Oklahoma spring practice is in the books as the Sooners officially concluded things this week with practices Tuesday and Thursday.
Following Thursday’s practice, three of OU’s first-year assistants addressed selected members of the media. Here are some of the best nuggets from Dennis Simmons (wide receivers), Diron Reynolds (defensive line) and Kerry Cooks (defensive backs).
On what the spring focus was
“Just playing hard and relishing and enjoying the time you have to play football. Me and Kerry were talking about this the day of the spring game. It seemed yesterday we had gotten here and already we were basically finishing spring ball.
“One of the things we like to get across as players is to enjoy the moment, enjoy this time you have. Those four years go by pretty quick. You’ll look up as a freshman and sooner or later you’re walking out and handing a bouquet to your parents.”
On if Sterling Shepard can play both inside/outside receiver
“He’s one of those guys that can go both inside and outside. With some of the stuff that we do, (Michiah Quick) could probably do both. I wouldn’t rule out (John) Humphrey in that situation as well.”
On his calm demeanor
“There’s a lot of different ways to get your point across. I can’t say I don’t yell at all. I try to get my point across. When it’s appropriate, I raise my voice. But you can teach a young man without demeaning him. You can yell at a kid and not demean him and still uplift his spirit and get him to the point to where he understands what we’re trying to get out of him with the technique.”
On using 3- and 4-man fronts
“It’s different. When you get a chance to play two-techniques, it’s always a challenge. It’s a process. We’re going through it. We’re trying to get those guys to change their stance a little bit. You know, I always tell them, ‘try on a new pair of shoes. It might not feel good at first but keep trying them and once you mold them to what you want, we’ll get what we want.’ “
On last year’s communication problems in the secondary
“When I first got here, we put on the big-play reel. I can’t even count how many it was. Since we watched it as a group, my whole purpose this spring was communication, verbally and non-verbally, making sure we’re opening our mouths.
“And when we sit down and watch it as a group each practice, we ought to be seeing hand signals. That’s the one thing we emphasized, and that was one thing I was pleased with throughout the spring.”
On addressing last year
“My first meeting with the guys, I put a piece of paper on the big screen. It said ‘114.’ They asked what that was. I said, ‘that’s what you guys finished in pass defense this past year.’ We attacked that right off the get-go.
“You can’t be a great team, can’t be a great secondary, can’t be a great defense if you’re 114th in the nation in pass defense.
“I wasn’t here, but that’s unacceptable for OU. I just wanted to make sure that I set that tone. The message is we’ve got to be better than that. We’ve got to play at a championship level, and 114 is not a championship level.”