Stoops: "It's a huge game for us"

See inside for excerpts from Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference Tuesday in Norman. Stoops recaps last week's win over Tulsa and previews Saturday's matchup against UCLA.

Below are excerpts from OU head coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conerence Tuesday in Norman.

Opening Statement

We established the kind of run game and attack that we wanted. From there though, we still need to continue to develop our passing game and be more successful in what we're doing there.

"There isn't any one area to blame. I think it's every area at different times has broken down and not executed to the way we needed it to. We've got to keep looking, as coaches, at what we're asking and what them to do that we're going to be able to do.

"Defensively, I thought there were a good number of parts of the game where we really did play well. We started off really playing pretty well in our first several series — gave the offense the ball in good field position a number of times.

"Then as the game progressed, I thought we were weak in some areas. As you watch it on tape we're not far off, but we've got to be better in some third down-possession down areas where we gave up some plays. Some due to their credit, they made some excellent plays, some to our breakdowns as well.

"I thought the kicking game was solid through the day. Cody Freeby and his punts were excellent. He was the special teams player of the week — averaged 50 yards on five kicks and changed the field position a number of times, which was big. And Garrett Hartley was very good with all his kicks.

"We're continuing to work to try and improve. And we need to going to UCLA this week going back to the Rose Bowl — a team that's put up a bunch of points in their first two games.

"They have a lot of talent and ability when you look at them across the board with Maurice Drew, an excellent running back, a fifth-year senior quarterback who's throwing it well, Mercedes Lewis and a number of excellent receivers that they spread the ball around to.

"Very talented team defensively as well. Structurally, they're similar to what we do defensively, but they also have a lot of good people running around on defense and their special teams. They have the No. 1 return man in the country right now in two games — their punt returner Maurice Drew.

"We need to make some improvement as we go through the week and we look forward to going out there and competing with UCLA."

On the team's confidence level

"It's building. I can't say that we're just sky high, but our guys also know that we're doing the right things. If we keep working hard there's no reason we can't continue to make improvement as we go through the year. And we need to make some this week."

On Rhett Bomar's confidence level

"Hopefully he can build on it. Hopefully everybody working with him can. Again, I'm not going to sit here and act like it's sky high in all areas, but we're also determined to continue to work it and improve what we're doing. And I believe we can."

On if they found the right combination on the offensive line in the second half with the two freshman tackles

"I believe Coach Wilson did. They've got excellent size; they're still learning and improving as they go. They played with some attitude and toughness that we needed, and I believe that we'll build off of that."

On if Davin Joseph will play guard or tackle against UCLA

"I'm sure as we go through the week he'll play both — guard and tackle."

On if they've added any wrinkles to the offense this week

"We have some."

On Reggie Smith's emerging role in the secondary

"Reggie continues to make great improvement. We're going to continue to give him more and more snaps as we go. Darien (Williams) had some cramps and we replaced him for a while. Jason Carter came in and did some decent things.

"Overall, we busted a couple of assignments where we didn't cover a tight end when we were in straight man coverage, and you can't do that. We had a chance to make another play or two and we don't make it.

"Those guys have to continue to make improvements and be able to make plays, especially in third down situations."

On if UCLA uses tight end Mercedes Lewis as more of a traditional tight end or do they move him around

"They do. They flex him out at different times. Structurally, on how you line up, there will be a corner or safety on him depending on what we decide what we want to play in certain situations."

On if it's tough learning about this teams' problems during the season rather than in fall practice

"It shouldn't be all that tough to see some of the problems. We go against each other enough good on good so that you should have an idea.

"There are some parts of what we're doing I thought, sure, we would be better at to this point. Why that is? You just get so familiar with what you're going against and what your schemes are that you don't have a chance to see. But when you look at what we do against each other we're both multiple enough that you should see the variety that you need to anticipate where you may have weaknesses.

"There were areas that we knew needed to be developed. They've been talked about all summer. We know we've got areas that need to gain experience, gain confidence and be developed as we go. And that's what we have to try and keep doing."

On the team having talent, but unproven talent

"Yes, I believe that there is ability there. We have to keep molding it and improving it and giving it the discipline and technique it needs to make plays. That's what we're all going to keep working for."

On the trouble covering Tulsa tight end Garrett Mills carrying over to UCLA's tight end

"They use their tight end differently than Tulsa does. That's one thing. There were times where we did break down in coverage, there were times where he made some excellent plays. It's a little combination of each.

"But this week with Mercedes Lewis, we need to be very aware of where he's at and make sure our coverage is tighter and better than what it has been."

On not calling as many trick plays the last two years and if it's something they might go back to with a young and inexperienced team

"You can to a certain point. You do it so much that it becomes obvious to everybody and they don't work. Two years ago we played Alabama and ran one of the biggest ones we've every run.

"Trick plays and all that — there's a place here and there for them. But we're not going to live on them. If there's situations that present themselves, we will. If there isn't, we won't. We'll take advantage of some situations as we go if we feel they're there."

On not running trick plays because of the team being inexperienced

"You have to take those chances if you feel they're going to be successful for you. If they're not educated or well thought-out, they can hurt you even worse. You take them when you feel the percentages are there and they're going to make a difference."

On the program's image being built on trick plays called early in his career

"Yeah, but what also helped establish us was when we do go for those situations they were successful. If they're not well thought-out, just because you're gambling isn't going to help you, right?

"It's the same thing when you go to Vegas. You play the odds and the percentages, and if they're good it's a good thing to do and it can give you confidence or boost you. Just calling it isn't going to give it to you if you're not successful at it."

