Stoops on Oregon

Thursday is a huge game for the Wildcat football team. Not only is it a must-win in terms of staying bowl eligible, but it is their chance to knock a conference rival out of the national championship picture. Mike Stoops discussed the big game with the local media on Monday.

Opening Comments:
"Oregon is playing excellent football right now. The biggest difference when you look at Oregon opposed to a year ago is offensively they are much more efficient and not turning the ball over." The quarterback, Dixon, is playing really, really well. That is a big part of what they do. Jonathan Stewart is another player you watch, who is a tremendous football player. They emphasize things maybe a little differently than last year, but not a whole lot. Everything just goes through those two guys."

They have a lot of weapons offensively that spread you out. We didn't handle it very well against Washington. I'm sure they will see some things we didn't handle very well. Hopefully we can learn and grow from that experience. We didn't play well in that game in any aspect defensively. I feel like we can only play better. I hope. We will need to play better than we did against Washington."

More on Oregon:
"I‘m sure with the extra time they will come in with some new wrinkles. They did that going into their off weekend against Washington. They came in with different stuff. That is the stuff you have to adjust to in the first couple of series. You will see some new things and new formations. It is something we have to adjust to."

They are playing with a lot of confidence. That is the biggest difference. They are a much more confident team than when we played them a year ago."

On trying to stop Dixon:
"Any time the quarterback has his hands on the ball that is a guy who is tough to account for. Having another guy in the run game he neutralizes things in a lot of ways."

"He will pull the ball down on scrambles> he will pull it down. He is not throwing the ball up for grabs like he did last year. Instead of trying to force the ball in there he is running more. It is tough to say we will spy on him. That takes a guy out of the rush. It gets difficult to break down what you do defensively. You have to be very discipline when you play these teams."

On how Dixon is different than last year:
" He is not forcing the ball and is playing with more confidence. He is not forcing the ball down the field and trying to throw the ball. He is going to take off and run with it. On No. 2 ranked teams falling on Thursday night:
"I am not a real superstitious guy. Our team is playing well right now. We are playing at home. Our kids played well against them last year and played well against them well the last two years. Those are things are kids buy into. They understand their personnel well."

You are going to have to make big plays in this game on both sides of the ball. We are going to have to score some points, obviously. We don't have anything to lose. That is how we look at it. We are going to go out and play hard and play loose and do what we have to do."

On using the spoiler role as motivation:
"We want to go out and play well for ourselves. We want to win. We look at it as we want to get better. It is a great challenge and a great opportunity. We want to show case what we are all about too. We have a lot to show."

On senior night:
"Our practices have been really good and really focused. I think the kids are really intuned with the game. Al that stuff hits you afterwards. I think they are excited to play such a good football team."

On what the senior class means to the program:
(senior class means) "The way they have had to overcome a lot of different stuff. They have really stayed unified. That is a big accomplishment. We never had dissension among us. They have always played through some tough spots. You look at all the ranked teams we have beaten in the last two years. There are some big wins. They can be very proud."

On Antoine Cason:
"He will go down as one of the great defensive players with all the rest of those guys, Tedy, McAlister, Dana Wells, they are some impact players. His impact and legacy will last a long time. He has been an impact player in this league for four years. That is pretty special. His production, his consistency and to play 46 straight games shows his durability. That is pretty unique."

On the Oregon defense:
"Nick reed is an outstanding football player. He is a guy who can have an impact on the game. We have to protect the quarterback and protect the ball. Those are things we have done a decent job in the last half of the season, and it has made us a lot better."

On the Cats' offensive line:
" I believe they have done a good job during the majority of the season. We are starting to grasp concepts very well and I thin our kids are playing very confidently right now. Their expectations are a lot different now. They were unsure of themselves, but I think we are sure of what we are doing on a play to play basis."

On Wilrey Fontenot:
"Wilrey has great speed and quickness out there as a field corner. He is a guy who can change direction and has great speed when he plays."

On Dixon's knees:
"You really don't know what Dixon is going to be like either. Any time you sprain your knee, that is a different deal. I don't care if it is a mild sprain or not, we will know pretty quick if he is affected by it or not."

On the ESPN exposure:
"Playing Oregon, where they are at, it gives you a big stage. The national hype you get because of Dixon being a Heisman trophy candidate they are pushing for a championship. I think it gives us a chance to show what we are all about too."

More Oregon:
"They want to go out and play well. They practiced well. We don't want to go in tight. We have to play loose and play aggressive football. That is what we want to do. Whether we make the plays we need to, we will see. We have to coach aggressively and play aggressively. You can't sit back like a team like this. They can ware you out on both sides. We have to have a good plan. On offense we have some good stuff and some new wrinkles."

"We are going to have to score some points and not be afraid to take some chances in big situations." On the pro prospects of Lionel Dotson:
"He will play a lot of different schemes, a lot like Marcus Smith. A 3-4, one of those defensive ends or tackles. A lot of guys like him in those positions. There are a lot of possibilities. Lionel has played more inside than Marcus, he might be a little more advanced."

On how Thursday's game ranks in terms of big games at UA:
"There have been a lot of games. This will probably the most hyped game because of the situation because of where they are. There have been a lot of big games. Just the setting. It will be a big environment because of the ESPN, the night, where Oregon is. It is a big game, but I don't know if it is the biggest. It could be though, if we won it would be the biggest."

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