On the win over Nebraska
Stoops: Real proud of our players to hang in there in a tough environment away from home and compete as they did.
I felt starting the game off we really took control of the game right from the start by getting up 14-0. A big factor in that I felt, and it was fortunate as it worked out, that we took the wind away from home trying to get an ally. And the defense stepped up right from the first series, and for a good number of series kept them from getting any first downs into the wind. We were getting good field position using the wind to our advantage or to help us.
So, getting up early, I felt, helped us. It helped keep their crowd a little bit subdued and gave us some energy and life. It worked out well.
In the second half they came back, once we got up 24-3, and made some good plays. Zac Taylor made some nice plays, but then we went on a great drive there in the second half — 85-yard drive — and made some strong plays.
I thought Rhett Bomar was really strong in that drive with some key third down throws and really throughout the day to Travis Wilson and Malcolm Kelly. I thought our o-line played really well. Protected well, gave Rhett time to throw the football.
Kelvin Chaisson was a player of the game with AD, Travis and Malcolm. Those guys really stood out.
A bunch of guys in the offensive line were recognized. Nebraska came in leading the country in sacks and tackles for loss and we only had one sack the whole night, and ironically enough it was on a screen pass that we got kinda eaten up and Rhett had nowhere to go with the ball and they got quick pressure to him.
Defensively, Dusty Dvoracek and Rufus Alexander were sensational. Just all over the field making great plays equally. It's hard to separate them. They were players of the game along with D.J. Wolfe, who was really outstanding in the secondary. Chijioke Onyenegecha had a really good game as well.
Any time you have nine sacks and don't allow someone to run the football you're opportunity to win is pretty strong, and we were able to do that.
I loved the offensive balance we had running and passing. It was huge to get AD back. What a great player. Even not at a 100 percent, he's still awfully strong and good. He made excellent runs, especially to spark us early.
Anyhow, it was a solid day and a good win away from home in a great environment to compete in. Again, my compliments to the fans in Nebraska. They do such an excellent job.
It's a great college atmosphere to compete in. Everybody's respectful and it's fun to be in that kind of environment.
On if the team is playing now how he thought they would when the season began
Stoops: I'm not much on going back. Everything's a process. I had hoped we would've been further along to start the year off, obviously.
In the end, you don't get experience without playing. You only get a few scrimmage in the spring, a few in the summer, and you're always against yourself. You never get to go out and compete against anyone else, so it's a process.
I appreciate our players' hard work, their attitude through all of this. They've been great. And the coaches as well.
We stick to what we do and it's improving and getting better all the time.
On the improvement of Kelvin Chaisson and the offensive line over the last three games
Stoops: They have. And Chris Messner also the last several games has been awfully good.
As I go back and watch it, Davin continues to play well, and Jon Cooper goes in there on the last drive when Chrsi Bush breaks his hand. Jon's in there as a true freshman and handled it great. The snaps were perfect. He's blocking, he's fighitng and really made some nice plays as a young guy in there.
All those guys are making good strides. Chris Bush, J.D. Quinn – they're coming along.
On what's happened to improve the line because it was the older players who were struggling earlier in the season
Stoops: Well, they're playing better.
On what's clicked on the offensive line to make the older players play better now than in the beginning of the year
Stoops: Practice. Experience. More games. You pick it. If I knew we would've had it done the first game.
They're doing a better job collectively. It also doesn't hurt when AD goes flying through there and breaks a 40-yarder. Travis getting back had some key catches.
Again, you see it coming together more and more.
On the talk about Bill Callahan's alleged throat-slash gesture to the officials and the short exchange between the two after the game
Stoops: I don't have any take on that. That would be for him to explain. I'm not going to speak about another coach or what his intentions were.
On the quick exchange at mid-field between he and Callahan after the game
Stoops: After a game when you lose, no one wants to sit around have a lengthy conversation anyway. So, I'm fine with that.
On the week-by-week progress Rhett Bomar has made
Stoops: It's what you would expect for a guy also that has not been on the field. A guy that had sat the whole year before.
Practices and scrimmages only simulate so much. Game-type experience he's gaining and he's benefiting from it. He's a very competitive, bright young guy that has all the ability to be a great, great quarterback.
It's what you would expect. We are very pleased with the we he is progressing. His upside is still tremendous and he's going to continue to reach it. And the players around him, I think they've got a lot of upside that's going to continue to be developed for us.
We're really excited about what Rhett's showing he can do and we know there's even more to come. He's a guy that just is getting more and more comfortable in there. He can make all the throws.
Given time and given some receivers with space, he can do what you want him to do to be a great one.
On leading the nation against the run and who are some of the unsung players on the defense
Stoops: Two really special one's when you think about coming out of spring ball, our top three defensive ends when you look at John Williams, Alonzo Dotson and Larry Birdine all gone in the first week.
To me, two special guys are Calvin Thibodeaux and C.J. Ah You. They are really playing well.
C.J., it wasn't his best game against Nebraska, but the previous three games were just outstanding. He was still solid in the Nebraska game and Calvin had a really good game.
Those guys up there really stand out to me because they're taking extra snaps, they don't have as many guys to rotate with.
The backers, I think overall as a unit, are really strong together. I think our inside guys - everyone knows Dusty — but those other guys all rotating in there have been very good. Solid at getting pressure, great against the run.
Then the secondary is getting better and better. We have out times where we still will break down. The other night the guy is scrambling around after seven or eight seconds, sometimes it can happen. It happens to everybody.
But overall, you don't get nine sacks if you're not covering people as well. Some of those are coverage sacks. They're getting better and they're always involved in stopping the run. You're never going to stop the run without the secondary. We always count on them to be a part of it.
I think Brent and our defensive coaches have done a nice job helping these guys continue to develop and improve. It gets down to just being solid, taking on blocks, tackling well, being fundamentally sound. And we're getting better as we go through the year.
On how good is the current group of linebackers
Stoops: Really good. Rufus Alexander, the plays he has made the last several weeks when you look at the tackles for losses, the fumbles and the turnovers.
Those guys together are really playing great and as well as anybody we've had, when you look at Clint Ingram and Zach Latimer. The pressure, not allowing anyone for the most part to run the football.
They're always involved too in coverage, so I think they're doing a really good job.
On D.J. Wolfe battling some personal issues while playing against Nebraska
Stoops: I don't know if everybody knows his brother had a tragedy in the family Friday night that we found out about.
It was very difficult for him. You always defer to the young man what he wants to do and he wanted to play. He's on his way home this evening to get with his family.
It's hard. Playing itself is emotional, let alone when you have other factors around you. But he handled it incredibly well and gosh he went out and played in incredible game.
On putting personal issues aside and still performing and Brent Venables also coaching in the game despite the death of his mother earlier in the week
Stoops: You're a little bit numb usually I would say from it. And the realization of it often isn't fully there.
Sometimes too it's four-hour, not break, but you get a little peace. You're out on the field and that's all you're consumed with and it gives you a break.
And then you're back to it as soon as you're back to reality once you're showered and back in regular life mode. That period of time when you're out there, it just consumes you.
On if he's concerned about the performance of the special teams
Stoops: Absolutely. You drop a punt, but we already possessed it so basically it's a fumble. That's just like any run play that you have to finish with the ball.
The field goals, we have awfully good. I still feel Garrett Hartley, he has shown it. We've been inconsistent just kicking it.
The block, to me, that was more caused at the fake. We had half of the line thought we were faking it, and should have. For whatever reason Cody didn't put it on, so there's a breakdown there. As well as I think, it's fair if somebody's going to rush as they did, that you've got an opportunity just to pitch it around them.
We're working hard on them. They definitely need to continue to improve. I think a little bit too is some personnel issues.
Jacob Gutierrez and we've had Eric Bassey, we've had several guys that have been instrumental in our special teams that have been missing that hopefully we get back here in the next couple of weeks.
On if Chris Chester will be ready to play against Texas A&M
Stoops: He's likely to play. He's going to be doing some limited action this week and will get more next week. We anticipate him being prepared to play and will play at center.
On where Chris Bush will play
Stoops: He would move to guard. He'll have something on his hand that will be a little bit restrictive.
Jon Cooper did an excellent job in there. We felt Jon will was playing at a really good level as well.
On if he's remembered as many injuries on a team he's coached as this year
Stoops: No. No, I don't.
On the off-week this weekend
Stoops: It is a good time for a break. Yep.
On the talk of the teams' lack of toughness earlier in the year and how they've developed that now
Stoops: I think it's just been developed through the year and as we've gone. It has to be earned on the field and how you compete.
And I think it has a lot to do with guys being a little more sure of what they're doing. You can be more aggressive and play harder and in a better way when you know what you're doing.
It's building and getting better. I think it still can improve and I think will as we go.
On Malcolm Kelly becoming a go-to guy
Stoops: He is. He's a big, strong, guy. He's got great speed and great hands.
Travis has been a big target for us with the same kind of attributes, but with him being out we've gone to Malcolm a little more. I think having Travis back will help that as well to help spread him out a little more.
On what other stadiums he likes to play in as well as Nebraska
Stoops: There's always hecklers who do it decently, but people with the cuss words and the vulgar sayings — people that shoot it at college kids or even coaches. To me, it never bothers you but you're just saying, 'What are you doing?" (laughs)
But I didn't hear that the whole day. Not once from anybody. I think they just appreciate and respect good college ball. They tell you good game and wish you luck before the game.
They want to beat you as bad as anybody does, but they're good about it. It's just not like that everywhere.
I'm not going to sit here and start naming who's good and who isn't. They seem to stick out more than about anywhere else you go.
On what bowl games are realistic to talk about at this point
Stoops: I'm not going there. I know everyone else wants to.
To us, it's all about this week that we don't waste the week. That we make the most of it by improving and getting some things done.
Getting extra work for our stretch run here with A&M, Tech and Oklahoma State. And getting extra work with A&M and taking them one at a time.
All that matters is what we do with A&M for now. And we're building towards that and we'll take it from there.
On if they'll work the players as hard during this off-week as they did the first one earlier this season
Stoops: To some degree we will work hard. I don't know that we can be as physical as we were then because of all the guys that we have out or are close to being out.
We have to get a lot of work done and still improve our health overall. So, it can't be as physical as it was back then.
On his former coaching colleagues like Mark Mangino, Steve Spurrier and Mike Stoops all winning last week
Stoops: It was good that way. They're all feeling good and excited about their wins. Everybody won but my older brother. He lost back in Ohio, but it's a pretty good day overall.
On not using injuries as an excuse
Stoops: I just believe there's a lot of reasons why things happen. And in the end, if you accept them you're allowing for failure and we just do our best not to do that.
We understand the different issues you deal with through the season. It doesn't much matter, we're expected to win and we expect to win and we've got to figure out ways to do it regardless of our circumstances.
I believe, in the end, you eventually get what you expect to. So, we're getting closer to doing that.
Stoops: "It is a good time for a break"
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