SI Take 3: Stoops impressed with Irish

What three things mattered this week at Bob Stoops' press conference? Talking Notre Dame, poise of Blake Bell and team's injury situation

Every Monday afternoon during the football season OU coach Bob Stoops has his weekly press conference. Sooners Illustrated will be there live for all of them and will give you the three most important things to take from the session.

Week No. 4: at No. 22 Notre Dame

Take No. 1: Stoops impressed with Irish discipline

So maybe from an outsider's point of view, this year's Notre Dame team hasn't exactly set the world on fire. A loss to Michigan has been followed by two nail-biting wins against Purdue and Michigan State.

But the Irish are 3-1 heading into Saturday's showdown against the Sooners, and that's something Stoops won't discount.

"We're playing a great football team," Stoops said. "They're very physical upfront. They're structurally sound and disciplined on defense."

Stoops said it often that this year's squad is very reminiscent of the Notre Dame club from last year. That team knew how to come up big in the big moments. OU was tied 13-13 with the Irish in the fourth quarter before Notre Dame ended up winning 30-13.

"They made all the plays down the stretch that made the difference in the game," Stoops said. "I appreciate their structure, fundamentals and discipline."

Take No. 2: Don't worry about Bell in his first road start

It's clear Stoops is getting tired of answering about quarterback Blake Bell and his composure. Stoops has said repeatedly he is not concerned about how Bell would react in his first start and said Monday he is not concerned about how Bell will react Saturday.

Part of that comes from last year against Notre Dame. The Irish hadn't allowed a rushing touchdown all season, but the BellDozer came through in the fourth quarter and scored.

"Calm, cool and precise," Stoops said. "I expect him to run the offense. Let everybody else be nervous and all excited. You just be calm about it."

A lot of people point to last year's game as the turning point for the direction of this year's offensive line. OU simply wasn't physical enough against the Irish, netting 15 yards rushing in the game on 24 attempts.

It can't just be Bell on Saturday that steps up, and Stoops knows that.

"It was 13-13 in the fourth and then they made every big play after that," Stoops said. "We'll need to run it better. We'll need to execute."

Take No. 3: Williams will play

OU might be able to run it better because every piece to the puzzle is going to be ready to roll Saturday in South Bend.

Stoops said senior running back Damien Williams is going to play against the Irish but said the running back rotation has not been set at this time.

Williams, to go along with seniors Brennan Clay and Roy Finch and freshman Keith Ford, will give OU plenty of options for its rushing attack.

Williams is returning from a one-game suspension. Stoops said there are no other injuries to report for the team. Freshman defensive end D.J. Ward returned to practice last week, and quarterback Trevor Knight is set to practice Monday afternoon.


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