Stoops on the tall chair: print transcript

DALLAS — Head coach Bob Stoops addressed a number of questions to the print media, and it's all right here.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Bob Stoops of Oklahoma. Your comments about the season

COACH STOOPS: Just like everybody, excited to almost be on the football field practicing and looking forward to it and getting back with our players.

We've got three excellent players here with me: Landry Jones, senior quarterback; Ben Habern, senior center; and Demontre Hurst, a senior cornerback. All excellent leaders and guys we're hoping are going to have great years.

But we're looking forward to the season. Hopefully we can be back to have a chance to once again compete for the Big 12 Championship. I think it's fair to say our league, when you add West Virginia and TCU, two teams coming off bowl wins, two ranked football teams, you put them with the rest of what we've been doing here in the Big 12, that our league is every bit as strong as it's ever been, if not stronger.

So it will be a challenging year. Also the non-conference schedule for us, when you add Notre Dame into the equation with the rest of the league, it's a challenging and tough schedule. But one I know it's got the attention of our players and it will be exciting to work our way through it.


Q. Bob, I assume you heard about the Penn State penalties. What's your initial reaction to them and your thought on the NCAA getting involved, and then just the severity of the penalties?

COACH STOOPS: My expertise is just in coaching football. So administrators, presidents and them, you trust they understand what needs to happen. And that's not really up to me to judge.

The whole situation is just incredibly tragic. That's the only way I can use to describe the whole thing. I'm not one to -- I don't know all the facts. I'm not one to judge. But in every way, in every way possible, children should always be protected by adults. And that's all I would say about it.

Q. Bob, can you give us an assessment overall of your wide receiving corps, you lost some guys, got new guys coming in, where you think it is?

COACH STOOPS: That's going to be a big part of what we're doing here in two-a-days. Two guys I know that were awfully -- Kenny Stills has been a mainstay for us for a number of years. And we were expecting Kenny to have a great year. And Tre Walker is a guy we didn't have a year ago that had a great spring consistently in every practice, in every scrimmage we had, really showed up, made competitive plays. So he's another guy that we're going to really count on.

And then from there it's going to be we're going to have to see because we're not able to work with the players in the summer. And a lot of these guys are new, some of the young high school receivers we have in, and then with the addition of some junior college guys.

So we've got a lot of work to do there. But I believe there's talent there to work with.

Q. Coach, the city council of Dallas passed an amendment for the expansion for the Cotton Bowl for new improvements. How do you feel about the Texas-OU game still being played there, but the tradition about that game and also the recruiting possibility that the kids would still be a part of that tradition, playing at the Cotton Bowl?

COACH STOOPS: It's special playing in the Cotton Bowl. You just can't -- the environment of a state fair surrounding that whole beautiful -- I'd still say it's beautiful -- stadium because of what it is. It's the Cotton Bowl. So to me I'm kind of a stadium junkie. I like playing in all of them. To play in the Cotton Bowl has always been pretty special.

And hopefully they'll continue to make improvements to keep it there. You look at the number of seats they've been able to add, it's a major positive as well.

But I guess, again, just pulling into that atmosphere with the state fair going on around it is -- it's pretty special not only for the teams, I'm sure for the fans as well.

Q. Your brother Mike is coming back in the program after being gone for several years. How do you feel like he's going to change your defense coming back? And the experiences he's had since he left your program the first time, how has he changed bringing -- him coming back?

COACH STOOPS: I'm excited to have Mike back for a number of reasons, not only personally, but professionally. When we've worked together, it's been pretty positive, when you look at our years either competing at Iowa together as players but also the years at Kansas State coaching defense together, his first, whatever, five, six years with us at Oklahoma up to 2003. We did pretty well overall.

And so Mike can only do so much, though, just like any coach can. Players ultimately are the ones that win and lose for you.

But I do believe in the last couple of years, for whatever reason -- and we've really looked at it -- that our defense hasn't been quite as strong as what we've been used to in our first 10, 12 years. So hopefully we can make fewer mental mistakes in some areas and be a little sharper in what we're doing to play more consistently and better defense.

So that's what Mike will be working hard on. And I've got obviously a lot of faith in him.

Q. You mentioned Kenny Stills a little bit. Is there a bit of a changing of the guard, if you will, with Landry now kind of changing his top target from Ryan Broyles to Kenny Stills, and how has Kenny been adjusting to that since Broyles has left?

COACH STOOPS: I'm sure there will be to some degree, Landry to Kenny Stills, but it's also going to have to be other players. In this game it's about everybody.

So we're going to need other receivers to spread the field. We're going to need to run the football better than we did a year ago to create space back there to throw the ball.

So it's kind of all of it working together. I think too much of the time it's all put on the quarterback. The quarterback is only as good as the guy surrounding him, and hopefully those guys will be able to be more consistent this year.

Q. Landry struggled at the end of last season. What have you asked him to improve on moving forward into 2012?

COACH STOOPS: I didn't ask him to have to improve on anything. I asked about ten guys around him they needed to improve. Kind of like I said, everybody -- Landry struggled. No, he didn't. The offense struggled. He had more dropped passes in the last three games maybe -- we couldn't even keep track of how many. Didn't run the football as effectively as we needed to at all. All of that goes together.

And so to me it's more of an issue of the offense and the offense around him than it is him.

Q. Coach, how do you envision Blake Bell's role expanding this year within the offense?

COACH STOOPS: Very much the same as what it has been. Blake's an excellent athlete, continues to do well. He throws the ball well. But we're not going to alternate quarterbacks.

So it will stay pretty much the same. Red zone and short yardage, those situations. You get the extra hat. You get the extra blocker on somebody, and you got a guy 260 pounds that's 6'6" falling forward, it's usually positive.

Q. What was your initial reaction to Kenny in that dress?

COACH STOOPS: I didn't have much of one.

Q. Bob, you got a married quarterback now. I don't think you've ever had one. Are you going to coach a married guy any different?

COACH STOOPS: I got a married quarterback. Good for him. He's got a special wife, too. No, we'll coach Landry like we always have.

Probably need to say because the opportunity's there, but he's got a great mentor and great coach in Josh Heupel who has really groomed and coached a lot of great quarterbacks. And he's doing a great job, I believe, working with Landry.

Q. Coach, West Virginia new to the league, preseason number two, the quarterback Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, just your thoughts from this new member coming in with pretty high reputation early?

COACH STOOPS: Absolutely. The team finished the year in a great way with a huge win. Geno Smith, an excellent quarterback, not only throws, can run it. The high-powered offense. An excellent football team.

So it's kind of how -- one of my opening remarks, I believe with these guys coming in, they're both teams that are used to winning championships. So it's going to be tough.

It's made the league really difficult. But at the same time it's exciting. And I know geographically it's a little bit different. But I think that's okay, too. Why not expand your boundaries a little bit? In today's world the way you cover media, you could cover anybody. The same thing traveling anymore, it's pretty reasonable no matter where you go.

So I think it's a positive.

Q. Bob, the last couple of years we've been here we've talked about what's going to happen in this league, because there were so many questions. Talk about the difference in stability now, Bob Bowlsby came in, two new members, just how the different things --

COACH STOOPS: It should be pretty obvious that it's a great league. And Bob Bowlsby has a great track record of leadership and success. You look at the contractual agreements throughout the league are strong.

And, again, you look at the TV contracts, on and on, the revenue sharing, to me it's all positive and shows great stability. And, again, the quality of teams shows great strength and for us to move forward and to continue to develop our conference.

Q. With the loss of a couple of all Big 12 defensive ends, do you feel confident that the pass rush will be effective with R.J. and David taking over as starters?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I do in that we've got -- we've got other guys coming up that hopefully can be those kind of guys.

R.J. Washington and David King are both seniors and they've played a lot of football for us. We've got some young guys coming up, too. Chuka Ndulue is doing an excellent job, and then even some young -- Michael Onuoha and Charles Tapper, two young freshmen that we're really excited about that we hope can jump in there help us some. And so other guys have to do it.

You have to do it a little bit through blitzes and the timing of those. So hopefully we'll be able to do it.

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about what Dominique Whaley's worry is and his rehab and the other guys are going to have to step up at running back as well?

COACH STOOPS: Dominique is a guy that's trained well. He's been cleared to do everything. So he's out there running and training and I'm not able to work with him, so it's a little bit tough.

And I don't think Dom even knows until you get the pads on make that sudden cut, is he going to feel comfortable doing it and all. He says he feels really good and he's working well.

But, again, until you get out there it's going to be -- it's kind of hard to say.

The other guys, Brennan Clay, Roy Finch, have been mainstays, have been good football players for us. Hopefully they can continue to do that or have better years and contribute. And we've got a bunch of young guys that are all in. And Damien Williams, a junior college guy, and a couple of young freshmen that are really talented players.

So it will be fun to get out there in those first, that first week to start bringing those guys along.

Q. Can you talk about your offensive line a little bit. You've got two of your players ranked on the Preseason All-Big 12 poll, and the offensive line was pretty good last year, so just talk about that?

COACH STOOPS: I think our offensive line should be one of our better units this year with the experience they have, the quality of players up there. So a year ago they did a great job protecting the quarterback. I still believe we could have run the football better than we did. I believe we'll hopefully be able to do that this year. We'll sure put the emphasis on it. But there's a lot of experience there in quality play.

Daryl Williams is the one new guy coming in who is really -- we believe has a chance to be a really good football player. So then the rest of the guys are all back. So I think it's going to be a good unit.

Q. Bob, you were involved with TCU over the course of the last seven or eight years. Pretty competitive in this series. How do you feel their program will translate into the Big 12 and what Gary's coaching will bring to this conference?

COACH STOOPS: Well, they've been playing all of our teams through the years and they always play well. So they're used to winning championships. Gary does an outstanding job coaching along with his staff. So they'll be tough. There's no question. I mean, they just went two years from winning the Rose Bowl and beating Wisconsin down there.

So, again, for them they're a strong, good football team and program. So I'm sure it will be difficult. It will be a big challenge playing them.

Q. Would you say in your time the Big 12 this conference is more quarterback oriented more than ever before, or do you still see balance on both sides?

COACH STOOPS: Oh, it's definitely been a strong quarterback league here for a great number of years. I mean, just -- I don't need to go back through them all for you, but we've had a lot of excellent quarterbacks in this league and still do.

So it's something we've become used to.

Q. Being reunited with your brother again, Mike, what does that mean for you going forward?

COACH STOOPS: What does it mean for me?

Q. To be defensive coordinator.

COACH STOOPS: Personally, it means I get to see my brother every day and get to see his children more. That's fun for me and positive. And my mother gets to go to one place instead of two to see us. All those kind of things family-wise are good.

And, again, our track record working together and competing together has been pretty positive. So I feel good about that as well. Trust Mike's judgment on a lot of issues. And I'm sure it will be a positive.

Q. Bob, you talked about Landry needing support around him for your offense to succeed. Given everything we've heard in the off-season, he's really dedicated himself, shed some weight, done things to improve on what little he needs to improve. Do you get a sense he's poised for a big senior season?

COACH STOOPS: I know he's doing all he can to have a big senior season. It only happens when guys around him are going to catch the ball and not drop it and be in the right places and those kind of things. So we've got to make sure all that's happening.

I think all quarterbacks at this age are making improvement if they're working hard. And Landry is like that, improving his footwork, always building your body, training to be stronger, a little quicker, get the ball out a little better. And Landry works as hard as anybody we've had.

So I'm sure in those kind of ways he's done what he's able to do to make sure he's at his best.

Q. There's obviously some really good quarterbacks remaining in this league, but there are also a pretty good bunch of running backs, do you see the pendulum opening up a little from the wide open stuff to maybe more balance in the Big 12 overall?

COACH STOOPS: I think as much as anybody, when you look at the teams that are spreading it out, they're always -- if you're really paying attention, which I am sometimes as more of a defensive guy, that they're sneaky in how well they run the football.

So there is a lot of good running backs in this league, and I think sometimes even with the good quarterbacks of these spread teams, you know they can kill you running the football. And so we're always very aware of that.

So, yes, I do recognize what you're saying. There's a lot of good quality run game that's happening in our league, and that you have to be aware of each week.


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