Below are excerpts from OU head coach Bob Stoops' press conference today in Norman.
Stoops: We practiced over the weekend — Friday, Saturday, Sunday — still just doing a lot of good work against each other. And then we got into our game-planning Monday through Thursday through tomorrow going through this week exactly like we would a game week. After Thursday's practice we really have 90 percent of what we're doing finished, and then it's just polishing some meetings on Friday.
So we're going to practice through tomorrow late morning and then let our players go in the afternoon through Christmas. We'll meet out in Glendale Christmas night. We're going to have a team meeting out there between 8 and 9 p.m. once everybody gets out there.
Anyway, going through this week we had a very physical, good practice yesterday in full pads, much like we have through the year on Tuesday. A lot of really good, physical work against each other and working against Boise State's schemes.
I feel like we're making really good progress. We need to finish today and Thursday to be where we want to be when we take the break, but I feel like we're in really good shape in the way our gameplan is progressing. We just have to finish it up through this week and then polish it when we get out there.
On the importance of the early bowl practices to prepare for next season
Stoops: It's really been fun to watch. We've got all our special teams lined out for spring ball already. Guys have already practiced who's in what position — they're already there. So we just pull out the seniors in spring ball and it's already in place.
Several guys by position — same thing. We've got guys competing for spots who are in there and look good in what we're doing. So it gives you a big jump on the spring.
On how Adrian Peterson has has looked in practice
Stoops: He's looked really good. He never would wear a blue shirt, but we got him to wear a yellow cap just as a reminder in the early practices that no one's slammed into him. But we've taken that off the the last couple of practices.
He's been going through inside drills, teams, and looks great. He's getting his timing and feet back. He's got fresh legs and looks awful fast, which we know that. But he looks good. They had another doctors appointment and x-ray today, which we haven't heard back from them. I'm sure it just looks better and better.
Everyone forgets he was cleared to play in the Big 12 Championship game, but erred on the side of caution. Now, plenty of time has passed. According to doctors, that break is no different than any other player being susceptible of breaking. But, of course, just like anyone if you fall on it wrong he or anyone else will break it. But right now he's no different than anyone else the last I had heard and how he's healed and the way he looks.
I should've said this last week when I was asked about it, but people want to jump in and say he just shouldn't play. Well, why wouldn't any senior that's going in the NFL draft play unless it's the National Championship game?
I mean, Brady Quinn is expected to be the very first guy taken in the draft. He's not playing for the National Championship. Why would he play? My point being there's a lot of good reasons why these guys all want to finish their careers and finish their years and play.
I'm sure he's not the only guy that's gonna be drafted if he decided to go. I'm sure there's a bunch of other guys out there that are still going to play, and for good reasons that they have for theirself personally.
On if Peterson's meeting with the doctor today was a standard meeting
Stoops: Yeah, that's just a follow-up. But again, to this point it has looked great. So we expect him to be ready to play.
On the difference between Peterson and Brady Quinn being that Peterson was coming off an injury
Stoops: Well, the speculation is why do you take a chance on being injured. He's not injured now. Why would anyone take a chance of being injured?
And I think it's fair to say it's not like we have to have him play. We've gotten plenty used to not having him play. He knows good and darn well there isn't any pressure here from anyone else that he needs to play. We've been more than fine without him.
Who am I to say (he can't play)? Here's a guy that's worked his heart for me for three years, I'm going to tell him he can't? That isn't fair either. He's got his strong reasons why and he's getting ready to, and we're going to go about our business like we always do.
On if he feels like they need to get Allen Patrick a certain number of carries because he's been a big part of them getting to where they are
Stoops: We don't ever go into a game saying a certain guy has to get so many carries. We're going to try and move the football and score points. We don't go in owing anybody anything, regardless of who they are.
On if they're more likely to play the other running backs because they've shown what they can do
Stoops: We'll see. It's one of those things as the game progresses how it goes.
On what will Adrian Peterson's legacy be at Oklahoma
Stoops: Too early to say, I'm not going to speculate. He didn't play that much this year. He played six games or five, whatever it is. So we'll see. When that time comes you can ask me. I might have an answer then.
On how is Peterson different now than when first arrived at Oklahoma
Stoops: He's just much more mature in everything that he does — his pace to the line of scrimmage, his understanding of protections and receiving and all of that are much more schooled at it now and sure of himself that way. He's stronger and faster than he was then.
