Monday after practice Bob Stoops announced that Jason White would be the starting quarterback against Baylor this Saturday. Stoops said that White took 80 percent of the snaps with the first unit today, and that former starter Nate Hybl took the rest of the snaps with the second unit.
Here are some excerpts of what Stoops said to the media about the quarterback situation.
"Jason White took the snaps with the starting unit today and looked good," said Stoops. "Nate also took snaps with the second unit and looked good as well. At this time we are going into this weekends game with Jason as the starter and taking the snaps all week with the one's. Nate will be in the backup role and hopefully they will both continue to improve as they both need to. They both do a lot of good things, but both need to mature and get better."
Stoops didn't hesitate to get into the reasons why the move was made.
"In last weeks game Nate wasn't as consistent and as sharp as he had been in previous games," said Stoops. "Whether that was do to injury or not isn't for us to ponder. It's a situation that has incurred and I admire Nate for being as tough as he is. He has practiced through a sore shoulder, which everyone knows by now and fought through it and tried to play. Whether that was the reason for his struggles against Kansas, I don't
know. Nate had played pretty well in the previous game. Against Air Force he was good and against Kansas State he was exceptional. He had earned his position and was playing very well."
"It is not his fault that he got hurt against Texas and wasn't able to continue," Stoops continued. "Jason came into the game and made the most of it. Then, after the inconsistency in the Kansas game with Jason playing well in the last two games, we felt he has earned the opportunity to be the starter in this game. And then take it from there. We have proven that we can win with both quarterbacks and I don't think anyone can argue that, because it has happened against good football teams."
Honestly, despite this being a tough decision, the OU coaches feel they are in a very good position at quarterback. Sure, they have to worry about the psyche of Hybl, but they also know that he is a competitor and will keep battling for the starting job the rest of the season.
"As coaches, we feel very positive about the quarterback position, because we have already proven that we can beat good football teams with either quarterback," said Stoops. "We are just going to continue on and grow with the situation as a team. I watch both quarterbacks and they have a very good friendship. They help each other. They talk to each other about what they see and what they don't, and I think they will handle it very well."
When Hybl was named the starting quarterback White was the ultimate teammate vowing to push him the rest of the season. That dedication and effort has now been rewarded and now, the same effort is expected form Hybl.
"I fully expect Hybl to keep practicing hard and to continue to give great effort," said Stoops. "Sure, the guy who is not the starter is going to be disappointed as any competitor should be. They also understand that what is most important, and why they are here, to help this team succeed. We are not here for anyone's individual pleasure. This is about our team being successful and whoever is in the backup position is going to help the starter. They have proven they can do that already."
There is no question that Hybl wasn't healthy against Kansas and he may not be totally healthy for Baylor. However, at this point Hybl's health isn't a major factor in the coach's decision to start White.
"Our philosophy here is that it is not Nate's fault that he is injured or anyone's for that matter," said Stoops. "However, the bottom line is that whoever is on the field needs to perform at a level that we feel they are capable of. And at a level that is going to win for you. If a player is injured and can't perform at that ability then someone else needs to step in and play. It is really pretty simple."
Stoops has always maintained that all positions are open on a daily basis and that players need to perform to their highest level on a daily basis or risk losing their job.
"That is why I believe that we have great team chemistry here," said Stoops. "Our players understand that they are all going to have their opportunities. We are extremely fair in how players earn playing time and nobody around here is promised anything or given anything. It is all earned during practice and in games."
"Players always have to be ready to play and that certainly holds true for Nate," Stoops continued. "We have a long season ahead and the odds are great that Nate will get another opportunity to play again. We are only halfway through the year. He understands that, just like everybody on this team understands that. He needs to understand that and when he gets another opportunity he needs to make the most of it. I admire Nate for his courage to try and play against Kansas. He fought through pain all week and gave it a go, but for whatever reason wasn't as sharps as he has been and we needed to do something."
White never gave up on winning the starting job and plans on holding the job for the rest of his career.
"I was excited and I am happy that I got a chance to lead the team from the beginning," said White. "Hopefully, I will lead them to a victory. I was never going to give up on the starting job. I was going to keep pushing Nate and make him a better player. It just happened that he got an injury and I got an opportunity. It was the coach's decision and I hope we keep winning. Getting more snaps in practice is really going to help me with my reads in the passing game. The more times you can see a route the better you can execute it."
For Hybl, the demotion is the ultimate disappointment. His grand plan when he came to Oklahoma was to start for two years and get his big shot in the NFL. Now, he is on the bench with no idea if he will ever get a shot at starting again.
"The decision is disappointing, especially since I have been in there and long to be out there again," said Hybl. "We are getting ready for Baylor and it is a new week. And the offense looked good today, so we are moving on. I can only come out and practice hard every day and when I get the chance, perform in games. It is not hard to stay positive around each other, because we have a lot of respect for each other and our other teammates. Competition is an ongoing thing and unfortunately for me, this is the way it has happened. We are moving on."
"I really am not sure what I am supposed to say about my injury," said Hybl. "I will say this, I wasn't my normal self against Kansas. I had a great week of practice and I personally felt that the offense had a great week. Leading up to the game we really felt it was going to be a breakout game for us, but for me it just didn't happen. I think part of it was that you can't simulate a game situation on the practice field and when the game started I quickly found out I couldn't do certain things. Whatever the case, maybe at this point I have to accept it and move on."
"I am going to work hard everyday to get myself back to where I was," Hybl continued. "I want to stay as positive about the situation, but at the same time it's hard. I still feel that I am the leader of this offense. Definitely. My teammates still need me and that is where I am going to be. I am still going to watch film on Baylor, just like I have any team all year. I am going to prepare for Baylor as hard as any team this year. If you asked Jason, I am sure he would tell you that he didn't expect things to happen like this, so I have to be ready for anything."
Hybl's voice tailed off at that point and he was ready to head to the locker room. The fact he talked to us at all took a great deal of courage and discipline. Hybl's life has been turned upside down and he has all of a sudden gone from being the big man on campus, to just another player. That is tough for any of us in any walk of life, but especially for an athlete who is as visible as Hybl.
Hybl will be ready to play if given the opportunity, but White's on a roll and plans to be the starting quarterback at Oklahoma for the next three years.
Junior receiver Damian Mackey spent time in a Norman Regional Hospital last week for his second concussion. Mackey's condition is now of great concern to the Sooner coaches and his status for the rest of the year is still very much up in the air.
Center Josh Smith is once again working out with the team, but he is not going through contact. Smith could play in an emergency, but his status for the rest of the season is also up in the air.
Stoops says White will start at quarterback
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