OU-Colorado Locker Room Report

Bob Stoops, Brent Venables, Kevin Wilson, Paul Thompson (pictured), Allen Patrick, Chris Brown, Rufus Alexander and Zach Latimer talk about their 24-3 win over Colorado.

The Oklahoma-Colorado game had a mysterious feel to it. Nobody knew what to expect. Before the season began you knew that Adrian Peterson was going to be the focal point of the Sooner offense and great things were going to happen. But against Colorado, AD wasn't going to play because of a broken collarbone and many didn't know what to expect from his back-up Allen Patrick.

Colorado came into the game 1-6 on the year, but they were coming off their first victory of the year over a good Texas Tech team, 30-6. All year, the Buffaloes had played tough defense and against Texas Tech it certainly looked as if the Buffs finally had their offense going. The Sooner coaching staff had great respect for Dan Hawkins and his staff and they felt that Colorado was a much better team than their 1-6 record indicated.

As the game got going it was apparent that AP could run, but that the wind was affecting the game a great deal and that the Oklahoma defense was on top of its game. Despite having to make another adjustment in the secondary, inserting Nic Harris back at strong safety to replace a dinged up Reggie Smith in their base defense, the defense had all the gaps and lanes covered holding the Buffs to just 113 total yards. Despite rushing the ball 30 times, the Buffs only managed 74 yards and CU signal caller Bernard Jackson was totally overwhelmed in the passing game hitting just 3 of his 14 passes for an anemic 39 yards.

The Oklahoma offense didn't set the world on fire but battling a strong 30 mile-per-hour wind, a stout Buff defense and life without AD, they pounded out 271 yards total offense —166 yards rushing and 105 passing. AP proved that he could be the workhorse that AD was, maybe not with the same production, but good enough carrying the ball 35 times for 110 yards and one touchdown at 3.1 yards per carry.

All week, the Sooner coaches were concerned how the team would react to the loss of Peterson. AD had become the heart and soul of the offense and the team and the sudden lost of the big workhorse in the backfield, and that was going to take some getting some used to.

So it is easy to understand the excitement the Sooners showed in the locker room following their 24-3 win over Colorado. I know Colorado is only 1-6, but the Sooners no longer had their security blanket and they had just gone out and traded blows with the physical Buffs and managed to rush for more yards than any other team this season against them, while also totally dominating Colorado from the defensive end. In fact, it was the fourth straight good to great effort by the Sooner defense this season

"I was really pleased with how they played the entire night," said OU head football coach Bob Stoops following the game. "You saw in our positioning and you saw with all the jumping around that Colorado does, I thought that we did a great job recognizing and adjusting to what they were doing. Then being physical in tackling and containing their quarterback as well. I am extremely pleased that way as our positioning and tacking on the ball was excellent."

"Offensively, the same thing," Stoops continued. "I thought we managed the game really well. I guess everyone knows how windy it was and that the conditions weren't the best. I believe that resulted in a lot of the drops. We had quite a few drops out there. They had a hard time throwing it as well. The gust of wind when we were down there was really tough. I am extremely pleased with how we managed the game. Our running backs really ran hard, took care of the football and that is a team defensively that has played well against everybody.

"I liked the way we did run it and kept with it. We took care of the football, and with all those backs the ball was never loose on any of them. That is pleasing. I thought Paul was really good. He had a lot of drops on him, but he threw a really nice ball. Again ,with the gust of wind I thought he managed the game really well. The offensive line did a really good job in the run game and protecting the quarterback. The kicking, too, with this wind I thought was really solid. We managed it in a really good way. Just in the way we handled the football and in the kicking game we were very solid. On our next to last scoring drive we picked up three different third down conversions. Paul did a really good job in that series moving the football."


It seems like offense always grabs our attention one way or another, but against Colorado it was the defense who was the primetime player. Colorado averaged only 2.6 yards per play and picked up only five first-downs. For the Sooners, it was a case of practice makes perfect.

