Stoops: "We won't apologize for playing well"

OU Head Coach Bob Stoops' wrapped up OU's win over Texas A&M, addressed the running up the score accusations and talked about Baylor at his weekly press conference Tuesday in Norman. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Below is a transcript of OU Head Coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference held Tuesday afternoon at the Barry Switzer Center in Norman.

On Texas A&M
"Extremely pleased with the performance of our players, coaches in preparation for another South division game with Texas A&M. Could not be more pleased with the way our players came out and competed and played and the way they prepared all week. I said it right after the game, I thought our last week of practice was as fine as I've ever seen us in practice in the way we were working together and getting prepared for the game. And it showed up on Saturday in the way we played. Our guys really were in tune.

"Offensively, just really clicked everything that we were doing running and throwing. Jason White, once again, was just sensational. When you complete your first 14 passes, go 16-18, throw five TD's — just sensational. (White was) Calling his own plays at the end of the half in a two minute drill, which was very pleasing to see. That is really positive when you can do those things and execute that way.

"Defensively, we were three and out a good part of the day. Just great up front, great in the secondary. Reggie McNeal, a year ago, really worked us running and throwing the football. To hold them to three first downs for the day was a great defensive effort and we're really proud of the players they way they played. Even though we didn't have a great number of snaps there, the guys really played in a great way.

"Trey DiCarlo was, once again sensational. Most of his kick-offs went out of the end zone. I believe seven of the 11 were out of the end zone, which is an excellent percentage. You look at his field goal percentage through the year along with his PAT's, he's a guy that has really played well the entire year and continues to improve for us.

"All in all it was a great day. Feel very positive in the way we played and managed the game. What really matters is the Texas A&M coaches, their Athletic Director, their players fans and the people that we associate with that were at the game, and the overwhelming response from all of them was that we managed the game as well as we could. And believe me, we are going to play each and every game as well and as hard as we can through four quarters. We're going to play our best guys at least through halftime or through three quarters. Guys like Tommie Harris only had 20 snaps the entire day. Derrick Strait, I think, had 37 snaps, which virtually ends up a half.

"In the end, I feel bad for a guy like Jason White, who has had two knee surgeries and sat two years, gets his opportunity to play and has to sit out an entire half. These guys work hard through the year to get prepared for the few games through the season they get to play. I also owe a lot to them, and I'm going to allow them to play and to play well as long as they can last week, this coming week and every week that I'm here. We won't apologize for playing well here. What needs to be understood is that we're playing a team that we compete with every single year, beat us a year ago and a team that we fight with for virtually every recruit that we get at this university."

On Baylor
"We're going to go out and play as hard as we can this week coming with Baylor. Baylor is a team that I'm sure would like to have a better record, but they're a team that a year ago we kind of went back and forth with through the first half, and a team that is still very capable. They've got a new coaching staff. Coach (Guy) Morriss has had a lot of success down at Kentucky.

"So, we don't take anything for granted. We're going to work hard this week. I like the momentum that our team has right now. They like and are excited to go to practice to get on the field to compete, and that's what we're going to keep doing. Hopefully, this week has a chance for us to lock up the South division and give us an opportunity to play in the Big 12 Championship game. But more than that, not just the Big 12 Championship game, we, at this point are still undefeated, which everyone recognizes. We're trying to build momentum, continue to build continuity in our team to get us in a position to win a championship. We're going to play and keep playing that way to put ourselves in the best position to win a championship. That's what we're after and that's what our players' focus is on and that's what we're going to keep pushing to do."

On if it bothers him that ESPN reporter Mike Lupica says that OU ran up the score
"When he questions your character it does. Especially when there are 75 writers and 84,000 people that witnessed the game, and nobody questioned it. Everyone understood we did the best we could to manage the situation, and here's a fiction writer who did not see the game have such a strong opinion. It's a little bit funny. He doesn't bother me."

