Below are excerpts from OU head coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference held Tuesday in Norman.
Stoops: Paul just had a great day throwing the ball. Malcolm Kelly was sensational with so many catches and big plays. I thought our offensive line was very good again in run game, protection, all of it. Same with tight ends. A guy that gets overlooked for us that's really a great player is Brody Eldridge, our redshirt freshman tight end. (Eldridge) has just been outstanding all year. Disappointed, I guess, in the fumbles. To me, it's been an issue that's been around us for too many games and we've gotta get it corrected.
Defensively, I thought the guys were very good and played in a really good way. Keeping them out of the end zone the whole second half. Keeping them under 300 yards. I believe they were only 2-of-12 or something on third down conversions, which is really excellent defense. Tackled well in space, covered, got pressure and did all the things we were hoping to do for the most part.
The kicking game — Garrett Hartley — proud of him the way he kinda fought through with a sprained ankle. He had a bad sprain on Tuesday. Scott Anderson, our trainer, came up and told me and I couldn't believe it. It's something he's been doing his whole life practicing his kickoffs and he just came down on it wrong and rolled his ankle. He really fought through it and made all his kicks. Some of them weren't the prettiest, but he was really hurting and wasn't able to do his kickoffs. But he made his field goals and made his extra points, and that was a big factor in the game.
Some guys that played well, offensively, Chris Messner again, Trent Williams continued to play good, Joe Jon Finley, Brody Eldridge. Players of the game — Paul Thompson, Malcolm Kelly — big, big games. Chris Brown, the young freshman gets in there and has two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter. He did a great job. Proud of Chris and the good player that he is. Did well.
Defensively, Calvin Thibodeaux was recognized as the player of the game, but all the secondary had good games, backers, guys up front were all solid and really good too. And Garrett Hartley and Lewis Baker were players of the game on special teams.
Stoops: Our major focus, as you watch Baylor, they've had some difficulty the last couple of games on the road but their games at home they've played in a really good way. Look at all their scores, they've won a few games at home and lost in overtime at home to Army. They're a team that's very capable and early in the year was really moving the ball well and doing a lot really good things, and still are very capable of it.
Our major goal and our whole focus is on us improving this week, getting better, correcting some of the mistakes. We still had some defensive breakdowns the other day that maybe not everyone noticed that we notice. Offensively, obviously taking care of the football better. They still can execute other parts of our game better.
So that's where are emphasis are — improving, getting better through the week to go down to Baylor and have another opportunity to win.
On the BCS standings and how it could effect his program
Stoops: To a degree, but again my energy and focus is on what we can do about it. I think some people get a little bit uptight right now when there's a lot of games left. A lot of times, things shake out. So, to me, there's still a lot of football to be played.
We still have a lot of football to be play and that's why I won't let our focus change from going to Baylor this week. That's where all our energy's at now. Again, there's a lot of football left and a lot of games to be played, so we'll see.
On if he pays attention to the fact that Texas lost and OU having a chance to make the Big 12 championship game
Stoops: Well, I'm no dummy. Of course. But we've got to beat Baylor this week to have that opportunity.
On if they made major adjustments at halftime against Tech to try and put more pressure on the quarterback
Stoops: We didn't have major adjustments, no. I felt in the first half we were a little bit, I don't want to say tentative, but weren't as aggressive as we have been. I think we sat there and let them maybe at times dictate the pace a little bit. We picked up our tempo and were more aggressive and decisive in what we were doing (in the second half), and it made a difference.
We played the same defense, for the most part. Might have had a few more blitzes in there, but that wasn't like that was what saved the day. We don't ever count blitzing to save our day. We want to execute. I just think everything we were doing, we were a little sharper and better (in the second half).
On if they would've went for it on fourth and goal had Chris Brown not scored on the third down play on their last score
Stoops: Oh, it would've been depending on how close it was. But there was a good chance that we would've went for it for the obvious reasons that it pretty much ices the game.
On Baylor implementing Texas Tech's offense, and how much it helps the other teams in the league having to defend it because they get to see it more
Stoops: It helps. It's an offense that you really, I feel, have to understand and defensively you have to get used to. It isn't like a lot of spread offenses that are doing so much today. They don't run the zone read options and the zone read pull the ball quarterback run. It's a different style of spread offense.
