Stoops on LSU

OU Head Coach Bob Stoops talked about his Sooners Sugar Bowl matchup with LSU at a press conference Friday in Norman. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

On the Sugar Bowl
"Excited to get into preparation for the Sugar Bowl and preparing to have an opportunity to compete in the National Championship with an excellent football team in LSU. It's been a hectic two weeks. Feel very good as a staff getting back together today starting to really zero in on our gameplan. It will be great here for the next three, four days to start into our gameplanning and start zeroing in on LSU."

"Excellent, talented football team, and you would expect that. You're not going to get in this game, and you look at of us in the top three, four, five positions in the country, you're going to see talented players. They have excellent skill and speed at all of their skill positions. They've got a smart, excellent quarterback that makes good decisions. A physical o-line and d-line. Everywhere you look across the board you see strength, you see speed, you see ability.

"Coach (Nick) Saban and his staff do an excellent job. You can tell they're all well-coached, disciplined in how they play, which you would expect getting into this game. Anyone that's won 12 football games like they have, you would see that. Hopefully, as they watch us they may see some of the same things.

"It makes for a great challenge, a great matchup, an exciting atmosphere. We're looking forward to competing in it. We're looking forward first to getting prepared and getting ready before the break, and then regrouping on the (December) 27th and starting back in preparation in New Orleans for the game. It's exciting. Looking forward to the challenge of it and we'll make the best of it when we get down there."

On if he views the Sugar Bowl as a road game
"I look at it more as a neutral field. I understand, being the proximity of Louisiana, that they'll have more fans than us. It was a similar environment when we went down in 2000 to the Orange Bowl when Florida State had more people there than we did. In the end what matters is if you make more plays you hear your people and if they're making more plays you hear theirs. I don't know that it has to be that big of a factor."

On the LSU players staying in Baton Rouge to prepare for OU during their Christmas break
"Our guys are going to go home for the break like we always have. There's plenty of time before and plenty of time after to be prepared to play. We're going to break like we always do."

On if they learned a lot from preparing for a game this big back in 2000
"There's a lot to that. I believe that you build to it. You don't want to overdue it and be ready to play at Christmas and know you've got another full week before you play. There's something to building towards it, and even building your gameplan so that it's fresh as you get into game week. We've always been very aware of that and use a lot of our early practices going against each other to keep each other sharp. We try and not overdue it early."

On the history of players getting into trouble on Bourbon St. and how OU will attempt to keep the players out of trouble while in New Orleans "Just educate our players of what's there, what your opportunities are to have a nice time and what your opportunities are to find yourself in a bad situation. Let's face it, New Orleans has a lot of both, and they're probably not too far removed from each other. Hopefully our players will make the right decisions on who they're with and what time they're there, and that they don't get off the right path. I'm not sitting here bashing New Orleans because there's a lot of great parts of it that we'll experience, and we look forward to that. But just like any big city where there's a lot going on, you just have to make sure you're in the right places."

On if this will be a successful season only if they bring home the national title
"For us, yeah. That's very fair to say. Around here a great year means there's championships with it. That's how we've always governed and monitored our program. That's how we do things here, and how we continue to do is governed by championships. We're one of only two teams to win 12 games, but around here the great status only goes with the championship."

On where he would rate LSU quarterback Matt Mauck compared with other Big 12 quarterbacks
"I don't know how to rate guys. I'm always careful on comparisons. He's very accurate, very heady. Smart guy in how he throws. He's got great weapons — three great receivers that he throws most of his balls too. He does a nice job checking as you watch him at the line of scrimmage. If you overload the box he's going to throw it. If they're spread out he's going to run and makes good decisions that way as you watch him. You win that many games he's doing a great job."

On if LSU blitzes more than any team they've faced this year
"No. They pick and choose like any good defense does. They do it a fair amount, but they also sit and play base defenses too. I see a lot of similarities in how we play defense. Structurally, there's a lot of similarities. You pick your times when you blitz and you cover and they mix it up pretty good."

On LSU defensive lineman Chad Lavalais
"What a great player they have in their defensive line. They have several of them, but geez, does he stick out. You watch him play and you watch his highlights. He's a force in there."

On LSU's offense compared to offenses OU has played this year
"Again, I don't know how to do that. They run a lot of plays like everybody does (laughs). Compare them to who? They may not like the comparison, so I'm not going there. They're well-balanced, athletic. They're going to run play-action. They do everything well. They're a well-balanced team. They give you about all the formations. It's a good offense."

On when OU will get into their gameplan for LSU
"Our coordinators have been on it. Friday and Saturday, while our recruits are here, we'll still compete against each other, and Sunday through Tuesday we'll do our gameplan and really start zeroing in on LSU."

On playing SEC teams
"I don't know that there's any differences. They're talented and have excellent skill and speed. To match it, you've got to have the same thing. I feel like we do. We've got a lot of great players too. That's what makes it a great matchup. I don't know that it much matters what league you're in when you have good people and you're well-coached."

On he and Nick Saban's Ohio roots
"There have been a lot of coaches come from Ohio. There's a long list of them. When you look at pop-warner to elementary schools to high schools, there's a lot of great teaching and coaching through that state at young ages. I've known Coach Saban a long time. He used to recruit our high school and knew my father well. When he was an assistant back at Michigan State he used to come in to see my father, come to the house for dinner, or my father at his house after a game when my brother Mark played. There's a lot of ties there as well."

On the season not being a success if they don't win the national title
"Around here, the fact that we have so many national championships is what we're governed by. Some schools going to a BCS bowl is maybe good enough. I believe winning any bowl game is special for a lot of reasons, but this one has national championship implications with it. That's what Oklahoma's been built on. When you have so many that's what you go after. And when you have a team that's played as well as we have for such a great part of the year when you've been No. 1 for 16 straight polls, you want it. That to us will be the only satisfaction. I like that pressure of it."

On how the ridicule of OU in the BCS title game has affected OU's players
"I'm sure it hasn't set well. For 16 straight weeks everyone wants to brag on us, but now we're the ugly duckling of the bunch. That doesn't set well with a group of players that have a lot of pride. The bottom line is that there will always be controversy if there are too many teams for the places that are available.

"In 2000 we were the only undefeated team and they were bickering on who should have been there to play us — Miami or Florida State. Miami was claiming a split national championship if Florida State beat us. It's going to be that way every year. It just multiplied this year because there's three teams for the two spots. And the fact that the common poll that everyone wants to vote on has a team that's No. 1 but not in the game, because of what's been put in place before. None of us as coaches much matter. Just tell us what the rules are before the season. And if you want to change them, I like a lot of the suggestions that are out there. Just let us know before the season starts what we're going to play by."

"Here's the other part of it. They say play another game after these ones (bowl games). Well, in 2000 would that have been fair to us? We're the only undefeated team going into it and we win, so now we've got to win again? It's not always going to be perfect. Sometimes it would be great to play another game, other years it wouldn't be.

"It's never going to be fair. In the end, is it all bad? Everybody is going to talk about college football the whole month leading up to the game instead of the playoffs and the NFL and everything else. And remember, sometimes bad publicity is every bit as good publicity. They're still talking about you."

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