Below are excerpts from Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference held at the Barry Switzer Center Tuesday in Norman.
On OU's Big 12 Conference leading graduation rates
"There's not much that can upstage
Alabama-Oklahoma, but our graduation rates should. I thank Dr. Gurney for his hard work and also Theresa Turner, who works specifically with our football players in Dr. Gurney's office. Dr. Gurney oversees all the athletes and Theresa Turner looks works with the football team.
"I appreciate their hard work and I can assure you that an athlete has every opportunity to get a great education, earn their degree here. All they need to do is put forth some effort. It's all here — a great university with a great learning center to assist them. I am very proud of what we've been able to do. It shows consistency and continuity in our program and all our athletic programs that assist in our graduation rate."
On last weeks win against North Texas
"I felt like it was probably in five years our best season opener. We were pleased as a staff in all parts of the game that we played in a solid way. Take away some personal fouls — that some should've been called and some were awfully questionable. That's easily correctable and I believe our players understand that. Outside of that, it was a very clean game when you look at tackling, execution on offense, taking care of the football and production.
"Trey DiCarlo was given a game ball and was the MVP of our special teams. (Trey) Was perfect on the night. Blake Ferguson had a 41-yard average. Was very solid.
"Offensively, game balls were given to Brandon Jones and Jason White for their performance. I think everyone wanted to see how Jason would play, and I think he answered a lot of questions and showed why we've been so positive about him throughout camp. He really played in a great way throughout the game."
"Defensively, a game ball was given to Derrick Strait. I'm proud of him to be named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. Derrick's been our best and most consistent player for four years and he's not talked about nearly enough. He's a special player and really plays and practices a great level all of the time.
"Also, game balls were given to Tommie Harris and Dan Cody. They really played in a great way and got great push and pressure up front.
"We understand the challenge in front of us now going to Alabama, a program with a tradition and history like ours with a great number of national championships, conference titles. We understand the challenge that's in front of us, but I also know that our players are awfully excited about the challenge of it. They know what it will take in that atmosphere and be successful. I believe they're looking forward to the challenge and seeing what we're able to do. We had a very strong practice yesterday and that gives you the idea they're zeroed in on it."
On Alabama Coach Mike Shula
"Coach Shula, having been there a short time, did an excellent job in the first game. You could tell from the first quarter to the fourth quarter how much they started to gain comfort and confidence in what they were doing. They have solid coaches, many of them we competed against in the Rose Bowl were there from the Washington State staff. Some other coaches are new, but it's a staff with a lot of experience and Coach Shula himself has some great experience."
"We understand what's in front of us and we'll go down there and compete and see what we're able to do."
On how they've prepared for Alabama since they've had three different coaches over the last year.
"The one game helps. It gives an idea. Surely, there will be more than just what was in one game. The coaches have a track record and a history. Coach Shula, we looked at some tape from when he was the offensive coordinator with Tampa Bay in ‘99 and at what he did with the Dolphins. Also, you look at Coach Kines and what the background of their defensive staff is and where they're from and how they've been playing. You can get a fairly good idea on what they do and what they like."
On what he remembers of the atmosphere at Bryant-Denny Stadium from his trip there when he coached at Florida
"It's a great atmosphere. It's like you see when you go to these tradition-rich programs with championships. They're sold out crowds and they appreciate good football. They appreciate good football from the opposition as well as from their own team. It was an excellent crowd. They're loud. They support their team, but they also do it in a good way. I can remember going in there with Florida when we were pretty good and won that game. But their fans were very respectful towards us as well."
On getting Brandon Everage back
"That will be another plus. Brandon has shown for a good number of years here to be a playmaker with his run support and ability to cover the pass. I think he led our team in interceptions last year. We're counting on Brandon, and Brandon brings a lot of energy. He's a great team guy that the players really respect and respond to. It will be good to have him back out there with us."
n OU having an advantage because Alabama's players are still learning a new system
"I don't know that that's necessarily the case. They have a system in now. Those players have played a lot. You have basic understanding of principles. Their offensive line has a basic understanding of a double team or a base black. These guys have played a lot, they're good players. You have different wrinkles and schemes, but some of the fundamentals don't change. So, I don't know that that has to be a major factor really. They have their system in place and they'll stick with it. And again, they have players that are very good."
On playing a tough early season road game
"These are exciting games. I thought last year Alabama coming here created a lot of energy on our campus for our fans and our team. And going there this year does the same thing for Alabama as well as us. There's advantages of it, and if you lose there's a disadvantage to losing, but in the end it has our players attention and hopefully it will benefit us down the road to go on the road and play a tough game. It is what it is. We have it so let's go play it. We're excited about it."
On playing in an SEC stadium
"We're going in to play Alabama. I don't care if it's in the parking lot, their stadium or our stadium. Let's go play and see what we can do. I don't get all caught up in SEC stadiums, Big 12 stadiums, independent stadiums. You don't much care once you're in there."
"We had a heckuva game in there with Florida and won it. They were on a drive in the fourth quarter, actually in the last minute of the game, and we intercepted the ball to seal the game. I believe it as 16-10 we won."
On Alabama's offense
"They're multiple in pro-sets, power sets, spread it out in long-yardage with four wide receivers. He (Coach Shula) wants to establish a power run game and play action pass from it. Then, when forced to in long-yardage situations spread it out. Their quarterback — Brodie Croyle — is a very good player. He's a guy we tried to recruit several years ago. They'd like to be able to run the ball and then work the pass from there."
On Alabama's physical style
"They're very physical up front. They're a physical team and their players have size to them, so you definitely have to be physical right with them. Fortunately, we usually are."
On the injury situation
"There's nothing very serious and we should have everybody ready to play this week."
Tuesday's Press Conference Quotes
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