Below is a complete transcript of OU Head Coach Bob Stoops' teleconference on Monday morning with the Big 12 media.
On the season opener against North Texas
"We're all anxious to play and get on the field with North Texas — a team that has won the last two championships in the Sunbelt Conference, and picked to win it again this year. We recognize all that, but we're also excited. I think everybody's tired of talking and running into each other the last month. We're anxious to go play and see what we can do and what kind of team we're going to have. We're looking forward to it."
On North Texas
"They're an excellent team, well-coached. Coach Dickey's done a great job with them. It will be a big challenge to start the year and we're looking forward to it."
On North Texas defensive tackle Brandon Kennedy
"He's a strong, physical player. Extremely quick. MVP of their conference. He's an excellent player. He's very physical and does everything you look for in a defensive lineman."
On how OU will try to scheme around Kennedy
"Well, you run your offense. We can't design a particular offense that just deals with one guy at a time. We're going to see a lot of good players throughout the year. You run your offense and trust your players to meet his challenge and play with him."
On the difficulty of the non-conference schedule with four bowl teams from last year
"Well, you know we like it since we're getting read to play it. We recognize all of that. There are not only four bowl participants, there are four bowl winners. If you look at preseason expectations and predictions, Fresno State and North Texas are picked to win their conference. So, they are good teams. We have recognized that all along, our players have. I believe our players are looking forward to the challenge of it."
On if the difficult non-conference schedule preparing the team for the conference race
"I believe it will. Hopefully we'll be that further along when we get into conference play."
On the challenge of being the first team since Florida State to start and end the season ranked No. 1
"We are looking forward to the challenge of it. They (Florida State) did it, I believe, in ‘99, which was only a few years ago. So, it's not like it can't be done. I'm kind of an odds guy. I look at things like, ‘Well, it's due to happen again.' So, we're going to go after it and I believe our players are anxious to play and compete and earn it. Nobody wants to go after it any worse than we do. We're going to go compete and challenge for it and see what happens."
On if he thinks his team will have a mental edge over their opponent because they are ranked No. 1
"I don't think it much matters. We've earned a reputation over the last several years of being a pretty good football team. People recognize that. Regardless of where we're at we get about everybody's best shot and we've been used to that for quite a few years, not all of the sudden."
On the progress of Paul Thompson
"Paul has really had an excellent camp here in the summer and really is playing well. You can just tell he's much more comfortable and relaxed back there. He's enjoying it. Throws the ball really well and is a natural at avoiding the rush and making something happen. So, it's been positive. He's still a young guy who has a way to go, but it's encouraging when you see a guy who's making progress and what a good person he is too. He really works at it and studies."
On if he's happy with what he's seen from the defense
"Yes, definitely. Our guys have made strong progress. I like a few of the scrimmages where we have been more fundamentally sound and precise in what we're doing than any time that I've watched us. Now, that's a scrimmage and I also understand that's because they're used to seeing our offense. We do a lot of strong work against each other with one's on one's, so they have the advantage of being so familiar. But in the end, you still like to see good, strong tackling. I like the way we've progressed in what we're doing and the maturity of the guys. Now, again, you need to put it on the field and it needs to work every week, but we're in a good position coming in."
On the kicking game
"It's definitely in a lot better shape coming into this year in that we don't have a brand new kicker, snapper and punter like we did a year ago. All of them are better, improved and stronger. Our long snapper has a year under his belt and has continued to get better. Trey DiCarlo, I believe, will have more power in his leg and is a lot more confident coming into the season. Blake Ferguson's competition at the punting position has picked up and he has improved. His concentration and consistency has improved and the young guy behind him isn't far off. So, it's all positive right now."
On what aspect of the team worries him going into the season. (Note that this question was asked by a reporter from the Austin-American Statesmen)
"No, and if I told you you'd probably tell somebody (laughs). I feel good that we've prepared well and worked on all the parts of our game to improve. I feel like we're ready to play. I don't understand worrying about it. You have what you have, you're as good as you are and you try to get better constantly through the year. That's where we're at right now."
Stoops: "We're anxious to play"
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