On what he would tell a player who came to his office who was projected to be in the top 3 or 4 pick in the draft, versus a guy who would come asking for advice that was projected 10 to 15
Stoops: My whole time that I've been here, I try and just make sure the players have accurate information. Where I feel players make a mistake is when they listen to people who don't know, whether it be agents or media, on pure speculation on where they're going to be picked.
I could give you multiple examples of that. We talked to the people who actually do the drafting, and I don't even mean just scouts. I mean the player personnel people in the top positoins in these organizations, who actually do it give you a more accurate projection of what they really think he'll do. People will tell you that. They're not going to put that money in something they haven't already seen in certain guys. I'm speaking a couple years ago at different guys I've had.
My point is to them, 'Listen, I'm not telling you what to do. But if you're going under the assuumption that you're going to be a top 10 pick, I'm here to tell you today that you're not going to be.'
Robert Gallery at Iowa is a great example of that. He was projected in the first round, he wasn't projected a top 10 pick. He ends up the second player in the draft. He improved his position. And you want to talk about multiplying your money, he multiplied it about probably eight times what it would've been. And that's a lot of money to multiply.
Roy Williams, we projected to be in the top 10. Good decision. I spoke to Tommie Harris in his house when he went and I said your reason to come back would be to be a top 5 pick. You're going to be a mid-first round draft pick. They were telling me probably not top 10.
Your reason to come back and your mind needs to be that I want another year in school, be a year closer to graduation, be on a good football team and maybe improve my position by eight picks. That's a good reason if you look at the difference in money. Now if you don't feel you want to do that, then you need to go if you're satisfied with that. At least make an educated decision on what you want.
And that's my only purpose — is to let them know for what I get, and I usually get better information than just speculation out there, these would be your reasons.
Jammal Brown was a four-year junior and could've went out his junior year. His projection came back third round. He comes back to school, wins the Outland Trophy and is the first offensive lineman taken in the NFL draft. You want to put those numbers on paper, it's pretty amazing.
People always want to say you lose money staying in school. Not really. Most of the time if you improve your position you make a lot of money by staying in school, and you have a better opportunity to get your degree so when you are finished playing you would have a lot of opportunities. As you would all know, you're opportunities in the workforce multiply big-time when you have that degree and you've played in the NFL. As opposed if you don't have it.
On two different draft experts saying Peterson had fallen below the top 10 in the draft, and it being a dramatic difference in the money he'd make if he were selected there as opposed to the top 3
Stoops: Absolutely. Again, you could pull out those numbers every year and those numbers are amazingly different.
And it just gets to be if you're satisfied with that, fine. Again, what people sometimes don't get in the NFL all you are guaranteed is that up-front money. After that, you can be released at any time. Usually, the life expectancy of guys that play a long time is 10 years. And after that you're a young person and you've got to live a long time off of what you made.
My point always to my players is you need maximize your opportunity. You only get it once and it needs the very best it can be. If you can improve your position and get a degree, or be within a semester of getting a degree, you've put yourself in a lot better position.
The risk is what if a guy gets hurt? That's what everyone's answer is. I would just say, over the last five years, how many players have been held out of the NFL because of injury?
On how will Peterson perform on Jan. 1 having not played in over two months
Stoops: From spring to fall that's about four, five, six months. He's always been OK coming out of the gate.
On Peterson saying he was 'dying to get out there' and how will that effect his pace
Stoops: I imagine we'll have to just visit with him about 'don't be took excited.' Let's reign it in. And he knows that. He's a more mature player and has played a lot of football.
He'll understand that and try and let it come to him a little bit. But you can tell running out there in practice he's got fresh legs after the rest he's had.
On him saying that Boise State has up to 10 players that the NFL is looking at, and when he looks at them on tape do they look like a team that could compete in the Big 12
Stoops: Sure. They're a talented team across the board, especially when you look at lot of those seniors that are experienced players. They play in a really good way and look awful athletic on tape.
I like to say they play very sure of theirself in the way they play. You can see they've been well disciplined and schooled in what their techniques are and how they're expected to play.
On the defense and their role against an offense like Boise State that shifts a lot
Stoops: Very important that we are very smart in how we read their offensive formations, how they align and how we get ourselves set before the snap.