It definitely is an advantage having to work it back to back. We just worked it the entire week last week. We can look at what we didn't do well, change up some things and wrinkles hopefully that can help us. Our guys are familiar with the routes and schemes and what they like to do.
On if the differences between Tech's spread and Baylor's spread is just the players that have been doing it longer
Stoops: That part of it, but some of the plays they like to emphasize, I think, is a coaches' personality or whose calling the plays. I think there's a few differences that way, but they're still plays that you work for both teams. There's certain routes that they may like more than Mike (Leach) has or that Tech was working, and that's what you have to work during the week.
On the injury situation
Stoops: Improving, hopefully. Allen did some things yesterday. He was better and more improved than Friday, so that's encouraging. It's just going to be how strong it will be by the end of the week.
Adrian continues to heal, but he's not in a position to play this week. They wouldn't do that, I'm sure. All those other guys are doing well though.
On if Chris Brown showed enough to get the start this week
Stoops: We'll see as we go through the week. But regardless, the two (Brown and Gutierrez) will have to play and contribute. And we'll have Mossis Madu ready to play as well if need be.
On the status of Manuel Johnson
Stoops: Manuel's improving. He was at our meetings yesterday. Watched practice. Everything looks good. He won't play this week just because of the head injury, and then we'll see the following week how they feel about it.
"He'll start doing weight training, conditioning, exercises this week. Then a lot of times if he handles all of those well is a good sign that everything's OK. To this point, everything has checked out fine.
On the move of Reggie Smith to safety improving the play of secondary
Stoops: I think experience, time on the field is doing that. I don't believe that is a major factor in the whole deal. I think just their play overall, the consistency in practice and just time on the field is helping make them better.
On how would he rate Peterson's chances of returning against OSU
Stoops: You can't rate. That's not fair for me to do. That's all speculation. I mean, I could give you any number but it ain't gonna mean anything. Doctors will determine that next week when they start evaluating. For me to say anything would be foolish. I got no say in it.
On how he feels the return game is going right now
Stoops: Well, I think it's been pretty decent. You don't think so?
On Reggie Smith returning better earlier in the season than later
Stoops: Did you see the guy punt the other day? It was up there about five seconds. Sometimes you've got a good punter who hits it the right way, hey, you're not going to get a lot of big returns. We were close to popping one, which I liked.
"Again, you've got to give other people some credit. Sometimes when they're doing things the right way too it's hard to come up with some of those plays. If the punter hits the ball correctly, you should have several people right down there sitting on him when the ball comes down. He hit several the other day, I thought, in a really good way.
On regardless of Tech's punter, most of the media think's that Reggie's not as effective, and if there's an injury issue...
Stoops: I'm sure you're right, Dean, the way it sounds. No, the injury isn't anything to do with it. I guess we're not blocking as good as we used to. We're trying as hard as we ever have. And like I said, the other night we were awful close to breaking one.
On if Juaquin Iglesias will replace Johnson as a kick returner this week
Stoops: Probably, yeah.
On if Baylor isn't as bad as they showed Saturday at Oklahoma State
Stoops: No, I think they're a really good team. You watch what they've done a large part of the year, particularly at home. They've made a lot of progress and have looked good a good part of the year. We focus on all those areas and make sure we're as prepared as we can be.
On Baylor's new quarterback improving every week
Stoops: Sure, that's natural for a young guy that hasn't had a ton of snaps. I say it a lot about our team, it's time on the field and experience that usually makes a big difference for you.
On if he ever goes into a game thinking they need to get more out of their passing game
Stoops: We've talked about that all year — being good at both. And for the most part, all but one game that's been the way we've moved the football. And we'll do our best to continue that way.
On if Baylor is running the same defense they ran last year
Stoops: They've been running the same thing for several years. They want to come down in heavy fronts to do their best to take away the run. A lot of one safety looks, a lot of pressure.
On Baylor playing them tough, and why Oklahoma seems to bring out the best in them
Stoops: You'd have to ask them.
On Brent Venables taking heat early in the year, and now deserving credit for how the defense has played
Stoops: He does. We were awful close early in the year to playing like we're playing now and we would have some individuals in different areas that break down that aren't his fault.