"I think it is, as much as anything, our intensity and focus in practice during the week," said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables following the game. "Maybe it is old hat for fifth-year seniors, but sometimes you lose sight of the fundamentals and techniques and practicing on edge, and in turn you play that way on Saturday. I don't care what level you are at, whether it is Pop Warner or the NFL, if you don't play with technique and you don't trust and read your key or if you don't play within the defense or the system you will get exposed. I don't care how good you are. I think at times early in the year we were our own worst enemy. As coaches, starting with coach Stoops, we got our guys more focused and put them in position where there was more accountability in practice, and in turn we have a performance like this."

"It is more than just being excited to play, and it is more than just watching video during the course of the week," Venables continued. "It is having an edge and knowing what your edge is going to be. They have practiced all week and they have good players, good coaches and good schemes. What is your edge going to be? It is about having an intense focus about you and maintaining that focus. What is that, because you can't pull it out of a bottle? It is respecting the game, respecting the process and playing with a real edge and attitude, having fun and turning it loose. I think at times early this season that we were out-thinking ourselves and thinking too much worrying about things that were out of your control. You start pressing and pushing and doing things that you are not supposed to do."

"We demand that we practice that way more," Venables continued. "We have done more good-on-good this month than we have. Once you get into the season it is a lot of scout work, but if your scout work isn't really good work you lose in the fundamentals and your technique. So maybe you go good-on-good and you are not working as much opponent preparation in recognition, but you are working at good with the techniques of the game and how to play the game."

Finally, all the work on fundamentals and working within the framework of the defense is paying off.

"Yeah, we are getting better every week," said Venables Sunday from the OU Football Complex. "I think the last month we have gotten better and more consistent in all phases of the game. I am pleased with the improvement. We are playing better up front, jumping the ball better and we are playing with better technique."


The Sooner linebackers continued their improved play as senior middle backer Zach Latimer finished with six tackles, two for losses, intercepted one pass and broke up another. He certainly has bought into the improved practice makes for improved play theory.

"I think it just comes with more focus with more people coming in and watching film, watching extra film and not just what they have to do with the coaches and everything," said senior linebacker Latimer. "We know what is in front of us and we had no missed assignments. When we were giving up a bunch of yards, we knew that it was a little play here and a little play there. We knew we weren't far off. Coming in and putting extra time in is finally paying off."

Latimer's senior partner, Rufus Alexander, didn't make the cut for the Butkus Award, but he is playing his best football of the year. Alexander led the team with 11 tackles, six solo's and one tackle for loss.

"Everybody went out there and played well and did their job," said Alexander. "It was a very physical game and we knew coming into the game that Colorado was a team that liked to run the ball. They do it almost on every other play in boots and stuff like that. We knew it was going to be a physical game. I would rather play in that kind of game than against a team that is going to pass it all the time. We are playing better. You can say we are putting it together, and I am going to say that everybody is starting to do there job. In the beginning of the season, we missed a lot of tackles but we have got better in our sense or awareness."

Colorado came into the game averaging 167 yards on the ground, but the Sooners stoned the Buffs for just 74 yards at 2.5 yards per rush.

"What we wanted to do was come down hill," said Latimer. "When we saw run we wanted to make plays. Me and Curtis (Lofton) started looking at Rufus and we said, 'Man, he is making all the plays. We have to go out there and catch up with him.' We were all competing against each other and going out there and having a good time."

The Sooners made an adjustment at linebacker as sophomore Curtis Lofton got his first start in place of the injured Demarrio Pleasant.

"Demarrio (Pleasant) had to have surgery on a finger," said Stoops. "He was able to play, but he has a club on it and that makes it tough. Curtis did a nice job, played well from what I could see. Though Reggie played, we felt he missed enough practice we were a little unsure, and Nic (Harris) has been playing really well. So in our heavier sets, where Nic wasn't at the nickel, we played Nic at strong safety and he did a really good job. Then the little bit we were in our nickel, Reggie did a good job in there. I thought our coaches did a good job managing that."

