Coach Stoops and the Sooners preview the matchup with the Irish in weekly presser.
NORMAN, Okla. --
Head coach Bob Stoops, quarterback Landry Jones, center Gabe Ikard, receiver Justin Brown and defensive end David King met with the media Monday in OU's weekly press conference from Norman.
The Sooners throttled Kansas, 52-7, to improved to 5-1 on the season. No. 8 Oklahoma next hosts undefeated and No. 5 Notre Dame Saturday at 7 p.m. at Owen Field. ESPN's College GameDay will be in Norman and the game will be a national TV broadcast on ABC.
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
|| Coach Stoops
"Welcome everybody. Reviewing the Kansas game, it was really another good game, a complete game in that we played so well in all areas. Offensively, I thought the balance was really good and effective. I thought Landry Jones threw the ball great. Receivers were excellent running routes and getting open in space making plays.
"We probably threw it a little more in that game than some others because of the way they were defending us. We felt we had more opportunity to do so. It worked out that way. Guys took care of the football and made a lot of big plays.
"Some guys especially played well up front. Gabe Ikard had another outstanding game. You know about Landry Jones. Of course, Justin Brown, Kenny Stills again, all of those receivers did quite well. And protection was great, I named Gabe but all the guys up front had another really good game.
"Defensively, it was another game where the starting group didn't give up any points. I believe that's two, almost three games since the one touchdown against Texas Tech; it's the only touchdown they've given up in three games. It's really pretty special. The guys are covering great; Aaron Colvin, Javon Harris with a couple of interceptions, Jamarkus McFarland played excellent up front, Tom Wort again had an outstanding day. Another guy, Chuka Ndulue, one of our ends, was really excellent up front.
"Also, special teams were great; Jaydan Bird was a guy who really made a bunch of great plays on special teams. We had so many kickoff covers and really they only averaged 16 yards, I believe, per kickoff return. Then our returns with a return for a TD and a 90-yard punt return for a TD was pretty exciting and all the kickers hit the ball well.
"It was a solid day and it leads us back home here hosting Notre Dame, an excellent program and a team that's really played well all year. You look at them and you can tell the character of a team by seeing that they've won so many close, good football games. It's a team that on both sides of the ball plays very physical.
"Coach [Brian] Kelly and has staff have done an excellent job defensively. They're very, very sound and disciplined and physical. Offensively they use a couple of quarterbacks that give you a little bit of a different dimension and are both excellent at running their offense. They've got some great tight ends and probably the best tight end in the country, number 80, [Tyler] Eifert, an excellent, excellent player. [Theo] Riddick, their running back, is also a guy that's made a ton of plays for them.
"Defensively, a great linebacker out there in No. 5, [Manti] Te'o, and a great d-end, No. 7, [Stephon] Tuitt, is a really special player who has got a bunch of sacks for them. Also No. 2 in the secondary [Bennett Jackson] has got I believe four interceptions so those are some of their players that stand out. Again, an excellent program, a team that's undefeated, so it'll be exciting. It'll be a big challenge, but our guys will be excited and hopefully go through the week here like we do each and every week in how we prepare."
On mentioning the tradition in this series to the players:
"No. I don't mean no, that it isn't acknowledged, but where these kids are 18, 19, 21, 22, I could try to engage them all I want in what happened and what and when and I don't think it's going to matter. Just like how everyone wants to ask about how a game last year relates - it doesn't relate. These are all new kids, a new team. In the end, the only history I've got going is way back to 1999 and that's even a long time ago.
"I was asked this morning what I remember about [the Notre Dame game in 1999] and I said I remembered getting up by 17 points and not knowing how to win. I told my staff when we got home from the game I said our guys hadn't ever been up on anyone by 17 points. It was just trying to teach them how to play."
On playing a nonconference game at this point in the year:
"The schedule all year has been a little bit different. I say that because we had two off weeks early. I guess it was the only time they could play, so we've got the game here. It's great for college football, it's great for both programs, it's exciting and it's what you want. It just happens to be right in the middle of the Big 12 season, so it's just another challenge."
