Stoops says Sooners should be better in '03

OU Head Coach Bob Stoops previewed the upcoming season at his annual media golf tournament and luncheon Friday in Norman. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

NORMAN, Okla. —'s Brian Bishop and James Hale had the opportunity to attend the Bob Stoops' media golf tournament and the luncheon Friday in Norman. Below are some public comments made by OU Head Coach Bob Stoops on the upcoming season.

On the Number 1 ranking
"I'll take it. They voted us in that position, so yeah, it means something, but it won't in another month. But sure, it's nice for our program to be thought of, mentioned, get the notoriety."

On his expectations for 2003
"We should be better. I expect us to be better. We've got a lot of returning talent and we're starting to build depth. Everybody wants to talk about the quarterback position, but you have some other guys out there on the field with him. The offensive line will be much better. Coach Wilson thinks both our guards can be a strength for us this year. Receivers, (Will) Peoples came in mid-season last year, lit it up and we couldn't get him off the field. (Mark) Clayton will continue to make big plays for us. I'm not worried about tight end or fullback. Coach Sumlin has come in and really helped get that position more involved in the offense. We have very solid players there. At running back, (Renaldo) Works and Kejuan (Jones) will do very well."

"On defense, the defensive backfield is very solid. We've got that big, physical strong safety now in Dante Nicholson, and I'm very pleased with how he's come in and claimed that spot. At linebacker we're about as good as we can be. At end Jonathon Jackson maybe played well enough in the Rose Bowl to be co-MVP. That was his first chance to show us what he can do when he's healthy. So, I think we'll actually get more production this year from that position."

"Special teams should also be improved. Cody Freeby will come in and battle Ferguson for punt duty, and on returns that objective will be to find a way to allow Perkins to make something happen. I believe he's as fine of a kick returner as I've seen in a while."

If something unfortunate should happen to Jason White, can the Sooners win a National Championship with Paul Thompson?
"Sure, I believe we can. Paul's a bright kid with excellent ability. When he comes in he maybe gives the defense a little more to think about. And our offense is different now than a couple of years ago. We do not have to, or want the quarterback going out there and thinking it's all on his shoulders. With an improved offensive line and better running ability, he doesn't have to be the whole show."

His reaction to the stadium expansion
"It's everything I thought it was going to be and everything I dreamed of. I look back to when I came here and the first thing Joe (Castiglione) did was get to work and get us great practice fields. Then the indoor facility, now this stadium, it just keeps getting better. And it's not just football, we have a new track going in, new basketball facilities, it's really amazing when you think about the commitment that's been made here, an is continuing to be made here."

On his first four years at Oklahoma
"The nature of coaching is to look ahead, not behind. But sometimes you have to sit back and really appreciate what you've experienced. If someone said to me right now, would you duplicate the last four years over the next four and be happy? I'd take it in a minute. What are we, like 42-9? Is that right? Four bowls games where we're 3-1. Two BCS Bowls, including the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl, two Big 12 Championships, a National Championship. When I think about all that I can get pretty grateful. But I get far too much credit. A lot more credit should go to those guys right over there, (assistant coaches). But then again, I think I'm smart enough to let them have the freedom to coach. To try new things. But yeah, it's been a very special four years, everything and more than I thought it could be."

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