Stoops on KSU

See inside for a transcript of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference on Tuesday. Stoops talks about Saturday's matchup with Kansas State, Paul Thompson's move to wide receiver and much, much more.

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

On Kansas State

"They're team year in and year out that's always very, very competitive and a very physical and tough football team. They're always really good running the football offensively, and they're doing that again this year.

"They're always very creative using wide receivers, changing up blocking schemes trying to create and out-number you in different ways, as well as using their quarterback — Allen Webb — to create a running attack as well.

"That's where it begins with them. We've got to be really good defensively, first and foremost, being great against the run game, which we always try and do. That's what our first objective is and will be important again this week.

"And then from there, they will still work a lot of vertical passing game. We've got to be good and solid in our coverage and try to get to the quarterback, which is always the case.

"Defensively, their structure is very similar to what they've traditionally done with four-deep and man-free coverage, probably play a little more man-free coverage this year than they have in the past. Usually, they're strong and good defending the run game and then just try to mix up their pressures and coverage in the passing game.

"Structurally, they're very sound. I've always felt Bobby Elliott does an excellent job coordinating their defense.

"Special teams are always very solid, very good. And you see that again this year on their team.

"It's a big challenge for us to make the improvement that we need to come out and play a good, solid game. We've got to be able to take care of the football, eliminate negative plays on offense. Defensively, to tackle better in the open field, eliminate some mental errors and to continue to be good and solid in the kicking game and try and make plays there as well.

"We're looking forward to it. It will good to be home after a week off and to come out and play an exciting game at night on TV."

On if the team thinking about it being a new season and starting over with conference play

"There's a sense of that. I'm not much on trying to hide from the past and start again. But in the end, what we do in the Big 12 conference is what truly does matter.

"There's a sense of that in that we realize this is the most important part of the season. If we've made improvement over the last four weeks, it needs to show. And that's what we're pushing for.

"There's an excitement to get into Big 12 play and get going with it."

On if Bill Snyder does much differently offensively since he coached with him at Kansas State

"Yes and no. There are some staples of what he does in the passing game, and even in the running game, that have been there since our Iowa days.

"Chuck Long will recognize some plays. We'll be watching and we were looking one the other day — and that's Y-middle — that Chuck used to run back in the days when he was quarterbacking for him.

"There are some staples that have always been there, but he has always been very creative in playing to his personnel. Chuck wasn't much of a running quarterback, or even some of the guys we had when I was at Kanas State, but that's been more of his running attack getting the quarterback involved when he's had a guy that's able to run.

"He plays to his personnel and does it well."

On what aspects, like turnvoers, were worked on the most during the off week

"Everything. It all goes together. It isn't like we could just run around and try and hold onto the ball with two hands and not do anything. It's just execution on offense.

"When you look at us in the first several games — and we looked at the UCLA game where we had opportunities to take the lead or to go ahead and we didn't — we had too many negative plays.

"We bust a blocking assignment, we're hit in the backfield and now we're second and 12. We get behind the chains. We fumble a snap, now it's second and 12. You'd rather have an illegal procedure and it be first and 15 than second and 13. We have to eliminate where we're beating our self in some of those areas. We've really just tried to be sharper at everything that we're doing.

"With the number of snaps that we get in practice, we've been out there long and hard just trying to get more snaps to create the consistency that we want — to be smarter as coaches in what we're trying to get them to do and for the players to understand what we're asking them to do to eliminate those negative plays that put us behind the chains."

On if he feels the team has improved through the off week

"We'll see. I feel good that what we're asking our guys to do, we're doing it better right now — running and throwing.

"But it has to be proven out there on the field in game situations. We'll see, but I feel like we've made some solid progress."

On how Paul Thompson is progressing at receiver

"That's been exciting. Paul Thompson really has been impressive at receiver. I felt that he would adapt to it quickly, because he understands all the routes, he understands the offense and what we're asking those guys to do.

"Paul looks like he's kind of a tall, rangy skinny guy, but he's strong. He's 215 pounds — to put his forearm on someone creates some separation. He's been impressive.

"We intend to get him out there, and he's going to play. How much? I believe a fair amount in this game coming up. We're excited about the way it looks and the potential there.