Lofton primarily plays middle linebacker, but the fact he made the switch to SAM so successfully was one of the keys to the Sooners' defensive success.

"He really did well because playing that position, as apposed to the MIKE, is a very difficult transition," said Venables. "There are a lot of different subtleties to the SAM from the MIKE, and I thought he really did a pretty good job. I thought he did really a pretty good job, but he could have had a sack early in the game and let the quarterback get out, so he is bumming about that. However, I thought he did a nice job.

"Zach (Latimer) got a little banged up during the game and I didn't have any other options, and I was praying. Curtis didn't practice at all at the middle linebacker and I am really proud of those guys for literally taking every rep during the course of the week. The preparation for the game on the field and off hopefully will continue to validate what we have asked them to do. Playing as well as they did, I think the guys are confident in our preparations and not cheating the game. They know there is an actual process and they don't try to cheat the game."

"Hopefully that is a sign of things to come of them trying to play as well as we can play," Venables continued. "Whether you are holding a team like that, I think the wind was a factor too, in holding everything in perspective. The wind was a factor for two of those quarters as they were bottled up in the things they could do offensively. However, the fact we went out and executed what we practiced and played the defense, for the most part, the way it was supposed to be played is something to be proud of."

Earlier in the year, everybody was disappointed in the play of the Sooner linebackers, but don't look now the as they have made about 25 tackles a game in the last four games.

"I thought Zach did play well, and I thought Rufus played well at linebacker," said Venables. "I know that Rufus made a bunch of plays. Rufus is playing with better technique and not doing things that he is not supposed to do. He is having discipline, and again just because a guy is a fifth-year guy you would expect him to, but it doesn't always happen. Then you try to do everything and that is human nature at times. I think, again, just trusting the system and partners around him, and I think it is true to that other guys around him are doing what they are supposed to do. Rufus is playing with better discipline and playing within the confines of the defense."


Depth is showing up on both sides of the ball. On defense, Lofton fills in for Pleasant and the Sooners don't miss a beat. Harris doubles up and not only plays nickel, but also has his best game at strong safety. The Sooners are playing four defensive tackles and three defensive ends, and both John Williams and Alonzo Dotson played well Saturday making it five defensive ends that showed up and played well against Colorado.

"I am really proud of Nic going back there and playing, because he still has to learn all the nickel positions," said Venables. "Conceptually, he was on top of it. He just got it, but we knew that he had great confidence whether Reggie made it back or not. We still thought we were going to be good. He plays physical from there and he will continue to be more physical. He gives a little bit more of a physical presence. He gives you some options and he just understands it from a linebacker and safety standpoint. He understands the defense so much better now and it has been an evolution starting with this season. Playing up in the box has allowed him to have a better grasp of the totality of it all. In turn, it has allowed him to become a better player. He got better tonight and he will get better next week. I think, without question, that his best football is still ahead of him."

"I was really proud of Curtis because that was hard to move to a different backer position," Venables continued. "There is a lot of thinking at that position instead of a lot of instincts that you have at the MIKE and the WILL. It takes a lot and we had a complex game plan because they gave you a lot of offense and made you work. They do a plot of things that not a lot of people do. They did it, believe it or not, and there were a lot of adjustments going on. He handled it big-time. The D-linemen continue to get better and we need to continue to do that across the board. I think tonight was another step in the right direction, but here is still a lot of work to be done."

Bob Stoops has often said that his top 22 can match up with any top 22 in the country, but in reality his roster of players can match-up with any roster in the country because OU's depth is finally showing up on both sides of the ball.

"When other guys get their opportunities, other guys need to step up and play well," said Stoops. "We have had guys do it. The other night Curtis Lofton goes in there for Demarrio Pleasant and played a really good game. Trent Williams goes in there for Branndon Braxton and did a nice job. Allen Patrick goes in for Adrian Peterson and rushed the ball strong in a really good way. I think, as we go, Jacob and Chris will complement him in a positive way. When you get your opportunities, a guy has to step up and play like you expect them to."


