Post-season talk with Bob Stoops: Part I

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooners Illustrated sat in on an extended discussion with head coach Bob Stoops Friday morning the detailed all things players leaving to outlook for next season.

Any updates on us for the juniors, Aaron Colvin?

Stoops: No.

Those guys decided to leave. I know you put out a statement on this, but, you know, you've been real adamant about guys here before it's out in front of you, here's what in front of you. Here's what's ahead of you. Have they kinda, they seemed to have gone against that?

Stoops: Yeah, well sometimes that happens. It's all right.

It seems like more and more guys are gonna go all over the country. It seems like more and more every…

Stoops: There are quite [a few]. There's a huge amount this year, which again makes so many of them drop down rounds or drop out of the draft. And to me it's just in a lot of cases, it's foolishness. You just never get your value and you give up your education. You give up the opportunity to finish your senior year and play ball, and you know, some of them will never play ball again because they won't get drafted.

Are they missing the message or not getting the message from you?

Stoops: Hard to tell.

Are kids today motivated by…?

Stoops: I'm not going into it. I'm sure every kid's different. I'm not talking about that any more. I issued my statements and you're gonna keep [asking]. I don't have an answer for it, you know. All over the country there's—I'm sure every kid [has] got his reason.

It's just unusual for your program with the message you guys send…

Stoops: Yes and no. Again, some kids are all different. You know what I mean? Some kids want the message, and others don't

[Tom] Wort kinda came out of nowhere for us. Is Colvin the last guy you're still waiting on?

Stoops: Probably, yeah.

You're gonna have a remade defense next year…

Stoops: Sometimes that's OK.

Is this year one of those years?

Stoops: I remember seeing Billy Donovan after he won the national championship, and he had another team and it was at the end of the year and they were asking, saying to him. He said, ‘Well, you got all your guys back.' He goes, ‘I wish I didn't.' He goes, ‘That's not always a good thing.' And I got the biggest kick out of that. But anyway, you know, we got young guys coming up. We gotta coach ‘em up and train. They gotta do a good job wanting to get coached and developed and so again, so sometimes that's OK.

Is Julian [Wilson] next in line at Tony's position?

Stoops: You know, we'll see. A lot of that will be, has to be retooled. I'm not gonna sit here today and [say], ‘Here's where everybody's gonna be.' You know what I mean? He, Julian, can play a lot of spots. You know, he's got size, speed, those kinds of things.

When Mike came in in the spring, there was talk about him simplifying things for certain positions or whatever. It seemed like that paid off early on when pass defense was really good, really ranked high and putting up some good numbers. But the defense seemed to tail off performance wise. Is that how you saw it?

Stoops: Yeah, well I would say in some cases. Some of it's due to the offenses we saw. Some of it's due to, you know what I mean, I would say pass defense wasn't as much an issue as run defense and some of that's some of what we were doing scheme wise. Some of it's technique up there, so it's a little bit of all that. So, in the end I don't feel we had as many mental breakdowns, so it was. But, you know, it still needs to improve and we gotta do some things scheme wise to make it improve and the players as well.

Can you draw up some real general examples, some scheme wise?

Stoops: No, it's just where do you put your pieces. Are you gonna be stronger defending the pass or stronger defending the run? That's the game every [week]. That's what everybody's playing. And in the end we gotta find a better balance of it.

Do you meet with your entire staff individually like each guy comes in here, this is your performance evaluation and do you do that every year?

Stoops: Well, at some point I do, yeah.

You'll meet with Mike and I guess everybody?

Stoops: At different times, yeah.

Am I right that Joe does that also or does he meet with you about those evaluations?

Stoops: You'd have to ask Joe.

He doesn't meet with you?

Stoops: He meets with me. I know that.

There's lots of criticism about Mike and his coming back. Do you—I mean is that gonna be a tough sell for you when you talk to Joe about defensive coordinator position?

Stoops: No.

I mean, you feel good about the job that he did and all that stuff, about numbers going up?

