Stoops says Sooners gaining confidence

See inside for quotes from OU head coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference Tuesday in Norman. Stoops reviews Oklahoma's win over Baylor and preview's Saturday's matchup against Nebraska.

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

On the win over Baylor

Stoops: Very pleased with so much of the game and the way we played. Probably most pleasing, offensively, was the balance we were able to have.

Jacob Gutierrez and Allen Patrick came in at running back and really had great nights. The two of them together combined for about 220-something yards rushing, with Jacob Gutierrez getting nearly 180.

Allen Patrick, a converted safety, hasn't played running back in about three years — junior college defensive back — and for us the first six, seven weeks of the season at defensive back. Just a gutsy effort. He runs tough, loves contact. The two of them really did a great job and I'm proud of their efforts.

I thought Rhett Bomar really had a great night throwing the football when you watch where he delivered the ball, the accuracy, his decisions. I loved, in overtime, the pass with the blitz coming right in his face and about to hit him. He throws a great pass to Juaquin Iglesias, who runs a nice route to beat man coverage and scored a touchodown.

Defensively, really for the biggest part of the night we did an excellent job when you look at coverage for some turnovers, eliminating the run game, up until the obvious breakdown at the end of the game. We're in a very conservative coverage and we allow someone to get behind us — is something we need to correct. Force them to throw it underneath, use some of the clock.

We take our chances and we weren't going to sit there and play conservative coverage the entire way. In fact, early on we were going to take our shots where we were going to try and blitz and get after them. That wasn't one of them and we should've been better in that situation. The biggest part of the night we really did do a solid job of making some stops. Even in bad field position off of turnovers, we'd come back with a turnover or a three and out.

And then the kicking game, I'm really proud of Garrett Hartley where the week before struggled a little bit. I said that I didn't feel that was him. I felt all along that he's a really solid and excellent kicker, and he really showed it the other night in some pressure situations. I'm proud of Garrett Hartley.

And also Cody Freeby. His average was over 40 yards, he had a couple downed inside the 5-yard line, which was special. To note, Allen Partick, the guy downing the ball, was inside there. And Jacob Rice snapping. You don't take that at all for granted.

It was a good game, good to win. There's some areas we realize that we need to improve to go up to Nebraska this week— that's taking care of the football, eliminating some penalties.

For instance, you've got second and six inches on the goal line and you have a procedure and it takes you out of touchdown. That kind of stuff just really hurts you that we can be better at — the turnovers and some spots in our kicking game. And that's what we're trying to do.

On Nebraska

Stoops: Going to Lincoln we need to be sharp in those areas that I mentioned, continue to develop where we have made improvements — offensively, defensively, kicking game wise.

I really feel though that the team is gaining more confidence and excitement in what they're doing. That needs to build through the week, and I believe it will. We've got a big challenge, but we're excited about it going up to Nebraska.

They're a very good football team. They're 5-2.

Offensively, I thought (Cory) Ross, a year ago and this year, is one of the better running backs in the league when you watch his ability to run the ball. Zac Taylor, the quarterback, is doing a great job. They've got several receivers that are really doing well.

Defensively, they're very sound. They have been very big on tackles for loss and pressures and sacks up front. They've been very good with that.

They're a very solid football team. We recognize that.

On Adrian Peterson's status

Stoops: Improved. Took more snaps yesterday than he has any other Monday. We're more encouraged after yesterday than in any time.

But again, it (improvement) still needs to happen as he gets later in the week. There's just a difference in practice and making that gameday speed and cuts. So, we're hoping and believe he'll be ready.

On if Peterson wanted to play against Baylor, but the coaches held him out

Stoops: It's more what do you feel? And it was my feeling a week ago, with our trainers, that there's more opportunity for success in staying on the field the longer we go here.

It's a feel thing. If it was still bothering him some, we just felt that we didn't want to get into the situation again where he has five plays and take a chance of hurting it again or setting him back and losing him the rest of the year.

That's just a judgement call that we'll have to make by the end of this week.

On how much Jacob Gutierrez will play with the return of Peterson and Kejuan Jones

Stoops: He'll have a major and strong role once again. I think those other guys have a chance also — Allen Patrick, Kejuan Jones and Adrian — I'm encouraged that they'll be able to go.

On if they'll continue to get the ball to J.D. Runnels after his performance against Baylor

Stoops: Yes. J.D. continues to show the great hands he has, ability to make people miss him, gain yards.

He is a really good football player. So, definitely, we've got to continue to find ways to work J.D. and get him the ball as well.

On if Nebraska defense ranking high among Big 12 teams in sacks, and if they will bring more pressure than any team they've played thus far

Stoops: I think a lot of that is just how active their front four is, and they've been very solid and disciplined in their coverage, which results in sacks as well.

As far as bringing pressure, I don't know that they blitz any more than anyone else does. They pick their times, try not to be predictable like most people do.

They'll pick their spots to do it but I think they've been active just up front, as well as when they blitz, to gain those sacks.

