Former OU Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops recently finished his second season at Arizona, which the Wildcats finished 3-8 for the second straight year.
However, despite the disappointing record there is great optimism surrounding Stoops' program at Arizona and the feeling is that the Wildcats are in the verge of turning things around.
On Tuesday, Coach Mike appeared on WWLS The Sports Animial with yours truly and Bob Barry Jr. to talk about his season and to give us a scouting report on the Sooners Holiday Bowl opponent the Oregon Ducks.
BBJ: What did you feel about your second straight 3-8 season?
MS: "I just feel we are much more stable. We made a change at quarterback in the middle of the year and we got our quarterback Willie Tuitama, a kid that we recruited out of Stockton, California last year. Willie came in and for a true freshman did some crazy things on the field and really changed the whole attitude of our football team. We are a much more confident football team just by Willie's presence on the field.
"I just believe that we are much more stable than we were a year ago. Any time you put a top-15 recruiting class together like we did last year it gives you more good players. In college football, you need 40 to 50 of them to really compete week in and week out, and that is what we feel we were able do to through our recruiting class. It just gave us more stability.
We are still thin in some areas and we are not a deep football team, but when you see how competitive we were throughout the year, as we lost five games by seven points or less, then we feel good about our program. So, we are a few guys away and a few plays away from being 8-3. That is how we have to look at it.
"We played competitively all year. The Oregon game, for instance, is where we got it 21-21 in the fourth quarter and we drop a touchdown pass and then fumble the ball for a touchdown and we lose the game. We have been very competitive in this league and we are a lot closer right now than we were a year ago. I don't think there is any question about that."
JH: What do you think about Oregon?
MS: "This Oregon team is going to be a lot different than the Oregon team that OU faced a year ago in Norman. Gary Crowton switched to a real spread three to four wide outs, but they just used their tight end as another wide out. They are going to be spread out and they have some similarities in their quick passing game with Texas Tech. They throw the ball quick and they run spacing routes inside, and they have great receivers.
With (Kellen) Clemens out they have gone to a two-quarterback platoon with Dennis Dixon, the best runner, and Brady Leaf, the best passer. It is a different system using those two quarterbacks, so I expect both of them will play from what I hear.
"Their running back, Terrence Whitehead, is a terrific player. I think the strength of their team is there wide receivers. I think they will have the best combination of receivers that, outside of Texas, Oklahoma has seen. They utilize them a little differently than Texas.
Defensively, Haloti Ngata, their nose tackle, was up for Defensive Player of the Year from the D-line. He is the strength of their team and they are very physical up front. I think that will be the first thing that Coach (Kevin) Wilson and Coach (Chuck) Long will look at is that they are a very physical football team.
"Their secondary is very quick and I think they play good defense. That is probably what I noticed watching them play on the field. They do have good speed at all levels of their defense, and they play pretty sound in their defensive backfield. I think it is a great match-up and will be a heck of a game."
Mike Stoops breaks down the Ducks
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