here and not there, you’re going to have to gravitate to something that you’re going to succeed in. It’s either that or fail. At the end of the day, everybody has different abilities, on the field and in the classroom, and all of you are the same way. You have to work with that to get the best education that you’re able to get, and not everybody is a 4.0 that gets to do whatever they want to do. You have to work within your skill and mental ability. Another part of that it, how hard is a guy willing to work? You guys went to school with some guys who didn’t work so hard and didn’t end up so well. I know I did. But, I also went to school with some that worked really hard and did really well. You get about what you put into it and how hard you work at it and what your talent and skill is.”

Oklahoma Football
Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback Trevor Knight
March 25, 2014

On how spring practices have gone so far:
“I think we’re doing a really good job just trying to compete everyday and get better everyday. Coming back after spring break this week we had a pretty good practice and I think we have to build off of that going into the next one and then into Saturday. Overall, I felt like we’ve gotten better every day and everyone is competing really well.”

On the larger size of the tight ends:
“It’s definitely a little bit different. With Jalen (Saunders) in there the past two seasons I’ve been here, he’s a little shifty guy and now we’ve got these bigger bodies. You’re able to throw some higher balls, throw some gut shots to get it on them. They aren’t going to win in space quite as much but for the high balls it’s a lot better. Those guys are working really hard and moving all over the place. Blake (Bell) is doing a great job, Dimitri Flowers is coming in and doing a great job. I’m excited about that position and what we’re going to do with it.”

On being a leader this season:
“Building off of last year and being the oldest guy, it kind of forces you to step up and be that leader. I feel like guys are looking at me to be that guy and I think I’ve done a good job of being that.”

On being held out of the scrimmage (prior to spring break):
“I want to be out there competing as much as I can. I know I’ve got a long way to go. Last season I wasn’t the guy all year long so I’m pushing to be that guy this year.”

On adjusting to being ‘the guy’:
“It’s nice to be the oldest guy and be that leader but I know that I haven’t accomplished much yet. I’ve got three more years. I’m still a young guy so I want to build off of that and get better and better every day.”

Oklahoma Football
Junior Center Ty Darlington
March 25, 2014

On the young guys getting in reps:
“I think that in the long run it’s going to be so much better for us. So many guys are getting reps right now. Literally everyone is getting meaningful reps right now. It’s going to make us better as a group and bring us closer together. When you don’t really have ones and twos because we’ve all been playing both, it’s going to be good for us in the long run.”

On not having everyone able to practice:
“Last spring we were real beat up, too. I feel like every spring you go through a little bit when you lose the seniors and the freshman aren’t here yet, the numbers are different from the fall. It’s a lot like last spring, but I think we’ve responded well.”

On having Nila Kasitati back:
“Nila was back today, and it was great to have him back. Hopefully he’ll be healthy from here on out. He’s done a great job still getting all the mental reps and everything but he was out on the field today which was encouraging.”

Oklahoma Football
Redshirt Senior Tackle Daryl Williams
March 25, 2014

On how spring practice is going so far:
“It’s going pretty good. We’ve got a lot of young guys so it’s good to see competition.”

On Coach Stoops pointing out him as a leader:
“I don’t know that you need to talk to me every day. I’m a fifth year senior so I know I have to step up and be a leader. I don’t blame Coach for saying that. I’m not Gabe [Ikard] or replacing Gabe. I’m Daryl Williams; I’m myself.”

On Coach Stoops' influence on the players:
“On the field it’s different. I lead by example and I’ve been doing that since I got here. I’m glad Coach Stoops has my back; he should. He has all our backs. We’re pretty much his kids. He takes care of us and he knows when we’re doing good or doing bad and slacking. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been doing the right things and staying out of trouble. I do what I’m supposed to do.”

Oklahoma Football
Senior Guard Dionte Savage
March 25, 2013

On spring practice thus far:
“Spring (practice) is going good; putting in plays and learning every day – just trying to get better for the season so we can make that run.”

On how much Sugar Bowl practices helped him:
“It helped me a lot. Definitely with the experience of the game and playing a team like Alabama, I feel like I played pretty decent. I just feel like me coming into the spring and working on the technique and everything that I need next year to make me a better player.”

On how Coach (Bill) Bedenbaugh thought he played:
“Coach Bedenbaugh thought I did a pretty good job. He just told me to come back and get to work so we can have an even better season next season.”

On DL Charles Walker:
“Charles Walker is a beast. He’s going to have a great career. He’s a great player, definitely a good player to go up against – his moving ability and the way he moves his hips.”

Oklahoma Football
Redshirt Sophomore Tight End Taylor McNamara
March 25, 2013

On how TE Blake Bell looks:
“He looks great; it’s just nice to have him switch over. He’s a real competitive guy and he’s making a sacrifice for our team, which is awesome. He looks good.”

On if the team is looking to use TEs more:
“I think so. I think they want to use as many as they can. Coach (Jay Boulware) always says if we can do both – if we can run and block – he wants to get as many on the field as possible, so that’s what we’re all competing to do. Heck, we want to get four of us out there if we can.”

On having more TEs on the field:
“It makes it more versatile as an offense, really. If you have them in there and don’t know what personnel to put out there, you can run it and throw it so it’s a benefit for sure.”

On TEs running the ball:
“Oh yeah. They want us to be physical blockers – that’s half of it, that’s half the battle. That, and being playmakers.”

Oklahoma Football
Redshirt Sophomore Running Back Alex Ross
March 25, 2014

On playing time:
“This year I have a better chance of playing. I’ve been working hard out there this spring.”

On learning from the graduated guys:
“I paid my dues and waited my time. I felt like I needed time to get acclimated to everything around here. I feel like I’ve matured a little bit just in getting bigger and knowing what to do in my part.”

On playing hard every down:
“I’m just playing hard every down, working hard and running fast. I’m just doing what I need to do.”