On what he thinks of the instant replay system and the fact that TV monitors showed Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell's knee down before he reached the end zone on the two-point conversion that forced the game into overtime

Stoops: I think everyone needs to realize this is our first year with it, and I believe it will continue to improve.

You would think on some of those situations that they would immediately just go review it. In a game-winning situation, whether it's Malcolm's catch or the two-point conversion, when it is close why not just look at this? It takes just a couple of minutes.

I'm sure as we go they'll continue to get better at it. I'm encouraged. I still think it's better than what we've had and I think it will improve as we go. It will continue to get better.

On if he wishes the coaches could throw a flag to challenge a call like in the NFL

Stoops: Right now I do. But again, and I'm not being critical. I think as we go it won't be necessary for us to have one. It will happen sooner and quicker, I think, as we all get more familiar with it.

On the risk of calling a timeout hoping the officials will a review a play and they don't look at it

Stoops: Yeah, that was a definite risk in the Kansas game.

On if he asks the officials to review certain plays

Stoops: The guys on the field have nothing to do with it, and I understood that even in the Kansas game. It's upstairs in the booth is where they get the buzz.

So the guys on the field, me yelling at them isn't going to matter. They get buzzed and then they start communicating.

On the overtime system

Stoops: I think it's fine, but I've always contended that I'd like to see it moved back to the 40-yard line where an offense has to earn its way into a field goal, as opposed to just starting in field goal range. My guess is it might even speed it up.

You have to earn your way to a field goal. At least gain a first down to have a chance at a long one, or even more to have a chance at an easy one, as opposed to just you're in field goal range now see what you can do with it. It's only fair that your defense should have a chance to influence the end of the game as well, as opposed to just your kicker.

It goes back to '98 when I was at Florida. We played Tennessee and we were in overtime. On their first possession, we actually made them lose five yards and they had a really good kicker and he made it. We took the ball all the way down to the 15 on offense and we missed it.

To me, it said a lot that your kicker is more involved in this your defense is. It really was apparent to me that the defense should have more of an opportunity to influence overtime.

At least in the NFL your defense has a chance to win for us. And I know your defense can in this to, but it's a little harder if you already start at the 25.

On how OU's young team plans to play in Nebraska's hostile home field

Stoops: We plan to play like we play every situation. All these great players from Oklahoma and great players of the past from Nebraska, none of them are going to be out on the field. None of the fans are.

In the end, it gets down to your execution, your discipline and concentration on the field, being prepared mentally to know what's coming at you and being prepared to handle it.

Whether you're old, young, it doesn't much matter. You've got to go play. And I feel our guys will respond in a good way to that.

On if he's starting to see more toughness in the team after the way they won in overtime against Baylor

Stoops: I think it's not always fair to say it's toughness.

I think you start to see players look more confident, more sure of themselves realizing I'm capable of doing this. Or now I've done it for four or five games, I'm more sure of what to expect. Whether it's tougher or you're just more sure of yourself, you're allowed to be more aggressive when you're sure of what you're doing.

I think there's a sense, and there's more of that, definitely in how we're operating and playing.

On the injury status of Eric Bassey and Travis Wilson

Stoops: Bassey did more yesterday and I believe he is probable. And I believe Travis is probable. So, they're likely to play.

On the offensive line's performance against Baylor

Stoops: Many guys on the offensive line were sighted for really having solid games. Davin Joseph. Kelvin Chaisson was the co-player of the game along with J.D. Runnels. Chris Bush and Chris Messner all really had solid days.

The offensive line has played, in the last couple of games, more consistently in protecting and creating some run game — with the tight ends and fullbacks too.

It's not always fair to just go with the linemen. They're all involved in the run game and protection.

On defensive end C.J. Ah You

Stoops: C.J. Ah You was our defensive player of the game.

He forced two fumbles, two sacks, four or five tackles. That's the third game in a row he's forced fumbles that we've recovered, and he had two the other night. He's playing in a great way.

On Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor and how well he knows his family (Taylor's father - Sherwood - lives in Norman and played for Oklahoma)

Stoops: I think he's an excellent player and has done a great job. I don't know the family real well.

I remember Zac being in our camp as a young guy. Just watching him play, I don't think there's any question there's a major difference in their operation from a year ago to what they're able to do now.

He's gutsy guy, hangs in there and makes some tough throws. He's accurate. He's got good feet to find his way out of some trouble. He's a good competitor.

As you watch him, you see all those things. He's a solid quarterback.

On if teams are blitzing Taylor more than setting back in zone coverage

Stoops:: Somewhat. Missouri was effective in not only their blitzes, but in their coverage.

They probably bothered him maybe as much as anybody, as far as getting to the quarterback and maybe creating some tough throws.

But they also did a great job, to get to him, they covered well also.

On what the ideal defense is to avoid giving up a long touchdown pass like the one at the end of regulation against Baylor

Stoops: One that doesn't let him behind him.

On if the defensive back (Lewis Baker) ran backwards too long in his coverage on that play

Stoops: That's exactly what happened. He didn't turn to open and stay on top until the guy was already past him. That's just poor technique.