It was a game time decision, but Reggie Smith did play on Saturday despite a bruised knee and a small stress fracture in a non-weight baring bone of his leg. There is not question that Smith is hurting, but he toughed it out and saw action both at safety and punt returner.

"He missed quite a bit of practice, so we just used him in our nickel situation," said Stoops. "We took the load off of him in the heavier sets. As he gets better and as he is able to practice, and in talking to our guys he should practice this week, we will work him back more to what he had been doing.

"Nic Harris played really well on Saturday. He continues to make big plays and Nic has been really solid. He did a nice job getting in there in the heavier sets that we talked about. He is surer of himself and he understands through all the repetitions and having more experience he is playing well."


The big story on offense was the play of Allen Patrick. AP stepped up and started strong with three straight carries for 25 yards. In all, AP carried the ball 35 times, one more than AD did in his most extensive work this season, for 110 yards and one touchdown on a two-yard run.

"I really appreciate the fact that the coach had enough confidence in me to go out there and carry the ball," said Patrick following the game. "I am happy to have the ball in my hands. To come out and play the way I did I am happy about, because I went out and played hard. I can go out there and run the ball pretty good and I just tried to go out there and let things work the way they worked."

AP proved that he can handle a heavy workload, but he may not tote the pigskin that many times in the future.

"We need to play those other guys a little bit more," said Wilson. "The coaches will tell you that they feel that Mossis Madu is maybe playing as well as any freshman, but Chris Brown had the best week of practice. He was good in the inside drill. He was physical and we just had a little more confidence with him.

"We were doing some stuff where we were running the ball late, so maybe we need to get Chris a little more work. All three did a nice job. We missed a couple of cuts a couple of times. There were a couple of times on the play calls that I did, especially with some of their twisting and slanting, maybe in hindsight I wish I could have gotten a couple calls back. I put some lineman in some bad situations, but those running backs did OK."

No matter how you slice it, the Head Ball Coach thought his new tailback looked pretty good.

"I was really proud of Allen Patrick," said Stops. "I thought he ran the ball really tough, really well. And Jacob (Gutierrez) came in and complimented him in a really good way. He made some really nice runs. Then Chris Brown gets his first start out there and we wanted to keep giving it to him there at the end to give him some experience. We are going to have to play him and we have to get him some snaps.

"Trent Williams went in for Branndon Braxton and did a really nice job. Branndon broke his fibula and he will be out the rest of the season, but Trent went in there and did an excellent job. Trent has played well and he is getting better and better. I am proud of him. He finished off that last drive and he was really good."

"Allen's performance was impressive," Stoops continued. "Allen is a tough guy and he is a competitor as well. I always love his attitude. He has a lot of toughness to him. Again, I am proud of Jacob and Chris, who are going to be good complements to him. I was proud in all three of them — how physical they were and how they ran it up in there and how they took care of the football."

One thing that AP proved above all else, is that he has excellent speed and he is a very physical runner. Many times, he threw his 203 pounds into a defender and bounced up like a champ, even on his last carry where on fourth and one he got the one and an inch, but took a heck of a lick at the end.

"Yeah, that was a big collision," said AP. "We were both going out there and getting it. The defense was coming and I was trying to go. Things just so happened that we hit right there on fourth down to get that first. So I had to go out there and get it."

Peterson always talked about the mesh between he and the offensive line, and how they needed to be on the same page for the running game to hit on all cylinders. For Patrick, that relationship is just taking shape.

"We kept on talking to each other just to let each other what is happening," said AP. "Everybody is out here talking to each other and trying to keep everybody up. That is just the kind of combination that we are going to have out there on the field with the O-line to make things happen. It all starts up front."

Also seeing his first action at running was Alexandria, La. freshman Chris Brown.

"He just has a really good knack," said Stoops. "He has been probably, overall, the best with the football at seeing seams and making something happen. He has great vision and he just has a natural feel for the game, but those other guys do too. We just felt he was a little further along in the way he runs."

