View complete coverage from the OU football team's annual media day activities.
NORMAN, Okla. -- The Sooner football team held its annual media day Wednesday morning at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Head Coach Bob Stoops started things off at 8 a.m. with his preseason press conference inside the Red Room. He was followed by offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, quarterback Sam Bradford, defensive end Auston English and strong safety Nic Harris.
View each press conference in its entirety and read quotes from Oklahoma's coaches and players below. For complete coverage leading up to OU's season opener against Chattanooga on August 30, visit 2008 Preseason Central.
August 6, 2008 Media Day Coverage
08/06 - Coach Stoops Press Conference
08/06 - Offensive Coordinator Kevin Wilson
08/06 - Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables
08/06 - Sophomore Quarterback Sam Bradford
08/06 - Junior Defensive End Auston English
08/06 - Senior Strong Safety Nic Harris
Coach Bob Stoops
"We did a good job on the first day. Our practices
have gone well. There is a good deal of talent and
experience coming back which everybody is talking about.
Hopefully that will translate into better play. That
is what we have to push for overall. I think that we
could be more consistent with the football, have fewer
penalties and, hopefully, have a good balance of run
and pass like we always like to have.
On the defense:
"Defensively the areas where we have lost
some players, I do feel there is some excellent potential
with some of our linebackers and secondary people.
We have some of those guys that have shown through
the spring and a couple of days here in our summer
session, to show the ability to play like we are used
to be playing and hopefully that will continue to improve
and those guys can continue to make plays at the level
we are used to. Defensive line- and defensive end-wise
I think that the front four have the potential to be
a good as we have had possibly. We will see if they
can play at that level.
"Kicking game--I have been pleased. We have got some
guys like Jimmy Stevens, Tress Way. Matt Moreland is
another young guy that has been kicking the ball well
and hopefully we will see the consistency that we are
used to having out of Garrett Hartley. Mike Knall is
back punting and Derek Shaw is snapping and we have
got a few other guys that we will continue to look
at but again I feel that area should be solid.
"Schedule-wise, we have a challenging non-conference,
which is as exciting as it is challenging and our guys
realize that they are going have to be able to play
early. The Big 12 schedule is what it is. I don't ever
think from one year to the other that it is more difficult
or any easier. It is challenging and we have a lot
of good football teams in the league and I think there
are five in the top 14. There are a lot of good football
teams, so it will be as challenging as it always is."
"There is a good amount of experience coming back.
If you really look at it virtually every starter is
back. All of those guys have started in all those positions
but we got to be more consistent. I think it does begin
with the offensive line. If they will be more consistent,
more physical and play at a higher level than it will
give an opportunity to be physical and run the ball.
If we will protect the quarterback we will still throw
it more efficiently and very well."
On new wrinkles on offense:
"Guys like Jermaine Gresham, we will find
more way to find him the ball and all the other guys
that are there. There are only so many spans in the
game and, to me, the hardest thing to defend is when
you use the whole field and use all of your people.
To me you can have certain coverage to where it's hard
to get to one guy but the other guys need to step up
and that is where we need to go."
On using a more up-tempo offense due to new play clock rules:
"In some cases yes and in other cases no.
I think it is to have more sense of urgency. I think
that the pace of play with the 40-second clock is going
to pick up for everybody."
On sophomore QB Sam Bradford:
"I think, more than anything, trying not to
press him and act like he needs to do anything differently.
I think that if he had the same type of year - what,
he threw 36 touchdowns and I think that I would take
five interceptions instead of eight -- maybe if he
improved that way it would be great. But I think that
is the most important for him is not to let the media,
the public, or anyone to talk him into do something
different than what you did. I thought he played as
well as we could have asked for.
"He is stronger in the weight room and in the years
of maturity. He is a stronger guy. I know he will be
more comfortable in the position going through 14 games
a year ago. I think just play within the system, take
what is there and be smart and, I think, naturally,
just some pocket presence. I think that the hardest
think to teach young guys is to stay in the pocket,
trust it and throw it. He really has that and always
has. I think there are some times he can escape it
maybe a little bit better but it may come naturally
to him. I fact I just saw it just yesterday a time
or too when he got pressured he just stepped away from
it. He is a really good athlete. The way he moves and
runs and the strength that he has -- he is a really
On the defense:
"I would say that it is obviously the part
where we have lost the most players, but I have been
very comfortable and pleased with a great number of
practices in the spring and what I have seen in two
days here that we have great ability here and play
the way that we are used to playing.
"Those guys up front really have a great chance to
be a great unit and play well but they still need to
be backed up and they still need to be in position
because those guys can only control so much.
"We were still first or second in the league in every
defensive category, so we played pretty decent. I think
that the tempo and the pace of play -- I think for
all defenses you have got to operate the same way."
On junior DE Auston English:
"Austin has a great motor, great toughness
to him and it is recognized by the team. Our players
love watching him play."
On sophomore RB DeMarco Murray:
"DeMarco Murray has a chance to be a really
special player and he is just such a good athlete.
It is fun to watch him. He has got great hands and
I have said it before he could be an All-American at
corner, receiver or running back. He just has that
ability to do about anything he wants and he could
have no problem to play college basketball if he wants.
It is just amazing. His upside and what is potential
is really is quite vast."
Coordinator Kevin Wilson
On competition between the players:
"Competition is the coach's greatest ally. A few years ago everyone threw the offensive line under the bus and they had something to prove. Now with these guys, as seniors -- if they lose that urgency and get complacent they will be average players."
On the no huddle scheme:
"I don't know if it will be significantly different as far as using the talents of our team. The schemes might remain similar because that's the strength of the team. You can only do what your line can do, and you can only do what your quarterback can handle.
"You have to practice in a way your team can get better. We are just trying to manage it as we go and, as a staff, we will decide if it accelerates or pulls back."
On the time clock changes:
"I think, as a coach, I need to be on top of it. Most of the delays of games come from the indecisiveness of the coaching staff and at the last second you're out of time.
"I don't know if it will be that significant, we've been practicing with the clock and getting our kids used to getting back and getting the play. The key to getting more snaps is not turning the ball over and converting on third downs."
On competition at RB and WR:
"DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown both ran the conditioning test and ran every snap. I think Mossis Madu has looked as good as both of those guys. We potentially have six guys carrying the ball. I think at receiver a lot of young guys showed a physical competitiveness and they are learning how to play. In the spring we didn't have a lot of skilled bodies and I felt like after awhile we got tired. Yesterday we had a lot of speed and you could feel it. It was definitely a good thing."
On QB Sam Bradford's knowing he will be the starter entering preseason:
"It's been really positive (for Sam Bradford) and it's also been positive for Joey (Halzle). (Joey) has really settled in and I think he's a much better player on second team than he was battling it out for number one last year. More than anything when we break it down and we're getting ready for a competitive third down drill Sam is one of the more vocal leaders of our team. The key thing as a quality player is to have the confidence to be a leader but also to play within him and not push the limit. The key to a young player who played so well is to stay mature and grounded and not cross the line. A sophomore slump happens when he doesn't have a supporting cast, if he's arrogant and thinks he's better than he is or when he tries to make plays he can't make. Sam has the makeup to avoid the pitfalls, but we'll see."
On use of depth at wide receiver:
"Last year the ball got spread around and we have ample players and you think that's going to happen. At the same time we have some playmakers that can make plays and you want them to get touches. The quarterback is going to take what's there based on the reads. I think the ball can go a lot of places because our system allows it. Our quarterback has the ability to go to different guys and there are ample guys that can get the ball. I think we are going to be a reasonably good passing team."
On TE Brody Eldridge:
"Brody Eldridge is the best offensive player on our team. Nothing against Sam and all the talent on our team, but Brody is a tremendous football player. I told (Jermaine) Gresham he didn't have to listen to me but to watch Brody and that has helped Jermaine into becoming a fantastic blocker. It's exciting and intriguing to think of what these players can do for us."
On closed practices:
"It doesn't take much with the internet and video phones to get some shots. It's unfortunate that we have phenomenal fans and we want to treat the fans well, but in these days with communication I don't know what we gain by having our practices open. There's not really anything to hide but it doesn't help us with our opponents. It doesn't help our kids at all."
On offensive strengths in 2008:
"We have a chance to be really good if our old guys can buy in and be great team players. We have some skilled kids who can make plays. Last year we scored a lot of points with only two seniors on our team. Now we have five linemen, three wide receivers and a returning starting quarterback. The expectation is that this offense should be as good or better. The concern is if they will buy what we're selling. It's harder with a team that has had success. The expectations are high and the challenge and concern is having good players that invest and have a common goal."
On keeping the players happy:
"There's not a great offensive player that doesn't want the ball. There are a lot of egos and our challenge is to keep our guys grounded and to keep them happy. I have a lot of respect for our guys and I think they feel that. We have a two-way street as far as coaches and players and I think that helps to keep them happy."
Coordinator Brent Venables
On the talent of defensive line:
"We feel like we have a chance to be a good as we have been up front since 2004, which was an awfully talented group with Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson at end and then players inside like Lynn Mcgruder and Dusty Dvoracek. We think that our front four guys are very talented though Jeremy Beal does not have the game experience that Austin English has. Jeremy played his first year here as a linebacker and then made the full time switch last year to defensive end and really felt like he came along at the end of the year.
"At the end of the year I think that we were noticeably different without Austin English and obviously that is a concern and Austin has been banged up and that has been well documented and we need a couple of other guys to step. We have some guys that we are excited about but until they get in the game and do it we just don't know where they are yet. Frank Alexander is one, John Williams is coming back and we will see what he can do when we go full speed and get the pads on. The guys inside, we think that Gerald McCoy has a chance to be really special and hopefully he can beat the one-on-one with consistency and draw the double team and really free up DeMarcus Granger, Adrian Taylor and Cory Bennett and all those guys. We like all those guys they can play at a high level and they have proven so.
"So again, any defensive coordinator prefers to have four guys that can get after the quarterback and can wreak havoc without having to do too much and you can play coverage and the gives you a lot of flexibility and a lot of options to play base and get after people. We will see if we can do that but, like I said, without Austin there was a noticeable drop off when we played Texas Tech last year. When we lost John Williams early in the year and Austin, we were not the same. You can see the effects when you play a team that can throw the ball 40, 50 60 times in a game. You need quality depth. And depth with numbers is one thing but depth with quality is another is that is what we are trying to develop.
On junior LB Ryan Reynolds:
"Obviously it is an issue, this was Ryan Reynolds first full-time summer since both of the knees healed that he has been able to really commit to the weight room and not have limitations on a lot of the physical things that will allow him to get his strength back, explosiveness back and his durability back. You feel like he is better than he has been in some time health-wise, mentally is a big part of it. You always say that even though you get a six-month release on a post-injury release to get back to full speed you really don't have a full recovery on those severe knee injuries for a year to year and a half and that has been our experience and I think that is pretty standard across the board.
"He has looked good. Had a good summer and came back in terrific shape and has leaned up a little bit. The expectation on keeping healthy -- that is the key that is what serves our defense best and I think that he has found a comfort zone in the middle and if he stays healthy that is one position that you don't need to be concerned about."
On defensive line and secondary:
"The concern a year ago was who was going to be on the front seven and we were solidified in the back end as far as experience. Now we are talking about the back seven. With the capability with the offenses today, and not just today but with what we see in our regular conference and what we will see in our non-conference, that is a real concern. You feel good about the quality of players you have but with the experience and without the ability to go out on to the field yet and really do it, you don't know what you might have there.
On junior transfer LB Mike Balogun:
"I have been extremely pleased with Mike Balogun. He may be one of the top three linebackers when it is all said and done, so we are trying to work through that right now. If that is the case he is not going to be behind somebody else."
On how summer workouts went:
"This is one of the best summers we have had since I have been here. We did a lot more team oriented stuff. We were running some plays and getting things going. As far as a team standpoint, this is the most we have done together since I have been here and I think it showed in these first two days (of practice) in the cohesiveness that we have had and how close we all are now."
On being a leader this summer:
"I did have to force a little. I am not a real loud guy. So stepping up and saying things that last year I would not have said that is something that I made myself do this summer. For the most part it was a pretty normal summer in getting prepared for two-a-days and the season."
On how to improve on last year's performance:
"You cannot look at numbers. Numbers can be very misleading. There are a lot of things I can do to be a better quarterback and there are a lot of things I can do to help our team win. I did not so much look at the numbers but the bigger things I can do to help this team win. I need to become more of a leader on this team. Like Coach (Kevin) Wilson was saying, maybe when we are a little off and not playing as well as we would like to be playing I step up, say something and get us going. Find a way to get points on the board and find a way to win."
On evaluating his play last year:
"Last year winning the Big 12 Championship was a great thing for our team and to accomplish that my first year as a quarterback was something I was really proud of myself for doing. But obviously the way we ended the year was not how we wanted to finish. We did not play the way we were capable of playing and to wait six or seven months after that performance is really frustrating."
On the biggest challenge of this upcoming season:
"Coach Wilson talks about it all the time and that is playing on edge. I think doing that is probably going to be a challenge this year. I have a year of experience and I am going to think I should be able to make more plays and I might try to force things, but I need to realize that I am still playing football; it is still the same thing. I have to take care of the football and I cannot make mistakes. I have to put points on the board. I think just staying focused 100 percent all the time is something I need to do."
On playing his game:
"Last year I definitely was not afraid at all to take check downs. I did not force things. If they were there I took them but if not I came right down to the (running) back and that is something I need to do this year."
On being stronger and more agile:
"I think I have gained about 10 to 12 pounds since last year. I am stronger, my feet have got quicker by doing a lot of footwork drills this summer. I think I had a great off-season and I am going to put it to use this season."
On his mobility and how he plans to use it this season:
"That is something Coach (Josh) Heupel talked to me about and talked to all the quarterbacks about. We did not really make a whole lot of plays with our feet last year and I pretty much stayed in the pocket and if it was not there I threw it away or took a check down. I have emphasized this off-season working on mobility, getting out of the pocket and going through scramble drills with our wide-receivers and making sure we are on the same page. So if something does happen and the pocket breaks down I am able to get out and make a play. Maybe it is just running and getting five yards or maybe completing a pass downfield."
End Auston English
On his recovery from appendicitis:
"It's going really well right now. The medical staff and I have an appointment right now to hopefully get out there in the near future and hopefully start mixing it up. We are taking precautions right now, trying to make sure we don't do anything to hurt it or make it any longer healing than it already is."
now it's been here and there. I've been cleared to
run and do cardio, obviously no rush to get into contact
and we'll see where we go from there. It's really just
day-to-day and depends on how I'm feeling and on how
our medical staff wants to do it. Whatever they say
is good to go and I'll do."
On contributing to team while being injured:
"Anything you see over time, (I) just pass it on. Any little thing can help. You don't know if they see things the same way you do, not everybody sees things the same way. If you can give them the same thing that helped you out, maybe it can help them too."
On the defense's ability to pressure spread offense:
"You have to be strong up front without having to call a blitz every time to get pressure. You have got to have those guys up front thirsty and ready to jump that ball and be able to put pressure with four guys rather than having to mix it up and compromise your coverage.
On the defensive line's individual talent rather than playing a scheme:
"I would say it's a group effort. You have got to have all four guys ready to go get it. You put everyone in a bind if you just have one without the other. We can double team and do different things like that, which is definitely an advantage to us this year."
On being excited as named preseason player of the year:
"Not really, I really don't pay much attention to that stuff. It's just preseason, and that's about all it is. It's nice to know those things; obviously somebody cares about you, I guess. But its preseason and you have a lot you have to do to prove those things."
