Stoops: I was pleased in the way we played overall. I thought the conditions out there as windy and all that it was, I thought we managed it offensively in a really good way.
I thought Paul Thompson was excellent in throwing, particularly his first touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone with the wind blowing like it was. It was really a great throw and Manuel Johnson made a great catch.
I thought we were physical, ran the football well. I was really pleased with Allen Patrick, who was one of the players of the game for us along with Chris Messner. Allen took care of the football in a great way, ran it strong and was complemented by Chris Brown and Jacob Gutierrez, who also did a nice job taking care of the ball.
Offensive line was very good. Physical, protected the quarterback. Real pleased with how they played overall as well. Malcolm Kelly had a lot of nice third down catches, Paul made some nice third down conversions as well. Those guys played good.
Defensively, was really strong. It was obvious in the few yards they had and the few first downs, but we were very physical, tackled well, positioning on the ball was excellent, coverage was there. So it was a solid day all the way around. Kicking game, I thought our kickers really handled the wind as well in a really good way.
Defensively, the guys that were players of the game were Rufus Alexander and Zach Latimer. And the special teams player of the week again was Garrett Hartley. Lendy Holmes also had an excellent special teams day.
Anyway, we're on to Missouri. Excited about the challenge of going up there. A very good team — 7-1. Our players realize the challenge of it and the excitement of it.
Our focus all week will be on our improvement. I felt like we made improvement last week in some of the areas we wanted to, and we need to again this week to continue to push ourselves to be sharper, to play better and to control the things we're able to control.
That's what our thoughts will be the entire week.
On his thoughts on playing four of their last five games on the road
Stoops: I guess it's better than playing four of your first five early in the season (on the road). I feel like we're more ready to handle it, but in the end I don't pay much attention to scheduling.
It doesn't matter to me. You're going to have to play sometime. No one gets to play them all at home, so whenever they say go play we'll go play.
On if there is one key reason as to why the defense has improved, or is it a combination of things
Stoops: No, and I said it earlier in the year. We weren't far off. Actually, there's a good stretch in all of those games — we go back through the Oregon game and dissecting it, they get the opening play of the game and they're done at the 4-yard line and they score. Then it's 20-13 in the fourth quarter, and that's a team that scores a lot of points.
There's a lot of parts of what we're doing early that were really good. We weren't consistent enough or we gave up some big plays that hurt us. What we've done lately, we haven't given up those plays. We've been more consistent and been in position better more consistently, and then we've tackled more consistently.
There isn't one area, but overall I would say the consistency has been there.
On if he thinks the carries should be split more between the backs with Patrick getting 35 carries against Colorado
Stoops: Well, it just depends on how it's going. I thought it went really well the other night, so each game's different.
On if Patrick started cramping up against Colorado
Stoops: A little bit. We have to be aware of that and what he's able to handle, and complement him with the other guys, which I believe we will as we go.
On if there has been any change in Adrian Peterson's status
Stoops: (Shakes head no). I'm sure he's a day healthier than he was yesterday.
On if he would've taken the wind had Colorado won the toss and elected to defer
Stoops: Never know. I don't like to tip your hand. You've got to play some more cards the rest of the year.
On playing well with the wind
Stoops: It worked really well for us — all of our kickoffs with the wind. We managed it in the second quarter for the field goal with the wind, so it worked out pretty good. And I thought Mike Cohen, against the wind, did a nice job punting it.
On if it seems like they've had more dropped passes this year than previous years
Stoops: I would say, yes. The other day, and I'm not going to make excuses for them, the conditions I think contributed a little bit to that. Some of those balls were a little, with the wind, hotter than they usually are and they're moving a little bit just because of the gusts that were out there.
But we've had some and we need not to have any. You're right. We've had a few, but all those guys are good receivers and tight ends. I believe we'll be better at it as we go.
On former receiver coach Darrell Wyatt and his group being the last unit off the practice field every week, and if that's been the case with Kevin Sumlin as the receivers coach
Stoops: I don't know that. I didn't know it was when Darrell was here. I'll have call Darrell maybe. No, you can stay out there all night if you want. We're practicing plenty.
On if he feels comfortable with Trent Williams on the offensive line
Stoops: I do. He's played well. He was in, I think, 33 or 34 snaps in the game the other night against a good defense and he played well. He's doing a nice job.
On Reggie Smith's status
Stoops: He practiced yesterday, so he should be fine.
On Paul Thompson saying there were similarities between OU's defense and Missouri's defense, and if he thinks going up against a similar defense in practice will help the offense Saturday
Stoops: There are some similarities in some of the structure of what we do, what they do. But, to be quite honest, I'm not so sure everybody doesn't anymore.
Everybody is similar in some ways so some of what they do, whether it's their structure in their zone defense, some of their zone blitzes, our offense has seen quite a bit of through spring and summer.
So there are some similarities there that our offense is used to seeing.
On Missouri's big, physical defensive backs, and if they'll change their gameplan to exploit other areas
Stoops: No, we'll attack like we do. We'll have different wrinkles, but we're not going to change what we do.
On Nic Harris' play against Colorado
Stoops: Nic played well. He had a big play there of course where Zach intercepted it. Nic continues to get better and better and play better and better.
On if he sees a situation where Harris could become the strong safety and not just a nickel back
Stoops: Well, it happened last week. He played strong safety more than he played nickel the other day.
On if he could become the permanent starter there
Stoops: It just depends on how the other guys are doing. Again, it depends on the structure that people are playing.
Like this week, if they're going to be spread out the whole time he's very valuable and good at nickel. A lot of it depends on who other people's offensive structure is.
We feel very comfortable in what he's doing right now.
On if Missouri's defense gets most of their sacks from their front four or if they come on blitzes
Stoops: They blitz a fair amount as well, so it's both. (Brian) Smith, they're good defensive end, has got great speed around the corner. I know he's hurt, which is unfortunate for him just like we've got some injuries too. Anyway, it's both.
On if Chris Brown will see more time on special teams and how will his workload increase in the future
Stoops: We'll work his load as he's able to handle it.
On if Brown is still the third running back depth chart
On if he senses that the team has a chance (against Missouri) to have a great turnaround with a win and overcoming the obstacles at the beginning of the year
Stoops: Well, I don't know that. I feel we have made steady progress. We've improved. I guess I'm just not one that looks at obstacles.
I just look at we've got day to day work. I guess there are things you say that you have to overcome, but to me it's just a course of the year. Sometimes there are different things you've got to work through than others, so I like that we have had a consistent, strong work ethic in practice and attitude in what we're doing.
I feel like we have made improvement as we've gone. But I guess I don't look at it as a turnaround. I don't know the circumstances around Oregon, whatever they are. Again, I don't think we were that far off early. So that's my point.
Again, I think we've been playing fairly well throughout the year. But I believe we're getting better.
On if it's frustrating that the Oregon game puts you down and if they had one loss they would be (ranked higher)
Stoops: Yeah, the perception. That's right. But, hey, I can't change that. I guess, as you say it that way, obviously in that realm of thinking, it definitely hurts you. That loss haunts you all the way through. There's no way around it.
But none of that matters right now, I guess, to us. I could see where as you talk about it to everyone else, maybe, but to us all that matters is what we do now and what we do this week. Really, that is all we think and focus on.
That's all my mind is occupied with — is what we can do at practice today and what we can do each day leading up to this game.
On if these next two games could be a crossroads for his team right now, because of the fact that they could come out of them 7-2 or 5-4
Stoops: We could be 6-3 too, right? To me, we're playing Missouri. That's all that matters to me right now. You guys make your stories how you need to. That's fine. I don't need to be a part of it.
To me, I look at it as a big game going to Missouri against a team that's 7-1. For us, absolutely it's a big game. It is for them. But everyone knows that.
On the outcome of the game leading to the season going north or south
Stoops: No, if we win this one we've still got four more. I mean, everyone wants to get to the end of the season every week. Each game matters in it's own way.
On if defense can be a great equalizer on the road
Stoops: Defense can be a great equalizer on the road, at home, in the parking lot, anywhere. Definitely.
On if it's more important to play strong defense on the road
Stoops: As not here? I don't get that. It's important anywhere.
On what are the keys to being a good road team
Stoops: Same keys as winning here at home. Playing great defense, not giving up big plays, taking care of the football on offense — being balanced and being able to do both (run and pass). Being strong in the kicking game.
I'll say that here, I'll say that there. That doesn't change for me. To me, I don't see that all the sudden you have a new strategy when you go on the road.