On Lendy Holmes returning punts over Jejuan Rankins

"Jejuan Rankins had the most experience with it and then his ankle was a little bit sore. It's much improved this week, so Lendy Holmes was doing it.

"He got better at it. He catches it well. He just needed to make some better decisions in getting to the football, and he started doing that all the second half."

On if he has any regrets about Tommy Grady's transfer

"No, because that was a situation that as coaches you didn't have any control of. The class situation was what it was, and it's unfortunate for him.

"I'm not much on looking back on what might have been. I will say all along we had confidence in Tommy. As I said last week, we had never had a pecking order coming into the season. Even though the media did, that wasn't us because we saw the potential in him.

"That situation's done and these guys are good guys. We've got to continue to work with them in better ways, and they have to continue to stay positive and work too."

"There's a lot of potential there. We've got to, as coaches, get it out of them, and they need help as well. Receivers have got to be sharp, the line has to be sharp. All of it together, we have to keep improving.

"These guys have the ability to do it, we just have to get it done."

On if we'll see more of the quarterback run game this week

"You know, we haven't had a lot of it yet. So, as we go we'll see how that develops we'll see. That's something that needs to continue to be more of what we're doing."

On how much of the struggles in the passing game can be blamed on the receivers

"It's a little bit of everybody. At different times one segment or the other has broken down and not allowed us to be successful. That's where we've got to all just be more precise in what we're doing, execute it, gain confidence in it, have some success in it. I believe it will continue to grow. We just have to get after it, stay the course and get it done."

On why they haven't called more running plays for the quarterbacks

"It's just how much we choose to have in the gameplan. We had the zone read option and the zone read play that everybody's running a good number of times in the last two games. Well, not as much in the second game, but in the first game we didn't pull it as much where it was obvious to everybody.

"As far as quarterback designed runs, that's just not something we haven't worked to yet. Last week, you have an opportunity to give it to Adrian Peterson or have your quarterback just run it. We ran it plenty.

"And though that's going to be continue to be developed, the other areas of throwing the ball are to me what are more pressing."

On UCLA's offense

"They give you a lot of your pro formations, twin formations, your standard formations and then two tight end and one-back sets. A lot of zone and power handing it to an excellent tailback, and then their play-action and boots off of it. They give you a good number of formations from those sets and then they like to get in one-back like everyone does in long-yardage situations.

"Like everyone is, everything in first and second down is running play-action and then long-yardage situation getting in your one-back sets and throwing the ball."

On UCLA running back Maurice Drew

"He's got excellent power and speed as you watch him and very good patience finding and waiting for seams and holes."

On how freshmen tackles Branndon Braxton and Duke Robinson graded out against Tulsa

"I felt like they did well. In listening to coach Wilson and his comments on him in our meetings, they were mentioned as guys who really had strong games. Those guys were mentioned, so for their first time out they did a good job."

On redshirt freshman J.D. Quinn's play at guard

"J.D. did a pretty decent job for the most part. He needs to continue to improve, but he's getting better and I think the more experience he gets the better he's going to keep getting."

On if freshman Jon Cooper will miss the UCLA game

"Yeah."

On Adrian Peterson

"He's a very determined and strong guy. Some of those runs, as you watch them, he just has that kind of ability to power through people and run past people. He made some excellent plays that way. You do appreciate that as a coach — the determination and the toughness — and he shows it."

On the pressure put on Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith

"We had four sacks but as you watch that game, I have total admiration for the way Paul Smith played. I think we knocked him down 20 times, and that's without penalties. We were on him and he, at times, ended up wiggling away to make a play.

"As a coach, you don't feel that will continue to happen. If you continue to get that kind of pressure to people you're going to get your plays too. We did have good pressure and we need to continue to do that.

"That will be an important part of the gameplan (for UCLA) getting to their quarterback, because he has good experience and we've got to try and get him off-balance and make him uncomfortable."

On if he's concerned about losing this game and possibly being 1-2 going into Big 12 play

"We're just working on improving and getting ourselves ready to win this game. That's what we're after. I believe our guys, watching them yesterday, like what we're doing, our plan. We'll build on it through the week and go down there determined to win."

On the defense giving up third down conversions

"To me, it's more execution. When you watch them, what we're doing has been successful, and should be. When you get out of position, it doesn't take much and they've taken advantage of that a time or two.

"We're in straight man coverage and one guy doesn't cover a tight end, you're going to look bad. That isn't hard to do. You got him, you got him. Let's go. We just have to be better at executing and getting in position to make plays in those situations."

On who's playing well on defense

"Rufus Alexander had an excellent day, and Clint Ingram. Inside, Dusty Dvoracek and Steven Coleman were really solid. C.J. Ah You really had an excellent game and played hard and caused a lot of pressure. Chijioke had a solid game — he and D.J. Wolfe. We've got guys that are still doing some good things. Again, we're just working for more consistency."

On how much the starting defensive ends are rotating

"We're rotating, but they play more than the other guys do. We're going to keep bringing these young guys along, and I think as we go here Auston English is probably going to play more and more as we go."

On the importance of getting a win against UCLA going into the off-week before conference play starts against Kansas State

"It is a big game. There's no question. Just in building through the year, putting yourself in position to build momentum and confidence as you go and what you're doing. It's a huge game for us."

On if they'll bring Paul Thompson in against UCLA if Bomar struggles

"It depends on what are the reasons we're struggling. I think is what would determine that. We still are going to continue to develop Paul and have him ready.

"In the end, that can't be determined without knowing what are the issues. Why are we not succeeding? Hopefully we will and those won't be issues as we go, but again we have to determine that as we go and why."


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