On if he resents the fact that the talk is about running up the score when the focus should be on just how good OU is
"That part is the unfortunate part. We're having to apologize by the way we're playing, and we're not going to. We're going to keep playing as well as we can. That's our objective. Again, we're playing conference teams here that are after conference championships and competing for the same things we are. In the end, that is unfortunately what hasn't been talked about for a couple of days, is the level of play our players are playing at. They deserve the credit. The way they're playing right now, I couldn't be more proud of. Hopefully we can continue that and I'll take that kind of criticism every week if they want to dish it out."

On players like Jason White (missed two straight seasons) and Kory Klein (senior playing in his second to last home game) earning the right to play
"That's right. These guys earn their right to play. All these guys have been around here and worked hard for this program, and we're going to play and we're going to play hard. I feel very good in the way we managed it. They're (players) what matter to me. And don't get me wrong, I do respect and care about Texas A&M, and they understand that. Coach Franchione has said that to me. That's what matters, not some guy who didn't see the game. It's real simple."

On having to instruct his players to not score
"That's right, and you don't expect to score on defense. It's not something that usually happens. You're between a rock and a hard place. That happens."

On letting the clock run in the fourth quarter
"I mentioned something to the officials, whether they checked with Coach Franchione or not, I believe they had, and said let's keep it going and get it over with.

On what sets this team apart
"There is a great deal of talent, when you look at all the players up for national awards. The guys have a great sense of urgency to them, and the fact that they're not taking anything for granted. They like competing and being on the field with one another, so there's a lot of excitement to them. They do a good job preparing, not just talking about it but focusing in on their assignments and what needs to happen in order to win."

On if the players are realizing some of their goals are within reach
"They can sense that they're closer, that they're within a couple two or three games of being within reach. But again, everything has its time. They're good about not looking ahead. All we can do anything about is the way we play here this week, and we're going to get ready to play well."

On if the criticism will affect White's chances for the Heisman
"I don't know why it would. The poor guy has only finished three games this entire year and has been held out, if you count the minutes he's been held out, a game and a half. Hopefully people will recognize the fact that he's been held out so much. You can only imagine what his numbers would be had he competed through most all of those games."

On if they considered giving him some more reps in the second half because of the Heisman race
"I did, as well as continuing the continuity and momentum and the fact that we're trying to build towards a championship. And I'm not so sure we shouldn't have."

On Baylor being a dangerous team after beating Colorado and the Buffs playing OU close
"We always believe everyone is (dangerous). We do recognize that anybody can get anybody if you're not prepared to play or are on top of your game. We need to be prepared to play as always."

On White's play compared to other quarterbacks he's coached for one season
"For one season I don't know that there is any comparison. Josh Heupel had such a great year in 2000, but that was his second year competing. But in one year I don't know if I've seen anyone play the way he has. What Jason's doing with the limited experience he had coming in is just amazing. It makes you wonder what may have happened the last couple years had you had him."

On if Baylor is better fundamentally this year with a new coach
"That's hard for me to equate. I thought a year ago they still did a lot of good things, which is evident by the fact that we struggled a good part of that game. They're doing the right things, their schemes are good. I'm sure as time passes they'll continue to make improvements. Again, their coaches have a track record of success as well."

On White playing beyond his years
"You'd think he's been playing and starting for 20-30 games. He has had some experience behind him. The fact that he's been around watching us even though he hasn't been on the field due to the knee injuries, he's grown a lot through that time. It's evident the way he's playing."

On if they'll use the fullback running play they created during the game last week again
"That isn't something that we had, but J.D. is good enough that we probably should have it. Dan Townsend did a good job with it, so we'll see."

On if the criticism will change the way he handles things in the future
"No. That's a good problem to have. That's the nature of this position. You get criticized if you lose, you get criticized if you play too well. In this position you learn very early that it's impossible to please everybody. We're going to continue to play as absolutely as well as we can. Two, three quarters, whatever it takes. I don't much care. Our players deserve a chance to play and we're going to play as much as we can."

On if he's ever been involved in a game where there was a 50 point favorite
"Not that I know of. We may have there at Florida a time or so. I don't believe we have here."

