Stoops on Utah

IT'S GAME WEEK! Mike Stoops and the Cats seem anxious to get started on Friday night. Coach Stoops took time out to address the media on Monday.

On the match-up with Utah:
Mike Stoops: "It should be an exciting game. I think it is a great match up. Obviously they lost a great deal of their personnel on their offense... They may not be as explosive as they were last year, but their running backs are capable and their quarterback is going with his first start." When the game is on the line it is a lot different than playing when you are up 20 or 30 points. I'm sure he will feel a lot of the pressure of stating his first game.

"Their strength it seems to be defensively. They are awfully physical up front. They have some real solid players coming back. They have some explosive players defensively as well as offensively… Their offensive line is very physical. Their physical strength will be interesting to see. They are a very physical team on both sides of the line of scrimmage."

On the Cats' physicalness:
Stoops: "That is an area I feel like we have made a loot of improvement over the last year. Hopefully we can be more physical team along both lines of scrimmage. We will find out Friday night."

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On the Wildcat offensive gameplan:
Stoops: "We know we have to beat the blitz and beat man to man coverage. When they put eight or nine men in the box at the line of scrimmage, we must find ways to run the ball if we can't throw it. We have worked hard at attacking the blitz and making sure we can get some plays off and have some chances for success. They put a lot of pressure on you in a lot of different ways defensively.

"We have to make sure we make some big plays as well."

On what the Utes will do offensively:
Stoops: "Utah's offense will be a mixture of what they did last year and then what coach Ludwig did at Oregon. We are fully aware of what we are going to see in looking at those two offenses. I think it helps playing both teams last year and understanding what we are going to see.

"We didn't handle things very well at Oregon last year. I don't think we played very well defensively in Oregon. You have to use your common sense and see where they are going to try to exploit you. Those are things we are trying to prepare for on both sides of the line of scrimmage for the final three work days."

On the Wildcat defense:
Stoops: "We do things differently and some similarities in the way we attempt to put pressure on people. We don't play as much man to man coverage which is probably the biggest difference."

Stoops was asked if he'd rather start at home:
Stoops: "Everybody likes to start at home, but it is how it is. With thisteam to be more focused and prepared to go on the road you have to playbetter. Hopefully we are capable of doing that."

On their game with Utah a year ago:
Stoops: "I thought we had a good game plan. I thought we played really well. We ran the ball well. We were horrible in the red zone. We got to the red zone three times and I don't think we got any points. that is an area we have to get better at. We were discombobulated in the red zone.

"We had a lot of errors in the red zone. That is probably the most discouraging part last year. when we got down there we could not convert anything. Hopefully we are a better team learning through all those situations. That is a critical area. When you get down in the 20, you want to get seven and not three all the time.

"If you hold a team to three you are happy with that, if you give up seven points that is a different story. Our red zone offense is hopefully an area we have improved.

"We didn't have a good short yardage and goal line package last year. we are much more equipped to run the ball and play action pass down there. I like what we are doing in the red zone.

On facing an option team:
Stoops: "You can't over play one. We overplayed some option and let them play action pass against them last year. We have to be undisclosed across the board. We also have to see how this quarterback reacts. We see tape on him, but you have to see what his skill level is. as the game goes on. As the game goes on you get a good sense of what his strengths ands weaknesses are."

On the importance of winning the opener:
Stoops: "It is a big game, anytime you play on national TV and with a huge audience you want to play well, but we have 10 other games after Friday night. They are all big. we want to go out and play well and show improvement. That is what we plan on doing. If we do thing the right way we will have a great opportunity. If not and we make mistakes in the red zone and give up big plays and beat up front, our chances will diminish a great deal. we know what we have to do to win and play better."

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