Stoops on Washington, tough times

Mike Stoops knows fans are not happy. He is not happy. The Wildcat head coach addressed the team's struggles and this weekend's opponent.

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Opening Comments:
Mike Stoops: "There is no great explanation or excuse for it other than we just have to play a little better and coach a little better. We are close on a lot of things. Not being able to put games away has hurt us."

"The kids are giving great effort. That is not the problem. The kids are playing hard and they are giving us a chance to win. That is the positive through this whole excruciating process. Our kids continue to be strong and play strong. That is critical. That is obviously the thing that keeps me going through these difficult times."

"Our maturity and our leadership as a team needs to grow. That is probably the two things. Leadership and making a few more plays is what we lack as a team. That maturity process in tight games is something you need. We feel like we have some talented players. We need to continue in those areas."

On the defense:
Stoops: Defensively we did some good things. Their longest drive was 60 yards. When we made them drive we were pretty good."

On plays going against them:
Stoops: "The first interception, if he throws it to the guy crossing the field we are off and running. Willie just made a bad decision on where he threw it. Those are ht things we have to clean up and keep working and keep getting better."

"We are kind of snake bitten or bad fate, call it whatever you want to call it. It is football. Hopefully the ball will start bouncing our way and some of the breaks will start coming our way."

"We are close, yet we seem so far. That can be discouraging and it has not been up to this point. It is my job to make sure it doesn't. I still think this team is capable of more."

"We will be tested these last four games of the season against some excellent teams. We have shown we can play with anybody, it is winning that we really have fallen short. That is where we have to find some more answers."

"If I had more answers, I know people want them, fans want them, I would be a millionaire. It just gets down to getting our kids in position to be successful. You keep knocking on the door and hopefully it will fall down."

"It wears on your confidence, and you have to keep fighting through it and give yourself opportunities and hopefully it will go your way."

On motivating the team:
Stoops: "That is a big part of being a head coach, getting your kids ready and preparation. It is making sure we are doing the things to give our kids the things to win."

On whether they'd consider a shake-up at quarterback:
Stoops: "Willie does a lot of very positive things. Sure there are plays, all quarterbacks miss plays...you are going to miss some stuff, especially the first year in a system. He will continue to grow as long as he puts the time and effort into it. He is a very talented player. A lot of it falls on the quarterback, that comes with the job description. It has to continue to get better."

On where Tuitama's head is at:
Stoops: He understands what is going on. He does a lot of really good things and puts us in a lot of good situations and really makes a lot of positive throws. It seems the two or three plays that are critical to our success. Everything goes through him."

On Kris Heavner:
Stoops: "Kris is your ultimate. He has been through a lot. I really like what he is doing. He gives you a good backup right now. If the situation presented itself he would be well prepared to go in and play he is a very intelligent and consciousness."

On Washington's Jake Locker:
Stoops: He is a guy who is very talented, who can run it and throw it. That is a great combination. He is a heck of a player. He brings a big presence and strong arm and very good legs. You can see his evolution and his growing pains. He gets better and better and he learns more of the offense and gets more comfortable with the passing game. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways. He is a very competitive kid. He is a great leader for them, no question."

"Their runs are designed. He has a lot of runs that are not designed, but he has quarterback draw, quarterback options, lead play. But he can improve and put the ball down and run. He is very good at handling the football, which is very critical in that offense."

On the Washington defense:
Stoops: "They have good schemes and good players. it goes to show the talent in the offense you see week in and week out. e have to work a little bit harder than a lot of teams. There are a lot of explosive offenses you see. We are more systematic and deliberate. We don't have the striking capabilities of an Oregon or some people have. They make you work. They make you work on the road and in a tough environment." "We match up with most people. We certainly are not better than most people but we mqat5ch up across the board. We have to play a pretty mistake free game when we go up there."

On Nick Grigsby:
Stoops: "Nick ran exceptionally well. He is a very, very talented player."

On whether the new offense is taking longer to learn than he would expect:
Stoops: "It is about on the pace I thought it would be. We are a little different. We are trying to have some balance on our offense and grow that way as well."

"The first year is always the hardest no matter what. You hope it isn't but it always is."

‘It has not been as easy, but you look at what we are doing we are a much improved team offensively. There is not much question about that. It is just getting those few plays that are really keeping us from winning."

"We are realistic to know what we are going up against and who we are. I am pleased with our overall progress, when you look at the big picture. The little picture doesn't look so great, but there are a lot of positives in what our kids are doing."

Youth on offense:
Stoops: "Five of our first seven guys are freshman or sophomores. Our leading rusher is a true freshman, that is not coaches speak, that is just the reality of it. With some of the losing (this) gets lost. We have a bunch of talented kids. We just have to develop them."

On if he ever fears things won't turn around:
Stoops: "I don't ever look at it like that. We are too close and we play too well. Are we the most talented team, no. Are we about as talented as everybody we play, yes." "To me it is coaching and playing. Those are the only two constant things. You have to coach better and you have to play better. They go together."

On who is the most vocal leader on the team:
Stoops: "Spencer. We have to develop our core group of leaders. That is easy to say, it is recruiting development and confidence and production on the field. It is doing things right when nobody else is. It is hard thing for kids to comprehend. It is something we have to work harder in developing."

"Nick (Grigsby). I have been on nicks' butt since he got here, but when the kid steps across the line he is a leader. He brings an attitude of toughness and competitive spirit you love to watch as a coach."

"We have some young offensive lineman that bring that toughness to the game. The o-line is giving us a chance to do some things. We are playing a lot of young players."

More on Larsen:
"He is a very competitive person and he has great intellect. He is certainly not weak in any particular area."

I might seem weak to some people, but I promise I am not."

On his demeanor:
Stoops: "I bring intensity and practice. Believe me, I know what is important. Our kids are important to me. They are very good. They have been through a lot. It is a good group to coach. That is the thing that keeps you going."

"I am an old school kind of guy."

On playing in Seattle:
Stoops: "The last time I was there it was not a hostile environment. Coach Willingham was not there. I imagine they are hungry, like we are. I'm sure they are frustrated trying to figure things out."

On if he is feeling additional pressure after the slow start:
Stoops: "It is not enough time in the day to answer all those questions. This is hard and we all understand it. We all want to win. It is how it has been. It is tough, I can't control it, our players can't control it. All we can control is how we prepare and how play."

"I usually tell them (the players) that they are probably not saying a lot of good things about us. I doubt it. I don't pay that much attention to it. It has no factor on me. If that is the way they feel than that is the way they feel. You are entitled to write or say whatever you want. Criticism or something good. You have to let it go. Sunday's are not a great day, I promise you that, but Monday's are better than Sunday's and Tuesday's are better than Monday. That is how we have gone about it."

"You have to let it go, good games, bad games, that is what we have to do as players and what we have to do as coaches."


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