Below are excerpts from OU head coach Bob Stoops' pre-Holiday Bowl press conference Thursday in Norman.
On OU's bowl game preparations
Stoops: We've kind of taken the approach of gameweek Monday through Thursday, as we do in each and every game to press ourselves to be ready and to try and be prepared early.
And today being a Thursday practice, I would hope that would be the case. And then when we get out there (San Diego) we have an extra day and then a regular week of practice again.
So, we have a good number of practice days getting ready for a very good Oregon team.
On going to the Holiday Bowl
Stoops: Excited to be going to the Holiday Bowl. The people out there, having been the Holiday Bowl three other times, do a great, great job of hosting the bowl game.
The city, everyone associated with the Bowl — it will be a great experience that way. But for us, what's most important is that we get ourself ready to win the football game, and that's what we're gonna try and do.
Stoops: As you analyze them what strikes me is the number of seniors they have playing that are awfully good football players.
Offensively, they have a really great receiver in (Demetrius) Williams — No. 6. Their great receiver is a senior, great tight end is a senior, running back is a senior.
Defensively, I think between the two senior corners they have 11 interceptions. Their senior safety leads the team in tackles and sacks. And then you get up front, their two senior defensive ends are very good football players.
Haloti Ngata, their inside d-lineman, is one of the best players on their team, but also around the country as a d-lineman.
Really, really good football team when you watch them. And that's what strikes me, is some of that experience and the way they've played — the No. 5 team in the country and 10-1. So, it's a big challenge. Our players recognize that. We do as a staff.
But I feel like we have made some significant progress through the year and the way we have played and the way our team has progressed. Our players realize the challenge and are excited about the challenge.
We've had some really good work leading up to the game. So, leaving tomorrow we feel like we've done some good work here through the last couple weeks being prepared to play.
On the injury situation
Stoops: We're healthier. A lot of the guys that had casts on through the year all have been removed. A lot of the guys with the heavy tape jobs, most of them are lighter.
I believe Adrian (Peterson) is back to 100 percent. Travis Wilson has a chance to play in the game. He's progressing each day a little bit better. Jejuan Rankins is closer with the ankle injuries.
On the possible return of defensive end Larry Birdine
Stoops: We have a chance for Larry Birdine to be back. Much like Dusty Dvoracek in his first game, he was really a couple weeks away, but felt strong enough.
If the doctors feel they show the signs of strength and everything, they should be OK even if you're two weeks shy of what they say is the ideal date. We're going to work Larry through the rest of the week and get him in a position to contribute to some extent.
We're not going to play him every down, but to give us an extra set of legs out there and a guy that's been awfully good for us. I think it will be a plus trying to get him back.
On Larry Birdine's eligibility status
Stoops: Larry's already used this year. Next year is his fifth year regardless.
The only way (to get a medical redshirt) is if something were to happen to him a year from now and he had two years back-to-back taken away from him. Then he would not be able to have his sixth year if he plays in this game. You don't ever go in preparing for a sixth year. To me, that's just something that are rare occassions.
Larry has already used this year and feels he can contribute and make a difference in this game. And as we start to work him leading up to the game, if it works out that way, right now he's willing to play and wants to.
If the doctors, by the end of the week feel it's OK, then we will.
On why has Birdine 'already used this year' of eligibility
Stoops: Because he's already had a redshirt year. His true freshman year he was redshirted.
On if Oregon's two-quarterback system will create a problem for the defense
Stoops: I don't believe so. Again, I think it's a problem if their offense changes from one to the other.
They still are going to run their offensive plays regardless of which one's in there. The system doesn't change, so we'll really prepare for either one of them about the same.
On the style of Oregon's offense
Stoops: I would say they're more of a spread offense.
With (Dennis) Dixon back there, their quarterback, they are running it more with him than maybe they have with some of the others — options, shovel passes and the different zone read options that you see from quite a few teams anymore.
That's a good part of what they do, but I wouldn't say they're just an option team. It's just a good part of what they do. Outside of that, there's a lot of zones and a lot of throwing.
On if he sees a lot of the same schemes from Oregon that they saw last year in Norman
Stoops: No, not offensively. They're different offensively to some degree, just with more of a spread and what they're doing.
Defensively, they have some similarities. Definitely.
On if there's any advantage having already played them last season
Stoops: They played us too. Whatever it is for one, it is for the other.
On if he feels like the team is playing well going into this game
Stoops: Yes, I felt like we definitely got better and stronger as we went through the year, and more consistent in how we played.
Definitely, we come into the bowl game where we have played well, played in a good way and gained some experience as we've gone.
But we need to do it again in this game.
On Oregon's defense
Stoops: They're physical up front, experienced secondary that have made a lot of plays.
They'll load the box and do their best to take away the run game, dropping in safeties, playing with one safety looks a fair amount. And then they sprinkle in some man and some other zone coverage as well.
Like most people, they're flexible in what they do. They want to stop the run game and try and get pressure to you.
They play very disciplined, good structure, good football.
On when they'll determine how much Birdine will be used against Oregon
Stoops: That's something that we'll work through the week and see what realistically we can expect of him.
He's been lifting and training and conditioning all along and really looks good. I would expect him to pick up quickly again.
Stoops on Oregon
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