Monday press conference central: week eight

OU head coach Bob Stoops

NORMAN, Okla. — OU head coach Bob Stoops reflected on OU's 63-21 victory over Texas and previewed the upcoming contest against Kansas.

First, here's the major news that came out of the press conference:

  • Another week has passed us by and still no word on the status of indefinitely suspended defensive tackle Stacy McGee. "No" was Stoops' response to a question on if there was any changes on it.
  • Players of the game were a bundle last week, including offensive linemen Lane Johnson, Gabe Ikard and Daryl Williams, fullback Trey Millard, running back Damien Williams and quarterback Landry Jones, defensive linemen Jamarkus McFarland, R.J. Washington, Casey Walker, David King and Chuka Ndulue, linebackers Tom Wort and Jaydan Bird, free safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Aaron Colvin. In Stoops words, there were too many game balls to give out: "I didn't have enough for this weekend, so I was looking for some. But truthfully we had ...I gave the whole defense was player of the game for defense and the whole offense was for offense."
  • Stoops said he didn't go to his staff to urge them to get Millard more involved offensively: "I haven't changed anything with the staff. We're very aware of what our players can do and again there's overall some rhythm issues, not picking up third downs in that game here or there. Just we didn't have as many snaps. When you stay on the field for 90 snaps, you get a chance to get more snaps to everybody."
  • Interestingly enough, he believes the defensive play up front was equally good against Kansas State: "They're playing great. They're physical. They're tough. They got maturity. Those guys, I've talked about them. I said coming into the year there's a bunch of those guys have played a bunch of football. David King, Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland, R.J. Washington and Chuka has come along through the spring is a guy that is a starter in our eyes. And those guys are just playing like they're capable of and it's not surprising to us."
  • Backup quarterback Blake Bell has been a complete beast, and Stoops said he had that idea in mind when they recruited him: "Yeah, we did. We knew how big and strong he was when we recruited him and he was a good athlete in high school, we sure we felt he'd be able to do this to a degree."
  • Wide receiver Jalen Saunders, a transfer from Fresno State, got his first action the other night, and Stoops gave his thoughts about him: "He's a very quick, shifty receiver. He's got great hands, a great knack for that slot position. You know, he can run. All those things."
  • The defense has dominated the last two weeks, and so have we seen the attention to detail and everything Mike Stoops was supposed to bring back? "I believe we did. And again, I believe we played pretty well against Kansas State also, a team that's averaging a heck of [a lot of points]. We gave them 17 points on defense, and not a lot of people are keeping them lower than that."
  • Team accountability is something that has improved this year, with several players and even Stoops mentioning it today: "Well it's been through so far through the year we have been a more disciplined team, more accountable team to each other and guys in a lot of ways off the field."
  • The Sooners really took it to the Longhorns the other night, injuring a number of their players with their physical play. But Stoops said he didn't really know if their hard-hitting is what injured those guys: "You know, I don't know because I don't know what their injuries were to be honest with you. So, I don't know how to answer that."
  • Still, the physicality is something to mention: "Well, I felt like we were, but again how that equated to injuries, of course, we're never trying to hurt anybody. But like I think it's our last kickoff return, Trey just has a great block on a guy coming, tries to run him over and he just laid into him. So, I don't know. I don't know about his wrist, their quarterback's [David Ash] wrist, how that'll be or how it happened. I mean, I saw us hitting him, but I don't know how it'll be."
  • One thing that's interesting is the wide receivers were telling the Texas DBs at the line of scrimmage they were planning on running the ball and hitting them in the mouth. They weren't disguising anything and still ran it down their throat: "We've never had the philosophy to blitz and stunt into stopping the run or being a great defense. We're just doing it better overall obviously. We are simpler, so there's less chance to blow it ourselves. It's never been our philosophy to trick people."
  • The secondary play has been noticeably better this year and perhaps even dominant. So, what's been different? "Again, what we're asking them to do. They're playing technique better, fundamentals better. We're not screwing it up ourself by having a mental error. We are playing at a much higher level. And again, don't misread. It's a lot of the way we're playing allows for D-linemen and safeties to have more tackles because we're flattening things out, taking away a lot of inside seams that push things out to them."
  • Free safety Tony Jefferson is a guy that has made a big impact, shifting back to that playmaking position. Stoops is happy with his play: "Tony's playing great, tackling well, had a great day out there on Saturday. Tackling well, covering well, communicating and making sure everyone's on the same page with the other guys."
  • Of course, Williams broke the long touchdown run and Millard bulldozed defenders all day, but Stoops was proud of that entire group: "Give the credit first to the guys up front who are making space for them, because if they weren't averaging that, that's where the questions would be. They are blocking really well, creating seams, staying on their feet and finishing blocks. Damien is running the football very physically with great balance. Trey [Millard] is the same. Dom Whaley and Brennan Clay both got in there and had nice runs. They all did a great job."
  • He's also pleased with the work of defensive tackle Casey Walker linebacker Frank Shannon, who have both made impacts the last few weeks for different reasons: "Casey is another one of those seniors who's played a lot of football for us, so he's very physical and active. He had a great day Saturday... [Frank] He played really well. I'm pleased with everything Frank's been doing. He had a good game."
  • Left guard Adam Shead and right guard Bronson Irwin both got nicked up the other night, though they were able to return. However, when they were out the other guys stepped up as well: "They were tired. They don't have as many guys to rotate with now. They really sucked it up and I thought they were awesome Saturday. I still think they'll keep improving. So, without Nila [Kasitati] now, we're down another guy, so we have to rotate a tackle in at guard occasionally. It was really great to see the second-team line taking a drive all the way down and scoring. That was really pleasing to see when you got a true freshman Ty Darlington in there and a bunch of other guys, Nathan Hughes, who came over from defensive end, is playing tackle now and really is up to 280 now and is doing well. So, Those guys came in and did a nice job. Heck, on the first jumbo, short yardage, we had Woody in there, Austin Woods, and Derek Farniok in there when we convert the first one to pick up six or seven yards."
  • Stoops said there is no concern about a letdown this weekend with Notre Dame lurking ahead in just a week: "We have a big game this weekend. It's pretty simple - we have to play. We're aware of that, and through the years we've had a pretty good record after playing Texas. Our season doesn't begin and end with Texas. It never has, so in the end we'll be ready to play. We'll do what we do every week, have the same preparation and hopefully get ourselves ready to play a good game against Kansas out there."
  • As for the Kansas offense, here's his thoughts: "They do a really good job of getting a lot of different sets, combining the run with the pass. Dayne Crist has thrown the ball well. They have good balance and I see a lot of good players. In a lot of their games right there at halftime it's an even game. They've lost a few, you know, late, got out of reach for them. But overall, you see they've been very competitive."

Here's the first part of the press conference in video.

Now, check out Stoops' full presser in all four parts inside.

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