No. 5 Oklahoma has a bye this weekend before hosting K-State on September 22.
NORMAN, Okla. --
Oklahoma coaches and select Sooner players met with the media Monday in football's weekly press conference from Norman.
The No. 5 Sooners have a bye this weekend before opening Big 12 Conference play Saturday, Sept. 22, against the Kansas State Wildcats in Norman.
For complete coverage throughout the week, details on attending the game and broadcast options for following the Sooners from around the world, visit Sooner Gameday Central
|| Def. Coord. Mike Stoops
"Just going back over last Saturday's game I thought defensively overall we executed the game plan, went in and with Florida A&M's offense with what we wanted to installed defensively, and did a really good job.
"Take out the one play that was a little problematic. Obviously was a breakdown at the line of scrimmage fundamentally and technically not getting a safety over the top, we lost position on the football and that's happened to us before and we've really tried to make a conscious effort of really being on the same page.
"We got caught on a bad rotation and gave up the big play and that's something that if we can limit throughout the season I think this can be a very effective defense down in and down out against all the competition we are going to see as the season rolls on.
"But after two games we're relatively untested in a lot of different areas, running game and passing game. We're in a pretty good position our players have executed what we want them to execute in a very limited package. Feel good about where we're at. We need to make some improvements throughout the next couple of weeks before we get to play a caliber team of Kansas State and that will be a big test for us.
"It's nice to have the extra week to formulate a game plan that's conducive for what Kansas State does. Their quarterback run game is very extensive it's very detailed. They're one of the best running teams year in and year out and on (Collin) Klein their QB is a tremendous player certainly with his hands on the ball. They do a great job scheming and trying to attack. It's a very detailed preparation going into the K-State game.
"We're in good position. Our players have done what we've asked them to up until this point. Our run defense has been good, certainly can get better. The two big plays we gave up, two 70-yard plays, one in each game. That's probably our biggest concern with defense to this point. Really like our personnel our players are playing well. I think they're gaining confidence as we move along. We're excited about a much different test we'll see here in a couple of weeks."
On the return of DT Casey Walker:
"He missed a couple of weeks but he went through all of training camp. He's practiced a great deal through the month of August. It shouldn't take him long to hopefully get back. He'll have a good practice tonight and I think we'll know more as we go along. Casey is a big part of what we do, he's a big stout body in the middle he's played some great football for us here at OU and we're excited here to get him back."
On LB Tom Wort:
"Tom is one of our leaders on defense. He's kind of the glue that holds it all together. He's a tremendous players he has tremendous instincts. We like what Tom has done, there is nothing Tom can't do at that position and I think he's a great player. He'll make more plays as we go along that's for sure."
On whether Wort's tackle numbers will decline in this scheme:
"No, I think people make too much of that. It's very trivial to look at schemes. middle Linebacker plays middle Linebacker. He's going to flow to the football and find the football, that's what Tom does well. We've played a lot of one gap defense here and that does limit some of your plays."
On the progress of young players:
"They all played good. They're all good players. They all can play at this level. They're going to be great players if they stick to what they're doing. They all the physical skills to be tremendous players for their positions. A lot of it is just developing and staying with it. I think for all of them it's a new experience being in college and playing in an environment like this for the first time. It can tie you up a little bit, but once they get over it I think you'll see their physical skills continue to flourish and once they get used to playing in these environments.
"They're all very talented players and like I said there's not one that won't have a great future if they continue to progress the way they have through the first four or five months being here at Oklahoma. They've only been here three, four months. They've really done a great job, I like their demeanor. I like that class I think they have unique talent in that class if they continue to stay together and work.
On whether he'd consider using QB Blake Bell on scout team to prep for Kansas State:
"We'll do some more work trying to get better throughout the next two weeks. It's a critical two weeks for us as we move into the bulk of our season from here on out. Blake does a lot of good things carrying the football. Kansas State's offense a lot of similarities the same type of plays, the power and the counter. You'll see those over and over from the K-State quarterback, they just format it differently. So those are big plays when you play Kansas State. You have to be able to stop the quarterback power and counter.
On whether he had a sit-down with Casey Walker:
"No I just go with what Jackie (Shipp) and Bob (Stoops) tell me. I just coach the guys that are out there. Those are personal conversations; I have enough to worry about with my guys. So I don't get involved with the overall, that's not my job. I coach the guys who are there and coach the DBs that's what my title is."
On handling K-State's run game:
"I think it's predicated on how many tight ends, fullbacks and running backs are in the game. I would say the chances would be improved that we would use a three linebacker defense more than we have these first three couple of games."