On handling expectations differently this year as opposed to last year:
"I'm kind of in the same situation. It's been a long time since I've taken a snap and I'm real hungry and real thirsty to get back out there and do the whole thing all over again."
On impact of position and example to other teammates:
"We've got a lot of guys on our defense that are a high motor that almost pride themselves on always getting to the ball. That's just something that I always try to do my part and we have ten other guys doing it, which makes the whole defense better."
On effect of Curtis Lofton's decision to leave:
"Curtis was a great player for us on and off the field as far as character and ability to get people motivated. It's tough to see him go but I wish him the best now. With our new players coming in, those responsibilities are just going to be on the entire defense rather than on one person. I think if you try to take them on as an individual, you are going to consume yourself. As a defense we have to raise our whole level of playing."
"We always look to all of the guys to lead. It's just something that comes with the role. We all need to step up and be mature and do what we need to do to show the younger guys, and those who are looking to us, how to lead."
"High expectations and great possibilities for this season. We have a lot of stuff that goes into that with two -a-days and preseason and getting ready for conference. We all need to take it upon ourselves to get better and not become stagnant."
On key defensive players:
"We are solid upfront with Gerald McCoy and DeMarcus Granger and Jeremy Beal looks good. Frank Alexander -- I like him a lot. John Williams is back for his sixth year, so we are really deep with the defensive end position. Middle linebacker and backer situation, we've got Ryan Reynolds and Sam Proctor who had a real great spring. Our secondary is really coming together.
"I think we can be a defense that Oklahoma prides itself on: on the run, getting after people, running after the ball and just being a really motivated and energetic defense."
On motivation carrying over from last season:
"It's a long road through winter workouts and spring and then finishing up the summer right before coming into two-a-days, you get plenty of reminders and things that motivate you for the next season. The months from last season to this season is a long time, you just start to get that itch again. It's a motivation that kind of comes on its own.
"It's always going to be disappointing to lose at the end of the season, but you have to put things in the past and look to the future and build on it."
Safety Nic Harris
On his favorite quote:
"In the faces of adversity, some men break and others break records."
On inexperience of secondary:
"A lot of guys have sat back and watched and waited their time and are eager to play, who have been making plays the past couple of days at practice."
On being `the guy' on secondary this year:
"It is a position given to me upon acclamation and I'm just going to embrace it and do whatever it is I need to do to help our team, especially on the defensive side of the ball."
"Pressure allows you to play 15 percent better or worse, hopefully I play 15 percent better."
On motivation to become better defensively after Fiesta Bowl:
"First of all, that's in the past and we can't dwell on it. The first couple of days (after the game) we thought about it and the things we could have done better, for the most part how we wanted to have a great winter and summer and right now we're in camp getting ready for the first part of the season."
On playing closer to the line of scrimmage versus the traditional safety position:
"For the most part it's great, I love it. I love coming down in the box, you take away a lot of space and help ball the guys up. Playing against the slot receiver, it's good coming out to practice every day with great slot receivers that hopefully will get me better throughout the course of the season. As far as safety goes, that's pretty much my bread and butter - that's what I came in ready to play and hopefully that's where I'll play for the most part of the season."
On expectations for playing time at linebacker:
"For the most part probably about 75 percent in the box and 25 percent at safety. I really don't know how much I'm going to play it this year; it depends on game plan and what we are trying to do for that game."
On how good defense is going to be:
"I think we can be great as long as we come together as a cohesive unit. I think we have a good balance between young and old guys and that's pretty much what you need. And the young guys are like sponges, they learn everything we possibly do. I try to take it upon myself to make sure that everyone knows what is going on at any given point of time throughout the course of the day."
On feelings of where the defense stands right now:
"All the questions about that will be answered on August 31 when we play Tennessee-Chattanooga."
On young guys that are impressive:
"For the most part, anybody that is out there playing impresses me. I feel like you wouldn't be at the University of Oklahoma if you weren't good enough to play. Brian Jackson is coming out and making great plays. Jonathan Nelson, Dominique Franks and Lendy (Holmes) are doing a great job at corner."