Below is a transcript of OU head coach Bob Stoops' press conference Friday in Norman.
BOB STOOPS: Welcome everybody. Excited to be starting the 2005 season, really looking forward to it. Really excited about the group of guys we're getting to work with.
Watching them yesterday in their conditioning tests, in about a two hour practice out there, I was really impressed overall with the speed and ability of the skill guys, the number of them. When you insert this first semester class, guys that are just getting here, it's really a talented group of guys to complement what's already here. So it gives us a lot of depth, just looking at them in one day and it gives you a lot of confidence that you've got a lot to work with.
We're excited about that as coaches. I really believe that if we do our job and these guys progress through the year, our expectations will be what they've always been — to pursue and compete in Big 12 championships and hopefully, if things go right, that we could find our way to a possible National Championship. That's what our sights are always on.
I've heard all the questions about, you know, there's more questions this year. I realize we're not the only team in the Big 12 or in the country that's had players move on. That's natural, that happens all the time. And the questions that we've never had to answer that many questions before, and I beg to differ.
You know, probably our youngest and most inexperienced team and least talented team in the last five years was our 2000 National Championship team. I look out and I remember back, we had only had one year with those guys, so the experience in our system wasn't there for very long.
I remember walking out and starting early in the year with Derrick Strait, a redshirt freshman who hadn't played at all. Michael Thompson, who played very, very little the year before, so basically, he's a first year guy starting as a true sophomore at the other corner. And so on and so on. And we struggled early in the year and kind of hit our stride mid-year and continued to improve as we went through the year.
And I say that because that's what I believe this team will need to do. Wherever we start, we will have to mature, gain experience and improve and make strides as we go. And if we do, I have confidence that this is gonna be a really good team.
We've got a lot of work to do, but that's natural and that's what two-a-day's are for. We're looking forward to getting out on the field and working with these guys.
To address the quarterbck situation right off the bat, you know, there's three very talented guys. Paul Thompson, Tommy Grady, Rhett Bomar, all have skill, ability. They're all guys that work hard, all have the respect of their teammates, and they're all bright guys. So you put that all together.
It's funny how from spring practice, when we haven't been on the field since then, that everybody in the news media has their opinion that there's a consensus that there's an order. That is not the case. We came out of spring that they each had a scrimmage or two that they were really good at, one or two that they made some mistakes at, and each of them did that.
So, in our minds, there was not a separation. In our minds, going into yesterday's practice, there was not a separation, there wasn't a ranking, and I feel it's unfortunate that so many in the media have ranked them and have put them in place, that one or two players have to hear that the entire summer because it's really not fair.
It's obvious that Tommy missed practice yesterday. He's working on a class in Intersession, so that will be a factor. How much? We'll see. Tommy's gonna work to be at meetings, he was at meetings yesterday and to work his way on the field according to his schedule. What's most important first is classwork, and then what he can pick up from there. We're gonna do our best to keep him up to speed, keep him in the competition. He is a very talented guy with a great delivery and a great arm, so we're gonna do our best to give him as much as he can handle and to keep him in the middle of that race. Where that goes, we'll see.
I thought we'd talk about Adrian. Everybody wants to talk about Adrian. He's had an incredible summer. Looking at him test yesterday, in his conditioning tests, he's bigger, he's stronger, he's faster. Coach Schmidt can't stop talking about what a leader and what a worker he is in the weight room and in their conditioning exercises, so he's had a huge summer and really couldn't wait to get on the field. With all he's had coming at him, I appreciate and he's really ready for another excellent year.
From there, I guess rather than go through positions, I imagine you guys will ask about 'em. I'll just answer them as we go.
TALK ABOUT THE SECONDARY, THE OPTIONS YOU HAVE THERE. YOU HAVE SO MANY NEW GUYS THAT HAVE COME IN WITH THIS RECRUITING CLASS
BOB STOOPS: Very talented group. I reminded everybody a year ago we started a great number of games with Eric Bassey and Chijioke Onyenegetcha. In fact, they started and played the entire Texas game. Those guys have experience. Marcus Walker, four games playing and starting. And then you move on, some of the safeties, Darrien Williams had a great spring. He and Lewis Baker, Jason Carter really had a strong spring and a great summer.