On the play of RB Damien Williams:
"He was a very polished player in junior college. You can see his build from that level. Obviously that's not major college football but you can see his talents were there, or he wouldn't be at Oklahoma if he wasn't a first rate running back. He's come in and his maturity is diligent for what he does. Day in and day out is what I've been most impressed with. I don't get to work with him, but all I know is he's a wonderful kid and he works hard every day and that's really all I see and if you do those things with his talent you're off to a great start."
On the play of the secondary:
"Take out the one play I couldn't be more pleased on how we've competed for the football and ho we've played. I wish I could take back that play. But that's over with and it's another great learning experience and it's what happens when we get out of position. It happened in a game where we were up two or three touchdowns and it was really insignificant but again we have to learn from it and understand that those mistakes can be very costly."
On his former team (Arizona) beating OSU:
"I was happy for Arizona, and happy for Coach Rodriguez and for all the players at Arizona. They must have played a great game and it's a tough place to play there at night and I'm really proud of what Matt (Scott) has done. For me it's not a shock. I saw Matt Scott has done for four years. He's a tremendous player. I'm really happy and proud of what those guys did against a really good Oklahoma State team. It's more personal for me because I coached at Arizona and I'm really proud of those guys."
|| Co-Off. Coord. Josh Heupel
"End result I'm excited about the way we competed and played and the numbers at the end of the ballgame. I thought we executed better throughout the ballgame and that's why you finish with the numbers that you do. Besides that, in the growth of our young guys from week one to week two there are some areas that we need to continue to grow in. We can't turn the ball over and have the number of penalties that we did to sustain the type of success we want to have here offensively week in and week out.
"But excited with a lot of our young skill guys. We had fewer missed assignments this week and we were also able to move the ball. Also some of the twos that got in, they got an opportunity to get in there. Sterling Shepard, a young guy who didn't have a lot of reps the first week comes out and really performs as well as anyone we have out on the field. I'm really excited about the growth. We still have a long ways to go but I'm excited about the two weeks leading into Kansas State."
On Damien Williams:
"At the end of the day this question comes up every year -- who's going to be the lead horse at the running back position. Ultimately we're going to need all those guys to perform. Dom's [Dominique Whaley] coming off a serious injury and he's going to continue to get better and better as he gets more touches. Damien certainly the first couple of weeks is playing as well as anyone we've had here at that position in a while. I'm sure his number of carries will continue to increase."
On Blake Bell:
"There were a lot of positives. He played well when he dropped back and threw the football. He was accurate when he threw the football. He had a couple of mechanical issues and communication issues at the line of scrimmage that he needs to correct, and also taking the two sacks are things he can't do. But for the most part he handled himself in a positive way. For the most part this is the first time that you guys have had the opportunity to see him be a quarterback and not a quarterback/running back in the Belldozer package. I think you can see why everyone in the program is really excited about him and his development and where he will be in the future."
On the offensive line:
"I thought we continued to execute better and better throughout the ball game. I didn't like the way we executed week one against UTEP; I didn't like the way we executed early in the game this past week. As this game went along we handled their movements; they were coming from all over the field. We handled their movements better and better. That's why you saw some longer runs towards the end of the first half and in the second half. If we continue to grow here in the next weeks leading up to Kansas State I think we have the chance to be the offensive line that we need to be."
On Justin Brown:
"All the young guys have had a quick growth curve. It hasn't been easy week one to week two. You saw a greater comfort level with those guys. I saw a little more tempo from us offensively because we felt that those guys were more comfortable in handling it. They were much more discipline and on the same page with Landry and the route run. He's got the ability to make explosive plays. You saw him on the third down able to go up and catch a ball between a corner and a safety. He's a big strong physical receiver that's competitive to the catch. He's dependable and very disciplined in what he's doing. He'll get better and better."
On Landry Jones:
"You saw early in the ballgame they changed their coverage from what we had practiced. One of the inside guys actually busted his check-down route and forced his ball and obviously we can't do that. He's been accurate for the most part. He's been able to set his feet and he is moving around better. He can play at a higher level. Week one he actually graded out well and his numbers indicated that. I would anticipate that with our offensive line getting better and with his comfort level with the wideouts on the outside it'll get easier for him and he'll become more consistent.
|| Co-Off. Coord. Jay Norvell
"I think Josh [Heupel] pretty much covered our feelings on the game. We were real disappointed in the way we started the football game. The first series, we had a mental error on our second play and then the third-and-short we should have had different personnel on the field, and that is the guys just not being aware enough. I was very disappointed with the way we started but then we started getting a groove and getting in a rhythm and played much better with much more precision, offensively.