Like with Lendy Holmes getting the call over D.J. Wolfe last week at corner, Brown won the opportunity to play this week over Mossis Madu with a good week of practice.

"We think Mossis is really good and showed a lot of signs of making plays. He has great feet and great athletic ability, but Chris just seized the week of practice a little bit better," said Wilson. "His attention to detail was greater, he was a little bit more physical in our inside period and he didn't have as many of the mental mistakes as Mossis had. I think all of us as coaches will say that potentially Mossis might be the better back or potentially a really, really good back. He wasn't bad by any means last week. His practice caused some concern and when you are giving a guy the football, the most prized possession on a football field, we felt Chris played tougher last week in practice and he was a little bit surer of himself. He seemed to express the plays and play with a little more physical nature.

"I think Mossis has a bunch of talent. He didn't have one bad day of practice or one glaring error, but Chris, as the week went along, just played with more purpose. We are not down on Mossis and we are not upset with him. I still think we might end up playing him. I would expect those three guys are definitely playing now, and I would expect Mossis to be a factor and get in there and play before the season is over."

When you are redshirting and just trying to impress the coaches, many times you don't know where you stand on the roster. But Brown said he knew at the beginning of the week that he was being considered for playing time.

"I had an idea because I was getting some reps with the one's," said Brown following the game. "I knew that I would be in the game if AP needed a breather or a little something. I didn't know for sure that I would be playing just to be playing. I was not aware about winning the job in practice," said Brown. "The coaches always have some kind of competition going on. You always have to come out everyday prepared and that is how we get better. The best people are always going to come together."

Brown ended up with 13-yards on four carries, but it was his four-yard touchdown run that he will never forget.

"It was kind of exciting for my touchdown run. It will be something that I will always remember," said Brown. "It was '36 down'. It was supposed to hit off-tackle, but they made good blocks up front. Trent Williams made a real good block and that set it off right there. I hope that is the first of many."


Senior quarterback Paul Thompson loves to see those new running backs find the end zone, because often they will find it again.

"I wanted to get him into the end zone," said Thompson. "On the previous couple of plays, I was waiting on the clock to run down. Actually, on the play on the last play I snapped it quick so maybe we could get an extra play in there, because I wanted him to score. I definitely like to see young guys to get in there and make plays for us. Many times, that will become a habit for them."

When Thompson is calling plays he is facing the huddle, and for the first time this season AD was not staring back him.

"It was different, but I was definitely satisfied with what Allen was doing out there, as well as Gute. And the freshman, Chris Brown, even got in there," said Thompson. "It felt real comfortable in the huddle and I felt comfortable handing the ball off to them making plays and holding onto the ball. They played real well. We are definitely aware that Adrian is no longer back there, but we are not down about that. We are looking to see if we can overcome that, and our gameplan is to go in with who we have and be efficient on offense. I think that is what we are doing."

The weather was terrible for the passing game, but Thompson still has a solid day hitting on 17 of 26 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown, despite at least four drops in the game.

"The wind was gusting and it seemed like it was blowing sideline-to-sideline at times," said Thompson. "Then sometimes it seemed like it was going length-wise down the field. It was definitely a factor, but that is the thing with football. You have to play within the elements. It doesn't matter if it is rain, wind or cold. A lot of people don't talk about the cold, but it was pretty chilly out there. Once we got to running around we didn't worry about that as much as we worried about the wind."

Considering the weather conditions, the insert of a new running back and the loss of a starting tackle, Thompson thought, in all, it was a pretty good day for the Sooner offense.

"I think we performed pretty well," said Thompson. "I think the freshman running back and the freshman offensive lineman came in there and did well. Considering we did not have Adrian, our running backs, as a whole, I felt were real successful offensively. We converted some big third down plays as well with the wind as a factor. I thought we had a good offensive day."


Speaking of the wind, it certainly had both coaches thinking and making changes to their game plan as the weather got colder.