"He's made some big plays in practice timing his jump going up for the football. He's a big guy — 6-4, about 215. He's got strong hands and he's a 6-10 high jumper out of high school. He's a good target."

On Allen Patrick's move to running back

"Allen Patrick has really looked good at running back. How much he can play just yet, we'll see. But he's made good progress in a short amount of time. He likes it and shows potential there."

On how much Thompson will help improve the receiving corp

"It helped immediately. Like I said, he's got the attributes, he's got the strength and he's got really good hands. You just notice it.

"He can be hard to defend because of his strength and long arms. We anticipate him helping quite a bit."

On the young defensive ends

"They seem to be progressing pretty well. Alan Davis and Auston English is getting more and more snaps and is making good improvement.

"We're in team sessions all week and it's because you're trying to teach a guy like Auston English, and others who haven't played a whole lot, to train reactions to get them to close when the offensive tackle goes down inside, to squeeze and still come out and play the boot.

"They're making improvements. We just have to keep pushing them."

On having a tough week of practice during an off week when the players may have been expecting a break

"It was anything but an easier week. It's probably the hardest week we've had in a long time. But as I emphasized to them, our approach as coaches has nothing to do with punishment. Like, 'Hey, we lost now we're going to beat you into the ground.'

"It was all about trying to get better, competing against each other, training reactions, fundamentals, being able to execute what we need to be able to execute. And I felt like the players had a good attitude about it that they understood it. They had seen it on tape where we have come up short, where we have made our mistakes that are hurting ourself and how are we going to correct them. The only way to correct them is to get out there and play and improve, and that's what we were trying to do.

"In the end, I don't know what they saw of me, but we were working hard as a staff to get those corrections made and to emphasize it to them. It took a lot of work, but that's what's required and that's what we're trying to do — improve as we go through the year."

On the importance of Rhett Bomar getting the majority of the work and reps with the first team offense

"It's very important — to be comfortable, to be able to see things. It builds confidence the more comfortable you are and the more times you've seen it.

"And again, it trains his reaction to react to it a little quicker the more he has seen it — to be able to find the right guy, make the right read and, in a split second, make the right throw.

"The more he's in there the more comfortable he's going to become."

On the changes at cornerback

"Well, they're all going to play. But in the end, D.J. Wolfe and then, either Eric Bassey or Marcus Walker, depending on how the rest of the week goes.

"Those guys are still working hard. Again, we're trying to find the consistency there that's needed. Who's going to be the most consistent in being in the right places and making the most plays?"

On if freshman receiver Juaquin Iglesias reminds him of Mark Clayton

"Very few guys remind me of somebody else.

"Juaquin's a lot bigger than Mark, physically. He's very sudden, I guess, in the way he makes his cuts and runs with the ball. But he's much bigger than Mark as a freshman. They're not even comparable when you look at that.

"He reminds me of Ike Hilliard, who we had at Florida when I was there, just because of how physical and big he is a young guy and freshman. Ike was very sudden in his movements.

"He has a chance to be a really good receiver. He is already, but he's got a chance to be a special one."

On freshman corner Brian Jackson's chances of playing this year

"A little bit on how those guys continue to play and how much Brian continues to improve. We'll see where that goes as we go."

On how good is the Big 12

"It's a little early yet to truly know. I think everybody's non-conference schedules, a lot of times, are hard to evaluate where everybody's at.

"A lot of it will start to unfold this week as we all start playing each other. To me, and I felt this way every year, it's always very competitive. You better be ready to play.

"Everyone's structure and what they do are very sound, very good coaching. You have to make your plays to win. And the players, you look around and everyone is pretty similar as you look at the talent that is out there.

"It's who can make the plays, be the most consistent, avoid those turnovers and negative plays that hurt you."

On who will return punts against Kansas State

"Jejuan Rankins is healthy again and right now set to go this week. So, he will be back there for us.

"If not with him — Nic Harris and Reggie Smith — are both continuing to become a little more consistent as we see them in practice."

On if the match-up of Oklahoma's run defense against Kansas State's rushing attack excites him

"We have been pretty good really stopping the run, and that's where they make their bread and butter.

"They're also very good with their vertical passing. They like to throw the verticals, stretching you and trying to get behind you. We still have to be really good at covering them, but if anyone can run up and down the field on you you're going to have a hard time winning.

"We've got to continue to do really well playing the run game. I wouldn't say that it excites me, but I know we've got to get it done — to be able to be strong against the run game."

On the recent report in a newspaper about Adrian Peterson being frustrated

"There's nothing to that. That's a paper or somebody that wanted a story. They said, 'Hey, let's write a story on his frustration.'

"Well, where did that come from? It came from an editor that wanted that story. You guys know that.

"AD works like he always has, and who isn't frustrated when you don't score? The coaches are, the linemen are, the quarterback is, receivers are.

"That's a story that's created."

On Kansas State's personnel offensively

"They do a good job of spreading the ball around. Their running backs, they have a couple that are very good. They use their quarterback also in the run game, so you have to account for all of them, whether it's option or whether they spread you out and use the quarterback.

"They make you think and react to everyone who's going to get the ball, and then they have three or four receivers that are all back from a year ago that are doing well. They try and spread you out. If you get too antsy on the running game that's where they try and stretch you with those guys vertically and try and make their plays there.

"They do a nice job of manipulating their blocking schemes and using receivers to pull somebody in to get an extra guy to try and create an extra seam. You've got to be able to think with them and cancel those gaps when they do."

If the tough week of practice compared to other weeks earlier in the season

"I don't know how to define it for you, but we practiced longer and harder than we have. Guys reacted well to it. I felt like there were fewer mistakes. I felt like we were making improvement.

"How that compares to other weeks — I felt like it was more attention, it was more physical and there was more getting done."

On if the players have become tougher as a result of the practices

"We'll see. I believe we have. I believe last week, as we went through the week, they handled it really well.

"Now, we've got to be able to do it on the field when it matters and compete harder for four quarters and make plays that are going to make a difference."

On this team not playing with an edge, and if that's something that can be taught

"I think it comes a couple of ways. I've said before that there's a certain way to play. It's one thing to play hard, it's another thing to truly, truly compete in a frenzy and in a great way. And I think we're still learning how to do that.

"We're doing our best to teach it, and I think our players are doing their best to understand it and do it. I also think there's a certain part of it that comes from success — from competing and playing in a way where you're making the plays that it leads to more plays and more of a frenzy and attitude in how you're playing.

"And we need to continue to find more success in what we're doing. I think that we will continue to build if we can find that success and our guys can continue to push to play at a higher level."

On the difference between putting out effort and competing

"There's always a mental part of it, a focus to it. But there's also just a fanatical way of running to the football.

"I found it interesting, a guy I respect greatly — Tony Dungy — listening to his press conference. He said they're playing so well defensively and he sees so much more room for improvement.

"What struck me was he said, 'We're making a lot of mistakes but we're out-running them and out-hustling them and making plays that we probably shouldn't make because of the way they're playing.

"That's where I just keep saying, I think in everything we're doing we can push ourselves more to play at a higher level."

On if the difference between this season and the other seasons is the fact that they haven't found that attitude sooner

"That's just part of it. You can play as hard as you want, but if you're busting something and you leave a guy wide open it doesn't matter how hard you're playing.

"You still have to understand the game and play it mentally as well and be physical when you get there. You run to the ball as fast as you can, you get there and you don't tackle a guy the results are the same thing as if you never ran to the ball. It all ties together.

"There's also a part of it to where I think we're trying to play harder than we need to."

On if they're getting more settled on the offensive line

"We're getting there. There's still some rotation in there whether to keep guys fresh or give them a blow here or there. I believe Coach Wilson is getting closer and closer with it."

On the sense of urgency to also get the line-up and rotations set at each of the positions

"Yeah, but there's a sense to that with competition sometimes. And I've said that a lot here, that no one ever has their job locked down, even though at times we have guys play to a high level that did lock them down.

"If they're not producing the way they should then somebody else deserves that opportunity. John Wooden always said that the bench is the coach's best ally.

"It would be great to have set line-ups and guys that are playing at such a level that you don't question, and we don't question, who ought to be in there. But if that's not happening, we have to keep the competition going and guys need to learn to play at the level we need them to consistently to win.

"It's got to be earned and it's to be earned every week."

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