I would say though that we are fairly used to that. Nebraska shifted every bit as much, so did Oklahoma State, so did Colorado. We've gotten to see a lot of that anymore from a lot of people. I'm not saying they're all the same, but we're fairly used to that.
It's amazing watching us in practice now. We were just commenting in our meetings last night watching our practice — look how natural it is to our guys now. We used to have to be walking them through it. Now they're talking to each other and it's happening fairly naturally to them. Again, it's all that experience.
So our alignments, positioning and pre-snap is always really important. But with this team and all the shifting they do, it's very important. Very explosive offense. I was reading in their bios and stats, and since 2000 they were the leading scoring team in the country. So they've been very productive offensively.
That's a big challenge for us just to be able to be great against the run, where we always start. And then cover people, get pressure and bother the quarterback hopefully and not give them big plays.
On what he likes about Boise State running back Ian Johnson and what makes him so good
Stoops: He's a very patient runner, has very good feet in tight positions to create some seams and to get some space. He's physical when he has to be and makes people miss him. He's got a little bit of all of that. He's just a very solid and good running back.
On if Johnson is faster than he looks
Stoops: Sure, as you watch him you don't see many people at all overpower him. You see him make a lot of people miss him and get extra yards, so he has the ability to be strong and make people miss him.
On if he's ever heard of a player coming back a week after a collapsed lung, like Johnson did
Stoops: No, which speaks to his competitiveness and will to play and toughness, I'm sure.
On BSU's similarities to Colorado's offense with Dan Hawkins having coached their last year
Stoops: It's not fair (to compare). You're looking at different personnel and all, and experience in the system. Those kinds of things are different.
But sure, in some of how they attack, some of the formations, some of what they like to do is there. As it is even with some other teams, like even Nebraska. There are similarities in how they're shifting, the personnel they're using — run and pass trying to keep balance.
You see some of that in both those teams really.
On Boise State being a team, regardless of their talent level, that isn't in a habit of losing and that makes them a pretty good team
Stoops: It does. They are talented team when you watch them and see their ability. And you are right, they are a team that's won all of their football games, and I believe did last year outside of the one (Georgia) right?
You win that much, you play with a level of confidence. I've said it several times they play very sure of theirself, which makes a guy faster, more aggressive and play better.
On if it's tough to keep the team focused when at the Bowl location
Stoops: No. We're very used to it. We're very understanding that just like last year, what you do and how you play in the game makes a big difference on the whole experience.
I don't take it for granted though. When we're in meetings or we're in practice that we're very focused and ready for that time of day that we do the best we can. And then there's plenty of time to relax afterwards and enjoy the experience.
On if there's any chance he'll put the names back on the jerseys for the Fiesta Bowl
On why not
Stoops: Why would we?
On the fans liking the names on the jerseys
Stoops: You've spoke to all of them?
On him (reporter) speaking to a bunch of them
Stoops: How many?
On speaking to over a 100
Stoops: Well, there's 85,000 out here so when you get a poll of 85,000 and they say they all want them, then maybe we'll consider it. I've spoke to a lot who like it.
On if he was surprised at the 'bruhaha' that taking the names off the jerseys created
Stoops: I didn't know it did. What's the 'bruhaha'.
On the fans in the stands not knowing who was who without the names
Stoops: Really? They can't tell by the number? They can't read the jersey all the way up in the top level?
There's plenty of people who don't (have names on the jerseys). (Bud) Wikinson's teams — none of them ever had them did they.
On having black and white TV back in Wilkinson's days
Stoops: Well, you can read black and white? I mean, what is that? You mean the letters were black and the jerseys were black?
We had a purpose of starting the year that way of being a little more selfless and more team-oriented with just 'Sooners' on our jersey. Those were good reasons. The players had no problem with it. We haven't finished the year, so I'm sure I'm not going to change that now and it's kinda worked out pretty good.
We've got a heck of a team. Now I know it's more than jerseys, I said that the day we did it, but it hasn't hurt. So hopefully everybody can live with it here.
And if not, I guess if Berry (reporter) can get 85,000 people to say that they don't like it then maybe we'll change it.
On if they'll keep the names off the jerseys next year
Stoops: I'm still in this year.
On where he was the last time OU was playing in the Fiesta Bowl (1982)
Stoops: I was fighting our way to the Peach Bowl to play Tennessee at Iowa. We beat them though.
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