As much as we'd like to take the blame, sometimes guys are in position to do some things and they need to do them. Or things you work all week and they don't process it or get it done, they need to be able to step up and do it.
I think Brent has worked with our guys in a great way the entire year and it's showed for many, many weeks now. We're playing like we thought all along we were capable of.
On him saying they'd have Mossis Madu ready to play and his thoughts on the possibility of pulling his redshirt
Stoops: Well, you'd like not to. But if it's necessary and they've got an opportunity to play the rest of the year, then you have to have him ready.
On if Marcus Walker is playing as well as any cornerback he's had since Derrick Strait
Stoops: Yeah, absolutely. He's playing in a great way and has really through the entire Big 12 season. He's consistent, getting his hands on a lot of balls. No breakdowns. He's been very good. And Lendy (Holmes) isn't far behind. Believe me, Lendy's been great as well.
On if Marcus possesses the same kind of intuition that Strait had
Stoops: You know me, getting in the comparison deal. Derrick played the short side, Marcus is playing the playing the wide side. They're attacked different, so it's hard for me to make that comparison. But he's playing in a great way and is consistent and as good as Derrick in a lot of ways.
On injuries slowing down Walker the last two years
Stoops: Absolutely. Time on the field, time in practice, in the weight room — all the training and practice time Marcus has been a little bit behind the eight-ball with the injuries. But he's fought through them and you love his attitude. He's a serious guy, really pays attention and studies the game. So it's paying off for him and he's having a great, great year for sure.
On if OU wins out and doesn't make the Big 12 title game, will he still take pride in the season
Stoops: Of course, we just take pride in each win. We're about the entirety of it and we've got one more game this week that we want to get. That's how we're fighting our way through the year, so of course. You take pride in each win, but a great number of them makes a difference.
On if he'd go as far as to have championship rings produced, if they tie for the South title with Texas
Stoops: You know us better than that. Our standards are what they are and they won't change, so...
On if he feels they should be ranked higher in the polls than they are
Stoops: You know, I'm not going to sit here and try and influence any polls. What I need to do is get our team ready to beat Baylor. I think there's enough people who recognize and understand what our losses are and how they occurred, and they can evaluate them as they see fit.
On the team taking a while for things to 'snap into place', not meaning the officials in Oregon...
Stoops: Well, what do you mean? That's (officials) part of it. You're saying that isn't, like if we snap in to place. If we win by six we're snapped into place, right? That's what your perception would be.
On him talking earlier in the press conference about the team's inconsistency earlier in the year
Stoops: But if we go in there as an underdog and come out with a six-point victory, what's your perception? You're saying it took a while to snap into place and Oregon didn't matter — it did matter.
On him talking about it taking until game six or seven to get it together, and if there's luck involved in getting it 'snapped into place' in game two or three
Stoops: It helps, but again I thought early on ... we sit here and watch Washington and we beat them pretty decent here. I see them play SC and almost beat them to the last play. To me, people discounted that.
I don't know what your perceptions are, but you say Oregon aside and you can't put it aside. Because that's part of the perception that we're still fighting.
On the team gaining steam at end of the season
Stoops: Hopefully that's the case. We still have two games to play. We still have to show that we're peaking or that we're playing as good as we can, and that's what we're pushing for. It is a factor. You need to be strong late and that's what we're trying to do.
On if it's fair to say they've only had two disappointing performances this year — UAB and Texas
Stoops: I wouldn't even put UAB in there. I just felt the Texas game — the two factors for me — turnovers offensively and defensively one or two plays that we feel we're better than we played and they took advantage of it, to their credit.
On if he wouldn't say UAB was a disappointing game because they got the victory
Stoops: First game out you have a lot of new guys. Paul's first game back out there. That's so long ago I have a hard time thinking through it. I guess if you want to throw that one in there go ahead, but I wouldn't.
On this season mirroring last season in terms of the team improving as the season goes, and which is the better team
Stoops: Again, I can't do that. They're just so different that for me I don't see any likeness in any of them. What will matter is can we keep the progress going? Can we keep improving this week? That's what our measuring stick has been with ourself is getting ourself better.
We've got areas that we're still working that we feel can improve. The players see it plain as day looking at tape, what we're watching, what we're capable of and what we're doing. Sometimes we're still not doing as good as I feel we're able to in some areas, and we're working on them.
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