NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops talked about this weekend's showdown with Texas A&M at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. Below is a transcript of his comments.
On this Saturday's game against Texas A&M
"Playing Texas A&M this week is a team that we are in a similar position as a year ago. I believe we were 8-0, undefeated, No. 1 in the country and virtually the same group of players came out a year ago and beat us. Our guys are fully aware of that. They have excellent talent, good players. They have a new coaching system and all of those guys have a great track record of success — Coach (Dennis) Franchione and his stuff. So, we understand that we've got to be on top of our game and ready to play to continue to put ourselves in a position to win a championship. And again, that is what we focus on here at Oklahoma, and that's what we'll continue to focus on and continue to pursue. This game is another important game with Texas A&M coming in here this week to be on top of our game and continue to put ourselves in a position to win a championship."
On how the coaches will make OU believe that they are not invincible
"There's a better maturity to this team than maybe any that's been here. We understand that is not the case. They've watched other teams who have had that said about them lose. They can reflect back to a year again when people were complimenting them too much – we're 8-0 and go to Texas A&M and they beat us. They don't forget those things. They understand that they have to earn it every week. It's not all that difficult. They're bright guys and we get to be around them every day to talk to them about what we're after. I like the fact that they're hungry. They want it, and they like to play well. So, I believe they'll continue to push for it."
On not having Renaldo Works this weekend
"Renaldo's a captain. He's one of my favorite players on this team because of his work ethic, his commitment to the team. He's an important part of this team, but we have had other guys who have played a lot, have been successful for us. And those guys will have to step it up and make big plays. I believe they're all capable of it, so hopefully there won't be any drop-off in our running game, there will just be different guys doing it."
On if A&M's offense is similar to what Franchione ran against OU last year with Alabama
"It's some of what they did last year at Alabama, but still some of it is tailored to (Reggie) McNeal and his running ability. You see some of the same plays that we've seen from Missouri or Texas with a quarterback that's able to run a lot. You have to deal with those plays that are also a little bit different then what they were doing at Alabama. Fortunately, we have a good number of games to look at, and that's something that we have worked on through this year on working to defend it."
On if OU will use last year's loss to A&M as motivation
"It's definitely on their mind. What's more important about it is we were undefeated and this same group of people beat us a year ago. We recognize that they're more than capable of doing it again if we're not on top of our game. That has more do with it and being prepared to play than any kind of revenge factor. That kind of stuff doesn't do a whole lot for you. It's being prepared for the moment to continue to put yourself in a position to win championships. And recognizing that this group took that opportunity a year ago, gives us a strong signal that we better be ready to play this year."
On Texas A&M running back Courtney Lewis
"He's really a good back. You see a guy who finds his holes, has good speed and vision, good strength as he runs. He's a good player. You see him making plays every week."
On the challenge of containing Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal
"Similar to challenges we've had with some other quarterbacks that have that ability to throw and run. We did not do a very good job a year ago. He made a lot of big plays that beat us throwing the football primarily, but also a few running that kept some drives going. It will be a big challenge for us again this year to be in better position to take away deep passes and to contain him when he pulls the ball down or on designed running plays for the quarterback."
On how far OU has come defensively since the A&M game last year
"I just think overall through the year we have been more consistent in everything we're doing. Our defense has been more consistent throughout in playing every part of the game. Our offense has been more consistent by a longshot. I just think overall we've played at a better level on offense and defense through nine games."
Stoops talks about Texas A&M
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