Media Day: Stoops says Sooners can win every game

Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops talks about the Sooners' title chances in 2004, Jason White's improved health, the return of Lance Mitchell and the running back race. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Monday was Media Day and Fan Appreciation Day for the Oklahoma Sooners and Bob Stoops, the Sooner coaches and players were all in good spirits awaiting the first practice this evening at 5:30 at the OU Rugby Fields.

Coach Stoops said no varsity players were missing, but that is just a technicality because wide receiver Tristen Ross has transferred to NEO for this semester to get his academic progress on schedule.

Coach Stoops once again said that he believes that the Sooners have a chance to make another run for the Big 12 and National Title.

"I am really excited about this team," said Coach Stoops. "We have never had a team with so much experience on the field as we have, and we have never had a senior class this big with so many starters and so many guys in positions to be leaders. We also have juniors who have played a bunch as well. That part is exciting. With a great number of returning starters, it allows us the opportunity on both sides of the ball to start day one and really take off what we can give them and what they are able to handle."

"This is a team that has really worked hard," Stoops continued. "Through the winter and the spring and from what I understand in the summer, they have really pushed hard. I really believe they have put forth the effort to put themselves in a position to again to compete for championships at the end of the year. That is what we are always shooting for — the Big 12 and National Championships. This team has a legitimate chance. If we can keep the attitude right and work ethic like it has been, we will have that opportunity."

No football team is perfect. And no matter how good a team is every team has to have a little luck to win a championship. Coach Stoops admits the Sooners will be no different.

"When you look at the big picture we have to play well in every game," said Stoops. "If we come out and play the way we are capable of, then we can win every game. You have to do it though in the right way. You have to be fundamentally sound, be smart in what you do on both sides of the ball and don't make mistakes. If we execute the way we are capable of, then we will have a chance to win every game we play."

Jason White has worked very hard to lose weight, to become more flexible and to regain some mobility. Jason is in the best shape of his life and is moving better than at any time since his freshman year, which is will be a plus to the Sooner offense.

"I think it is just going to allow Jason more mobility, whether we can get him out of the pocket or he can escape on his own," said Stoops. "He was awfully good at avoiding the rush before he was injured. It allows you to use more quarterback run plays if you choose to. Jason is a guy who will be much more mobile than he was a year ago by a longshot. Jason comes in with all that experience from a year ago, but a lot healthier. We are excited about what it will bring to our team."

On the defensive side the ball, the Sooners coaches are very excited about the return of senior linebacker Lance Mitchell.

"That is a big boost for us because everybody talks about the loss of Teddy Lehman, but we lost Lance Mitchell last year and he was our leading tackler the year before," said Stoops. "Getting Lance back is a big boost, especially at that inside middle position, which I believe is the toughest to play. So, having his presence in there considering he is a big, strong guy this season is a big boost for us. His winter and spring was excellent, and he has picked up strength and muscle. Just talking to Lance, he says that his times are what they were before he was injured, so that is going to be a strong presence to have back there in the middle."

The running back positions is going to be one of the most watched competitions this fall. And whether or not the Sooner running game can become the weapon will be a key to watch develop once practice starts.

"You look for a number of things in a running back, and No. 1 you look for a guy that can make big plays," said Stoops. "You look for a guy that can pick up yards outside of what the offensive line or the offense gives him. You want a guy that is able to get more yards, either by breaking tackles or making people miss or creating big plays. You want a guy that is tough enough to stick it in there and get tough yards, or short-yardage in some situations where everybody knows you should be running the football, but you still make yards. From there, you need guys that understand the offense and picks up blitz protections, takes care of the football and fits in the offense where they can pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, or when we do get the ball to them they are going to take care of the ball."

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