Below is a transcript of OU Head Coach Bob Stoops' comments on this weekend's Big 12 championship game with Kansas State from his weekly press conference.
On Kansas State
"Really excited about this week focusing and zeroing in on the Big 12 Championship game in Kansas City. Our program, our players, us as coaches recognize it as another big challenge facing Kansas State they way they've played in the last six games. They're an excellent, well-coached, talented football team that has really been playing well."
"We're excited about that challenge, even though we're in a situation where we're 12-0 at this point. Our first primary goal for the season is to win the Big 12 Championship game. Our players understand that we're going after that trophy and after that accomplishment, just like Kansas State is. We've put ourselves in a great position, but our biggest game is coming up this week. It's got them awfully excited. It's got them focused, preparing well in practice. I love the way we have practiced leading up to this and leading up to the game, and the way we're coming into it very healthy.
"It has an eerie feeling and similar to 2000. We're the home team, same locker room, same situation coming in where we're undefeated and pursuing a championship. All of that is out there, but in the end we're different teams then we were at that time. You have to go earn your way again, but we will have some familiarity coming into that environment. Our guys like big games. They're excited about it and excited about the challenge of it. Hopefully, we'll be in a position to play well on Saturday."
On Kansas State's running game
"They're very physical the way they run their options and quarterback run game. With the two of them (Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles), they find ways to get the ball in space. And that's what you have to do your best to take away and tackle well in those situations. They also have a big play receiver in James Terry, who has caught a great number of touchdown passes through the year and a good number of balls and big plays. Their game is to run and option and try to suck you in with the secondary and try and get behind you on big plays. We've worked hard on that and hopefully we can take away the three (Sproles, Roberson and Terry) of them."
On if the health of QB Ell Roberson is the reason for KSU's recent six straight wins
"I think that's the biggest factor. Their first loss to Marshall he did not play. It was his first game back after several weeks of healing up from an injury when he came back at Texas and Oklahoma State. Those were the first two games with him returning. His consistency and ability to make big plays is a major factor. I would imagine that would be the biggest factor."
On the players having last weekend off
"It helps a lot. It gets them rejuvenated. They've spent the entire year since August here working. Time with their families and time to rest a few days gave them a little extra speed in their step come Monday."
On his days under Bill Snyder
"I've always spoke highly of my time at Kansas State. I would not have stayed seven years if wasn't a great experience for me, and it was. I had other opportunities to leave during that time, but I loved the environment we worked in and the way we went about our business. That was a special time for me, and I grew a lot as a coach."
On what he learned from Snyder
"Being thorough and detailed in your plan with the way you go about your business. Whether its setting up your practice, setting up your daily schedule or preparing for a game — that you're thorough and detailed on how you're going to do it and that you don't take things for granted. You work to a point to where you feel you have your plan where it needs to be. And discipline. I felt our teams there, where we really started to turn the corner was establishing a discipline, whether it be off the field but also on the field in the way we played."
On both coaches knowing each other and their tendencies
"Anybody that's competed against each other a few times has a good idea what you like to do. Plus, we watch every single play through the entire year. We see who we play and what they like to do. It shows right there on tape. I don't know how much of that enters into it."
On what Kansas State is doing similar on offense compared to years past
"Some of the same things. The option game is there, all the different quarterback run plays that are there now. The quarterback draws, quarterback leads, quarterback counters, quarterback this, that and the other (laughs). There's a lot of different ways that they try and create seams and running space with the quarterback, or option it with the quarterback and pitch it to the tailback. It continues to develop. Fortunately, this year we've seen some of it through the number of quarterbacks that we've seen in the league this year. I believe Missouri, Texas and Texas A&M all had some of the same plays. I don't know that any of them emphasize the option as much as Kansas State does, but the other parts have all been there for the most part."
On if it's a factor that they haven't played Kansas State the last two years
"I don't know that it matters a whole lot. When we have faced them before everybody makes an issue that you've got to play them a second time. And now we haven't, so it doesn't matter. You go play and you get ready for it and you do the best you can like you would any other game."
On KSU's Josh Buhl and Bryan Hickman
"Very good players. They run to the football, make a lot of plays, tackle well, which is typical Kansas State defense. They're well-disciplined in their positioning on the football. They always run well. They're always physical they way they play and really limit you on getting big plays. That's how they've played."
On KSU's special teams
"They're always well-coached when you watch them. They're in the top half of the league in almost all the categories. It's a major factor in all games. Sproles is a guy that's has had some big returns for them. They've blocked a good number of punts through the year. Their punt team has had a little bit of trouble with snaps, but they're always solid with the way they play special teams."
On if they expect KSU to blitz the way they have in the past
"That hasn't been a big staple for them this year. We'll see blitz like we have every week, but I don't believe they're going to live with it on every single snap like some people have tried to do. I believe they have more confidence in how they're playing and play their structure like they have for most of the year, then to just wholesale change and just try and blitz us."
On why the Wildcats are better defensively than earlier in the year
"I don't know. I thought they played pretty well early. Again, during that stretch with those losses, offense compliments defense and back and forth. When one isn't going sometimes the other doesn't hold up as well. I believe they've always played in a strong way."
On if KSU is a less aggressive defense this year because they're not blitzing as much
"No. You don't have to blitz to be aggressive. People would say we don't blitz a lot, but I've never heard us not labeled as aggressive on defense. I see their structure as very sound, like it has been for a good number of years."
On if their defensive philosophy is similar to OU's because of their Iowa connections
"There's some similarities there. Sure. I don't know how much. I'm not going to sit here and over-analyze it. But there are some that are very similar."
On Roberson's running ability setting up the play-action pass
"They're very good at it. That's a major part of their game — to force your hand to defend the run with your secondary people and then to fake it, try and slip behind you and create big plays that way. You always know that playing this type of team, and it's something that you work hard on. Fortunately, we've had a couple weeks to work on it, get the proper reads and be in position when they do to be on top of it."
On Roberson's passing ability
"We recognize him as a very good passer. He's one of those guys if he has people in position to catch the ball he's going to get it to them. He's been accurate that way in creating big plays for them."
On if they'll practice outside this week to prepare for the cold
"We don't worry much about it one way or the other. If it's decent enough we go outside. If it isn't we go in. We just want to get quality work. That doesn't matter. We operate just fine no matter what the temperature or what it's doing out there."
On playing in a conference title game when team's from other conferences don't
"I've said all along, and it seems to be getting more and more pulled towards it, is other conferences all need to play one too. Let's face it, it's great to watch. It's great for college football. I just bring up last year with Iowa and Ohio State. Ohio State wins the national championship but Iowa was champions with them in the conference. Wouldn't that of been a great game to watch? I guess the ACC now is working towards that in their new structure. So, as many as we can keep pulling into it we might as well."
On if Brent Venables and Mike Stoops will handle the same coaching duties this week
"Yes. Everything is the same."
On if playing Kansas State in KC brings back the memories of 2000
"It brings them back. How much, I don't know. It's always hard to quantify, but they're there. I think what it gives you is a positive feeling going into the environment knowing you've been there before and you've competed well in that environment. But we fully realize that was then and this is now and we've got to do it again."
On how different this team is from the 2000 team
"I've said it all year. People thought I was blowing smoke when I said it before the Texas game — that our team this year is much stronger than we were at any time here, and that includes the 2000 year. I don't think anyone would dispute that. The way we've played overall through the entire year with the depth, with the overall ability and players in place to make plays and the consistency in coaching. I believe our offense is more diverse and more efficient in every way than we were then. And defensively, I believe we're better overall than we were in 2000. We're just quite a bit of a different team than then. But to be better than we were then we've got to win 13 plus one. We're focused on this game."
On guarding against overconfidence
"This team has genuine respect and humility to them. Their not all shot in the rear end with themselves. They understand, to this point, we haven't done anything. We've won 12 games, but the only thing that's going to matter are these next two games. That's what we'll be defined by. So, we're hungry for it and our guys know that the most important games are ahead of us."
On what it will mean for the program to win its third Big 12 title
"I don't look at things that way. It will just mean a great deal for this year — to continue on our path. To have another one would be special, but I'm not sitting here counting them up. We just want this one for its merits for this season is what matters to us."
On what makes KSU RB Darren Sproles so dangerous
"I think more than anything his ability to find holes, his explosiveness and ability to make people miss him, and their ability to create space for him."
On if he's a similar back to Quentin Griffin
"In some ways, maybe. Their attack and how they get him the ball is different. Size wise there's probably some similarities there. Quentin was probably a little thicker than people realize. Quentin was about 195 pounds, but probably the same height."
On if the predicted bad weather favors any side
"No. Not unless it's just going to be bad for one of them, which probably wouldn't be the case (laughs)."
On if the coaches have any input on where the Big 12 title games are played
"I don't believe so. They haven't asked us where we want to play it."
On playing it in Kansas City
"I like the atmosphere. I think back to playing in Kansas City in 2000. It was a great atmosphere. I don't even remember the game being very cold, though everybody says it was. Once you get out there running around, and even though I'm not running I'm standing their thinking a lot, you don't notice anything. I don't know if it bothered either team. I'm sure it will be another great atmosphere. I thought it was a very electric and exciting atmosphere the last time we were in it and expect it to be again."
On if he thinks Kansas State has a home field advantage playing in Kansas City
"I don't. Someone wrote that today that I agreed with that. I never said that. We're the home team and it's a neutral field. I'm sure we'll have a few people there. It didn't seem to really matter to us the last time we were there. It's a neutral field and we'll go get after it the best we can."
On rotating the Big 12 title game around different sites
"The only reason to have it in one area would be so the fans knew every year to set your plans to go here. Some people want to know well in advance. Other than that, I believe what happens is you don't want any one site taking advantage of a great opportunity to make it to that site and to not make it financially right for the conference and for the game that they're getting. So, if it's in one place all the time no one else bids on it, there isn't much that they have to put up to host the game. Financially, some of those figures come into play."
On the chances of losing to Kansas State and still playing in the Sugar Bowl
"We don't care about any of that. I've said it a million times ... our first goal is to win the Big 12 Championship. And that's what's in front of us."
On if he'd rather play USC or LSU in the Sugar Bowl
"If we get in that position it won't matter to us."
Stoops: "Our first goal is to win the Big 12"
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