"I was really pleased in the third quarter. I thought our offense did a great job, even though on the fourth down we got stopped on our 30-yard line," Stoops said. "We moved the football and we ate up time and we changed field position. That was big as strong as the wind was today. I know in the second quarter, I called time out so that we would have it to kick the field goal and to kick off. I figured early you don't get any bonus for taking your timeouts into the locker room, so I figured I might as well use them. Fortunately, it worked and we were able to pick up the field and kick the ball out of the end zone. You just have to watch it when it is a factor like it was."

For coach Wilson, calling a game in those types of weather conditions isn't easy.

"It was a combination of playing a good defense and we thought they were a good defense," offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said after the game. "I think the elements of weather got us. In the first quarter, I thought we started fast, which was good. We struggled in the second quarter going into the wind. In the passing game, some balls kind of fluttered and a couple of times I wouldn't even call them drops. It was like a bad ball drill. It was like trying to catch a knuckleball that was blowing all over the place.

"We didn't execute well, but in the third quarter we came out and executed better. I think time of possession, which we are not necessarily trying to win, but we had it 10 minutes in the third and 11 minutes in the fourth. I thought that fourth quarter drive was huge, and our finish was huge. Our start was great, but our second quarter was tough. The third quarter we moved the ball well but just didn't get points. And then in that opening drive of the fourth quarter and the way we finished, that was pretty strong.'

"The stats don't look good, but to me it looked like one of those old fashioned Big-10 games," Wilson continued. "We were playing great defense and we were worried about if we don't get it that we don't want to punt into the wind and give them a short field in the third quarter. We actually thought they might give us the ball in the wind in the third quarter to have the wind in the fourth quarter, so were talking about how we needed to go score in the third quarter to make it a two possession game. So it was great to make it a two possession game in the fourth quarter."

Controlling the clock and being able to pick up first downs were critical considering the weather conditions, and the Sooners did well converting third downs.

"On third down, we were 9-of-18, which was pretty good," said Wilson. "We actually went a little no-huddle on third down trying to show our cards and see what we could do to get our protection right and to get some routes up. Our third down plan worked pretty well. It is amazing to convert that many and not have turnovers and not have more stats.

"You know, that 9-of-18 third-downs is as good as we have done all year. It would have been nice to get more points than we did, but credit them because they have been playing good defense all year. We need to be better, but there were a lot of good things done by us tonight."


Bad news seems to be following around the OU Football team this year and more bad news struck the offense Saturday when starting right tackle Branndon Braxton was lost for the season with a broken leg and messed up ankle. Freshman Trent Williams has been getting a lot of playing time this season and he gets first crack to take over at right tackle.

"We think Trent is pretty good, and that is why we have been playing him all along," said Wilson. "We have been rotating those guys a little bit and right now I would expect Trent to start. He played very well against Colorado. Quite honestly, he played as well or better than Branndon after went down. Unfortunately, Branndon got caught in a pile standing up. The pile fell on the back of his legs and he got his ankle there. He has a surgical procedure today and we expect everything to be fine. Branndon is a great young player and we will keep him in our thoughts and keep him going. He is going to have two more great years here playing big for us.

"We have a lot of confidence in Trent's ability, and that is why we were playing him in the fourth quarter of the Texas game with the game on the line. He is the mix playing against a great defense and we didn't think twice about it. He will be the starter on the right side with Chris Messner on the left side. Our next tackle situation would be Messner flopping to either side with Duke Robinson going to tackle. Duke has played a little more on the left side and so he will be our starting right guard and back-up left tackle. Messner will be the starter and the back-up right tackle. From there, if there is another issue I think we have to look at one of those guards moving out there and getting into the mix at tackle."

Junior Dane Zaslaw and Brody Eldridge shared playing time at fullback this week, and that position could remain a revolving door each week depending on who is playing well and who is healthy.

"Brody is still our best blocking fullback, but it takes a little bit away not having him at tight end," said Wilson. "Matt Clapp is still a little gimpy on his ankle. He is not quite as good as he has been, can be or should be at this time. Ian Pleasant has been OK, but we thought in the run game that Dane, being a little bigger, we would give him a shot at it. He did OK, but I still think that position is by committee. Nobody is doing horribly, but at the same time nobody is playing at a high level. They are all playing good, solid ball but nobody has jumped out to be the front horse way out in front of everybody."

Colorado was set out to stop the run and they were a very physical defensive unit, but for the most part the Sooners returned the favor on offense.

"There were some good things," Wilson said Sunday from the OU Football Complex. "We can still be a lot better with some execution and some blocking. The tight end position had not been as good as it had been sometimes. They got us with some things. However, the effort was there and the attitude was there. And as talented as a running back as Adrian is, you still run as a team effort and you are running as an attitude. The team we played has a pretty good run defense and we were still able to slug it out. We missed some things and we didn't block everything cleanly.

"Scheme-wise, we should have made some quicker adjustments than we did. And in hindsight, I shouldn't have called a couple of plays that I did and I put some linemen in bad situations. We need to execute a little bit better. Our running backs were good and took care of the ball. Every once in a while we might have missed a cut that hindsight is 20/20 and the guy wants back every once in a while. However, the guy was decisive and ran hard. It was tough with the weather and the elements. Our goal wasn't to go out there and play smashmouth, but the way the game got going and the defense playing well in the middle part of the game, we were very cognizant to not put the defense in a bad position."

"I think that we had talked so much about being decisive and taking the football at them, that I think Allen tried so hard to follow the game plan that he missed on taking some things outside once in a while," Wilson continued. "Quite honestly, he ran right into the blocking a couple of times just by the alignment of the defense. At the same time, you kind of get what you coach. What you want, and we wanted, was him to not be hesitant and to be decisive, take care of the ball. Maybe some things that he missed are just the product of some things that we emphasized. I do think the more plays the more comfortable that he will get as with all those guys. I am sure he will continue to improve and get better each week."


Junior Garret Hartley continues to be one of the best kickers in the country having only the blocked field goal against Oregon. Without question, coach Stoops has total confidence in Hartley any time he calls upon him.

"He is playing well," said Stoops. "He hit the ball again today in a really good way. I am very pleased with Garrett, his consistency and the way he has been playing. He has a really strong leg and he is as powerful as most guys out there or probably more. I don't know what his range is with no wind, but it is in the 50's."


Colorado is not a team nationally that is well thought off, but considering how they played against Texas Tech, how they played defense and who was coaching them, the Oklahoma coaching staff knew that winning this game would not be easy.

"We knew that and they have a lot of good players who have experience," said Stoops after the game. "We saw on film that everybody they have played they played in a really good way. They do a nice job and they are very sound in everything that they do, and in the way they play. We knew they were good. I think Dan Hawkins does an excellent job. I mean that because they are solid in everything that they do. He has his players playing hard and in a really good way. I know several of their coaches and they do a really good job. We know this was a good win for us."

The Sooners now head into their final five games of their schedule with four of them on the road. OU goes on the road this weekend at Missouri, which will be followed by road games to Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma State. The final home game with Texas Tech is sandwiched between the four. All five games feature good offensive attacks with good quarterbacks, but five defensive units that struggle at times.

"We are playing well on defense," said Stoops. "Our positioning and our ability to make plays has been stronger and better and more consistent. You need to be against a team like Missouri this week."

As the Sooners head to Missouri, they are playing their best football defensively this season and still have enough talent to be a very good offensive team.

"I feel really good about it," said Stoops. "Maybe it is best to have the road portion of our schedule now as apposed to earlier in the year. I am usually very indifferent to scheduling because everybody goes on the road and everybody has to play. In the end, I feel we have made significant progress in a lot of areas and we are getting better and better as a team. So that part of it you feel good about. We went on the road early in the year to Oregon and though there were areas we could have played better, in the end I don't think the crowd was the factor. We are ready for the challenge of it."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories