Post-season talk with Bob Stoops: Part III

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.

Anybody on offense you'd consider moving to defense? Any of the wide receivers you can make defensive back prospects you?

Stoops: I don't think so.

Derrick Woods or somebody?

Stoops: I don't think so, not at this point. But, you know, when you get into spring ball you never know what happens.

You got some really good production from Brennan in the Iowa State game and obviously Oklahoma State in overtime. Do you feel like the running game kinda hit the ground a little bit when Damien got the bummed ankle?

Stoops: You know, maybe a little bit. Brennan does a great job, and Damien was pretty special in how he ran. So, maybe part of that, but I always tend to [believe] that's part of it. You have to keep cleaning up and getting better blocking, too, to give them opportunities.

I understand when you watch Alabama, you want to be as physical as Alabama is. Very few teams, I don't think anybody's that physical except for maybe Wisconsin. How do you look at the physical nature of your offense? Where is it right now? Where do you want to see it better?

Stoops: Yeah, I just think overall as a team I want to be more physical. I don't think you can ever be physical enough, you know, so it's definitely something you want to keep working on and it's both recruiting and how you develop them. So, we're aware and always every year talk about how do we get more physical.

Do you like at it even like summer workouts, winter training as a thing you can do, what [Jerry Schmidt] Schmitty can do?

Stoops: Yeah, you try to look at what you can do there because the other part of it is when you get them in spring or in two-a-days, you want to bang each other but then you're thinning the line and how do you do that? Then, everybody's well you're sitting their more physical, but you only got four guys that can play five positions. That doesn't help, so there's just with the limited numbers anymore it's a little trickier. But we gotta keep trying to do it.

How much does having a no huddle offense or operating a no huddle offense affect the physicality in your defense?

Stoops: I don't think that has anything to do with it. I really don't. Just like when we first got here the spread offense was gonna allow us not to be a good defense. And in those early years, we had a lot of great defenses. So, I don't think it has to matter. And it better not matter because everybody's no huddling anyway.

I look back on that, though, and not everybody was running the spread. Not everybody was doing the no huddle…

Stoops: Well, that's true. That's true, but the thought process was that no one else was doing this, we're gonna see the spread all the time. We won't be able to handle the physical teams. We'd love to play everybody sitting in a box. OK? Playing in that little box, nobody's spread out. It's a lot easier than all that spread out.

I was gonna ask you which you prefer because I remember J.D. Runnels, Jammal Brown and Adrian Peterson, guys like that, getting whatever yards they wanted for the offense with Jason White as your quarterback. And the running game doesn't operate like that out of the spread, out of the shotgun, out of the no huddle. Which do you prefer?

Stoops: Whatever scores the most, wins the most.

But you've scored a lot and then conversely your defense…

Stoops: Oh, just because you go back to doing that all the time and huddling all doesn't mean you're gonna win any more. It doesn't mean you're gonna play better defense when everybody else is spreading it out, going no huddle and spreading you from sideline to sideline and running the quarterback.

Not everybody?

Stoops: Everyone we played.

What I'm thinking is you guys get into a bowl game or playoff situation…

Stoops: Well, you may not get into it if—you got to win all those games to get into it, right? That is right. You don't just [get in]. You're thinking all those times we're in the national championship they drew our name out of a hat? Huh uh. We had to win all those games to get in. It doesn't just happen.

A lot of those games were physical running games…

Stoops: I still think at times we ran the ball really well this year in a lot of games, so you still want to work to that. And I believe we still can.

Speaking of running, in '06 I think about that A&M game when you ran it and ran it. I mean, that was a very physical team. Is that something that just builds that you had? Did you have a physical team or did they mold into that?

Stoops: Yeah, I think through different times in your recruiting you're bigger, you're stronger or you're better. You know, and that's what you're always trying to work towards. But my guys, like the NFL, they don't get to stay for 10 years. You know, you're constantly rotating in and out.

I had a guy that played for you in '03 and '04 who said watching the national championship game with Alabama, he said that looked more like the offense you guys ran in those years. Are there similarities?

Stoops: Well, we were more downhill and I and/or even if we weren't in the I, the quarterback was under center. Adrian was in back of him, and we played to Adrian's strengths. We played honest with you and the play action game off it and, yeah, it's pretty easy when the right guard's an All-Pro and the right tackle's an All-Pro. You got Jammal Brown and Davin Joseph standing side by side. I'd take them right now, even in our spread we'd run the ball pretty well behind those guys.

Would you go with Peterson as your tailback?

Stoops: Yeah, he'd do all right, too, I'd bet. Half the time you wouldn't have to block anybody.

In a lot of the way too early Top 25's you guys are lower than you usually are. Would you like that for this team to maybe be off the radar a little bit more than you have?

Stoops: I don't really care to be honest with you. You know, sometimes year to year you never know who progresses, who doesn't. Obviously Notre Dame was that story this year. They weren't probably projected real high and hit it right, had great team chemistry I'm sure and won some tight games and played well. So, I never put much stock in that, whether we're high or low.

Bringing back Tyler [Evans] and you got Bronson [Irwin] a whole year of experience as a starter. Do you feel pretty good about where your offensive line stands for next year?

Stoops: I believe it has a chance, yeah, to be really good. I do, with those guys back, the experience of Ty Darlington and the way he played whenever he played. So, we're still incredibly thin at tackle, so any recruits listening out there hopefully they'll take good notes of that and so we'll see.

We've talked about the running game. One of the more physical runners is Dominique Whaley. What happened to him this year? Did he just not come back like you thought?

Stoops: I think as much as anything Dom did as well as he could, just in the end never got the feel back. Whether it's he was ever 100 percent or not, I don't know how to gauge that. And I think that Damien played so well, I think was the other factor.

Brennan emerged?

Stoops: Yeah, Brennan came in at times and did really well.

Is that a deal where he comes to Scott or a trainer or whoever and says, ‘I'm hurt today,' or ‘I think I can do it,' and Cale just has to trust him. Or does he call on him and say, ‘I need you in there,' and he's like, ‘No, I can't do it?'

Stoops: No, he was available all year. He practiced all year. If he was suited up, he was available.

He just wasn't ready to play?

Stoops: Well, he just wasn't—didn't have the production that he had the year before. And, what, another guy had a lot of production.

I think he averaged like six yards per carry, but he just didn't seem to be cutting the same and hitting guys the same. He was taking a lot of blows.

Stoops: That's what I keep saying. He just wasn't quite the same guy, you know, overall and I don't know how to say what percentage he was. But in the end, we just didn't see the same production and another guy really had a great year.

Do you worry about a guy's health in that situation when he's telling you he's ready and you can see he's not?

Stoops: He was ready. I don't know why you keep saying that. He was cleared to play. He's been cleared to play all year.

Ready but not the same, I guess?

Stoops: Well, then ankles are tough to come back from.

Since they're signed, what do you like about the couple of JUCO guys you're bringing in? Can those guys help you immediately? Defensive tackle, offensive tackle…

Stoops: Well, I got a watch of just who's…

That's right OK, so Russell?

Stoops: Yeah, but I still think he has a class that isn't in yet, so I don't know that.

You already made an announcement…

Stoops: Well, I'll stick to that then until I know [I won't get in trouble].

Do you see Drew Allen staying, competing for the job this spring?

Stoops: I don't know. I'm sure that's something he'll talk to Coach Heupel about. We'll see. That's something I'm sure they'll discuss because I'm sure he's either graduated or close.

He graduates in May…

Stoops: OK. Well, I don't know that just yet, so.

If he graduates in May, would he have to finish the school year and then transfer out? Is that how the rule works?

Stoops: I believe so.

We talked to him in Dallas about how much his teammates like him. Josh was saying how much he appreciated his competitiveness even after Blake was named the backup. If he's in that situation, I take it you'd be happy for him if he could find another place?

Stoops: Well, I don't want it to sound like, yeah, I'm happy. You know, if Drew's here, we love him. Drew's a great kid. He's done everything right. He's been supportive even of Blake, even through the year. You know what I mean? And you can see they'll pal around together. So, you know what? Our quarterbacks have always been like that. Even though they're competitive, they I guess feel overall they've been treated fairly. So, it isn't his fault, you know, in the end. So, whatever he decides to do, we're for him for those reasons. But I'm not sitting here saying that I'm looking for him to do that, but in the end if he were to do it, he's gonna get everybody's support here because of the teammate and hard work he's put in.

I mean, it's such a unique position because you guys take care usually only often one guy a year, but we used to almost call it an epidemic because you'd lose a guy every year. It seems like it's been a long time since you've lost a quarterback. It seems like it used to happen almost every year…

Stoops: Yeah, I don't know. Yeah, knock wood. But in the end, it is an unusual position for everybody, for all universities just because it is in a place where even though I'm the second team running back, I get as many carries as he does or lineman. I'm gonna go in and get my share of plays. So, it's always that way. It's hard.

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

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