Below are select quotes from OU head coach Bob Stoops' press conference today in Norman.
On playing in the Fiesta Bowl
Stoops: Just excited to be here representing the Big 12 Conference as Big 12 champions getting ready for the Fiesta Bowl. It's really a great and exciting opportunity.
It's good to win that game (Nebraska) and put ourself now in a position to go to the Fiesta Bowl as Big 12 Champions. I look at our seniors, and I didn't realize it until after the game — Paul Thompson brought it up — but the guys in his class that are fifth-year seniors now have been to all four BCS games to complete the circle. That's exciting to be in four of those in five years.
So we're excited as a team to be going to the Fiesta Bowl. Great location. All our dealings have always just been first class. Great group of people in the way they work their bowl game. A great destination.
On Boise State
Stoops: We're playing a really good football team. I'll promise you as a team here at OU — our players, coaches — we've got great respect for Boise. You watch them on tape — they're a very good football team in everything they do. Very disciplined, play hard, play sure of theirself. They've got a lot of ability.
I was talking to someone just yesterday, who is a close friend of mine whose been visiting with pro scouts. They (Boise) had pro scouts in there watching them just a week or two ago, and they're watching 10 different players that they're evaluating for this year's draft. So they're a really talented, good, disciplined football team. Coach Peterson and his staff have done a great job.
We recognize it as another big, big challenge. Our players, being in so many bowls games, are very familiar knowing that the game is what really matters. We've all been to nice places, but winning the football game is what makes the biggest difference in the bowl experience. So we'll be focused to do what we need to do to win the football game.
We're going to work hard, we have been working hard, leading up to the game. We have still been out recruiting as a staff this week, last week. Of course, after the Big 12 Championship game a week is taken away from you in recruiting so we're playing a little bit of catch-up getting into homes, getting in front of players.
We will get our detailed gameplan once we get settled in over the weekend once we host some recruits. We will then get into the details of our gameplan. We've all watched them (Boise) to some degree. They're just a strong and really good football team that we're playing.
We're excited about it and we'll do what we need to do to get prepared, for ourself more than anything. How we focus, regardless of who we're playing, is that we can be as good as we can be. And that's what we'll try and do.
On Boise State's offense
Stoops: They're balanced. Ian Johnson's done a great job rushing the football for them, and they create space and block well for him. (Jared) Zabransky, their quarterback, has done a great job throwing it.
They've got a host of receivers that are senior receivers. Three of them and a tight end, also a senior, that really do a good job of catching the football and getting open. So they're a good, balanced team in the way they move the ball.
On Rufus Alexander saying he was impressed with Ian Johnson's patience, and what he sees about Johnson that stands out
Stoops: His feet, his pace to the line. He doesn't rush it. He's got great feet in the whole and in tight spaces, and does a great job finding space and waiting for space.
On this game being a chance for Boise State to make a statement, and how he responds to the talk that Oklahoma is in a no-win situation
Stoops: I can't. I don't need to. In the end, it's an opportunity for us to win in the Fiesta Bowl just like it is for them. So we have the same opportunity.
They're an undefeated football team that has played really well and they've got a great track record. So the media is going to say what they will. We recognize it as a challenge. We respect the heck out of the way they play.
The media doesn't sit and study 12 football games and what they do. When you watch the discipline, how hard they've played, the talent that's there and the way they play, it's easy to respect them. And we do.
So in the end, we have an opportunity to win another football game. What are we 11-2? So we've got a chance to be 12-2. That's what matters to us and we're going to do our best to get ourself ready to do that.
On the return of Adrian Peterson in practice
Stoops: He's getting more and more snaps in there. The players are excited to see him back in there. He's always been a great and strong team guy. The players have always appreciated how he's worked, and he'll get more and more snaps leading up to it. It can only be positive.
On if Peterson will start against Boise State
Stoops: We're not there yet. We'll see how he progresses through this time, but in all likelihood — yes.
On Peterson getting all of the carries when he's played earlier this season, and if that will be the case in the Fiesta Bowl
Stoops: You're asking me something...we haven't gotten into gameplan stuff yet. So we'll see.
On if he would come back and play if he were in Peterson's shoes
Stoops: Well, I'm not him.
On if he would've come back and played if he was Peterson's situation when he was a player at Iowa
Stoops: I wouldn't have missed my last game. If you'd have gave me three, four more years to play I'd have gone back and played three, four more years. I'd had five more surgeries to play (smiles).
I'm not going to get into what's right and wrong. You guys have got your opinions, write 'em. The young man's going to do what he wants to do, and he's got every right to do that. There are reasons why or why not. He's got his reasons, I'm sure, which he does. That's what matters.
On the NFL not offering him 50 million towards the end of his career
Stoops: No they weren't. That's for sure (smiles).
On if he learned anything from the USC game and other bowl games they've played in, as far as their preparation for bowl games
Stoops: Sure. There are always factors in it. I think a big factor in all these games any more is your seniors and what their mindset is. Are they still in the moment or are they on to the next part of their career, their life, looking down the road?
I've got a bunch here Saturday that are graduating. So, to me, that's a big factor — is how those players want to finish it off in the right ways. And can they keep theirself focused in that moment?
That, and, to me, a big factor is you want to enjoy the week of activities and being in a great place. But there's a time to enjoy it and there's a time when we're in meetings and on the practice field that we're focused and ready. You have to each year make sure that the mindset is there that when it's time to work, that we're working.
On if the average fan grasps the accomplishment of the seniors to have played in all four BCS games
Stoops: I don't know. You'd have to ask them. It's pretty special. There's no question.
On what that accomplishment says about the program
Stoops: I'm sure it does, but I'm not one to sit here and trumpet that horn. That isn't right for me to sit here and do publicly. I know the seniors are proud of that.
On them using the early bowl practices to look at their young players, and who has caught his eye so far
Stoops: I've been really excited. I can't name any one guy, but I'm pleased. They're progressing really well.
They like the snaps they're getting and even though it's practice, I get a sense that they enjoy it because some of the guys that haven't had as many are getting a lot of attention and getting pushed. They're challenge themselves and seeing what they can do. So it's really beneficial.
I feel our quarterbacks are getting a lot of work. I'm not going to sit here and critique them in front of you, but they're getting a lot of good work that's going to be really helpful.
On them using some of the senior players to coach the younger guys while the assistants are our recruiting during bowl practices
Stoops: They don't have their pads on and they just helped instruct some of the younger guys, because the coaches are on the road recruiting. We have a short staff that are coaching them, so they'll jump in.
Rufus is telling the linebackers what to do and C.J.'s telling the d-ends what to do. It's good. They like it and they like to see the younger guys come along.
On what he can say about the quarterbacks and the future
Stoops: Absolutely, we will be fine. We were much more capable of handling that this year than we were a year ago, because of the players around that position. And that will be the case even more next year. We'll be much more experienced — line, backs, tight ends, receivers — around that position than we were this year.
And those guys are all capable. The last thing I'm going to say about it — we'll be fine.
On if they'll recruit a junior college quarterback
Stoops: We'll see. We still got several positions to finish so...
On Boise State's defense
Stoops: Very disciplined, aggressive in the way they play. Very good in that they mix up their coverages, mix up their blitzes. Very fundamentally sound in the way I watch them. I like to watch other teams defenses and they play in a really good way.
They've got a couple of senior linebackers that have been outstanding for them and lead their team in tackles. They've got a big, strong defensive lineman that has eight sacks — a really good player who's also a senior.
So some of their best players, on both sides, are seniors and have a lot of experience.
On what type of coverage does Boise State like to run in the secondary
Stoops: They'll mix up you're standard two-deeps. They're going to walk into man free in run situations, like a lot of people do, trying to put an eighth guy in the box and take away the run game.
They mix it up and then they're going to bring their pressures — some man pressure, some zone pressure. It's a little bit of everything and they do a nice job mixing it.
On if winning the Big 12 South has helped recruiting
Stoops: I think it's always a little bit overblown. I don't think guys are doing that just because we won the Big 12 Championship. I think they're doing it because of a track record of eight year's that's been pretty solid.
I think they always have other factors in there that, whether it's opportunities, the style you play — there are a lot of factors. If winning was just it, that would be easy. That isn't it. There's always a lot of factors in recruiting that enter into a young guy's decision.
It doesn't hurt though (smiles).
On if he'll concern himself with how many yards Adrian Peterson gets against Boise State
Stoops: No, that's never been a factor for us. Everybody's out there cataloging it, but we're calling plays and working our offense the way we feel we need to to score points and win the game. That's it and that's how it will be in this game.
On his thoughts on the highs and lows of the season
Stoops: I don't have to tell you what I didn't like. Everybody knows that. I've liked the way our team has just progressed through the year. Just their attitude and the way they've worked to improve, and the resiliency and competitiveness they've shown.
On Boise State not having a great history
Stoops: Well, they do now. Their recent history, and I haven't looked back at how many years, but in the last five, seven years they've been as good as anybody. And I know in these last two years, they've been really good. They're a really good football team.
On if he's fallen on either side of the playoff debate since the season has ended
Stoops: No, I've got enough things to talk about. I don't need to get into that.
On this team having a chance to finish higher in the polls than they began for the first time since 2000, and if this is the first team in a while that's risen to the expectations he had for them in the preseason
Stoops: I guess that may be fair to say. We always have high and strong expectations. Even those other teams, we had some awfully good years. It would rank up there with any of them, sure. If we can finish strong and win this game it will be pretty special.
On Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky
Stoops: He's got really good feet. When he pulls the ball down he's got really good speed and good quickness. Good athlete. And he throws the ball really well. He's a good player, a lot of experience.
Stoops: We have great respect for Boise State
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