And then there's an influx of young guys that all really look good. That's watching them in one practice, watching them test, it's as big and fast and talented a group of defensive backs coming in that I think that I've been around. So, we're gonna get those guys ready to play. I believe in the end, that's gonna be a strong group for us.
HOW MUCH TALENT IS THERE ON THIS TEAM IN TERMS OF ATHLETIC ABILITY?
BOB STOOPS: As talented as any we've had here. Which doesn't mean a lot.
WHY DOESN'T IT MEAN A LOT?
BOB STOOPS: Well, because, it's your attitude, how you work, how you develop, the toughness you exhibit in practice and preparing. All of that, to me, in the end is what really wins for you or doesn't. I guess it mean's something, but those things mean more to winning and competing for championships.
EVERY YEAR, IT SEEMS LIKE EACH TEAM HAS ITS OWN PERSONALITY AND CHEMISTRY. AT WHAT POINT DO YOU START TO FIGURE OUT HOW A TEAM IS GOING TO BE OVERALL?
BOB STOOPS: I think the way you prepare and develop through this period of time (fall practice). Everyone seems to want to just want to get to the season, like this period of time doesn't matter a whole lot. And to us, it's a big, big part of the year. How you develop in this period of time and how you go into the first game, the attitude and the way you work on the field and how you progress, this is a long period of time.
Twenty-nine practices, I don't need to tell you, that's two spring balls. So, we've got a chance to get a lot done and that's where we'll find out what kind of attitude we've got, what kind of work ethic we have.
WILL THE QUARTERBACKS BE HIT ANY IN FALL DRILLS?
BOB STOOPS: We'll handle our quarterbacks like we have for six years going on seven. We've never hit 'em in scrimmages and we're not gonna start this year. We don't get to go draft any other ones.
We've managed with Josh Heupel, Nate Hybl, Jason White — all those guys seem to have managed it decently and these guys will be no different.
HOW MUCH PHILOSOPHICAL TALKS WITHIN THE COACHING STAFF, IF ANY, HAVE YOU HAD ABOUT 'IF WE PICK PAUL, WE CAN DO X, Y AND Z, OR IF WE GO WITH RHETT, WE CAN DO ABC'?
BOB STOOPS: We're very aware of what they all can do, but fortunately, they all can do what each other can do. They're all athletic, they all can run, so really, to us, we don't see there's much difference in what they can do. Now, there's a little bit of difference in speed here and there, but not significant in that you can't run a lot of the same plays with them.
To me, it's more important what they do on the field, making the right decisions, making the right plays, checking into the right plays and avoiding the ones that really hurt you. They just need more time out there to do that.
SO IT'S NOT LIKE ONE GUY KEEPS YOU FROM DOING ONE SET OF PACKAGES VERSUS ANOTHER?
BOB STOOPS: Well, you know, not really. We're not gonna start running the Triple Option, running our quraterback 20 times a game. That's not gonna happen. We've been fairly successful not doing that.
Now, occasionally, with these guys, because they can run, and have the ability to move better than Jason and Nate have, and even Josh, that'll be a little bit more of our package, but not a significant amount so that that's gonna be the decision.
STEVE SPURRIER HAD A DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHY WITH QUARTERBACKS AND THE WAY HE COACHED THEM, GOING WITH A TWO-QUARTERBACK SYSTEM. DO YOU BUY INTO THAT THEORY? IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU MIGHT BE WILLING TO PLAY MORE THAN ONE QUARTERBACK.
BOB STOOPS: Listen, I think if Coach Spurrier or any of us had our druthers, there's one guy that was clearly better than the other, then that's who you go with.
If there are two guys who are very similar and doing the same things, they deserve a chance on the field to figure out, you know, who is going to make more of the big plays, avoid the wrong ones, as I said before. And as well, if you go with one guy and he isn't as productive as you feel he should be, then you owe it to the team and the other (guy) to have him have an opportunity to show what he can do.
So in the end, I think that's what dictates that. If you have to or you feel the need to, then you do. For instance, I don't know, early on between Nate Hybl and Jason White, for two years there early in the year — and it ended up injuries really decided it — we came on an won a Big 12 Championship and Rose Bowl with Nate Hybl after Jason White was hurt. It doesn't have to stop you from winning.
