Big 12 Media Days Preview: Oklahoma

SAN ANTONIO – We know Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops doesn't consider any media day as a prime date on the calendar, but give Stoops credit as Monday he put a good face on for the media from around the league. Stoops stayed to talk with every willing scribe, television camera or radio microphone and answered every question, even the ones about Oklahoma 's recent appeal of NCAA sanctions.

Stoops doesn't consider the appeal a distraction and knows it can't get any worse. "The sanctions are already set," explained Stoops when asked if an appeal can make it worse. "So, no, there won't be other sanctions. It will either be what it said or we will, maybe, what we've appealed maybe get some wins back."

Wins this season are more important to the OU head coach and he feels with a more experienced team -- minus the quarterback position that will be fresh -- there is a good chance of a better 2007 than the 2006 that led to a slightly surprising Big 12 title.

"Now as juniors and seniors we feel have a chance to have a really strong team," said Stoops "I think the big issues, I'll address right off the bat the one everybody wants to talk about is the quarterback situation and everyone wants to know who the guy is. We don't have a timetable. That position, as I keep saying, needs to be earned.

"I've said this before, we've had four different quarterbacks win four different Big 12 championships. So this isn't anything new to us. We believe that that position needs to have the confidence of the team. Needs to have the respect of the team in the huddle, in the locker room, and you only get that through your time on the field. And they haven't had the time yet."

Veteran junior college performer Joey Halzle, redshirt freshman Sam Bradford, or new freshman Keith Nichol are the choices. So who will it be?

"As we go through our summer camp, whoever's starting to earn that confidence of the team and respect of the team the most, all of them will have it to some degree but whoever we feel is doing the best and earning it the most eventually we'll say, all right, it's time to make that decision, we're going to make it." Said Stoops. "So we'll see when that happens.

The other situation on the offense that also includes a top-rated offensive line, talented receivers, and multiple choices at tight end, is running back. The Sooners lost Adrian Peterson as a first-round NFL pick to Minnesota.

"How will we handle that? I believe for the most part everyone saw us do that a year ago," said Stoops. "We averaged rushing the ball actually more yards per game without him than we did with him. And with several guys, between Allen Patrick, Chris Brown, and DeMarco Murray coming up, there's a group of guys there that we feel great about. And I believe in the last two years we've had eight games without Adrian Peterson and we've won all eight games in the last two years. I think we're 8-0 without him. So in the end we're used to that. That won't be a factor for us in how we run our offense."

Stoops didn't talk nearly as much about the defense giving the sensation that he doesn't see problems there. There are questions at defensive end, youth at defensive tackle, and health issues at linebacker.

"Defensively I'm excited about the group of guys that are back," said the OU coach. "I feel overall the biggest question I think everyone will have will be at linebacker, but with guys like Curtis Lofton, Ryan Reynolds is healing great in a great way, and will be set to play, and Demarrio Pleasant was a starter last year. Lewis Baker as well. We have guys in there that can be every bit as good or actually better than what we've had in the last couple of years."

It sounds well and good and should be until week two when everybody will learn all about OU, the new quarterback, life without Adrian Peterson, and any defensive issues with a tough non-conference match-up with Miami.

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