Stoops still excited about the future

With no Big 12 Championship game to play in this weekend, the Sooner coaching staff hit the road recruiting this week. That included OU Head Coach Bob Stoops on Sunday night, but Monday he was back in his office for a few minutes and he had a chance to talk to the media about the season and future of his program.

MEDIA: Are you glad to have the time to go recruit?
BS: "No, I wish I didn't have the time."
OUIN: What does it mean to your team that you closed the season on a good note and played much better toward the end of the season?

BS: "It feels good. You feel good that you have made good and strong progress throughout the year. We have a number of guys making plays and a number of young guys who have matured and come on. So, it does give you a boost and lift going into bowl preparation, and it gives your players a great feeling and excitement for the bowl wherever it ends up. It is very positive. I think it gives you a sense for the future to because of so many guys with our youth and how they progressed throughout the year."

MEDIA: Calvin Thibodeaux is coming back next season. Can you explain how that works?

BS: "If you play 30 percent or less, and it then has something to do with less than 50 percent of the season. It is something like that, I don't know."

MEDIA: Does it have anything to do wit the number of snaps that he played?

BS: "No, it's number of games. You really need a trainer to explain it to you. He explained it to me and it sounded good (Stoops is laughing at this point.).

MEDIA: What are your thoughts on AD being named the Walter Camp Foundation Offensive Player of the Week?

BS: "He had a huge game against OSU and we are excited for him that he is getting closer and closer back to being healthy. He just has that great ability and toughness. It is fun to see him break those long runs. Again, I enjoy those seven and eight yarders more than maybe those long ones. When he gets hit and breaks tackles and then drives people back, that is something to see. He is a great running back and it has been great to see him get close to being healthy making the plays that we all know that he can make."

MEDIA: What does him being back in the line-up at full strength or close to full strength do for the offense?

BS: "When you have to defend him you have to change things. You can't defend him like you can defend other people — in the people that you have to commit to the running game, the plays you work and what personnel you are committing to the run game has to change. He changes the structure of the defenses, which has a chance to open up more passing lanes and presents us with simpler coverage's because they have to deal with him."

MEDIA: Has he been a comfort blanket for Rhett and the rest of the offense the last several games?

BS: "No, regardless who is back there they all have to still do their part. I think it has also helped Adrian how they have come along. We have been more efficient throwing the football and getting plays there as well. We are always after that kind of balance. Now, that sometimes opens Adrian's opportunities to."

MEDIA: What did his absence play in the development of the younger or inexperienced players?

BS: "Yeah, that is the case to some degree in that when he has not been in there we have had to do some other things. It has forced those guys to step up and do more. You could look at it that way."

MEDIA: How has Davin Joseph played this year?

BS: "Davin has had another good year. He has been very consistent since he has been here. He is maybe overall our most consistent player. He has been a great leader again this year and he has performed awfully well, especially for being out of position. You go from right guard to left tackle and that is not easy to do. That is really tough, but Davin has done it in a great way. He has had another excellent year."

MEDIA: Do you think people outside of the program took him for granted because he did so well for so long?

BS: "Oh, they may. Most people take offensive lineman for granted period. But we have always known how valuable he is how well he has always played."

OUIN: What do the pro scouts tell you about Davin?

BS: "They really like him. They like the fact that he will probably be a guard, but he is a guy depending on injury or different situations like he has done for us that could move out to tackle too. He could play center or anything along the offensive line. He has a real long and great reach that they all like. And he has that great size."

MEDIA: What about the play for Chris Messner?

BS: "He has done a great job. Chris is a fighter and tough guy that will still develop size as he gets older. He has really worked hard and played well, and he has got better as the year has gone on. Chris has been a big boost in there that really stepped up and played well for us."

MEDIA: Because of the way things went early, did the way that you work with your staff differ from past years? Did you get more involved with them during their meetings? Were things different in the coaching offices from years past?

BS: "Well, we lost a few games early, which didn't happen in years past since the first year here. Our role is the same that it is every year and every week. You do the same things and you have a routine that you are used to doing. It was different in that it was the first time in five years that we had lost a couple of games and it was the first time in five years that we weren't 7 or 8 and 0 at some point. So, you have to deal with that. You make adjustments whether it was dealing with injuries, developing young players or trying to keep everybody positive. You focus on what is positive and you try to change what isn't positive, which is the same things that we always do."

MEDIA: Did you find yourself going to the coaches more and talking to them about how they were holding up due to all the criticism?

BS: "No, not really. They don't need it individually. They are all tough guys and most of the time we don't hear as much of it as you guys do, or people that are paying attention to it do. We are not paying attention to it. Occasionally, as a staff together it is pointed out that we have won a lot of football games here for a lot of years doing what we do and that we need to stick with it. If we do it, (success) will come again and it will come this year. And sure enough it did regardless to what anybody wants to say. We are the ones that have been in here doing it over and over."

MEDIA: Was it in the fourth quarter of the Kansas game when you saw the change in your team coming?

BS: "No, I wouldn't say that it was any point like that. I would just say that it was a progression throughout the year and we kept growing and improving with the more experience that we have. The more we were on the field the more the confidence grew. I am not going to sit here and say there was any one moment where it happened because it was constant through the year."

MEDIA: Early in the year and you had a losing record. Did you ever worry that this team would not progress and get better?

BS: "No, I felt good that we would. I saw the signs of it early on that we were making progress. I felt as we went through the year, and as we would go on, that we would be as good as anybody else that we were going to play or better. As we went I felt that we made good improvement."

MEDIA: So at this point you must feel good about this program and where it is going?

BS: "Are you kidding me? Absolutely. When you look around the league we are 6-2 and I don't know how many others are in our league? Look at all the youth and young players who have made plays and played in a great way. Look at the number of players coming back and the number of guys injured coming back. Yeah, I am really excited about what is ahead for us."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories