Big XII Media Day: State of the Sooners

Stoops, Sooners want to earn top ranking on the field. See inside for excerpts from OU's Big 12 Media Day press conference. (AP Photo/Todd Feeback)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The start of another Big 12 Media Day session means the beginning of a new college football season is not too far around the corner.

All 12 teams from the Big 12 — well, make that 11 because Bill Snyder and Kansas State stayed in Manhattan to prepare for their brutal non-conference schedule (not really) — made the trek to the land of Toto and Dorothy with renewed hope and optimism for the 2003 season. That's right folks, here at the Big 12 media day even Baylor is undefeated, Colorado Head Coach Gary Barnett has yet to use a mulligan and Texas X's and O's mastermind Mack Brown hasn't been outcoached in a big game...yet.

Ah yes, optimism was indeed running high on Wednesday as the first six Big 12 teams met with the media at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Kansas City.

Oklahoma was one of the first six schools to meet the media on Wednesday, and below are excerpts from the Sooners press conference. OU Head Coach Bob Stoops, quarterback Jason White and linebacker Teddy Lehman were on hand to represent the Sooners.

Head Coach Bob Stoops
Opening Statement

"We're really excited about the opportunities that this season has to offer. We believe that we have our strongest team coming back in terms of depth. We have a challenging non-conference schedule [UCLA, Alabama, Fresno State, North Texas] in that we have four bowl teams and four bowl winners. It creates quite an excitement that the players like and they understand how early they are going to be challenged and how that is going to help them through a tough Big 12 Conference."

On Quarterback Jason White
"I've felt great about Jason's progress; he's been able to keep up with our conditioning and workouts. He feels very positive and I feel positive about him after seeing him this spring. I'm not much of a worry guy, he'll be fine."

On OU's running backs
"The two guys who are really working hard this spring have been Renaldo Works and Kejuan Jones. They'll come in and run plays, they've been very good with the ball, catching passes, and holding on to the ball. Kejuan carried for over 600 yards last year [613] as our power guy, and we'll just see what happens."

On being preseason No. 1
"I don't believe anybody deserves a number one ranking before the season. It doesn't matter much and I don't much care. To be honest, even if they cancelled all the games and named us to be the number one team in the nation, I wouldn't accept it because I would know we didn't earn it. It makes it more of challenge to keep working hard and deserve that ranking."

On winning a national championship without an all-star quarterback
"It's been proven time and time again that you can win a national championship with a quarterback that leads the league or the country. I think taking your team to a national championship is more important, with the ability to make the right plays at the right times and know how to be smart with the ball, how to run the ball, and know when and where to pass.

LB Teddy Lehman
On the plays he didn't make last season

"There are plays that you are prepared for that you did not play like you wanted to. That happens every game. All you can do is to try and be more prepared for the next game."

On Tommie Harris
"When you are playing with a guy like that in front of you, than the offensive line is a lot slower. Not just Tommie (Harris), but our entire defensive line is so good that it makes it a lot easier on everyone. If the line does their job than that makes it easier on us and we make it easier on the secondary. It is a total team effort."

On Jason White's recovery
"He has come a long way since the spring. He took a lot of snaps this spring. He did not take any tackles like the rest of us, but he has come a long way. He had a great summer and is looking forward to two-a-days just like the rest of us."

QB Jason White
On what he learned after experiencing his second rehab

"I think I learned a lot after my first surgery. I have spent a lot of time in the weight room and gained a little weight, but I lost it running in the summer. I tried to stay fit during the rehab process so that it would be easier to come back."

On the pressure on the offense of producing
"I think it is to our advantage to have a great defense. If you do not score than you know the defense will get the ball back. There is a little pressure, but the way our offense has been working out this off-season, I think we will be just fine."

On how Coach Stoops gets the team prepared
"He gets us mentally and physically prepared more than anything. Throughout the course of the game we know our assignments and what is supposed to happen. He also gives us the motivation to strive and be the best."

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