On fans feeling good about the program after playing well vs. Notre Dame in 1999:
"I don't know if that was the case or not. I know we weren't satisfied about it. We were up 17 points and I look around and see a bunch of guys laughing and giggling and knew they had no idea. We still had a whole half here and sure enough we didn't know how to keep it."
On OU's defense:
"They've played great all year. We're playing disciplined, we're playing physical, tackling well, our coverage has been excellent, so we have to continue to do it. This will be a big challenge with these guys, but I'm excited with the way they've been playing, sure."
On how to teach a team how to win:
"It's showing them Monday when you review the tape what you're doing so well in the first half to be up 17 points and look what we didn't do in the second half that led to it, or how we can do it better. It's just showing them and the fact that you're up 17 in whatever particular time of the game doesn't mean you're going to win."
On Notre Dame's tough offense:
"They're physical and tough. The power running game is a big part of what they do so we've got to be able to take off blocks and be in the right space."
On the high energy and hype surrounding the game:
"Sure, there will be [energy]. But in the end we don't get to participate in all that. We get to go to meetings, we get to go to practice and then go back to meetings, go back to the practice field and get ready to play. It's great for college football, it's great for the community, the fans and they ought to enjoy it. And we're excited about it. You know what a challenge it is and it is exciting. But the following week will be exciting for us too because you still have to keep winning."
On the popularity in Catholic areas like the one where Stoops grew up:
"In the dominant Catholic neighborhoods and community, sure, they [cheer for Notre Dame], everybody to whatever degree. In the area I grew up in it was very strong."
On Brian Kelly's job at Notre Dame:
"He's done a great job. They have a lot of great athletes running around. You can see the structure in everything that they do in how disciplined it is, fundamentally sound it is, players play with great technique, so you can see the quality coaching."
On Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson:
"He's a guy that, it's been said a lot and it's true, when there isn't anything there he has a knack for breaking tackle or making somebody miss him and runs around so he can buy extra time and scramble and wait for someone to work open or take off and run it himself. He's got excellent feet that way."
On Notre Dame not seeing an offense like Oklahoma's offense:
"It's just different styles. Hopefully our style of play and our guys executing and playing with some precision and taking care of the football hopefully we'll be able to move the ball a bit."
On having an advantage at quarterback:
"I don't see it that way. We love our quarterback, I'll say that. Landry [Jones] is a great player. Again, their style of offense is a little bit different than ours, so they feel good about the way their quarterbacks have been playing their game."
On the turnover margin improving:
"Turnovers are always a major issue in any game, let alone when you have two teams in the top 10. They're a factor. They were a factor earlier in the season with us. We've got to do a good job taking care of the ball. To me, it's the biggest factor in games like this."
On fullbacks Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowski facing Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o:
"I don't know how anxious I am about it, but in the end, as I said earlier, it will be a big challenge for those guys. He's a great player. Those guys have had a great year so far for us, too, so it will be one of the many battles in that game."
On Notre Dame's defensive scheme:
"They do a lot of 50 front. They'll use their 50 front primarily, but then they'll shift into a four-man front. In the 50 front, he [Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o] has a lot of freedom to go to the football and make plays, and he sure does it for them."
On OU's pass protection the past few games:
"It has been [good], but we haven't really changed our protection. Some of the run schemes that we've worked from week to week will change or vary depending on what we feel we can do. The protections, we have been good really through the year. Again, you play against quality teams, they're going to have their time where they get you, but I've been pleased at the progress and how well they've played and protected."
On wide receiver Jalen Saunders:
"Jalen has such good experience, and he's such a great route runner. Just gives you another guy now to put on the field to at times spread people out more. When you look at all those guys, when you put Sterling [Shepard] out there with him, that's a pretty good inside group. Then, you've got Kenny's [Stills] experience where he's the most natural outside. It allows Kenny to be more outside now, and again where he has been so effective through the years, with Justin [Brown], too."
