Below are excerpts from OU head coach Bob Stoops' weekly press conference held Tuesday in Norman.
On Oklahoma State
Stoops: The last regular season game. excited. again, it's just another rivalry for us going up north and playing oklahoma state — an in-state rival. Exciting game for everybody just the way things have been going.
Our focus the entire week is to continue to improve. the way we've been practicing is great. We're focused on areas we can improve, and that's going to be our total focus.
Everybody's going to want to ask about all the different scenarios that are out there, and we really are going to have nothing to do with that. You guys can talk about them, everybody will, but in the end all that matters to us is that we do our best this week in our preparation in every part of the game that we're working on and that we can be as good as we can be.
There's a lot of pride to be taken in finishing the year off in a positive and good way, and that's what we're going to work towards the entire week.
On if he'd like to end every season against a rival, like this year against Oklahoma State
Stoops: It doesn't matter. Again, the times we've played them in the middle of the year college gameday's been here and (the game has been) just as exciting. is that fair enough to say? maybe moreso.
If you look back to those years at the time we played them and at the end of the year where everybody ended up, you gotta admit those were pretty good times too.
On why the pass rush has been better later in the year than earlier in the year
Stoops: I think it's been pretty decent all year. sacks aren't always the whole indicator. We haven't had many quarterbacks that have been very comfortable sitting there and just taking their time and throwing wherever they want.
So i think that all the statistics speak to that, maybe other than just purely sacks. A year ago we led everybody in sacks. Maybe not the whole country, but we had a ton of them. that didn't mean there were other areas we felt we could've been better at.
I think we've done a pretty fair job through most of the year of getting pretty good pressure and not allowing people to be comfortable, making them run and chasing them and getting them down. Some of those are one-yard scrambles that aren't sacks, but in my eyes they kinda are. They're trying to drop back and pass and he ends ups scrambling back to the line of scrimmage for one yard. It's not all bad.
On if they were to beat osu and finish 10-2, would it be one his more satisfying seasons given the adversity they've dealt with this year
Stoops: It has been very satisfying. I have a hard time speaking what-if. you can ask me that at the end of this week.
I'll just say through this whole thing it's been very satisfying for a lot of reasons. But the players' attitudes have just been fabulous. we've never flinched at anything. In our office, in our meetings rooms and on our field, it's a non-issue.
This is what we're doing. So and so has his opportunity — here we go. And the guys have stepped up. It's fun to see guys step up like a chris brown, like allen patrick, like trent williams, whose been recognized virtually every game as one of our guys who has graded out in a great, great way.
Dealing with those issues, it's just part of what we do, so i don't look at it as difficult. It is rewarding to see other guys that get their opportunity do well, and for your team to practice well and to compete well is exciting for you as a coach.
So it has been a very pleasing year for me to go to work every day with these guys. And my assistant coaches do a great job in the way they're working together. That has been fun as well.
On the challenge for the defense against oklahoma state's offense
Stoops: They're a team that has a lot of balance. they've been able to run the football very effectively on most everybody. And off of that, they try to get their big plays with their excellent receivers.
Bobby reid has done a great job for them orchestrating the whole thing and (they have) a couple of backs that are doing really well. They give you the dimensions that you've got to be aware of both.
For us, we begin with the running game. We're going to have to be great there and then be solid in our coverage and try and make him uncomfortable when he is trying to throw.
On if this season has been a better indicator of the strength of the program
Stoops: I would yes. I think so much of the time, and I'm not knocking anybody — I understand media — they love to focus on certain individuals and rightfully so. some of them are just exceptional.
But the misconception sometimes happens that they're the only reason you're doing well. And I've said now for about the fifth team in the last week or two, this is the ultimate team game. No one is doing it in a football game, whether it's michael vick or ladainian tomlinson, they don't do it alone.
There's guys that are blocking for them that are making plays for them. defense complements the offense with field position. eEverybody helps each other and it all goes together. Again, it's easy for fans or media to segment it, but for us that isn't the case.
It's all a team game and I think it's fair to say that through all of this we have proven to be a pretty strong team as a whole together. Not just one or two individuals carrying everybody.
On if he'll tell his team to ignore what will happen on friday (texas-texas a&m game), or will he sit down with his team and tell them this is where we stand
Stoops: Absolutely. We have lot of pride in finishing the year strong. That's all that should matter to us just like last week, just like the week before that. All that we can control is getting ourself ready to play the best game we can.
We take pride in how we play, finishing the year and doing the very best we can. And if you're doing the very best you can that game, give or take, it shouldn't have to change it. I truly believe our players, the way we've been playing and the rhythem we've been in, that's our mindset.
On if it's helped the team going into this weekend on the road that they've played games in tough games at Oregon and texas A&M this season
Stoops: Yeah, absolutely. You see now why i sit there and marvel at the question every week. oh, we're going to A&m. I respect A&M. They have a nice place to play, but when you get on the field that doesn't change anything, and it shouldn't for you as a team.