On OU's killer instinct this year as opposed to 2000
"I don't know in 2000 that we were getting rid of people real early. Overall, through this season we have played in a stronger way probably in every part of the game than we had in 2000, but we're not finished. Hopefully that will remain the case this week and the coming weeks."

On if White calling his own plays in the two minute drill is standard procedure
"Yes. Coach Long has hin schooled up on what some of the possibilities are and what Jason likes. It was great to get that opportunity with the games coming down the road. We're preparing and trying to get ourselves in position to win a championship, and to be able to have executed that gives you confidence if the opportunity comes when you really have to have it."

On Mark Clayton's play
"He leads the Big 12 in yards per catch, tied for lead in touchdown receptions. Mark is playing incredibly well. Everyone that's watched us in the last several weeks have seen his big plays, his explosiveness with the football, his ability to get open. I asked Jason White on my TV show on Sunday, 'Are you just looking for Mark or are you going through your progressions and just happen to find Mark?' He said, 'Yeah, I go through my progressions and every time I get to Mark he's always open.' The guy just runs great routes, has great hands. He's a great blocker. If you go back and look at some of the yards our backs are getting and watch his knockdowns, you'd be amazed. He's one of our kick-cover guys too."

Dean (Blevins) said he would give me $150 if I asked you if Brent Rawls would've played Saturday (Question by Al Eschbach)
"That's not fair. We wish Brent the best. You guys laugh, but I don't ever like to put a young guy on the spot. We wish him the best there and I'm sure he'll have success. He left here in good terms and just had an opportunity to do something else. We're all for him."

On the second team defense playing better
"It's been pleasing to see our two's play better. Some positions we don't have two's. In our d-line we only rotate eight guys. We're not going to take guys out of redshirt years to play in the last few minutes of a game. The three linebackers have played in a great way. In the secondary, the backups who were in there played better than they have in the past. That's pleasing that you feel they're making progress through the year."

On Calvin Thibodeaux
"Calvin has really played well the last couple of weeks. In fact, I was teasing him. He's out here for interviews today. He knew I was going to say something to him when he walked in because he's getting all the pub now that he's making sacks and making big plays. It's good to see Calvin progressing that way. Our coaches have gained a lot of confidence in him the last few weeks the way he's playing. It gives you another guy that you can go to to keep the other guys fresh.

On what OU needs to do to improve
"I'm going to say everything. We haven't won any championships yet, and until you do you've got to keep pushing for better play. Everything needs to remain sharp and everything needs to try and improve through the week. What's good to see though in the last couple weeks is we have gotten better. Even though it's been pretty solid all year, in the last couple of weeks its really come on. You want to be playing at your peak level at this time of year."

On who OU wants to play in the Big 12 title game
"Ask me when we get in it."

On the Don Key Award
"It's a special award. All our seniors are very special to us. You look at the number of games these guys have won in the last four or five years, it's really special. You look at that first recruiting class of ours: Jason White, Josh Heupel, Torrance Marshall, Derrick Strait, Brandon Everage, all those guys who were in that first class and just how special they all were and the impact they've had on this program. A class that was probably ranked maybe eighth or ninth in the league when we signed them. The impact they've had is really special. What I'm getting at is it's always hard to single out one guy for the Don Key Award because they're all so special. That's something that we'll vote on later in the week, but I appreciate all of them. It will be hard. They've all had such a strong impact. They've really set a great example for our young players to follow of toughness, work ethic, respect and humility in the way they deal with the media and talk about each other."

On who was the best college football team he's ever seen
"I don't know. There's a bunch of them. Any of the one's that have been undefeated you could throw in there."

On if this OU team could be the best college football team ever
"It's too early for that. We still have a lot of work to do to win championships. We know that. We're the one's who have to do it. We're the one's who have to play, so we're going to keep working on trying to be one of those teams. We're the one's who have to play, so we're going to keep working on trying to be one of those teams."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories