Stoops, Sooners shift focus to Missouri

OU Head Coach Bob Stoops talks about the Sooners win over Texas and this weekend's matchup with Missouri.

Below is a transcript of OU Head Coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference held Tuesday in Norman.

On last week's game against Texas:
"Going back to last week's game, very pleased and I feel fortunate as a coach to be able to work with the players that we get to work with every day. Proud of their efforts and being ready for a game that everyone wants to talk about and focus on. You know it's just another Big 12 South game in the direction of a championship. To play like we did is very satisfying. Offensively, the mix of run and pass, the execution and taking care of the football and once again no offensive turnovers. Defensively as well, we came up with a lot of forced turnovers. Tackling, hitting and good position on the ball. And that's what you like to see. You know, the opening series with Derrick Strait intercepts the ball and brings it down to the six yard line. Those kinds of plays have strong impacts on the game, which are obvious. And all of our special teams, our cover units were very good. I thought Blake Ferguson hit the ball really well, hitting the ball twice over 40 yards and he averaged around 40 yards, which is what you want. Trey DiCarlo was excellent with his field goals and PAT's so all of that together it was very solid."

On who stood out during the game:
"On offense, everyone should recognize Jason White, just an incredible performance. (He was) 17 for 21, near perfect, 4 TD's and right at 300 yards throwing the ball. And realize he only threw four passes in the second half and did not play the entire fourth quarter, so I believe people recognize that and he was just really on fire, once again. Mark Clayton had an exceptional game. Everyone has recognized his great play, 190 receiving yards, and broke a receiving record here, an outstanding day competing for the ball, and getting open and running with it. Also offensively, Renaldo Works was an MVP for the week, with over 100 yards rushing, 7.5 yards per carry at the TB position. Strong night, had a big run."

More on Texas:
"Probably most pleased with our big drive we had there, we opened the second half with about a 6 minute drive, primarily running the football and then being able to put in in and to go ahead 44-13, really showed a lot of character."

Defensive guys who stood out:
"First, Brodney Pool, with some early big plays, the interception and the caused fumble down on the goal line, and a broken up pass late. Derrick Strait, Player of the Week in the Big 12, and maybe nationally, I'm not sure if that is official yet or not. Here's a guy with a big interception, recovered two fumbles, has 11 tackles, just all over and three passes broken up. Just an exceptional day. Also along with him, Jonathan Jackson. If you really look at JJ's numbers, he has two sacks, seven tackles, an INT for a TD, a caused fumble and a batted pass. That's a pretty good day for a DE. So those are the guys who were recognized by us."

On Missouri:
"After the game we didn't celebrate too much, nobody was overly joyous over the win, it's only our second Big 12 game. We have a long season in front of us with a big challenge with Missouri here this week. I like the way our players handled it. We put it behind us yesterday and had a good solid practice. We realize that we have a big challenge here this week with Missouri, a team that's 5-1 and just beat an undefeated Nebraska team. They were beating us in the fourth quarter a year ago, where we come from behind and win and feel fortunate to do so. So we have our work cut out for us once again. A team that is playing well and we need to have a strong performance and be prepared to play our best again this week."

On if he knew the offense would be this good:
"Well, we hoped to. You don't ever have set ideas, like we are going to score this many points. You constantly work to push and to improve. And we've done that each week throughout the year. I do believe that we said coming into the year, that we believed that this would be the most explosive wide receiver unit and the best we had in four years. And we said that we would probably have our strongest offensive line. I guess the unknown was how good Jason was going to be. We felt good watching him practice and watching him through his spring and summer work that he was going to be very good for us. And he has been that and a whole lot more. He has just been exceptional the way he has progressed. So, I think that is what really is driving it, along with the excellent play of all the guys around him."

On Teddy Lehman's progression since Lance Mitchell's absence:
"He's playing his normal, good, steady, excellent play as always. It hasn't changed for him, even with Lance out of there. You know, Wayne Chambers has been really solid and had a good game against Texas. But Teddy is doing his part and playing his role, and as always he's playing it very well. You know what's good is here as you watch our guys each week, you never know who it's coming to each week. Different guys have stepped up and risen to the occasion and making plays when they have the opportunity to. You heard a lot about the first several games, Dan Cody, but then the other day ‘JJ' comes up with the big plays in this game that help us win. Brodney Pool is a young guy in the secondary who is learning how to play and stepping up week in and week out and making big plays. It just comes in with different guys at different times, and the good thing is, is that our guys really don't care. They just enjoy playing well and playing as a team."

On Tommie Harris and the importance of the front four:
"The front four has been by far and away better than at any time here, and in fact it's not even close. We've been saying that. It's obvious, the pressure that we got in the game last week and week in and week out they're playing that way. They're very active. Tommie has been excellent and had another good game the other night. Very strong penetration and pushing the pocket. Also Dusty Dvoracek who tips the ball for JJ and the interception, and they're spelled by Kory Klein and Lynn McGruder. Then the three DE's: JJ, Dan Cody, Larry Birdine all are complementing one another and playing very well. You know they are all active and playing at a better level and creating more plays which really helps solidify the defense."

On slowing down Missouri QB Brad Smith:
"Well, it's a big challenge, you know he…looking for the right word here, he got after us and really had a lot of big plays on us and executed and made us miss him. We need to tackle better, we need to be in position better, we need to tackle on the run better and we're working on that hard this week. We worked on some plays that were similar a week ago but they throw in some different wrinkles. Hopefully we can execute better against him, he's an excellent player."

On the similarities between Smith and Vincent Young:
"Yeah, there are some. You know I have a hard time (comparing), all players are different. He's a big guy who can run. Some of their attack is similar on offense, but there are similarities definitely."

On if it's easier to get up for this year's game after what Smith did to the defense last year:
"Probably. There's a lot of reasons we are going to have to play our best this week, because of the way they are playing now, more so than how they played last year. We've seen Smith and how good he can be. So that is something that we are definitely aware of and are going to prepare hard for."

On OU's receivers compared to Texas':
"I'm not going to speak about their WR's, they are all good. But if you take a look around and look at our whole group and our rotation and production compared to maybe everyone outside of Tech, who is also playing at an incredible level. When you watch our receivers, they are as good or better than anybody out there in production, numbers, points, first down and TD's I'd say point to that. And in particular the play of Mark Clayton, who has just been exceptional. So, I don't have any problem saying our guys are as good as anybody out there."

On OU's receivers compared to the ones he had at Florida:
"I'm not going to do that. That was so long ago and our guys have more to do. They haven't reached the production of those guys at Florida, but we have more games to go and maybe they will. I don't know what the TD numbers were over there, but it was a lot, and we're working towards there. And who knows if they can reach those kind of numbers."

On Clayton's running after the catch:
"Some of his catches are just, you know all of his catches aren't right in stride although most of them are. But some are ones he reaches back for, some are him just with people draped on him and he catches the ball. He takes a lot of pride in catching everything and he is just really competitive going after it once he has it. And you know it does rub off and players see the standard and all the other players see how he competes and want to do the same thing. I do believe it has rubbed off on all of them."

On OU's weaknesses:
"I think as a coach you are always incredibly critical, regardless. I'm not going to sit here and critique everybody and get onto my players right in front of everybody. But in the meeting rooms and on the field we're after more. And I believe that the really good teams, the teams that win championships do continually improve as they go and that's what we are trying to do."

On the improvement of the running game:
"I said before it is something that continually grows and works through the year and improves. It's all of it together gelling, and throwing the football so well doesn't hurt it either. People are having to deal with both, which can make it difficult."

Did you see Missouri kind of stole your fake FG from last year?
"It sure looked like it and more power to them. It's something that they executed well and made the play and you can bet that we're working on it all week."

On running the ball effectively in the second half against Texas:
"Sure it does, and they take pride in that. I think it was a good feeling, in that 3rd quarter opening drive. It gives them a lot of confidence and what we want to be is a physical tough team and when we have to be. To come out and do that at a critical moment on your opening possession in the second half says a lot."

You said Vincent was more of the emphasis than Benson in Texas' running game, do you think Smith is the same way for Missouri?
"Texas has really de-emphasized their TB running game, which is obvious. I believe their TB only carried the ball only 13 times the entire day. And the QB run game is what has become prominent for them. Missouri, though, they will hand it to their TB every bit as much, maybe even more. Abram, their RB is strong and powerful guy and they stick with him. They are a team who stick with running their RB as much or more."

On the strength of the program and if that offers an advantage:
"You know it's interesting after the game, and after I handed out all the game balls to them individual and the assistant coaches and players, all immediately presented a game ball to Jerry Schmidt and his entire strength staff for them and their hard work. It was a really hot and humid day the other afternoon and I appreciate our players recognizing that. That they felt really good and strong during the game and they wanted to present Coach Schmidt with a game ball, even though during the summer, they probably wouldn't want to give him one."

On if the win over Texas will help recruiting:
"Maybe, I don't know. I'm sure for some recruits it will change and it will matter more, the way the game was won and the manner in which it was played. I'm sure for some recruits that would make a difference, but I can't speak for all of them."

If a kid was committed to Texas, and wanted to go to the game (as your visitor) how would you handle that situation?
"It would just depend on how committed he was. It's kind of like when you get engaged, is the guy still dating or is he really engaged? I don't know. If he was still dating, then probably."

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