Stoops: Last week we spent a good part of the week trying to make ourselves better — bushing up in our techniques and our fundamentals in what were doing along with getting extra recognition and work in regard to playing Texas. I felt like it went well. We're very healthy. A few of the guys that had some nicks and bruises that have been out are all back now and practicing. So we're coming into the game as healthy and strong as we have been, which is encouraging.
Excited about the progress I feel we've made in the last four or five weeks. And we sure need it against a very good Texas team, which year in and year out they are. We always recognize that. It's a big challenge, a big step in the Big 12 South division and in our conference race. Everybody recognizes it as a big game. Our players are working that way and preparing for it.
And that's what matters — the way we prepare and come into the game. There's a lot more to it than just excitement and I feel like we're working in a really good way and preparing to play a good football game.
On where the offense would be if Paul Thompson had said no to making the switch from receiver to quarterback
Stoops: I'm not much on speculating, so you can surmise all you want and I'm sure you can make a good story of it. I say that in a good way, really. Who's to say one of these other guys wouldn't be doing awfully well too? I'm not much on the what if's.
On if Texas is an amazing physical team
Stoops: They're a good physical team, but as you look at them they're an athletic team and play that way. Sure.
On if he was recruiting Thompson as a quarterback from the beginning
On if there was any questions as to if he was a receiver or quarterback
On if the week off was even better mentally than it was physically for the team
Stoops: You know, I don't know. It doesn't hurt I guess. The guys, they look forward to being able to see their family and friends for a weekend for a couple of days. It's not like we needed a break, but it doesn't hurt I guess.
On how many players left for the weekend
Stoops: I don't know. I didn't ask.
On how long were the players who left gone
Stoops: Just Friday after class and back Sunday evening.
On if Oregon and Washington's success give him a good feeling about his team
Stoops: It does. I recognize those teams as being awfully good. Studying coming into those games, you could tell that they were good, solid football teams that were going to win their share of games so it does.
And in those games, there were a great part of those games where we played really well. Again, I've fully acknowledged the parts where we haven't (played well). What's encouraging to me in some of those areas when we didn't play so well, a lot of it were do to our mistakes, not being able to do it in our mental breakdowns or discipline in what we're doing.
I understand we've got to keep correcting that. We can't afford to make those kind of mistakes the times that we have made, but I feel as though we're further along.
On the offense coming into this year as opposed to last year against Texas
Stoops: Oh, it's not even close. There's no question we're a much different team coming into the game than we were a year ago. I don't even know that you can compare the two.
And one of the biggest reasons too is Adrian Peterson's health. That changes everything in regards to our play-calling and regards to the passing game. But you're right, overall our line's playing better, our receivers are much improved, our quarterback's playing better.
We're different defensively, though we've had our moments where we've given up some plays. Overall, I still believe we're further along than where we were at that time a year ago.
That's last year, so you have to go out and earn you're way right now. All that matters is how they play in this game. But coming into it, there's no question we're a much different team.
On if he thinks Paul Thompson got a bad rap before the season for his passing ability
Stoops: I don't think there's any question if anybody that's watched him would say that. He's thrown the ball very well. He's been very efficient. Compare his overall rating, percentage, completions, touchdowns, interceptions, to some of the other guys that are out there that are being mentioned as being the great ones. He's right there with them.
If production and what a guy's doing on the field matters, then he would be recognized as playing very good, and as good as the players out there that are being recognized as good quarterbacks. He is all of that.
We have a long way to go here. We're just starting conference play. I believe he'll continue to improve and get better as we go as well. Paul has a lot of potential to throw the football and skill to throw the football. The more the guys around him are playing like they're capable of and the more snaps he gets in there, I believe he'll continue to get better.
On if the offensive line is playing better than they did a year ago
Stoops: I don't think there's any question. It's not even close.
On the matchup with a physical Texas defensive front
Stoops: Well, it's not just their front. It's their linebackers, the way they support out of the secondary. All of it matters. They've got quality, good players all around.
So that's going to be a big part of the game. Who's able to be physical and protect the quarterback, run the football on both sides of the ball. That's going to be a big factor in the game.
On Texas' offensive line being their strength
Stoops: It's a good, quality line. There's no question. Again, as we defend it — the discipline from the backers, the secondary, the defensive line and ends up front canceling gaps and being able to get pressure, when we blitz being able to get there, the way that we tackle. That's a part of the game.
On Texas quarterback Colt McCoy
Stoops: He's doing a great job for them. As you watch him, he's very efficient and has been productive doing just what they're asking him to do. He's made a lot of nice throws and good plays for him. What I've seen is he's been awfully efficient for a young guy.
On if D.J. Wolfe and Lendy Holmes will be the corners
Stoops: Those guys will all play. And Reggie will play in at safety.
On if what they accomplished defensively against Middle Tennessee can transfer over to this weekend
Stoops: I said it last week and I said it a few other times, some of our mistakes in our other games, regardless of who we're playing, were our mistakes.
For instance, a safety rolling over the top of a corner, who's in a two-deep coverage. He's (corner) jamming in the flat and the receiver runs up the boundary, the safety's supposed to fold over on top and he doesn't. Regardless of who you're playing, that's going to show up.
Overall, our discipline and our responsibility in what we're doing has improved. At least in that game and in this last week. Now it has to happen again on Saturday. We have to show the ability to focus, be disciplined in our responsibilities in what we're trying to accomplish.
And at times in some of these other games, and I'm not taking anything away from the people we played, but we've allowed some things to happen by the way we have responded instead of being disciplined in what we're supposed to do. And I feel like we've made strides in that area.
In the last game we had very few, if any, breakdowns that way that were our fault. That's what you eliminate and make people have to beat you by their execution not by your lack of execution.
On how much momentum does the program gain by winning this game
Stoops: It's a big boost, but in the end you still have a lot of football games to play. It's our first conference game so there's a long road.
Winning the game, sure, gives the winning team a half-leg up on the other in regard to the division race and ultimately a Big 12 Championship. That's what you're after first, so it gives you a boost that way and momentum.
But in the end, you still have to come play the next week.
On if beating Texas gives them a boost to recruiting in Texas
Stoops: Just to some degree. I think what you do the rest of the year gives you a bigger boost. You win that game and don't win anymore, it's not going to help you a whole lot.
You win that one and go on and win Big 12 Championships or National Championships like we have in the past, then it does. Those are the things that matter more.
On him saying after the losses at Texas Tech and Oregon, where there was questionable officiating, that things would take care of themselves and if this week is a chance to do that
Stoops: Absolutely. Each week will be an opportunity to improve yourself. Everybody has a long road in front of them yet, so the bottom line how we play this week and how we keep playing will make a difference.
That's what you have to look at, that's what we're totally focused on and working towards. We've got a lot of big games coming.
On what he likes the most about the OU-Texas rivalry
Stoops: Gosh, there's a ton that you like about it. It's just a great environment to compete in, to be a part of, to participate in. When you walk into a crazy atmosphere of a state fair and then everybody yelling at you the whole way in.
You walk in and it's half and half, north side-south side. No matter what's happening in the game somebody's loud. So it's constantly loud. It's just a great environment.
And what's exciting to is the challenge of it. There's two really good football teams that have been competing, and that makes it exciting as well where so many years we've been in races for Big 12 and National Championships it makes a difference. It makes it even more exciting.
On his favorite story driving in on the bus through the Cotton Bowl
Stoops: You get a lot of difference reactions and gestures towards your bus (smiles).
On if the uniqueness of the game hits him every time or is he used to it
Stoops: It's always exciting. I don't know that any's any more than the other. It's always exciting, fun, however you want to describe it.
It gets your competitive juices going. I guess you say it gets the hair up on the back of your neck. It's exciting. It's as good as it gets.
On if this is one of the games they try to sell to a recruit that isn't from Oklahoma or Texas
Stoops: Absolutely. Or if they are from Oklahoma or Texas and you're recruiting against somebody else that doesn't get to play in the game, it works pretty good too.
On what he did during the off day on Saturday
Stoops: That's for me to know. You guys don't know too much about me as it is (smiles).
On if the team is depressed that Lee Corso won't be at the game
Stoops: I'm sure he'll have his pick regardless of where he's at (smiles). Nah, that's alright. Hey, it's going to be exciting atmosphere regardless. There's been plenty of games where they haven't been there.
On if there is a different feel or energy in practice this week from the players
Stoops: They do. They understand what's in front of them. Although, kids are pretty good at pacing theirself. They know they can't get wore out on Monday. There's a long week of work in front of them, so they'll handle it the right way.
On how Texas' offense is different without Vince Young
Stoops: I don't really need to answer that for you, do I? There's no denying with Vince Young back there it's just different.
Now they run a lot of similar plays, and again Colt McCoy's doing an excellent job, but you're just talking about a guy who was picked second or third in the NFL draft, who can make plays happen when they weren't there.
So, obviously, that's a big difference. And how you attack what they do is different because he was back there. So it is different, although there are a lot of similarities in plays and style and what they're doing.
But that guy makes a difference.
On if Young took them out of what they wanted to do conventionally on defense
Stoops: At times, or would make you be a little more aggressive or feel that you've got to do this because he can do that. There's a lot more to it. There's a different dynamic with him back there that nobody can deny.
On if it's easier to defend their running backs without the threat of Vince Young
Stoops: Well, you still have to be able to take on blocks, be in the right gaps and defeat blocks and tackle when you're there. Again, it's a different dimension with him back there. You guys can write it however you want.
Does it make it any easier to stop certain other plays? Maybe not. But I also know your style and what you do defensively can change because he's not back there.
On if he sees similarities between Texas' receivers and Oklahoma's
Stoops: They've got some very good, quality guys. Definitely. They're one of those teams, yes, that has those multiple threats and guys that they get the football too that you've got to be able to defend.
And we've been very pleased with how our guys have played in the receiver positions and the big plays they're making.
On if he's watched Tommie Harris play this year for the Bears
Stoops: I did happen to see the second half of the game other night and loved seeing him do so well. He was back here just a few weeks ago too — saw the players and came out to practice a little bit, spent some time with coach Shipp.
He's a great young guy. It's great to see him doing so well. He's probably just starting to mature. People forget how young he was when he left and he's just now probably coming into what his potential is and that's great.
On the psychological edge they had after winning five straight being erased last year, and if he feels like their isn't a mental edge one way or the other
Stoops: I've always felt that way. Even when we were on our runs, what did I say every year? It doesn't matter what happened a year ago. We've got to go win it again.
You've got to be able to do it all over again. Each year is different, each team is different. And I believe that now as well. I believed it when we had a big run going and I believe it today.
Each team is different, each game is different. You have to get yourself in a position to win it now. What happened last year doesn't matter.
On if there will be any uniform changes for OU-Texas — names on the back of the jerseys
Stoops: No (smiles). You got any suggestions? Maybe names on the back of the jersey? Is that what that was meant to be (laughs)?
Stoops on Texas
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