Stoops: Well, Mike didn't do it. Mike didn't make a play or not make a play and Mike isn't the only guy out there coaching. Mike isn't playing. So, there's a lot of issues that need to be addressed and improved.

When you talk about defense, it seems like that kinda starts with defensive line play. When you look at the stats, I think you had about half the tackles for loss you've been averaging, things like that. Is that the area that has to improve first?

Stoops: All of it needs to improve. You know, everybody wants to put it on one particular area and it's more than that. For instance, a year ago we could blitz a whole lot more and get more of those plays but I'm gonna give up more big plays. So, which is it? Because that's what happens sometimes. So, you get more tackles for loss and you get more big plays. It doesn't always correlate as simple as what you're saying.

Do you like the idea of having younger players that are coming up for Mike to work with because he can kinda relate with those guys?

Stoops: Well, all of our guys needs to work with him. I mean, everyone. Mike doesn't work with every single guy individually. All of us need to. We are feel good about a lot of our young guys and it's our job to develop them.

Geneo [Grissom] seemed to really do well once he was moved back to defensive end. Were you pleased with his progress throughout the second half of the year?

Stoops: Yeah, to a degree and I think he's got a good upside, yeah. So, he's gotta improve, but I believe he will.

This was Mike's first year back into the new [spread] in eight years, the new kinda wide open, no huddle, spread Big 12 that everybody runs. Did he find himself having to—I mean, he called a lot of timeouts on first drives and stuff like that—did he find himself having to adjust to the new kind of brand of football that he was seeing? I know they ran a lot of that in the Pac-12, but not quite as much as in the Big 12.

Stoops: Yeah, to a degree.

Like this was an adjustment year for him?

Stoops: Well, you know, if you need to say that. I don't know if it is or not, but in the end, you know, yeah, early on in the season everyone's singing his praises. Now everyone isn't. So, you know what? That's what fans do. That's what you guys do. We don't much care. You just gotta stick to doing what you do and making it, improving it and making it better. And whatever issues were, whether it's players, coaches or scheme issues or subbing issues, you just keep working to get them improved.

I remember Brent [Venables] used to tell his guys, ‘You have to realize that offensive football is not what it used to be. Three-hundred yards a game used to be way too much. Now it's great.' Does Mike have to adjust to that kind of thinking. Did he have to adjust to that kind of thinking?

Stoops: Well, I don't think there's any question in our league the way things are going. And again, a prime example of it is A&M. They put these numbers. They're third in the nation in total offense and scoring offense against all those SEC defenses. Now, play six of those teams. Now, granted they don't all have Johnny Manziel, but we got a bunch of good quarterbacks running around in this league and guys that are in the NFL now that all played in this league. So, it's different.

Speaking of quarterbacks, whoever wins the job has shown a great deal of mobility. Do you foresee tailoring the offense to fit whoever that is, skill set, more running quarterback game to spark the offense?

Stoops: Definitely there'll be more of that.

Did you recruit to that the last two or three years?

Stoops: It's just sort of happened, but we've always liked it and guys could run to go with the arm.

Speaking of quarterbacks in the Big 12, 2009—I was looking at Bill Young's statistics, he actually put up pretty good statistics in 2009, OSU's defense. ‘09 was sort of a blip from the Big 12 quarterback. Bradford was hurt. Griffin got hurt, two or three good ones. But the next year everybody got back and it was a big mess again, but next year you don't have a bunch of great quarterbacks. Is there a chance we could see a return to some normalcy?

Stoops: Well, definitely when you have quarterbacks that can do what [they do], again, a lot of them are playing in the NFL. Some of them are going to play in the NFL soon that were just playing this year. When they're that level of quarterback in as spread out as these offenses are, it definitely is gonna be tougher to stop as well as the mobility of some of them. So, you know, the years when they aren't there it's definitely a lot easier. I've said that forever. You know, sometimes again I understand when you're playing teams without a good quarterback, it's a lot easier to stop.

For the rest of the discussion, visit the links right here:
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

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