DO YOU HAVE A DECENT FEEL FOR HOW THE OFFENSIVE LINE WILL BE?
BOB STOOPS: We need more time out there. There's a lot of maturity in five seniors that have played a lot and have been together for a long time to hopefully start and set the attitude.
And we have an influx of younger guys who really have some great range and size that we hope will come on and help us play to the level that we're used to.
TALK ABOUT YOUR RECEIVING CORPS. CAN YOU REPLACE CLAYTON?
BOB STOOPS: Yeah, hopefully they'll be new Claytons. You know, nobody was really bragging on Mark Clayton his second year and as he developed he really worked his way up to be an All-American player.
Travis Wilson led our team in touchdown receptions a year ago. Big, strong receiver, great speed. Jejuan Rankins started, I believe, two years ago almost every game. So he has a lot of experience out there. And then, we're gonna need some young guys to step up. Who they are, we'll see. The young ones we just brought in are really impressive. Malcolm Kelly really stood out yesterday just in one practice and was one of the top recruited receivers in the country. He has big size and range.
But there will be other ones as well. We've got some that have been here, we'll see how they compete through this period of time, how they compete on the field and make plays. I believe there's talent there and we won't be short of finding guys to get the ball to.
WHAT DID YOU SEE OF DEMARCUS GRANGER YESTERDAY AND WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT HIM THROUGH THE SUMMER? WILL HE BE READY TO PLAY?
BOB STOOPS: Demarcus will be ready to play. Looked good out there yesterday. A big, powerful guy. Had a little setback early in the summer with having some issues with his shins. Once we worked through those, lately, from talking to DeMarcus and our trainers, he feels great. Looked good out there yesterday, so we'll see.
TALK ABOUT DUSTY DVORACEK'S PROGRESSION, BOTH FROM THE INJURY AND HIS OFF THE FIELD ISSUES.
BOB STOOPS: He's worked hard and again, talking to our trainer, visiting with him and visiting with Schmitty, he's done most of his lifts throughout the summer. He's trained really hard, looks great. Doctors feel he's a few weeks ahead of schedule and just where they thought he would be at this point.
It'll be a lot to hold him back, because I know how he is. He wants to practice and be out there. He ran great yesterday, so physically, he's chomping at the bit to get out there and we'll have to restrain him from doing too much too early.
As far as any off the field issues, he's, as usual, been excellent in the classroom. He's been a leader around the team. He continues to go through some steps. He has certain guidelines that we require, the university requires, and he's, to this point, expected to continue that way.
WHAT ABOUT THE RISK OF INJURY WITH HIM COMING BACK A WEEK OR TWO EARLY?
BOB STOOPS: Well, that's always the issue. So we'll see, but the doctors will determine that, not us. How much of a risk? I'm sure if there's any decent percentage at all they won't allow him to. But if they feel that it's a very small risk, then he may.
IT SEEMS WITH THE SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD RECRUITING THAT YOU'RE UPGRADING THE TALENT EVERY YEAR. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE MORE TALENT?
BOB STOOPS: I feel so that we do have. I watched our team yesterday and I always get a feel as a coach when you're lining up all your special teams, sometimes you're kinda struggling to fill out a two-deep out there, who can go down and cover kicks and punts and do the things you look for. And we found it really quite easy, you know in the summer here lining up and especially yesterday after seeing them work out.
Putting our special teams together, there's a lot of guys that can cover, run, with size, with range, with speed and so, I do feel that, talent-wise, we'll be on par or even ahead of where we've been the last few years as these guys mature and get in position to play and gain experience.
DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHO'S GOING TO RETURN KICKS? AND IS THE PUNTING JOB OPEN?
BOB STOOPS: The punting job is definitely wide open. We signed Mike Knall in the summer and he'll compete with Cody Freeby. And who's the most consistent and hanging the ball and getting some kind of field position, gaining yards, we'll see. We'll just evaluate it as we go.