On Trey Metoyer and Dom Whaley:
"They are doing a great job. We love them. Just like always, nothing's the matter with them whatsoever."
On wide receiver Trey Metoyer's shoulder:
"Yeah, he's fine. He's practicing. Practiced yesterday. Looked good."
On if OU recruited Notre Dame's Monti Te'o:
"I think there was some dialogue. There was, yeah. To what degree, you are asking me to go way back, but we did try. I remember."
On recruiting during this weekend's game:
"It will be a big recruiting weekend for us, sure."
On the special teams:
"I finally got a special teams coordinator in Coach Bobby Jack Wright. Even though we are doing everything exactly like we have in the past. We are just executing better. Better with our blocking with some of the returns. We've had good discipline, fewer penalties. Our cover units, I think just overall with a lot of work, and Coach Wright should be credited with a lot of work in the spring and summer, particular kickoff coverage of just having a better feel, whether it is recognizing schemes or beating blocks and tackling well, we have been very strong with it. Hopefully it will continue."
On comments that OU's talent level is down this year:
"I don't buy that, you know what I mean? Just because Adrian Peterson isn't here or you don't have a first-round draft pick. We've got talented guys. We don't have Sam Bradford, we've got Landry Jones. Is he going to be the first guy taken in the draft? Maybe not, but he will be a first-round guy. Gerald McCoy. OK, we aren't going to have the guy that's going to be taken third in the draft, but we've got good guys all across the board, and good players, and I believe that. Every year from year to year, we aren't going to have the first three guys taken in the draft, or three of the first four or five, that isn't going to happen every year. We are as talented as about anybody we will play overall."
On the defensive tackles:
"They are playing great. They are playing great, and all the guys up front are. Again, I felt that coming into the year. No one in the media wanted to believe it just because, again, Gerald McCoy isn't there. Those guys are all good football players, really good football players, and they all have experience, and to me, that matters, too."
On everything seeming to come together for the team:
"It has been positive, but it's only been six games. We still have Notre Dame coming and a whole host of others down the line, so we've got to keep playing this way."
On if Notre Dame's defense presents the biggest challenge for the Belldozer formation:
"It will be one of them, sure. Every week's different, but it will be a challenge."
On if Notre Dame has seen anyone like OU this season:
"I am sure they have. They have seen other quality teams."
On kicker Nick Hodgson working a couple of kickoffs against Kansas:
"Nick hits them great in practice. He didn't hit them so great in the game, though. I guess that pressure got to him a little bit. We thought we'd give him a taste of it. He gets them out of the end zone in practice all the time, but I guess it's kind of like me, I hit them on the driving range perfect, then I get to that first tee ball, and I get that big cut ball, goes out of bounds, and it doesn't work. It is a lot easier in practice than it is in the game."
On kicker Patrick O'Hara:
"Patrick's got a groin injury. Patrick goes in there on Thursday before Texas not warmed up, pops it. He got a little lecture from me."
On if he feels the team has momentum after having two early bye weeks:
"I do. We are in a rhythm of playing, and I think you grow the most out there in game situations, and now we've at least got six under our belt, and I think we are progressing, so hopefully, again, we've got to keep improving."
On offensive lineman Bronson Irwin:
"Bronson's been really good, and we felt coming into the year he was going to be in our eyes a starter, or rotating in there that way. Bronson has played really well and keeps progressing and keeps improving."
On offensive lineman Lane Johnson:
"Yeah, it's pretty incredible. Lane deserves a lot of credit. Here's a guy that now is only in his second year full time at playing tackle, and he's really playing great. Had another good game the other night, and it's exciting for him. It took us a while to find the exact right spot for him, but here he's really growing in it, doing well, gets better all the time, and good for him. He's another guy that all the pro scouts are watching and are excited about, especially when they see he's only played it for two years and how well he's doing."
On offensive lineman Gabe Ikard:
"Gabe's a special guy. He does [pull the offensive line together]. He's the leader of the whole group, and one of the big leaders on our team. He does help those guys mesh together well."
On his confidence:
|| QB Landry Jones
"I am lot different now. I have been playing a lot better. Obviously after games like Texas Tech, Texas and last week against Kansas, you are going to have a lot higher confidence and I think everyone on this team is going to have higher confidence because of the way we have been playing."
On the confidence of the offense:
"I think maybe as a unit we are playing better. I think we have more confidence right now going into games for sure than I think it had ever been around this place, just knowing what we are capable of."
On moving Kenny Stills to the outside:
"It just adds to our offense, adds to what we can do. I think Jalen [Saunders] is a big part of that on what he is able to do coming to the slot and moving around. If need be, Kenny can move back in there as well so we can just use different guys in different situations."
On the offense's potential:
"We just have more depth with [Jalen Saunders] moving to 'H' and in that slot position we can move Kenny [Stills] outside and we can use his experience outside more than we could have in the past. I think especially going with that four wide receiver set and moving people around."
On the matchup against Notre Dame's Manti Te'o:
"He is a good player, there is no doubt about that. But, for right now it's not me vs. Manti, it is Oklahoma versus Notre Dame. So we are going to prepare and we will prepare like we always have and we are going to get ready to play."
On the pressure of a difficult non-conference game:
"I think for sure these big, non-conference games like this, playing big teams, definitely is what you get remembered by. Some of these games and typically around this place, you are remember for championships, Texas games and those big non-conference games such as Florida State or Notre Dame."
On the importance of Gabe Ikard's leadership:
"Gabe has played as much as anybody around this place. Last year when Ben [Habern] went down with his broken arm, Gabe stepped up and he played center for the majority of the year and he did a great job. I think for those young guys, I say young guys but Bronson [Irwin] and Adam [Shead] have played quite a bit as well, so they were coming along. Gabe has done a great job with all of his ID's and his calls. The offensive line is really just playing well."
On his reaction to first hearing about playing Notre Dame:
"I was excited, really excited. It is not every day you get to go play Notre Dame, or you get to go play a tradition field program like they are. It is going to be a fun game and I know everyone inside of our locker room is really excited about it."
On OU and Notre Dame's history:
"I am not really aware of much of it. But I am sure there are a lot of great games that have been played. I don't know if that necessarily matters on who wins this game or loses this game, but I should probably read up on my history a little bit."
On the difficulties he will face on Saturday:
"I am not in the coaching staff and what all they see and what all they are wanting to do. I know for us that this is an important game to me. I am going to practice as hard as I can and prepare as hard as I can to be ready for Saturday."
On Notre dame bringing pressure:
"Every team has good D-linemen. This team is better than some, for sure. They do a lot of good things in rushing the passer. They are really talented up front, so our protecting needs to be good. There is no excuse for us to say our protecting is going to be bad or that we need to move around. The offensive line is going to have to play really well in order for us to compete and play well in this game."
On not forcing plays:
"I think it is just more of seeing my reads and playing ball. I am not thinking of forcing it down the field or anything like that. I think it is just taking what the defense is giving me more than my success and our success as an offense."
On letting the game come to him:
"In big games like this, you do want to make big plays, you want to score quickly and do all those things, but the way we have been playing lately isn't because we have been forcing things and isn't because we are trying to make things happen. We have just been letting the game come to us as an offense and taking what the defense is giving us. So if they're giving us a shot to Kenny [Stills] down the field then we are going to take it or if it is going to be to Jalen [Saunders] or to one of our running backs then that is what we are going to do."
On the loss to Kansas State:
"It still kind of hurts. You don't ever want a game to slip away from you and you don't ever want to lose that early in the season. Yes, Kansas State is a good team, for sure; no doubt about that. But, it still hurts. You still think about it and you can go 'what if?' all you want, but that game is behind us now. Yes, its till does hurt but you have to move on from it and we are playing ball now."
On the atmosphere for the Notre Dame game:
"It is similar to a Texas game. It is similar to that kind of atmosphere when a team like Notre Dame comes into town. You are going to have more emotions and you are going to be more excited for games like this than some of the other ones on your schedule. Although with that excitement comes the responsibility to realize it is a football game and you play the best, well I play the best, when you are not thinking and you just go out there a play."
On the importance of Trey Millard:
"He needs to have a great game. We need to give him the ball and he needs to make plays out his space, for sure. He brings physicality to our offense that needs to stay. He and the offensive line need to play really physical."
On the challenges Notre Dame presents to the OU offense:
"A good defense is a good defense regardless of what type of offense they are playing. They are a good defense. They play well together, and they are not going to let anything go by them. They are going to make you snap it and they are going to make you beat them. They are not going to beat themselves."
On the atmosphere of the 2008 Texas Tech game:
"I think that is the best it has been since I have been here. There was just so much energy in the stands and so much energy in the crowd. The part where they played the song 'Jump Around' and everyone was going nuts, you could feel the wave of energy on the field."
On the importance of getting off to a good, early start:
"That will be huge for us. I think for the offense to get off early and build confidence early in the game makes the game go smoother."
On playing back-to-back home games:
"I think it has helped us as an offense, for sure, just to get into a rhythm and build confidence. We would have sparks of good plays in the first couple games and then we would have a bye week and we would have to wait around so I think that has helped us for sure."
On the historical context of Notre Dame and Oklahoma:
|| C Gabe Ikard
"Two of the most storied programs in college football history, so it's really exciting when it comes to that aspect for the fans and everyone involved. But honestly, you just have to take it the way we've been taking it the last couple weeks. We need to prepare well and practice well because we've got a great team coming to Norman on Saturday."
On OL challenges facing Notre Dame defensive front:
"They're excellent on defense; very big and very strong. They play the run very well led by Manti Te'o. I watched a lot of film on him and it seems like he never gets blocked. They're really talented and really disciplined in what they do. We're just going to have to practice well and scheme well to set up some big plays."
On which is the harder task between the Notre Dame pass rush and run defense:
"It's a little bit of both. On film you can tell when they know it's a pass, they're coming off a lot harder and using some pass rush moves. We definitely need to establish the run like we have been and set up some plays for Kenny [Stills] and Justin [Brown] and those guys down the field. It's a difficult challenge but it's one we've got to face."
On Notre Dame not allowing a rushing touchdown this season:
"That's just unbelievable. But give them all the credit; they're really tough inside with [Louis] Nix and [Kapron] Lewis-Moore. They're just really big bodies so it makes a lot of sense with the guys they have on the d-line and that front seven they have. It's just another challenge we'll have to face."
On if the Notre Dame game jumped out when transferring:
|| WR Justin Brown
"I saw it on the schedule but I didn't really get too ahead of myself. That's just not how I am and I don't think that's how our team is. We've got to take it one game at a time. It just happens to be that this is the Notre Dame week, so we've got to get prepared and ready to play."
On big games:
"I mean OU's a great program traditionally. Notre Dame's a great program. There are a lot of other great programs that we play. So you kind of have to expect to play in some of these big games."
On the excitement of going against Notre Dame defense:
"It's going to be a good game. They have a great defense, but that's what you want. You want to go against the best; you want to go against a great defense and we're going to get that opportunity. We're excited."
On the Notre Dame game:
|| DE David King
"It's a big game, but we can't let it change the way we prepare. We've done a great job of preparation throughout the week for these last three weeks, and we're going to continue to do that starting when we get back out there today."
On what stands out on Notre Dame:
"I haven't really watched too much on them yet, we'll get more to it today. But obviously they like to run the ball. They have two backs and they've got a pretty good tight end so we're going to have to do a good job of trying to control the line of scrimmage. That's been a key for us these past three weeks, and it's going to play a huge factor in deciding who wins or loses this game Saturday."
On if it's an opportunity to show the nation how good Oklahoma is:
"We've showed that these past few weeks. We lost to [Kansas State] and that kind of woke us up and we came out and just played well in all three phases of the game with offense, defense and special teams. We have to continue to have that carry over going into this game this week."