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Bob Stoops Press Conference
November 11, 2013

Oklahoma Football
Head Coach Bob Stoops – Press Conference
Nov. 11, 2013

Opening Comment:
“Going back through and recapping the Baylor game one more time, much like that has been talked about, first, Baylor deserves all the credit. They really played an excellent football game and going into the game I thought that defensively, they were a very good and experienced team. They had seven seniors and they really played well. They did an excellent job of execution in the way they played. Defensively we did a lot of good things, but we didn’t play near smart enough in that we had them in a situation where they were second and 14. We line up offsides and they end up second and five and convert that series. Whereas you get somebody second and 14 then third and long, you have a much better chance to get on the field. Then at the end of the half we had them at third and long and it’s a 10-5 game. We have a chance to be out of the series with the ball back in good field position and we’re offsides again and it gives them third and four where they do pick it up and go down and score.

“More critical mistakes in the game, offensively, the interception at the end of the half was really costly and a huge difference in the game, and our inability on third and fourth downs on offense really made the difference also. We couldn’t stay on the field or convert in the Red Zone on third and two or fourth and one. Those are big factors in the game and multiple other third downs where there defense had a chance of getting off the field and stopping us. When you can’t stay on the field against a team like that you’re going to have trouble and it ended up that way.

“Defensively we were really decent on third and fourth-down stuff. We stopped them where they only got seven of 18 or 19, so a little bit better but not enough. There’s still another couple that we could have held and changed the game to some degree.

“Kicking game overall was pretty good. I’m not disappointed. I knew Michael Hunnicutt’s field goal was on the outer edge into the wind of what we needed. At the time if it had been fourth and five I probably would have gone for it as opposed to fourth and 10, but the rest of it was pretty decent.

“From there it’s on to our last home game here with Iowa State. They’re a team you watch and every single week they play hard and they’re in the tight games. I know their record doesn’t indicate the way they played. When you watch all these games it’s into the fourth quarter, and they’re always tight games just like a week ago with TCU. TCU has to come from behind late in the fourth quarter to win that game. They’re a team that will always play with good discipline in the way they run their offense. Defensively everything they do is always well coached and they always play hard. We recognize that we have to keep trying to get more consistency and everything that we’re doing, and hopefully make some improvement this week to give ourselves a chance to win here at home.”

On the quarterback play:
“I’m not going to grade it in front of everybody. It’s been inconsistent. That’s the fairest thing to say. I’m not going to sit here and give a grade publicly to everybody.”

On QB Kendal Thompson:
“I’m not going to sit here and make wholesale changes in the ninth game of the year when we’ve done some good things through the year. Kendal (Thompson) has done an awesome job. We love what he’s doing. He’s got a bright future. It’s hard to overcome the initial way that he started. It’s no one’s fault that he was injured and he missed 40 practices to start the year. Are we going to go and experiment now? I don’t think that’s the case. He’s doing everything. He’s a wonderful young man with a bright future, and he’s a talented guy.”

On seeing Kendal Thompson in a game:
“It’s always a different feel. Practice to games can be drastically different.

“Do you guys want to see it? I just gave you my answer. I’m not sitting here looking at that’s what we’re going to do. I’d love to see it and it would be all perfect and him throw for 500 yards, be 18 of 18 and run for another 100, but we don’t know that that’s going to happen.”

On whether QB Trevor Knight will play again this week:
“I don’t know. Everybody (in the media) was disappointed that he played last week, so no, I’m not answering. I’m not changing what we’re doing with the quarterbacks.”

On executing on offense:
“We could’ve executed our passing game better last week. There were plays and routes that were open and we’ve got to be able to hit them. We’ve got to be able to throw it more accurate in some instances. That would help. But, the other night we needed to be able to run the football better than we did and find ways to get them off us in the way they were defending the run game, but that gets back to us being able to throw the football.”

On the smoothness of the offensive operation in terms of changing plays:
“In that instance it was us trying to change the call, and sometimes when you don’t like what you’re seeing from the defense and you’re trying to change it you have to do it at a quicker pace. That was our operation that time, and yes sometimes us getting the change and talking as coaches means them having to verbalize at the line and go at a quicker pace at the line of scrimmage.”

On why OU hasn’t used the quarterback sneak:
“It’s because we haven’t been under center as much as anything, but I’ve always been an advocate of it, and it’s something that we probably need to have.”

On his analysis of whether the play calling was part of the offensive issue on Thursday:
“Whether it is or not, again, it isn’t something that I’m going to acknowledge publicly. That’s something we do in the office with other coaches. It’s always fair to say that when you get beat up front it doesn’t matter what you’re calling. You’re going to be an ugly play caller when the defense is playing better than you.”

On the injury situation:
“I’m unsure about most and how that’s going to play out. The one that looks the best is Julian Wilson. It looks like he should be ready to practice soon. The other guys are still uncertain.”

On if any injury will require surgery:
“I don’t believe that’s the case for any of them, no.”

On WR Sterling Shepard’s status:
“Yes. I believe that will be something we know a little bit later in the week.”

On if losing Sterling Shepard was difficult:
“It’s fair to say that when you lose Sterling Shepard and you lose Trey Millard for the whole game, two of your best offensive players, it doesn’t make it any easier. Maybe that’s the best way for me to say it. It definitely chips away at you.”

On making changes on offense:
“We’ve talked about a lot and there’s a lot that we’ll work on this week in practice, but that’s all I can say about it.”

On receivers not getting open:
“I think it’s fair first to compliment Baylor’s ability to cover. They’ve covered everybody, but also, regardless, we’ve got to do some things to help free ourselves whether it’s route running or scheme wise to give our guys a better chance.”

On the offensive line’s play at Baylor:
“Pretty average.”

On what happened with the offensive line:
“I think the other night, give Baylor’s d-line credit, the guys up front played well, and we didn’t do a very good job reacting to some of the different schemes they gave that we were ready for. Even though we were looking for them, they executed them better and we didn’t cut them off or get them into certain positions. That’s what we need to do is execute better against them.”

On Baylor’s talent:
“They’ve got a lot of great players, let’s face it. I think one of the things as I watched them defensively is they have seven seniors who don’t make mistakes and who have been playing for a long time. They’re always in position, and that makes a big difference when you’re an experienced team that way. Offensively, they have good strong backs and good receivers and a good quarterback. I don’t know that they don’t match up with most everybody talent wise.”

On DT Charles Tapper:
“He will be suspended for the first half. That’s the Big 12 and NCAA rules.”

On Tapper’s suspension:
“It shouldn’t happen regardless. He’s got no business doing that.”

On the offensive game plan:
“After the game it didn’t look so good and now? Of course. I’m watching what we’re doing through the week and I’m on board. It didn’t play out so well, but I’m still on board.”

On evenly evaluating offense and defense:
“I’ve always spent more time in the defensive room. For 15 years that’s been the case. Offensively I’m aware of what we’re doing. I’m watching the practice tape of on the practice field paying attention to what we’re doing, so how much I can truly influence it is not what I’ve always done, so it’s hard to do that.”

On co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell’s role with Josh Heupel:
“He and Josh (Heupel) like all offensive series at half time and breaks are talking about what plays they can get to. He’s a co-coordinator, so they converse through the week what is put on the field and how to practice it, and during games what they want to get with each series.”

On evaluating why specific plays may or may not work:
“That’s what you’re constantly trying to evaluate. For instance there are some plays in there that have been good all year and all of a sudden they aren’t good. They outplayed us. We’ve played and executed every game but here we run it and get nothing. Is that coaching? I don’t know. Is it? Maybe we didn’t coach it hard enough this week. We’ve been coaching it for eight weeks and all of a sudden it isn’t any good. Sometimes you get beat, so there’s always some times like here’s a bad call or in this situation we should have done this. We have that every week too as coaches, so we’re always - here are certain issues we could have done a little better and here are certain issues we can’t do anything about and  that our kids are in the position to make a play or not and you don’t make it, well, there’s only so much you can do about that. I guess what I’m saying is that there’s always a little bit of everything when you’re going through a 160-play game.”

On how you balance the realization of the Big 12 title being a stretch, playing out this season and working toward next year:
“I think it’s always one week at a time. It truly is that way. Our players understand that and it’s just, you know when you’re the one that has to play it’s just playing for pride as much as anything as each week doing your very best to make the season as positive as it can be.”

On if there is any inclination to try some things looking towards next year as coaches:
“We don’t see any of that. At this point, especially when you look at all of the different pieces your trying to get back on the field or won’t be on the field. It’s just strictly putting the best out there right now to win so there isn’t any looking, at all, outside of this week.”

On if will spend more time with the offense now this week:
“Like always I’ll have my input in what they’re doing - or suggestions – and whether they use them or not, I still leave up to them and that they understand and have a better feel for what our guys have been doing and what we’re capable of doing.”

On if the short-yardage set hasn’t had as much success because of execution or defenses:
“Well it still gets back to execution – blocking people up. So, as much as anything, it’s execution.”

On if QB Trevor Knight playing like he did against Baylor is something he plans to build on:
“It’s something we can continue to do, yes. And I didn’t feel that was disruptive. When you come in and run the first play for nine yards, that’s not a problem. And it’s not a different play that all our guys outside of him on the field have to learn because it’s something that we do with all our quarterbacks. Blake does it. It’s not as obvious when he does it, because he isn’t as quick at turning a corner and making something happen that way.”

On if he felt Trevor Knight’s plays were effective:
“To a degree.”

On how the QBs are coming along throwing the football in practice:
“They all throw it really well. They’ve all got strong arms, they all can make the throws we need to throw so, all very similar in the way they throw the football in practice.”

On if there is one that is above the others:
“No.”

On the senior group that will place its final home game on Saturday:
“It’s a great group of guys; Great character group of guys. As seniors, they’ve been a fun group to coach. They have won a lot of football games and exhibited really excellent character too as they’ve gone through these years so I’m proud of them.”

On what Iowa State does that allows them to be in the fourth quarter of so many games:
“As I said earlier they play really good, disciplined football in that, watch every part of what they’re doing and it’s executed really well and a smart plan all the time. They make you work hard to beat them defensively. Offensively they’ve got good balance run and pass, always very sound in the kicking game. And they’re players play really hard. So all of it together, they’re always in good, tight games.”

On having success with the up-tempo offense and pushing it if the numbers aren’t there:
“Well, yes and no. We did that on fourth down and got stuffed. We’ve done it on first down and got stuffed. You know, so, we’ve done it on first down and have had success so I don’t know that it’s been that clear cut. But again, we still try and pick our spots when it’s effective. We keep going when we’re having that kind of success.”

On how TEs Aaron Ripkowski and Brandon Green played:
“Aaron (Ripkowski) played really well. Brandon (Green) did okay. But Ripkowski was recognized as having a really good game.”

On if he wants to keep running the zone read in the future:
“Well again, that’s something I believe we will.”

On OL Austin Woods:
“Austin (Woods) has been a great, great player here. A great teammate, has worked hard. Fighting through what he did to battle cancer while going through summer workouts. And other than us making him sit out when he had to get his treatment – never missed a workout. Just an inspiration to our whole team, to us as coaches, and again the great person he is to go with all of that. The determination to overcome that and remain on the team when he could have easily taken the summer off. And then you know, to do all the long snapping this year. He’s been a big asset.”

On if his staff knows that they are held accountable for their performance:
“Absolutely. They understand every bit as much as I do and every coach does. I’ve been an assistant coach a lot longer than I’ve been a head coach and I was very aware of that.”

On if QB Trevor Knight had any option plays where he could throw the ball if he wanted:
“They loaded [the box] all night. Not just when he was there. You’ve got to throw the football and you’ve got to be able to execute it and make plays throwing it.”

On if there were audible options when Trevor Knight was playing or if they were called runs:
“Those were called runs. There’s always the option to throw it out in screen or throw it outside - which we did a number of times.”

On how he would assess the state of the program right now:
“7-2 and working to the end of the year. Just (Big 12) co-champs a year ago, right? What else do you want to know? Won it in 2010, tied it in ’12 and we’re going for ‘13. I don’t know, I think there’s only four or five teams that have won more games over the last five years. I believe that’s right. So if that’s not the answer you’re looking for, I’m not sure. It seems any time you lose a game, ‘Oh geez, the sky is falling.’”

On if he feels good about the way things are going:
“I do. Got a lot of great young players that are coming up.”

On if he can take any momentum from the fact that the defense played well against Baylor:
“Well I recognize and felt that we would play well, so I mean you feel decent about any part of the game that’s positive. But still, in the end, it wasn’t good enough so you’re not. I don’t know how to say I’m pleased. It’s just, you want more I guess.”

On some of the young guys forcing action on the defense:
“Dominique (Alexander) played one of his best games. Frank Shannon practiced hardly at all last week and had an excellent game. Quentin Hayes, Zack Sanchez played good. But Dominique (Alexander) had a really good game.”

On DB Dominique Alexander getting more playing time the past few weeks:
“Yeah. He just keeps getting better and better.”

On if DB Aaron Colvin can’t play due to injury this weekend what he will do to replace him:
“Well we’ll go between Cortez Johnson and Stanvon Taylor. Those guys are the ones that have played through the earlier parts of the year.”

On if the biggest offensive frustration is the players are not predominantly young guys:
“No. Is it the biggest part? No. The inconsistency is the frustration because we’ve shown too many times that we can do it, and do it well, and then the times that we don’t, that’s what makes you frustrated.”

On it being unusual that the offense has not progressed:
“Yeah, well again, I thought we were too the last few games and then again, Baylor, give them the credit. They didn’t allow it and we didn’t execute it very well.”

On if it is fair to say that there is reason to be optimistic about next year:
“Well I am. I don’t want to jump to next year yet but I think we’ll have – guys that were out there this week and last week – we’ll have nine starters back, nine or 10 on defense. So I believe we’ll be much better there and then offensively our quarterback play will continue to improve. I believe that. All these guys are capable so I believe that can happen.”

On if it is important for the quarterbacks to give him confidence in the last three games:
“Yeah. They need to play at a consistent level, definitely.”

On if there is room to do something at the quarterback position for evaluation purposes:
“Well I guess you could if you were just looking to next year. I  can see where at times an NFL team that’s got two wins and they’re on to next year, might want to evaluate someone that way but not in our case.”

On why RB Roy Finch didn’t play more:
“Like everybody, we play everybody the way we feel they need to be played during the game. My assistant coaches make those decisions depending on how they practice and how everything else has been going through the week.”

On if he is pleased with the coaching evaluations:
“I am. Very much so.”

On the strangest drill a coach had him do when he played:
“That’s different. I’m not sure. I don’t recall having anything real strange to be honest with you. I had good coaches, I guess.”

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