TALK ABOUT D.J. WOLFE AND HIS TRANSITION TO DEFENSIVE BACK
BOB STOOPS: He looks great. You know, watching him run, he was one of our fastest guys out there yesterday in our 300-yard shuttle. Guys run 300 yards, five 60's, so it's changing direction. Five 60-yards as they hit the line and they run across the finish line and then they have 90 seconds to get back on the line and they have to run again. And we take the average of the two scores, the two times, to find out what their shuttle time is.
He was one of our fastest. I believe he had a 44, was his average time, which is really running. So he's trained hard and I think, just with their own individual work during the summer, continues to gain experience and feel for the position and expect him to be a factor. A strong factor this year.
IS IT A LITTLE MORE ENJOYABLE FROM A COACH'S PERSECTIVE THIS TIME OF YEAR WHEN YOU DO HAVE SO MANY NEW FACES?
BOB STOOPS: Well, I don't know that I would say enjoyable. It's always enjoyable when you go out on the field and work with good guys, good young men. I don't think it's just at Oklahoma, I think across the country. We work with some incredible young men anymore. These guys are bright, sharp guys. That's fun no matter who it is.
You have maybe a little more sense of urgency and feeling of ‘Hey, you've got work to do' and keeping track of where you're progressing each day. I know you do that all the time when you know you have some guys that haven't experienced it as much. You feel a little more sense of urgency to get it done. But you have to be smart, too, to not try and get it all done too quickly, so there's a pace there. But yeah, it gets you going a little more.
I KNOW YOU GUYS SHARE RESPONSIBILITIES ON SPECIAL TEAMS, BUT COULD YOU TALK ABOUT KEVIN SUMLIN TAKING OVER YOUR SPECIAL TEAMS. I KNOW HE WAS AGGRESSIVE IN GOING OUT TO GET MIKE KNALL AND GOING TO PLACES LIKE CAROLINA THIS SUMMER TO STUDY UP ON SPECIAL TEAMS.
BOB STOOPS: You must have been following him around. (laughter from crowd) Kevin does an excellent job. He has a proven track record as a leader, as a coordinator. I think it's always too much with a guy coaching a position to also have all of the special teams, so we do divide it up some. Though one guy, I feel, has to oversee it all, has to address the team with it, has to pull it all together, scouting reports and how we're going to present it to the team. Then we split it up with some coaches to really break it down during the week – how we're going to attack somebody, what we feel we need to do.
So, Kevin will pull that all together, and I think, with his proven track record in those positions that he'll do a good job with it. And none of those guys, I believe, in that position can do it without me as well. The team understands the importance of it and there's a commitment there from me and the players that this is a big part of our year. And it will be this year.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OF THE BIG 12 USING INSTANT REPLAY?
BOB STOOPS: I think it's a good thing, I don't think it's a big deal. I like the differences. Well, everyone wants to say ‘Why don't we have a flag?'. The difference in college and professional football, professional football, they have TV monitors in their coaches' booths upstairs. So someone could see it, just like on TV, and just relay down to me, ‘Hey, Bob, I just saw on the replay, you've gotta throw the flag'.
Well, we don't have that. You're not allowed monitors in college press boxes. I mean, they are for you (media) but not for us who are competing. So, therefore, they're gonna have an official who's up there that's gonna to see the replay and he's going to be the one to call it. Which you trust those guys are gonna make the right call, especially when you get to see it over in replay. So, the way I think they're doing it is good and to me, it doesn't have to take a lot of time and disrupt the timing of the game too much.
I think it could be good. People say a for instance, I think a huge play last year in our Texas game was the interception when we were going in the red zone to score, when Derrick Johnson intercepted a ball that clearly hit the ground. That was a huge play in the game. That's a for instance that, hey, that gets overturned. That's a big difference.
And I think we all just want the right calls, and I think our officials do a great job. But if something like that could help them in a tight spot, I think it's good.
BUT THAT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN OVERRULED, WOULD IT, BECAUSE DOESN'T IT HAVE TO BE SO CLEAR THAT THERE'S NO QUESTION?
BOB STOOPS: Well, how'd you see it? (laughter from crowd) I thought it was pretty obvious. Maybe they wouldn't have. And I'm sure we've gotten some calls too, that other people would say, hey, that ought to be changed. But I think everybody wants the correct calls and in some tight situations, I think it can only help.
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