We've been a lot of places. We've had our goods and bads and whatnot, but I don't believe the crowd has been why. I guess that's my way of saying it. And I feel that way this week.
On OSU head coach Mike Gundy saying that he was told it was a 7-point advantage for them playing at home
Stoops: I don't know, I think if you looked at everyone across the country — maybe not all NFL teams, and college — that most teams are better at home.
On if Adrian Peterson will play if OU makes it to the Big 12 title game in Kansas City
Stoops: You know, you'd have to ask me that next week. From what I understand, the healing is going really well. But I don't think through that image they can say 'this day'.
I think it's something that they will continue to monitor through whatever bone scans that they do to determine that.
On the status of allen patrick
Stoops: He looked better yesterday. Ran through some plays. He's closer. hopefully, as he goes through practice he'll start to get that feeling of confidence and strength in it that he can do the things he's used to doing.
It's kinda like how adrian came back last year. All the sudden it was where it needed to be. so we're still working with it.
On how Paul Thompson's matured from week one to now
Stoops: He's been a steady influence on our offense. He's been a great leader. Ge's been confident since really the beginning.
I think it's just natural that's he's become more and more polished and sure of everything he's doing just through snaps and repetition and time on the field. He's doing a great job, and at this point is really a strong force out there for us.
On the questions about the offensive line before the season started, and how much their play been a part of the team being able to weather the hits (player losses) they've taken this year
Stoops: Probably the major part of it, along with the young other guys coming in that have stepped up and more than held their own and showed their ability. I think the offensive line has proven to be a strong point of this team.
When you look at the overall ability to rush the football on everybody, when you look at the fewest sacks in the league — it's around there — we were close to first — and the ability to move the football. Everything predicates on what they're able to do.
And i don't just put the offensive line, I include Brody Eldridge, Joe Jon Finley, Jermaine Gresham, Dane Zaslaw. Those guys are all a big part of that. The protection and running the ball.
On if they do play next week in the Big 12 title game and peterson is available, would it be fair to expect him to be (ready) after how many weeks he's been away
Stoops: He's out there running and doing things. training. He's in shape. alright, so he's 80 percent instead of 100. It's still pretty good. but i would say he's a guy that he can do a lot of things.
On if he's convinced that peterson has not played his last play at ou
Stoops: I'm pretty convinced of that. things may change, but at this point it hasn't for him.
On the challenge ou's offensive line has against osu's defensive line, who are one of the conference's leaders in sacks
Stoops: Sure, absolutely. But it's a challenge every week no matter who you're going against. You've got to be able to protect the quarterback and you've got to be able to keep them off-balance too.
On osu quarterback Bobby Reid being compared to vince young
Stoops: He's a big guy that can move and has a big arm. I think time will tell that. He's only in his second year playing and was hurt some of last year, so he's a talented guy.
Again, I think time determines everything whether somebody plays to that level or not. There's a lot of factors that the supporting cast and people are making plays for you. I guess that's something that will be determined as he goes.
On what does it say about this team that they're still in the championship hunt despite the fact that they don't have the star power they've had in the past
Stoops: Well, I think there's a lot of young, talented guys that are emerging and could be. Usually, the more you win the more stars become. I think it's fair to say most of the people getting awards are usually guys that win a lot, are on TV a lot and have a lot of success as a team.
And this year, to this point, we've got a lot of guys that really have played well. I think early on some of the light's taken off of them in how we started the season and our situation at Oregon, and or the Texas game. In the end, there's a lot of guys that have played well through this whole year.
Whether they're mentioned or not, they're stars in my eyes in the way they've competed and played. But in what you're saying, you don't have Adrian Peterson here towards the end of the year, you don't have Jason White who's returning from winning the heisman trophy.
We don't have those guys, but we still have a lot of quality players. And i think the sum of the whole team is showing through this whole year. Even guys that weren't expecting to step up — a Trent Williams, a Chris Brown — it goes on and one. Curtis Lofton has played a significant amount and has played really well.
So I think people are starting to see the overall quality of the team too.
On the status of Darien Williams
Stoops: He's supposed to practice today, so we'll see.
On if it will be hard to account for osu receiver Adarius Bowman since they move him around so much when he lines up
Stoops: No, you see him. He's big and he's No. 12, so you can always find him.
On the matchup situation against bowman
Stoops: Sure, that's something you have to be aware of on how you line up and what you're asking people to so. Same thing with (D'Juan) Woods. He's also a very good receiver. not to discount anyone else, but I know those two stick out.
But again, we're very aware of where he's at and what we'll have to do trying to work against him.
On if the pressure will be immense on Peterson to not play in a bowl game because of his future
Stoops: No, I think it already has been. the pressure on him has been immense for three years now of people telling him what to do.
I'm gonna tell ya, he's tired of listening to people. And he's heard it all for a long time. I just know how he is. He's gonna listen to what he wants to do. It's his life and he's been used to people trying to tell him what to do with his life for a long time.
He's gonna do it how he wants to do it. To his credit, he's the one who has to lay down at night and be satisfied with what he's done. It's easy for people to tell someone what to do when they don't have anything invested in it.
He's got a lot invested. He's a bright, young guy. He knows what he wants and a lot of it isn't all The fluff that's out there for him. There's a lot of substance to him and there's factors and some things he wants to accomplish and wants to do.
Things may change, but it will surprise me. He's a determined guy that sticks to what he wants to do.
On if Peterson is telling him he'll play in a bowl if he's cleared to play
Stoops: If he could've played last week, he would've played. He wants to play as soon as he can play. End of story.
On if what Peterson has had to deal with off the field, people in his ear, has helped him mature
Stoops: That's probably fair to say. He's had to deal with a lot more than everybody else in all kinds of ways. The poor guy can't go eat at denny's without sitting there being mobbed by people, or walk to class without pictures or this or that.
I take him up to Children's Hospital and nobody knows who I am. you walk around and everybody's on him. So he's had to deal with a lot and he's handled it, I believe, in an amazing way and has had to grow from it.
On if there's no question that Peterson will leave after this year
Stoops: We're getting into all this? He hasn't decided that yet.
On OSU's ticket policy and them charging $500 face value per seat
Stoops: Hopefully some of those ou people buy them if there's extra ones. Get as many there as we can, right? Hey, you'd have to ask them. You're going to ask me to comment on their policies? I'm smarter than that (laughs).
Like I said, I hope we get as many OU fans that can buy them that we can and get more red in there if we're able to.
On OSU's Mike Gundy saying that he thought OU's running backs have done a great job of overcoming coaching (a jab at ou's running back — Cale Gundy — who is his brother)
Stoops: I agree with him (laughs). They have overcome their coaching and ... we all got a big laugh about that. That was pretty good.
On Mack Brown having a web site for years and Mike Gundy planning to start one soon, and if he's got plans for one of his own
Stoops: What do you do with it? (laughs) Yeah, I'm working on one I think. From what I understand, someone's working on one for me.
On if it's going to be bobstoops.com
Stoops: I don't know what we'll call it. I guess that would be something like that. They've been putting something together and been showing me.
On who's putting it together
Stoops: Some of our compliance people and our recruiting secretary. The people that know how to do that.
On if someone besides him or OU has access to bobstoops.com
Stoops: No, I don't believe so. But someone did try and have an email address, actually had one for a period of time, with my name. So some people have sent things to them that thought it was me.
You think I'm gonna have an email address with my name on it? Actually, when it all started about five, six years ago, I had one for one day and had a stack of emails that high and asked my secretary how we cancel it, and that was it.
On if he's ever going to be on myspace
Stoops: Yeah, I'm going to go back and get right back on it (laughs). If you're getting something on a computer and you think it's me, it isn't. I'll promise you (laughs).
On former players and coaches who have been involved in the rivalry saying the game is bigger to Oklahoma State players than it is to Oklahoma
Stoops: You know, I can't speak for them. So why would I try? Everyone wants to know which game is bigger. We've got a bunch of rivalries.
We've got texas, we've got nebraska, we've got oklahoma state. Heck, when we play K-State everyone talks about that for the longest time. It's like every game we've got is a rivalry, darn near. A&M can't wait to play us down there.
So, again, I don't know how to quantify them. Everyone wants you to do that, but that's not for me to do. It's a big game so here we go again. But in the big picture, wasn't last week? Wasn't going to A&M a big game?
How do you make them bigger? When you're trying to win all of them, you can't.
On if it's bigger for OSU because there are players on their team that OU didn't offer a scholarship
Stoops: Are we still doing this? I'm sure we've got some guys on our team that maybe they didn't (offer a scholarship). I don't try and keep up with any of that.
On Mike Gundy saying he'd defer his Bedlam mudslinging to him, and if he has anything interesting to say
Stoops: No. shoot, if I did Cale would be mad at me. Cale wouldn't talk to me the rest of the day.
On if a bowl will decide that they want oklahoma because of Adrian Peterson
Stoops: Of course, he'll matter. but in the end, I don't know to a degree that that's the only reason that they're going to take you or not take you. Everybody loves having him. I don't blame them. He's special and there's very few like him.
On osu's defense
Stoops: Just a team that likes to load the box and take away the run game. Aggressive. Change up their coverages. But they're fairly aggressive in trying to take away your run game, blitz you.
They do a nice job. They mix up their man and three-deep coverages. They throw in some two-deep and try and change it up on you.
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