Before heading off for spring break, OU head coach Bob Stoops appeared on Sports Morning on the Sports Animal with Bob Barry Jr. and I and to give us the lowdown on the scrimmage and how the first five practices have gone for the Sooners.
BBJ: What did you think of your first scrimmage?
BS: "I didn't like it. I wasn't very happy at all. I was happy with our quarterbacks and what they are doing, but I didn't feel our intensity level, our competitiveness and the way we like to scrimmage and go at it was what we were used to. That is from guys who have played a lot to guys who played some. I think they all need to play better and be more focused and more intense.
"We will see if we can do that, but to me it had nothing to do with the quarterbacks. I think in time they will be fine. They are really working well and I like what they are doing. They have shown the ability to make the throws that we want to make, and we need them to make. They just have to work for more consistency, and that will come, but the players around them need to be better."
JH: Bob, you played a bunch of new safeties on the field who had not played much football for you before. How did you feel they played in the scrimmage?
BS: "Again, they need to improve. They need to tackle more consistently and better. Some of them busted some alignments and positioning. So the same thing, it needs to be better."
BBJ: What have you seen in Mike Reed thus far?
BS: "Same thing, Mike has a ways to go but he has the physical ability to be a really good player. He is physical and strong and he just needs more time on the field. It was our first scrimmage and you are going to see missed tackles. You are going to see mistakes here and there so Mike needs to improve."
JH: You had an amazing stat last year where your defense caused more turnovers than any other team that played in the BCS, but your team also turned the ball over more than any other team. And despite your opportunistic defense, you finished minus-1 in the turnover to caused stat. Is it safe to stay that ball security is a major priority this spring?
BS: "No question. That was some of the positives during the scrimmage in that we did take care of the football, as far as fumbles go, in a really good way. You are right, last year we fumbled the football more than any team in the country. That is horrible. We had a great number of years where we fumbled the least in the country and they were some of our better teams. There were two back-to-back years were we fumbled and lost the football just five times for the entire season.
"That is how you take care of the football, and that is a big factor in games. We need to learn that and so far in spring here we have been physical and we have been taking care of the football during these first five days of spring, and particulary during the last couple of days where we were very physical."
BBJ: DeMarco Murray was very impressive in the scrimmage. What are your thoughts on him through the first third of the spring?
BS: "He is really doing well. He is a great athlete and he can do just about anything. He catches the ball well, he has a great ability to make people miss him and he has had a huge year in the weight room. Coach (Jerry) Schmidt just can't stop talking about him and the way he worked there. You can see that when he wants to be physical running the ball he can put his shoulder down and be physical. So he is doing really well, and he is really good when you give him an opportunity to catch the ball as well."
JH: Another young player who showed up well in the scrimmage was Adron Tennell, right?
BS: "Yeah, Adron is really coming on. If you see his statistics and what he did out of high school, I believe he was a state champion long jumper. He was the MVP of his area in basketball and he is a great athlete who is getting more physical. That begins with the extra time spent in the weight room. He is playing more physical and he has the ability to make big plays. Heck, he made a really big play in our long 99-yard drive in the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska. He made a nice catch on a nice corner route with really tight coverage on him. So he is a guy who continues to make great improvement and who is going to be really good for us."
BBJ: What about a couple of Oklahoma kids, who both looked like they had a real good scrimmage — D.J. Wolfe and Gerald McCoy?
BS: "They did. Those guys did play well. D.J. is still pushing and has an opportunity to find a spot in the secondary, and he had a really good scrimmage. Gerald has been really solid, although he had a really good fall. He was jumping the ball really well during the scrimmage, he is physical and he likes to play. He is making really good progress and he is going to be a factor for us for sure."
JH: Bob is D.J. big enough to play safety?
BS: "Oh sure."
BBJ: Is that a consideration?
BS: "Yeah, that is something we visited with him about following the scrimmage. We will look at him there after we get back from spring break."
BBJ: How is Keenan Clayton playing?
BS: "OK, he made some plays. Again, we are just looking for the consistency. What people don't realize is that in a linebacker, D-lineman, or D-end, they can be a little inconsistent and it doesn't show up much. In the secondary, it is an 8 to 10-yard gain if they make a mistake. If a safety makes a mistake, busts an alignment or plays with poor technique, usually the scoreboard is lighting up. Their consistency needs to be better than any other player on the field and that is what we are pushing for."
JH: You had one drive that looked like an inside drill with some great play inside the tackles. And after a penalty, the offense eventually threw a touchdown pass.But that series showed your ability in the offensive line didn't it?
BS: "Yeah, but that is the same thing. A lot of those guys have played well and we want to see it for more than a short series. Again, I am not overeacting and I am not going to make too much of it. It was only our first scrimmage, but the consistency with guys who have played a lot wasn't what it needed to be. That group has a chance to be very, very good. But to be very, very good it has to happen all the time. As soon as you step on the field it is there, and I don't feel it was there as consistent as it needed to be during the scrimmage."
BBJ: What has been your take on big Phil Loadholt early in camp?
BS: "He is doing really well. He has a great attitude and he is working hard. He is playing in a really good way."
BBJ: What is his official size?
BS: "I don't know. He is about 6-foot-9 and 340-pounds and he really moves well. He looks great and still looks lean at 340."
JH: The University of Miami always makes a big deal, and they should, about their famous alums coming back and working out on campus and tutoring the varsity. You have had many of your great alums back recently from Dusty Dvoracek, Jammal Brown, Brodney Pool and Adrian Peterson. It looks like the players are really enjoy having them back hanging around?
BS: "We love seeing them and, of course, we have great relationships with all of our guys. I put them in front of the team at different meetings just to share their experiences and to share that I am telling some of the same things to the guys now that I told them three to four years ago. I hope they tell them to listen and that the coaches are truthful with you, and want the best for you. Those guys back it up. We love seeing them back and we love having them back, and the players get excited that they get a chance to see them and be around them. Some of our older guys have played with our younger guys and they are friends, so it has been real positive seeing all of those guys back."
BBJ: What were your thoughts on your Pro Day? Adrian was obviously impressive?
BS: "I thought they all moved well. The times all seemed to be really good. They all worked out in a good way and they looked like they were in good shape. I thought Adrian lit it up. He caught the ball so well. I knew all the running back catching drills he would be fabulous at, but to split him out wide as a wide receiver and run those kinds of routes was very impressive. He caught the ball on some slants, caught some balls that were really thrown on the back shoulder that are hard to catch, and he didn't even double-catch it. He caught them clean and looked really good doing it."
JH: I laughed when one of the scouts said that they wanted to see how he performed when he got tired, because Adrian doesn't get tired during a workout or so it seems. Isn't he one of the best workout guys you have ever had in your program?
BS: "Yes, and he is as hard to get tired and wore out as anybody that you will ever workout."
JH: You are a big sports fan and love college basketball so who do you have winning the National Championship?
BS: "I think it is going to be hard to beat Florida now that they had their few games where they let up or had some problems. They got it figured out and just tore up the SEC Tournament. I think they looked awfully strong and they have a lot of experience. Even though they just got through doing it last year you know how it is with the intensity and to be focused in the tournament. I think they are going to be hard to beat."
BBJ: Any of those Big 12 Teams going to make it through?
BS: "I don't know. I really thought Kansas, athletically, was the best team. I was on the floor for the game here and watching those guys up close they are incredibly athletic and a good looking team. When you just see the range of them, the ability to run and cover ground, I thought they were awfully impressive for sure."
Stoops looking for more intensity
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