Coach Stoops - It's good to open up with a win here at home, good to play well in a lot of areas. Good to see areas that we need to work hard this week and make some improvement, hopefully, we learn a lot from last week's game and play better this week.
Some areas and guys I thought who played well, offensively, I was very pleased overall with our execution. Paul Thompson, first time out there this year, I thought did a really nice job. I was very pleased with his decisions for the most part, really his decisions overall. He had the two interceptions. The one overthrow was really the only poorly thrown ball. The other one, he was trying to squeeze in while getting rushed and had a chance to put it in there if our receiver comes back to the ball a little bit.
But his decisions, where he went with the ball, were good. Checks at the line of scrimmage, management of the line of scrimmage, the huddle, presence in the huddle, everything. Really no delays, no glitches at the line of scrimmage. I think everyone remembers, heck, last year I think we had four or five fumbles just from the center in the first game or two, you know, so overall, just a clean line of scrimmage. I though Paul, again, with his decision making, where he went with the football, was really good.
How do he start off the game – and I'm asking – wasn't it six for eight or eight of eight, six of eight? I didn't realize it, but someone said to me you watch the way he began the game and it was really good. And he'll only get better. Some of the throws that were off just a little bit, he can make those throws and he'll get better the more experience he gets back there.
I thought our offensive line, for the most part, was pretty decent. Several guys up there, Chris Messner and Brandon Braxton, our tackles, really played well. Matt Clapp played very well at fullback, our tight ends did a really nice job. Joe Jon Finley was the offensive player of the game alone. And Adrian Peterson again was just sensational with his big plays and his toughness running.
Defensively, I think was the area I was most disappointed in. As I look, we were undisciplined in taking care of some basic fundamental plays, basic zone read quarterback keep that everybody runs for the last two, three years that we work every single day. Nothing scientific about it. We weren't very disciplined in it, in handling it and we'll work that hard, believe we can overcome that. Tackling was poor and that's something that we've got to continue to work and hopefully the more we play, the better we'll be at it. Just some fundamental defensive areas that I think we can be better at, in tacking in particular.
I thought our kicking game was very good. Garrett Hartley was very good. Punters did a nice job, averaged 40 yards, but I think that's going to pick up, the more comfortable Michael Cohen gets back there. Return game was really exciting. Juaquin Iglesias over 30 yards on kickoff returns and Reggie Smith in punt returns was very exciting, very close to breaking some and I think that part of our game will continue to improve as well.
Coach Stoops: Looking forward to playing a very good and exciting Washington team here this week, a team with a great tradition and history. I talked to our players about the '85 game where they beat us in the Orange Bowl, they've been national champions in'91, a prideful, strong program with a strong tradition, and realizing in Tyrone Willingham's second year, a team that's reviving that. They've got an excellent quarterback, a very exciting athlete, one of the best you'll see as far as when you look at his ability to pass and his ability to run, along with a good, solid team on both sides of the ball. So we recognize it as another big challenge and need to have ourselves ready to play a really good game here at home this Saturday.
What's your thoughts about scheduling these games? Some teams play a guaranteed four wins and yours is more demanding. What's your thoughts?
Coach Stoops - That's been our philosophy, with Joe Castiglione and I, and Joe's been great with conferring with me on our schedule and we've done this in the past, too. I've said it before. We've had, what, Oregon and Alabama and UCLA, I think and Alabama, in the different years and we have played a challenging schedule.
I look around and most of the top teams in the country, if you're gonna be one of those top ten teams or top tier teams that continually fight for a national championship, you ought to be willing to go out and play different people. It's exciting for our players. I know they get excited about it. It's challenging for us as coaches. I know the fan interest is there, the TV audience is there and you know, if you're good enough you win ‘em. So we've challenged ourselves with another demanding schedule.
Other people who aren't playing a demanding schedule, they'd have to explain that. It's not for me to talk about. It's been our philosophy though, for those reasons that I just said. It challenges us, makes us have to be ready early, it's exciting for fan and player interest and I know TV interest as well, so I know all of it together, it's been good for us. And through the years, we've been fairly successful at handling it . There's several teams out there, heck, you appreciate the Miamis, the Florida States, those guys go play Florida and Tennessee and whoever else, and if you're one of those teams, heck, go play people.
You've always been pretty good in the return game. Are there two or three things you look for when you recruit in that? I know you recruit good athletes.
Coach Stoops – Well, I think that's what you're doing. You recruit good athletes. The return game is maybe the second part of it. They're explosive in whatever they're playing – receiver, DB, whatever. They have that kind of like Antonio Perkins had that kind of pop or that kind of acceleration and burst as Reggie does and you know those are the kind of guys that can make something happen, make a guy miss ‘em or pop through a small crease that other guys can't get through and make something happen.
How good was it after all these years to see Paul Thompson come out and play as well as he did on Saturday?
Coach Stoops – It was very satisfying, though for me, I can't say that it was unexpected. I don't sit here and say things I don't really believe and I believed he'd play well and I believe he'll continue to get better as we go through the year, the more comfortable he becomes. He'll get better and better as he plays as well as better receivers. I thought the receivers a few times the other night could have helped him more. We had a drop in the end zone that was right in somebody's chest, couple of other plays that if they run the correct route, come back to the football, he's still in a better position. Those guys need to play better. So I was pleased for him and I'm sure each week, he'll become more and more relaxed and confident in what he's doing and he should be. He's a good football player.
Talk about your defensive secondary.
Coach Stoops - Overall they were decent. I was displeased with a couple of plays and in one bust in our coverage. So they need to communicate better. You know, you can't have one bust. And I think just overall we can tackle better – not just as a secondary, but overall as a defensive team I think we need to tackle better. But they're a part of it.
How do you correct tackling problems? Is that just practice?
Coach Stoops - Yes, emphasizing it more in practice. You know, it's hard in practice because not everything is to the ground, so you have to find that balance where you're not creating big piles. We need to finish better in practice than we have, whether it's squaring people up and locking them up - I don't know how to explain it. We understand what we're saying there and it's something we started doing yesterday more of and players being more aware of it and hopefully it will help. We've always worked it, but obviously you have to do something to pick up the pace on it and hopefully, the more we play it should help improve on it as well.
Did you actually insert a new period in practice to say "This is what we're doing this week"
Coach Stoops - Yes and no. We've always done tackling drills. Maybe we do them a little bit longer, maybe we do some other ones. It's not like we haven't practiced tackling; we have. Simulating game speed is not the easiest thing to do in practice and you have to do the best to do it. Maybe we have to pick up the pace in what we're doing it at.
Are you between a rock and a hard place, especially at the beginning of the year, because you don't want to get anybody hurt?
Coach Stoops - There's some of that, yes, and you're constantly balancing how much you scrimmage, how much you go live compared to what you're depth is and who you can afford to lose and not lose. Sure, it's part of the issue. Not just for us, but everybody has.
How do you feel about the play of your defensive tackles?
Coach Stoops - I thought they did OK. I think they can play better and believe they will as we go.
Are there any players that didn't play much Saturday that you want to get more of a look at this week?
Coach Stoops - Possibly. I'd like to get Reggie some more snaps offensively. Outside of that, who are you looking for?
Coach Stoops – Possibly.
What about Gresham?
Coach Stoops – Jermaine needs to play a little bit more, yes. I think he'll learn from that one turnover but Jermaine can run and catch. You know, he made a nice catch. That ball was thrown on his back hip. So Jermaine, we've got to continue to get in there more. He's a good player.
Did the fumble keep him out?
Coach Stoops - Yeah, probably spooked us a little bit. We can't let that – he's got to learn from it. He can make some big plays and is a good player, so we gotta get him to learn how to take care of the football and get him on the field more.
Realizing that you'll sometimes play two tight, do you expect him to get half the snaps?
Coach Stoops - You don't go in saying this is what you're gonna do half the time. You go in and here's the formations that we're gonna use and what's working, you go to more than the other. I don't know that it's fair to say that but he needs to play a significant amount of snaps.
In the game Saturday, you were limited to 53 offensive snaps. How does that alter your strategy? Or does it?
Coach Stoops - I don't know that it alters it. You are just very aware that you can't waste possessions. I think it's obvious when we turn the football over, you're really limiting the number of snaps you're going to get. You need to take advantage of each possession. I can't say we're not trying to do that no matter how many you're getting but I guess it's more and more obvious now that you're going to have fewer possessions, you need to take advantage of them.
And I think you'll see just overall closer games and lower scoring games. I'm guessing. How many snaps last night (Miami-Florida State) were there? I wasn't sure, but probably similar. Some of it was in the style that they (UAB) played with the three backs and the running, they only threw a limited number of passes and tried to keep the clock going. So some of that and they style of whoever you're playing lends to that as well.
Stoops reviews Oregon, previews Washington
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