Stoops, Bellotti Media Day Quotes

Bob Stoops and Mike Bellotti broke down the Holiday Bowl matchup one last time at media day on Wednesday. See inside for excerpts from their press conferences.

See below for excerpts from OU head coach Bob Stoops and Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti's media day press conferences Wednesday at the San Diego Convention Center.

On the Holiday Bowl

Stoops: It's exciting to have the game right around the corner tomorrow. It's been a great week.

I could not say enough great things about the entire week. Everything about the bowl has been first class. The players have had a good time in all the right ways. It's been a great city to be in the entire week.

San Diego State has been great and the facilities are tremendous. And all the people have been great, even the head coach is a pretty good guy.

On OU's bowl preparations

Stoops: I feel good that our players have worked in a good way. I have no complaints about how our players have been in meetings, practice and preparing for the game.

Our players realize what is most important — to play well in the bowl game. That's what people will remember most. They recognize it.

On Oregon

Stoops: Oregon is an excellent football team who has played well throughout the year. When everybody asks me what stands out about Oregon, to me it is their seniors.

If you look at their two cornerbacks, they have 11 interceptions. Both are really solid seniors. (Anthony) Trucks, their safety, is their leading tackler and sack guy on defense, and he's a senior.

They have two great defensive ends who are seniors, who have a great number of pressures and sacks. And they have a great interior lineman in (Haloti) Ngata.

I always start defensively when I evaluate a team, but I see a lot of great experienced guys over there who have played well.

Off the same thing, I look at the skill positions. They have a great receiver in (Demetrius) Williams, a tight end in (Tim) Day, and (Terrence) Whitehead, their running back.

You see a good number of seniors who are making plays who are really good football players. We understand it's a big challenge, but it is also an exciting one to play tomorrow in front of national television against an excellent football team — a top five team in the country.

Our players are excited about the challenge of it. We feel like we've done great work over the last couple of weeks getting prepared and ready for the game.

On how new quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel will be utilized

Stoops: He's going to be on the sideline, much like the role before he left to go to Arizona. He was always the first guy Jason White would talk to when he came off the field.

Josh has a really good way with those guys. I'm sure he will stick right in there.

On how important a win over Oregon would be going into next season

Stoops: Well, I don't know. For some degree, I guess it does help you. But if you remember when we lost the Independence Bowl, we came back and won the national championship the next year.

So how much does it really do for you? I don't know. You have a long time before you play next season.

The extra reps do benefit the individual players you get at a bowl game. But what kind of mindset you come back with is determined the next year because you have a different team again.

On any difference between Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf

Stoops: What we look for when you're analyzing the two quarterbacks is if they change the structure of their offense, but they don't.

Dixon is more of the runner and Leaf is more of the thrower, but they both throw the ball well. And they still run Leaf in some of their offense.

* Stoops said that senior receiver Travis Wilson will not play against Oregon.



On the Holiday Bowl

Bellotti: We have had great practices. The UCS facility (University of California at San Diego) has been great to us, other than the fog that rolled in a couple of times and wiped out our cameras, which reminded me of our last game at home. So, we felt like we were right at home.

On their bowl preparations

Bellotti: We're healthy. We've had a string of practices both at home and here that I think have been beneficial.

Practice is great and it helps the young players in our program, and certainly we have some young players who are not only playing for the future but for now, especially at the quarterback position. Every rep they take makes them better.

In that regard, I think we are good and anxious to see the field itself. I know the footing and the whole thing will be so much better. We were there a couple of years ago and enjoyed that venue very much.

On Oklahoma

Bellotti: Oklahoma has done a great job this year. I say that because you judge teams not if they win or lose, but what happens when you start off and have some bumps in the road and how you finish. And they have won five of six.

They are a year removed from the national championship game, so obviously you don't lose that in one year. Coaches, as I've said many times, don't change that much. I have great respect for Bob and what he and his staff have accomplished.

They've done it this year through a challenge of injuries, and they have a healthy Adrian Peterson. He's had a couple more weeks now, and that is a scary proposition. As a freshman, he gained 1,900 yards. And this year, with one ankle for half the season, he gained over 1,000.

His coming out party was against us last year. He had 187 yards for half the game and we recognized he was a talented athlete.

The other thing I noticed about Oklahoma, more than anything else, is their speed on defense. It is amazing. They are very well coached and present a lot of problems for your defense because of the myriad of zone and man blitzes they run.

Our ability and how we handle the speed and zone blitzes at the line of scrimmages will be the key.

On the keys to beating Oklahoma

Bellotti: Any team will tell you the team that can run the ball in a bowl game sets the tempo. It gives you a chance to control the line of the scrimmage, and if you can control the line of scrimmage you have a better chance to win the football game.

The other thing is turnovers. I think special teams and turnovers are things a lot of times that you guys don't want to talk about, but the reality for coaches is that is the difference in bowl games. Those two areas you have a lot of hidden yardage that gets created that goes a long way in winning and losing.

I think the other thing about a game like this is when you don't have common opponents or play that person every year, is you don't know exactly how the matchups are going to go.

(Dusty) Dvoracek did not play against us and I know he is a huge factor. He's a huge factor for us being prepared for his physical aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage.

I think we're going to figure out those matchups in the first quarter. Each team will spar and figure out what you can do and then focus on getting the best matchups.

On having a chance to tie for the best record in school history (11-1) with a win

Bellotti: I want to echo what Bob said about our seniors. They are a special group.

They have done a tremendous job of turning this program around. Last year, we were 5-6 and missed a bowl game for the first time in our tenure, so last year I said we were going to make some changes and our seniors allowed me to do that.

I think a lot of times you can say those things, but unless the kids buy into it, it doesn't work. They bought into it, supported the people I brought in and the changes we made.

To go 10-1 and just to lose to the defending national champions, who are undefeated, is even better than our 2001 season. This group of kids has a chance to match the best record in Oregon history. Certainly, I hope they accomplish it.

On if OU's change in offensive coordinators will affect their gameplan

Bellotti: I actually think it is going to change things a little bit. Everybody puts their own flavor on it. Their new OC came from Northwestern, and that scares me a little bit. That's the program that we borrowed some things from.

They are a little bit different team this year. I think every year you reflect the talent of your players. They have tightened things down a little bit. They run a little more lead back stuff, but they still have the spread offense so you have to prepare for both.

So, that is a wild card and I really can't tell you about it. I guess we'll find out in the game.

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