"With so many new players like Josh mentioned, it has taken us a few weeks to really get in a rhythm with those guys. But every day we are on the practice field we see a lot more cohesion from that group. I think it's a real advantage to have a bye week early in the season, actually two, because guys like Justin Brown and Trey Metoyer and Sterling Shepard and a lot of the younger players who haven't been here a long time, I think it's an advantage because we get more days on the practice field to do the things we need to do in the football game.
"Overall I agree with everything that Josh said. We know we can get so much better offensively. We are just kind of scratching the surface of what we can do and where we can be. Two areas we need to focus on is the turnovers and the sacks. I think we have got to keep in mind how that hurts us.
"We had a couple penalties in the game where they changed the rules on how we can block downfield. They are taking away all the hits that are involved right at the point of the pack and if you go back and try to chop a guy like we did in the old days, we used to see how many guys we could roll up, it just doesn't work that way anymore. They have taken that out of the game. Our players have got to understand that. They can't go get a guy who is away from the play. The officials are going to take advantage of that. We got to learn from those things that happened to us in the ball game and obviously continue to recruit and improve and be more precise on that."
On feeling comfortable in the Red Zone with Landry Jones:
"I think there is no question that we do [feel more comfortable]. We are a little but more physical up front. Our tight end position is continuing to improve. We don't have a lot of game experience at that position, but that's improving. I think we are more physical at the running back position. I don't think there is any questions as having Damien [Williams] emerge as a powerful back, has helped us in that area, and we will continue to utilize him.
"So, we have many good players on offense and we are trying to find out their strengths. A lot of times you can't find out strengths until you play games. You can try to simulate it in practice, but with the limited scrimmage opportunities we have in training camp, you just can't find out what all your guys can do with live bullets and keep everybody healthy. I think we found out a lot about our players in the last two weeks and I think we are able to make the right adjustments now and I think it will help us put guys in the right positions."
On the improvement of Trey Metoyer in just two weeks:
"It is interesting because I used to go see Trey last year at Hargrave [Academy] and all he did was march around in circles and do push-ups. He really wasn't playing football. So he hadn't played a meaningful game in two years. So his first college game being on the road at UTEP, he had some glitches. He wasn't as clean on some routes and some assignments as he needed to be. And so much of what we do in the passing game is predicated on timing and where you are supposed to be. He improved tremendously this week and didn't have any mental errors. He had an opportunity to make a couple plays down the field and had that nice touchdown catch. I think his touches will grow as will Justin Brown's will now that we are playing and they have a couple games under their belt. I think Landry's comfort level with those kids has really improved as well. Trey, Landry and Justin are the last three kids off the field. They are just throwing routes, just a couple guys out on the field playing catch."
On the status of Justin Brown's shoulder:
"I think he is going to be fine. He just kind of came down on the football and kind of bruised his chest plate a little bit. He looked like Mike Tyson punched him in the chest; he was really deflated after that. So we took him out after that and let Durron [Neal] play. He will be fine; he is a tough kid. He just kind of got a chest bruise. What a wonderful kid he is, just in every single way. He is really affecting his teammates just by his maturity and how he handles himself, just talking about a kid being really respectful with his opportunity. He is a great example of that. He is a real blessing for us to have. The impact he has made on special teams and just being a solid guy and a great preparer has really affected our younger players."
On the running back position:
"It has changed, and it is not like the old days where you could have a bunch of scrimmages before you play game. We only have so many players and you want to get them to games and you want them to be healthy for games. You don't want them to get hurt in practice scrimmaging. We try to be smart about that, Damien [Williams] did some really great things in camp, but some backs they don't show their true colors until it's live bullets. Some backs don't get good until the fourth quarter, you just have to keep feeding them.
"He [Damien Williams] is a strong player and a guy that continues to get stronger as the game goes on. We found out more about him, obviously we recruited him and saw the great things he did in junior college, but he has been tremendously impressive. He is getting a lot of yards after contact, and those are things that we need. We need that physical presence in the running game because it is difficult to pick people apart and throw the ball all the time. You have to be able to run through traffic, and when it's not blocked perfectly you need a guy who can run through garbage and he certainly has the ability to do that."
On the importance of perimeter blocking:
"This is one of our best perimeter blocking gems we have had. We put a lot of pressure on our guys to be complete players and to do a good job on the perimeter. We had some great examples, Justin Brown played really hard on the perimeter. Kenny [Stills] did better on the perimeter and Durron Neal came in with great effort and had some really good blocks for guys with touchdowns. So that was a real good positive for us that we have to build with. Our guys understand that we are going to see some more talented teams and it is going to get much tougher, but we are going to have to have that kind of perimeter blocking to be that type of running team we can be. So that's a real plus."
On the chemistry between senior quarterback Landry Jones and Junior wide receiver Kenny Stills:
"Kenny has done a great job. Him and Landry have a lot of reps. Playing the slot is a little bit different. You have to have a feel, and one of the things I showed Kenny was plays from last year, the tough catches over the middle in between the hashes, are what you have to do to win football gems. Especially when you play in the slot. It is just different. You have to catch the ball with a guy in your face who is ready to hit you. That happened to Kenny a couple of times Saturday night. But that is where you win football games. You can out a guy out and run fast outside one-on-one with a DB and the boundary, but to really make plays across the middle when it is third-and-eight, when you get hit, is what we need to have from this position.
"You saw [Sterling] Shepard do it on his first college catch, which I though was impressive for a young guy to go and get that ball. But that is what you need from a player inside, especially in that slot position. Kenny is also doing a god job on screens, and that is something different than he has done. But, you have to be durable. That is the other thing was that Ryan [Broyles] was so durable, you got to be durable in the slot, taking those hits and catching screens and running through traffic. Those are the things Kenny has to be out there day in and day out and continue to perform at the type of level he has."
On the tight ends:
"I kind of put them in the same category as our new receivers. They haven't been playing and don't have a lot of game experience. Geneo Grissom has really added to us; he is a physical guy and is able to block the edge for us as well as he is becoming a good receiver. He is really learning the passing game. Moose [Marshall Musil] has done a good job as well and we are trying to get Taylor McNamara more involved as a young guy. But for so many of those young players, every experience is a new one. He had a couple glitches Saturday that he will learn from, but we feel like those guys will grow in the passing game as well as we move on."
On Sterling Shepard's performance:
"I was really happy for Sterling. It is really important to him to play the way he did Saturday. I was excited to see him without the ball. If you go back and watch the game when he wasn't catching it, he was flying around. That is the kind of effort you have to have. It is obviously extremely important to the kid and I just like to see him getting better and better."
On his chemistry with the wide receivers:
|| Senior QB Landry Jones
"Kenny [Stills] did a great job on Saturday on going and making some plays. I felt like we were both on the same page with every route on where he was breaking and where he was going to go. Trey [Metoyer] and Justin [Brown] are definitely coming along. Justin made a big catch down there on one for the goal balls and has a physical play and then trey also made another great catch for a touchdown. So, we are coming along with that aspect and I think we are heading in the right direction for sure. I am just excited to have some bigger bodies outside to make those physical plays."
On the performance of the offense in game two compared to game one:
"We got the running game going, which takes so much pressure off the passing game and opens up a lot more things, which is great. If we can continue that then we will be tough to defend if we can get the run game going like we did Saturday."
On the slot receiver's ability to take hard hits:
"It just comes along with the position. In the slot you are going to catch the majority of you balls inside the hashes. So there are a lot of bodies in there but there are also a lot of mismatches with Kenny [Stills] matched up against linebackers and him moving into space like that. So, for Kenny I think it just comes along with being in that position."
On if he would like to see Damien Williams run the ball more:
"You still want to throw the ball as a quarterback and all those sorts of things, but it's great. That just takes so much pressure off me just as far as the passing game-wise and him running the ball the way he did and the offensive line blocking the way they did. It just opens up more we can do in the passing game if that running game is really strong."
On Kenny Stills:
"You want a receiver that wants the ball. If you had a guy out there that just kind of ran his route and being like, 'It's cool if you don't throw it to me,' that's not the kind of attitude that a quarterback would like to see in his receiver. I hope everybody on the field says, 'He is going to give me the ball. I am open. I want to make a play.' It is nice to see that out of a receiver and out of someone that wants the ball and wants to compete."
On what the offense did to incorporate Justin Brown:
"Just getting a little extra throws in after practice. Justin's an old guy, kind of playing in college for a while now, and you can tell that from his maturity, the way he runs his routes. You only have to tell him once the way you want it to run, and he does it the right way every time, so it is great working with him. You can't say enough of what he brings to this team, the maturity that he brings, also."
On what he has done to help freshman wide receiver Trey Metoyer:
"Young guys, some guys pick it up faster than others. Trey has just been more of how to run the route and when to run a route, you know what I mean? We are going over plays, going over what he is thinking and going over how to run a route against different techniques, and just talking through different things of what I'm seeing, and what I'm expecting from him to get to that open area."
On how he would evaluate himself so far this season:
"Areas I am satisfied in: definitely moving in the pocket a lot better than I did last year, for sure. Avoiding some rushes. I think last game I played pretty well for most of the game. Had one throw that I kind of tried to force into Kenny [Stills], and it ended up going over his head, but all in all, I am pretty pleased with the way that I am playing right now."
On being sacked in the last game:
"It was kind of a corner flat read, and I didn't feel like either one of them were open, so I tried to escape and make a play and I turned around and he just happened to be there, so there is not much I can do at that point, so I just took the hit and the sack right there."
On Sterling Shepard:
"He played great. Nice surprise, for sure. He came in there and played really solid for us. A guy that it really matters to him. He likes to go out there. He plays hard. Had a nice catch over the middle of the field and did a good job of going up and going after the ball."
On if he would rather have a game or the bye week this coming Saturday:
"I think it is nice to have a bye week, just to get your body recovered from games. It is kind of different. I don't think we've ever had a bye week this early in the season, so we will see how that goes and how it all shapes throughout the year."
On if Kansas State was the best game the team played last year:
"I think one of the best. As an offense, definitely played really well, moved the ball well through the passing game and also did some good things in the run game, so I think it was one of the better games we did play last year."
On if he has to avoiding looking to pass to Kenny Stills too much:
"No, I don't think so. I think there are certain situations that I am looking for him more, but I think Kenny understands, and we both understand this, that it's all about getting the ball to the right receiver at the right time versus different coverages, so it is just kind of what you see and what you feel out there."
On the offensive line:
"Doing a great job in the run game for sure. We had, and I can't remember, 300 and something yards  rushing the ball last game, so it is nice that I have that. Those guys are doing a great job, getting better. It is pretty early to say what they need to get better at. Obviously in that first game, they were a little confused on some protections, and still not on the same page, but I think this game definitely cleaned it up, and we will have to see when we get on film what they can improve on more."
On having an off week:
|| Senior DT Jamarkus McFarland
"We're going to take full advantage, of course. We've got a great opponent we're going to face who had a good game against Miami. We can get a head start on those guys. It also gives us a chance for tweaks and bangs that anyone has to recover from. Just get out there and get a lot more reps than we have in a regular week."
On Kansas State being Oklahoma's first real test:
"I'm not afraid to admit it. I feel like they're a great opponent. We respect them last year, we respect them every year. That's every time you approach the field with anybody. We know they have amazing talent at quarterback and their line and even some players on their defense. We have to be prepared for them."
On the return of DT Casey Walker:
"Yeah, it's going to feel good. We thought we held the ship down. At the same time, it's always good to have another body in there with you."
On playing a lot of snaps in first two games:
"At first I was kind of shaky about it. But it's always an opportunity to make yourself better. There are always more minuses and positives because you take more snaps and get the better feel of it. But it's kind of like high school again, you get to just play with it all game."
On his thought process while preparing to catch a punt:
|| Senior WR Justin Brown
"You have to have a really quick process, because you can have guys coming down on you pretty fast. Usually I just like to see how high the ball is kicked and how far it's kicked, judge it and then set up my blocks. Most of it goes on the punt return team, if they hold them up, I can get a good return. When you see a good return, basically it's because they did a good job of holding them up, and making key blocks."
On having time to develop chemistry with the punt return team:
"All the guys on the punt return team are pretty good guys. They always give me feedback, sometimes, when I fair-catch it and I shouldn't have. I respect that. They're working hard blocking, and I would be mad too if I was working hard blocking and I saw the returner throw up his hands. We get feedback in between plays, and they tell me how good of a job I'm doing and I tell them I'm going to try to break one for you."
On maintaining focus on a punt return while being swarmed by the defense:
"You just have to stick to the basics, look the ball in. Especially when it's windy, you just have to look the ball in and be there at the last second. When the guys are around you yelling, trying to make you lose your focus, you just have to focus in."
On Kansas State:
|| Sophomore DE Chuka Ndulue
"They're really disciplined, Kansas State. You've gotten to be ready mentally and physically, make sure you stay in your gaps and stay sound because if you get out, you're going to get caught. You've got to make sure you know your assignments and watch a lot of film. Their quarterback runs a lot and last year he was their leading rusher, so it's going to be very challenging getting ready for him."
On how he thinks he's doing so far this season:
"The first game I graded out at 91 and this game at 86. It wasn't as good as last game and I should have done better, but coach said I am doing alright, so if coach said I'm doing alright then I'm good."
On what he can improve on:
"Recognizing things quicker. I see it, but I hesitate a little bit. Sometimes I overthink things. If I just see it and recognize it, I just need to go."