Tuesday Media Session

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 12, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel
Nov. 12, 2013

On the main things the QBs need to focus on this week:
“You are working on everything. You’re constantly a work in progress. But obviously we need to be more accurate with the football, which deals with getting your body in the right position. And we need to be better in our decision making, which is understand our game plan and recognize things on the back end. If you do those two things then you’re going to have a decent day at quarterback.”

On if the body positioning deals with mechanics:
“It deals with mechanics. Your upper body, your lower body all working together and all of that deals with being accurate with the football.”

On how frustrating it is to have offensive struggles this late in the season:
“I just think at the end of the day we’re not as consistent as we want to be. We’ve shown instances where we’ve played smart, we’re accurate with the football, and we’re consistent for four quarters. Obviously last week we were none of those things and at this point in the season – at any point in the season – it’s disappointing because of all the hard work you put in and the preparation. Hopefully we’ll see some more fruit of our labor this week.”

On how he manages that frustration:
“Well everybody in this program is disappointed when you go out and don’t perform the way you’re capable of. Obviously last week was a big game – you want to perform well. For us, at the end of the day it’s disappointing. It hurts. You come back to work on Monday and it’s a new week. We are only as good as our next performance and that’s how we live every week.”

On if the change in QBs and loss of key players makes in-game adjustments more difficult:
“I wouldn’t say it makes in-game adjustments any more difficult. I think whenever you lose good players that are consistent, that play at a high level, yes, it changes you. Losing Trey (Millard) during the course of the week, yeah, it changes how you prepare and what you think you’re going to be able to execute against the defense. You lose Sterling (Shepard), yeah, it shuffles people around. But at the end of the day, none of that that matters – we need to perform at a high level. You put the OU on your helmet you’re supposed to perform at a certain level and that’s what we’re going to try and do this week.”

On what kind of offense he wants to run moving forward:
“At the end of the day we want to be able to throw the ball efficiently, be explosive with it, get it in our playmakers hands and we want to have balance of being able to execute in the run game. That’s who we want to be, that’s what we’ve been here for a long time. We’ve had peaks and valleys with it. You look at the last two years, were in the top five in the country in passing. We wanted more efficiency in the run game – you got some of that this year. We’re not throwing it the way we’re capable of and the way we need to to win championships.”

On if he's disappointed he hasn’t moved forward with a more athletic style with the QBs:
“We have run our quarterback more than we have in the past. I don’t think we’ve been as efficient here during the last couple of weeks as we want to be with our quarterback run game. We don’t want to major in it, we just want that to be a little piece of the puzzle and make defenses respect it and change who and what they are as far as their blitz package and the way they rush on third downs, as well. But we want guys that are going to be able to throw the football and get into our playmakers hands."

On if he wants to move forward with playing QB Trevor Knight in a specific role:
“Last week that role was based on some things that we saw against Baylor with their defensive scheme and how we felt like we needed to attack and maybe steal some rushing yards. In some respect, due to missing a guy that’s been a key component of the run game – Trey Millard – that was something that was for that ball game.”

On what QB Kendal Thompson can do to get an opportunity:
“Continue to perform and push in the meeting room, on the practice field.”

On if Kendal Thompson does well in those areas:
“He’s doing well. Absolutely.”

On if he's seen Kendal Thompson progress since returning to practice from the injury:
“I think he’s continuing to get comfortable with what we’re doing and pushing in a good way.”

On what he would say about RB Brennan Clay’s time at OU:
“I think Brennan (Clay) is a guy that’s been extremely consistent in who he was on and off the field. He’s got a great energy, he’s been extremely positive for this program; he’s been a great leader in the way he prepares every week. I think those are just a few of the things that will be his lasting impression on the program.”

On center Gabe Ikard:
“As smart as they come as a football player and obviously in the classroom as well. You guys have seen all the awards he’s won. He’s a guy that cares deeply about this program. It meant something for him to come here and play, it means something for him every day, and that’s why you see him prepare and practice the way he does every single day. He’s played at an extremely high level for four years. He’s been versatile – been able to move from guard to center and back and forth. He’s done a tremendous job this year and learned some of the things we’ve asked him to to control some of our protection and run game in a different way. He’s got a bright future ahead of him in the game of football but in the game of life, as well.”