The structure was a five-under three-deep. He was supposed to be in the post deep on top of the guy, and it's apparent to everybody he wasn't.

He needs to get out of there sooner and he needs to open up and run sooner and stay on top of the one guy that's running down the middle.

On if the mistake will change the number of Bakers' snaps against Nebraska

Stoops: No, Lewis has been playing awfully good. He understands the mistake he made. It's just a situation we've got to learn from and hopefully not happen again.

There are no perfect coverages, but one that's three-deep five-under is designed to keep everything in front of you and not let a person run right down the middle.

That's why instead of going two-deep, you go three.

On Rhett Bomar picking up more confidence with every game

Stoops: Yeah, he just seems more familiar out there.

Even the little things like coming off of a boot. One time in particular he's got two blitzers in his face and he just pauses, sinks back and dumps it right over the top to, I think, Manuel Johnson.

It's more and more familiar to him and he's getting more and more comfortable, which is natural.

On Reggie Smith's confidence level

Stoops: Reggie's kind of the same in that he's more familiar with what he's doing and what he's recognizing.

He's still progressing and has a ways to go, but he's starting to close and recognize, whether it's routes or formations and what the offense is doing, quicker the more he sees it.

He really is a strong, tough attitude guy that has a really bright future.

On if he envisions Smith running back punts and possibly playing on offense

Stoops: That's too far ahead to say. Possibly. He already does the kicks.

I've said all along, he needs to be really consistent and show it in practice before he's going to do it out there in front of everybody, as far as punts go. But that's a definite a possibility.

And then somewhere down the line, depending on the receiver situation and his development at defensive back, that's too far away to say.

It's safe to say though if we just work him at receiver he'd be out there with those other guys, because he has that kind of ability. He's got great hands and ability to run. It's just mentally how he progresses in the defensive backfield, or if that ever happens.

On what Garrett Hartley's field goal that sent the game into double-overtime will do for his confidence

Stoops: He is a solid guy. I've watched him for two years now, and even in high school.

His technique is really solid. To me, that's where it starts, and his timing, his power and consistency.

I felt really good. I felt he was going to make this. There was very little wind. I'm sure it will only boost his confidence and what he can do.

On bringing out the old OU-Nebraska game tapes to remind the team of the rivalry. And if the rivalry is still there

Stoops: It is to a certain degree. I know being in different divisions it's different. No question.

But I think it's always important that our players understand the traditions and history of our university and the special games like Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas, and any more Kansas State and A&M.

To me, it's important that they understand the traditions and histories here — the great players before them, the games, who's made plays in these games.

I don't like it when someone asks them a question and they don't have any idea. To me, I'm not doing a good job letting them know this is what we're about and here are the guys that have been before you.

I'd like them to know this is what happened before you and respect it.

On Reggie Smith's earliest OU-Nebraska memory being in 2000 when they beat Eric Crouch and tore down the goal posts

Stoops: Those guys are young, I know. History to some of these 18, 19, 20 year olds is three, four years ago.

I am old and I figured that would be the response of a bunch of these guys. You think, 2000 for Reggie, he's in early high school. That's when kids are following us and that's what I would guess would be his memories.

On what he remembers about the 2001 game in Lincoln

Stoops: Their throwback to the quarterback working and ours not.

I thought we were in great shape and just miss-threw it. And then Jason being hurt, just the disappointment there.

It was a good, hard-fought game. I thought both sides really played had a good game.

On if he's for playing 10 conference games

Stoops: To me, that would be great if they put us all in one division like the Pac-10 and Big 10. Then that's fine.

Everybody's playing the same and let's have at it. Someone asked me yesterday if we went to a ninth conference game would we just pick up Nebraska and that would be it. And I said, not unless everybody else in the South is going to get them to. It's just not the same.

But again, I'd be all for it if they want to put us all in the same division. If we were all in it together than that would be great.

On if he thinks there would still be a Big 12 Championship game if the league should go to a nine or 10 game conference schedule

Stoops: No, I would think if you did that and we all played each other there wouldn't be a need for a championship game.

On if Bill Callahan called him after his comments directed at Oklahomans after last year's game

Stoops: I ended up talking to Bill, and I think there were a lot of unfortunate circumstances around that whole day that were just unfortunate.

I don't think Bill means that by any means. There's no bad blood, at least not on our part. A lot happened that day that was unfortunate.

To me, what's too important is the tradition and history of the great games, great respect for another for both programs. There's been so much success between both programs, let's not have an isolated incident or one day ruin that.

There's too much good in both programs for that to be the case.

On the argument that both schools should play every year to keep the tradition going

Stoops: If you can get us all in one league that would be great. If you can't, then you're not going to get me to agree with it. Competitive advantage or disadvantage — that's what it comes down to.

On what timeframe this week they'll determine whether or not Peterson will play against Nebraska

Stoops: I don't have a set deadline. I think it's just gauging how much he's able to do through the week.

Does he feel comfortable that if he's able to play he's had enough work to play at the level he's used to playing? Or do we feel he's had the work that's necessary to be ready to play?

That just has to be gauged as we get toward the end of the week.

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