NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners are now nine practices into the 2004 spring football season and every day it appears that the Sooners are getting better. OU Head Coach Bob Stoops has been very upbeat about his Sooners this spring, and agreed to talk to OUInsider.com for The Two Minute Drill.
JH: Your thoughts on the first scrimmage on Saturday?
BS: "I liked the overall play with very few penalties. I thought our quarterbacks were really good, receivers were excellent, our tight ends are really improved and the offensive line was very solid. Defensively, the same thing as our tackling was pretty solid overall. I liked the way some of the younger guys are playing and progressing in our secondary and on up. Some of younger guys got a good number of snaps, as some of our guys who have played the most we left out. Some of our guys who have been starting for the last two or three years we held out, and our younger guys came in and did a nice job. Overall, I couldn't have been more pleased."
JH: On the defensive side of the ball you just pointed out that you are holding some of your veterans out, so what young players are catching your eye, especially at linebacker, where you are breaking two-thirds of your linebacker core?
BS: "Yeah, but they are all very good. People forget that we played without Lance Mitchell last year and this year we get Lance back. We lose Teddy Lehman, but some of those other guys will step in and be just fine. They are all very athletic, very talented, and they just need to keep playing.
"Some of the guys who have really stood out are Brandon Shelby who has had a great spring already. Eric Bassey has done really well and everybody knows Brodney Pool, who has been unbelievable. Up front, a guy like Zach Latimer has made a lot of improvement (MLB). Clint Ingram (SLB) has been very good and we feel that he will be better at SAM than what we have had. Then you get guys like Lewis Baker and Rufus Alexander at 'WILL' who are very good.
"Calvin Thibodeaux is coming on at defensive end and he has been very good. And those young guys at defensive end are getting better. Inside, Dusty (Dvoracek), as everybody knows, has been very good. Lynn McGruder is also making good progress."
JH: I know that it is your job as coaches to move guys around until you find their best positions, and that appears to be the case with Clint Ingram?
BS: "Clint has always been very athletic and very explosive, plays hard, but who has had a hard time figuring out all the nuances inside, which is the most difficult position, because of all the calls. It has just been easier for him out on the perimeter. He has been really good out there."
JH: Isn't find the right guy at your 'WILL' very important for you defense? Teddy Lehman is a tough guy to replace?
BS: "Yeah, but those guys are all very athletic and they are what you want at the position. It is just getting them a number of snaps so that they can get comfortable at a position, but we are getting there. So, after the few amount of practices that we have had I really like their progress."
JH: What did you think of Paul Thompson's performance at quarterback?
BS: "He had an excellent scrimmage. He was very good, very solid.
He made no mistakes really and made a bunch of nice throws. He was really good all-around.
"Tommy Grady did well. He made a couple mistakes and that is why he is out there learning. But overall, he made a lot of good plays as well. He showed good poise back there and showed that he knew where to go with the ball. I thought that both of those guys did a nice job."
JH: You are not using Jason (White) in team drills, so how is his spring going?
BS: "He looks like always, he looks great. He is throwing deep balls in there and he has looked really good. He probably could go, but we are not going to take any chances. It is really just his toe finishing healing up. Otherwise, he is fine and 100 percent. Even with his toe he says he is ready to go, but we are not going to take any chances. Maybe by the spring game, or maybe sometime next week, we will let him do a little bit more. However, we know what he can do."
JH: If Jason had a broken leg wouldn't he still tell you that he could go?
BS: "He would, but we just don't want to take a chance that he tries to push off to hard trying to get away from somebody and foolishly hurt his toe and set him back. There is too much conditioning, preparation and running in the summer to set him back again."
JH: How do you feel your running game is progressing this spring?
BS: "I felt our offensive line was very physical along with our fullbacks and tight ends. We ran that way in short-yardage situations the other day, so it is coming. We have made good progress there I think."
JH: You have recruited very well at running back, and you know have a number of players to choose from, don't you?
BS: "They look good. We are just working to get them the number of snaps so that we can continue to get looks at them. Young D.J. Wolfe, for only being here a couple of months, really runs physical. He has excellent feet to find and get himself into the proper holes. He has done a nice job, and so have a number of those other guys as well. We are going to keep getting them snaps and keep getting them looks."
JH: I liked your comment the other day when you said that D.J. is running physical, but that he is finding out that he can't run over guys at this level like he could in high school?
BS: "Yeah, but he sure isn't backing away and he sure is trying. That is what you can appreciate that about him."
JH: You are always looking for big plays out of your side receivers, are you getting those this spring?
BS: "No, because I think the secondary has been in better position and deep in stronger position in that way, which is good. However, we are still going after them and looked good in one-on-one situations when we have had our opportunities. Again, sometimes that will depend on how the secondary is playing and how they are set. You are also not going to get plays made when you keep Mark Clayton out of your scrimmage.
JH: Have your found your offensive tackles of the future yet?
BS: "That is still a work-in-progress, but those guys are coming along?
JH: Do you hope to give your football team a weekend off to celebrate Easter?
BS: "We don't hope to, we will. We are taking off Friday through the weekend."
JH: Will the scrimmage on Thursday will be very much like the scrimmage you had this past Saturday?
Q&A with Bob Stoops
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