On adjustments without FB Trey Millard and how TE Aaron Ripkowski did against Baylor:
“Anytime you lose a great player, yeah, it changes. (Trey Millard) is a guy has played at an extremely high level for a long time and you want them (the replacement) to play at a high level but you don’t just replace a guy like that – that’d be devaluing what he’s done here for four years. But it’s changed us a little bit and we’ll see what we can do with (Ripkowski).”

On TEs Brannon Green and Aaron Ripkowski against Baylor:
“(Aaron Ripkowski) – we played him in some similar situations. Some of them he’s played in before. Some of the new things we asked him to do, he actually played them at a high level. Brandon did a good job for most of the night.”

On inconsistencies with the offensive line:
“As an offense, when you play the way we did, you’re not consistent in anything throughout the entire night. You saw the pass game, we weren’t consistent running, we weren’t consistent throwing. In the run game, we didn’t have the balance we wanted either. They did a good job changing a couple of things maybe with a couple of extra days and some of the schemes that we ran but as much as anything they just beat us up front in some one on one situations too and that was disappointing.”

On if it felt that nothing seemed to be working against Baylor:
“Well at times, yeah, absolutely. There’s a real fine line to it though, too. And offensive football really is 11 guys acting as one and at times the other night; not very often we had 11 guys acting as one. When we did, we put some things together. We weren’t consistent doing that, but it’s not a major overhaul either. One guy gets beat at the point of attack or on the backside and it changes everything. We did not play as a unit. We didn’t play as a football team. Defensively we played well early, but we didn’t take advantage of some of our opportunities early in the football game that changed the way the game was played. And that was something going against a good football game you have to do. You have to play smart for four quarters and we didn’t do that.”

On how you avoid feeling like you need to make an overhaul on offense:
“Unfortunately we’ve hit a bump in the road before and we’ve come back and we responded in a really good way. We didn’t play well against Texas. We came back and responded much better. You hit a bump in the road again, you want to come back and change it and play better. We’re capable of executing. We’re capable of executing for four quarters, consistently the entire ball game. Ultimately it’s my job to get our guys to do that.”

On not being far off from being consistent on offense:
“When I say we’re not far off, we’re fighting for it every day and it’s hard to get there. It’s hard to get 11 guys to play at a high level consistently throughout a ball game and yeah, we are known for doing that and obviously we didn’t do it last week.”

On why he thinks it has been so hard to do that consistently:
“Pieces of the puzzle changing, new guys in the program. Those are just a few of the things.”

On Iowa State’s defense and if they blitz a lot:
“Not a ton. They’re extremely well coached, extremely physical - typical Iowa State team. They play extremely hard for four quarters. They’ve been on the wrong side of the scale for most of the year. They’ve played in some close games; they’ve played well defensively. Look at some of those point totals that have been put up against them, some of that has come off of some special teams plays and some turnovers on the offensive side of the ball that’s given some people some short fields. A year ago they were extremely competitive, not easy to run the football against, they are going to load the box so those are the things we’re dealing with this week.”

On if it is frustrating that most guys on offense have been playing for a while:
“Yeah, that we haven’t put it together for 60 minutes consistently throughout the entire year, absolutely. That’s something that has been disappointing.”

Oklahoma Football
Co-Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell
Nov. 12, 2013

On improvements needed for Iowa State game:
“There are several improvements we need to make. Obviously we didn’t run the ball we wanted to, we didn’t throw the ball as well as we wanted to and we didn’t execute on third down and we turned it over. There is plenty of improvement. We are just very disappointed about the way we played and know we can play much better. As coaches we have to look at it and Mondays are “tell the truth Mondays” where we look at the film and we talk about what happened and what we are. Truth is we are a good football team and the truth is we didn’t play very good last week. There are a lot of improvements we need to make. We need to get back on the practice field and start getting at it.”

On having too many mistakes to pinpoint a major problem:
“We just didn’t execute. We had a plan to go in there, run the ball and control the clock, mix up some play action passing and take some shots. Didn’t hit enough of those or convert a couple of those. We, obviously, need to do a lot better on third-downs like staying on the field and converting on third downs is key. We didn’t score in scoring situations early in the game in the first and second quarter. Second quarter really killed us; our defense was playing with great effort. We need to respond better and meet the challenge a lot better than we did in that game. Everyone is responsible for that; our players, our coaches, number one we take responsibility, especially all of our offensive coaches and our players need to understand that they need to do a better job, as well. There is plenty of improvement to go around for our coaches and players. We are back at it and we are upbeat because we are excited to go against a tough opponent this week and we better have our attention on them or we will get stubbed again. We have to do a great job.”

On losing WR Sterling Shepard in last week’s game:
“Shep is a really good player, tough competitor and great spirit - we miss it (his spirit) when it is not there. We will have to adjust. We have a lot of good players so the next man is going to have to step up. I don’t know if he will play this week, we will just have to wait and see but if he can we need to adjust to that to.”

On the potential opportunity for younger slot receivers to play:
“Absolutely, Derek Woods can play the spot.  Austin Bennett and Jalen Saunders can play the slot so we have plenty of capable guys that we have wanted to play more and now we get the opportunity.”

On WR Dannon Cavil:
“Dannon is doing well; he had a really good practice today. He is on scout team and he works to be the best guy down there every day. We take a lot of pride in developing our players and it is effort and technique, which we really try to master. He is really working hard on that, he is bigger, stronger, faster than the guy he was a few months ago. He is a much better football player.”

On having to be more creative with plays:
“We are going to work hard, that is what we do. We need to find more ways to efficient early in the game. So much of the passing game is continuity and working together. We have to find better ways to get off early and have success early because once we do it usually snowballs and we play pretty good after that. The games where we have thrown the ball well, we had gotten off early. At Notre Dame we had a lot of completions and we were moving down the field. We need to find ways to do that. Everyone is a part of it. All of our skill players, offensive line, quarterback; everyone is in it together. It is important that we realize that. One thing is, you cannot escape accountability. As coaches, we all are responsible and as players you need to look at your part of the game and don’t try to do more than your part; just do what you are asked to do. If we do that, we will be fine.”

On QB Kendal Thompson:
“Kendal has to do what he has continued to do, practice hard and continue to prepare. When you are a backup quarterback all you can do is do your very best and be ready for when your opportunity comes. He has continued to do that and has prepared. He will ready when his opportunity comes. It is unfortunate; he got hurt at a very critical time in training camp when people were competing for the spot and it just hard to get an opportunity once the season starts. He has to continue to prepare and be ready.

“He has done a good job in practice and he has continued to improve and show progress. It is difficult to get three different guys ready and give them the amount of reps they need to improve and get ready. That is just part of it. In pro football the backup doesn’t get any snaps and so we try to obviously, give our backup snaps and prepare them the best we can. There are so many plays that your starter can be ready to do, so there is that. It is a balance, a tricky balance and we just try to do our best.”

On receivers not getting enough balls:
“They could get 50 balls and still want more; that is the nature of what it is. The guys, they all want to play, all want to produce and contribute, they just need to continue to work. We can never paint a perfect picture of how the games are going to go but you have to be ready to go and you have to be ready to do your job and help the team. If that is making a lot of plays or making a few plays they have to be prepared to do that.”

On his relationship with Coach Heupel as co-offensive coordinators:
“We all have a job and Coach Stoops hire us to be offensive coaches and we have worked together a long time. We see a lot of things eye to eye and we put things together as offensive coaches and we talk with each other about situations. We also communicate on game days and that hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years and I don’t see it changing much in the future.”

On when a good game plan doesn’t go well:
“You always go in with the best game plan to win the game but I have learned a long time ago, I have been around a lot of old timers, that you do as much as you possibly can before the game to prepare to win and on game day you just fight your tail of to win. At the end of the game, it’s over, you cannot do anything about it except try and learn from the mistakes that were made and get after the next one. We put everything we possibly can in to win a game and we go out and fight like crazy on game day. It doesn’t always turn out but have to learn from it and move forward. There is nothing we can do about last week, win or lose.”

On RB Brennan Clay’s legacy at Oklahoma: 
“Brennan has been a guy who has always been an opportunist. He has always been prepared and he has taken advantage of it. When he wasn’t a starter and he was a backup he still came into games and gave a monster performance. I think that is one legacy he will leave for the younger backs; to always be ready for your opportunity and be ready to take advantage of it.”

On senior C Gabe Ikard:
“He is a great kid. Very smart, a wise cracker obviously, but he is a classic center that knows what everyone is supposed to do and can get everyone in the right alignment, give the right calls and be very confident. A lot of center help a lot of other players become better, kind of like a point guard, and his communication and leadership has been invaluable for our offense.” 

Oklahoma Football
Quarterback Blake Bell
Nov. 12, 2013

On coming back from the loss:
"We had the weekend off to get away from it a little bit. I think we came back Monday and we were ready to go. That's what we have to: come back and bounce back."

On how the team will improve:
"You have to keep working. That's the only way to do it; just keep practicing and working with the wide receivers and the unit as a whole. Penalties and third downs, it just seemed like if it wasn't one thing, it was something else. We just have to be consistent."

On what he wants to see from the offense:
"I want to see us be more consistent. You've seen us out there making plays and we just have to continue that on a consistent basis. Staying on the field, too. We've been getting on the field and getting right off. We need to help the defense out a little bit."

On his change from Notre Dame to Baylor:
"It's two different teams and two different styles of play. They just had different game plans."

On being consistent:
"We've been doing some great things and some not so great. We just need to eliminate the bad and be more consistent."

On Iowa State as a team:
"They're a great football team, very sound on defense. It seems like they're always in position with multiple teams during the fourth quarter."

On his frustrations after the loss:
“It’s frustrating. You play like that and you’re inside the five-yard line a few times and you can’t punch it in. If the game had gone differently, if we had scored those times, who knows what would have happened. But that’s in the past so now we’re trying to move forward to Iowa State and get better.”

On what mistakes happened in the red zone:
“They added an extra guy in the box, but other than that we have to execute. It’s no more than us getting in the end zone like we have the past couple of years.”

On using QB Trevor Knight more as a decoy:
“I’m fine with that. I’m just here playing the game and obviously the coaches decide that. When I’m out there, I have to do my job and play to my abilities.”

On finding his rhythm:
“If you talk to any player about being in rhythm, that’s when things go well for them and it’s good when you have that rhythm. But when you get out of rhythm, you have to find a way to get back in, whether it’s throwing an easy completion or whatever.”

On blocking outside noise after a loss:
“I don’t listen to anything or read anything. It’s obviously disappointing that we lost but we’re just moving on to Iowa State.”

On the offensive frustrations this season with an older group:
“I don’t think it has anything to do with young or old. It’s just that anytime you can’t move the ball or get off on third downs, it’s obviously frustrating. We’re working each and everyday and moving on to Iowa State.”

On learning from Landry Jones how to block out criticism:
“It helped out a lot. In the locker room and meetings with him, I knew what kind of player he was and what he did for the team. I heard the talk, but it wasn’t that big of a deal for him.”

On getting criticized after being under the radar:
“I don’t feel any different. I’m quarterback now instead of coming in on short yardage, but it’s just part of the game of football. It’s not just here at the University of Oklahoma, you see it in the NFL and all of college football. You just have to block it out and play the game.”

On his dad helping him deal with criticism:
“My dad and my uncle have been there with me, really my whole family. They’ve been telling me to keep playing and to keep blocking it out.”

Oklahoma Football
Offensive Lineman Bronson Irwin
Nov. 12, 2013

On a change in attitude after Baylor loss:
“I don’t want to say there is a culture shift but we definitely recognize the plays we didn’t do to a very high level last week on Thursday. We are focused on fixing those things, obviously, but we're also focused on getting ready for Iowa State.”

On Iowa State's defense:
“They play very hard, they are very technically sound and they never quit. Their defense is going to play very hard and that is going to last the whole game.”

On consistency:
“Like you said, the competition has been good this year and we have been in situations. We didn’t play that well last week and that’s just it. When you get the ball inside the 10 yard-line, in the 20 yard-line, you have to score. I keep looking back at that because that is something that could change the game with just two or three plays. We were in positions but we couldn’t get the job done, couldn’t execute.

On defense's schemes being difficult in red zone:
“They gave us a little bit of a different look that what we were expecting but it comes downs to roles. You have to know your job, know your assignment and like I said we weren’t able to execute when we needed to.”

On senior day:
“I am excited. It has flown by and it's kind of strange that this is my last game. I look forward to having a good one and putting on a good game for the home crowd for the last time.”

On the first time playing in OU:
“I remember being really nervous. Being on the opposite side and in the stands for years, watching these guys play and knowing the expectations that the team has for itself and the fans to put forth the effort. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect or if I was going to be able to live up to that. Now that I know the expectations I am kind of used to it. It was a nice run, though.”

Oklahoma Football
Offensive Lineman Austin Woods
Nov. 12, 2013

On being the last game played at Owen Field:
“It hasn’t really hit me yet. I haven’t really realized it is the last game but I will realize when my parents are out there with me and before the game and probably walking off for the last time; I will probably be very emotional.”

On the emotions of the day:
“It will definitely be emotional, I don’t know how emotional yet but I will be glad to be out there and compete one last time on the home field and hopefully go out there with a win.”

On the graduating group being larger than usual:
“We are all pretty close now. Being together for four or five years, it really brings you closer together. Going through all of the stuff we go through, we are a tightknit group.”

On favorite memory from last four years:
“There are a lot of great memories. One of them is probably beating Oklahoma State in overtime last year but it is hard to put my finger on one.”

On how playing football has changed him:
“It has been awesome; I have really enjoyed my time here and couldn’t have asked for better teammates or better coaches. We played a lot of big time football and it has been fun.”

On the first time playing for OU:
“You know you get goosebumps every time you run out of the tunnel in front of 85,000 fans screaming ‘Boomer, Sooner’ so it is just a great time getting to play in front of the home fans.”

On this time next year:
“Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe I could be deep-snapping in the NFL, maybe if that doesn’t work out, I really want to coach. That’s what I want to do... I want to coach college.”

On missing people specifically:
“You know the offensive line is a really close group and I am going to miss all of those guys. I am going to miss all my teammates but especially the offensive line. We have been together for everything, spending every day together. They will definitely be missed.”

On things that will not be missed:
“I don’t know, it is really special to come and live your dream and play the game you love. It will be different, it will be weird not walking into this building every day.”

On starting to deep-snap:
“I have been deep-snapping ever since I can remember. My dad is a high school football coach and so I was kind of a big kid and he never said 'Let's go work on your drop back,' he said 'Let's put our heads between our legs and snap the ball.' I have always been doing it.”

On having deep-snapping being his specialty:
“I was always pretty good at it and I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team and that was what I was able to do.”

Oklahoma Football
Running Back Roy Finch
Nov. 12, 2013

On bouncing back after the loss:
“We bounce back by preparation and practice. We just have to come this week and just really focus in on what the game plan is. We can’t make the little mistakes that we made in the game against Baylor.”

On what he wants to see from the offense:
“I want to see us open it up a little bit more. We have a lot of playmakers on the outside and in the back and I just want to see us be more explosive by making those big runs and key passes. We need to not be so methodical.”

On frustrations with inconsistency:
“It’s kind of frustrating. You go into one week and you see a lot of big plays and the media and we, as a team, are excited like, ‘Wow, we did it,’ and the next week we don’t execute as well. We’re just looking back to see what we did wrong and it’s kind of frustrating, but like Coach [Cale] Gundy says, we have to move on, we can’t dwell on it. Iowa State’s coming and we have to get ready for that."

Oklahoma Football
Defensive Back Gabe Lynn
Nov. 12, 2013

On Senior Night:
“I’ve thought about it. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was out there for my first game and now it’s about to be my last, so there’ll be a lot of emotions that day.”

On his bond with his senior class:
“We’re really close. I was talking with Roy [Finch] and Brennan [Clay] about it earlier and it’s crazy. We’ve been here a while and we’ve gotten pretty close so it’s going to be sad.”

On his takeaway from the Baylor game:
“We made some plays, but we definitely gave up some plays. We just can’t have penalties and missed tackles, so we have to clean that stuff up. No matter what, I think our players played hard and nobody gave up. So I’m proud of our guys and I think we’ll bounce back.”




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