On last year against Nebraska 'it all came together on the road' and it was a gigantic win, and then they had their foot on the gas the rest of the season...
Stoops: Well, we lost to Tech.
Reporter: Well, you really didn't but that's another story (everyone laughs).
On them being poised to have a breakout game...
Stoops: (Raising his voice) All that matters, again, I don't care about the rest of the year. I care about this week. I care about Missouri. That's it.
I don't need to be a part of your stories. Write what you want. I'm just (laughs), in as decent a way as I can, saying I'm concerned about practice this afternoon and getting ready to play a really good Missouri team.
On if he gets tired of the media's questions (everyone laughs), and if it wasn't part of his job requirement would he even call press conferences
Stoops: Absolutely, I would not (smiles). I'd get a longer noon workout and I'd be a little healthier and in better shape.
Sometimes you guys try and get me to project the hole year and each week. As much as you want to say it's coach's cliches, we live in this absolute moment. And all I've been consumed with today and last night is today's practice.
On what impresses him the most about Missouri's offense
Stoops: Well, their quarterback's excellent. Chase Daniel does such a great job — just a quick release and smart where he goes with the football. They do a great job using Franklin, their wide receiver, and their tight ends in different spots.
Just him distributing the ball is the biggest factor. We've got to be great in our coverage, breaking on the ball, trying to get some pressure to him. But he does a good job of not taking sacks and getting rid of the football before you get to him.
Hopefully we can hurry him at different times and have him release it before he's ready to, and try to disrupt him to some degree. But he does an excellent job the way he controls the game.
On what he's preached to his defense knowing Missouri likes to run a lot o receiver screens and quarterback draws
Stoops: That we have to recognize those plays. Those are things we'll really concentrate on all week of recognizing their receiver screens.
You're very right, they make a lot of yardage off of those and the quarterback run game as well. When he pulls it down, we've got to be able to close to him and hopefully team speed and reacting to it we can get to him before he can get too much.
As well as their running game, Tony Temple does a really good job. They do a really good job of running. About everything they do is about 50-50, so that's going to be a big factor for us too — that we're able to control and handle their run game.
On Missouri getting dominated in the time of possession in their only loss of the year (to A&M), and if that's something they'll try and do as well
Stoops: Well, it definitely helps. Any time you're' moving the football, creating field position, scoring and controlling the ball is a big factor in the game. Definitely, picking up first downs and moving the football will be important.
On if the play of Manuel Johnson will increase more one on one opportunities for Malcolm Kelly on the other side
Stoops: No, I see people playing their coverages like they're used to playing them. I don't see people come and play us and all the sudden have a different strategy for any particular guy. They play what they're used to playing. In college, you only get so many hours to practice, so many hours to meet. It's hard to all the sudden change something up if you're not used to doing it.
We've seen that really throughout the year. People used to talk that when Adrian's running the ball they've got all these guys (in the box). You know what? They're playing the defense the way they're playing against about everybody. It's been that way, really, for the most part all the way through.
On Missouri's surface and the last time they played there they had high, wet grass
Stoops: Yeah, I believe they have a field turf. I know last time we were up there they had high, heavy grass. When Garrett missed the one field goal one of the reasons we went for the fake was I felt we needed the extra points.
But also, I didn't like the ball sitting down. I could only see half the ball when he set it on the grass. And I didn't care how close it was, I didn't feel comfortable with it. That obviously isn't an issue now. They've got, from what I understand, a great surface to play on.
On where that fake against Missouri ranks among his favorite calls
Stoops: I don't rank 'em. It sure was good that night.
On if they were trying to set that fake up the hole game
Stoops: We were looking at it. We had it ready for several games. He (Matt McCoy) actually threw it to the wrong guy, luckily (laughs). It was supposed to go to the kicker.
On the reason he hasn't run as many trick plays as he has in the past
Stoops: They're looking for them more. Sometimes they're there, sometimes they're not. And sometimes you don't feel you have to have it.
In the end, you just gotta have the right feel for it. Fortunately, we've had pretty good success with them, but you can't be foolish with them.
People think you just run them every week. There are a lot of instances where I'd just rather have our offense out there on fourth and two.
On if the more talent they get makes it less likely to run fakes
Stoops: It's got nothing to do with it. We probably ran more in some of those other years when we haven't had any losses. I don't think we had any when we ran it at Alabama. I think we were still undefeated there, weren't we?
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