Stoops, Sooners not looking past Texas A&M

OU Head Coach Bob Stoops talked about this weekend s matchup with Texas A&M and other topics at his weekly press conference Tuesday in Norman

On Saturday's matchup with Texas A&M
We're excited about another big challenge this week going to Texas A&M. We've got great respect for their program. They always play well and have an excellent home crowd and excitement there. Very talented group of players when you look at them from top to bottom.

They're a little more open in their offense with Long their quarterback and the way they're calling plays now. I think over the last four or five games they're averaging 400 yards of offense, well over 30 points a game ,and have been really airing it out moreso then before.

Defensively, always very sound and disciplined. They've got a lot of players, a lot of skilled athletes running around. And they're famous for having very strong and good special teams.

We understand all that and we understand it's another big challenge going down there to play. I believe our players are really in a good frame of mind, gaining confidence through the year and really have a good routine going right now in how we're practicing and how we're focused on Texas A&M. That's all we're looking at and we're excited for the challenge this week.

On Texas A&M defensive end Ty Warren
He's an excellent player. Excellent rusher and defensive player. They've got a number of guys up front who are very athletic and can make plays. I believe they lead the league in sacks. They're a very good front four.

On Texas A&M's offense
They're spreading it out more and throwing it more. They still have a quality running game, but they also are trying to use and get the ball to their receivers. They've got a bunch of big play receivers, a bunch of speed at receiver that they're trying to stretch out and use those guys.

On Texas A&M Quarterback Dustin Long
He's looked very good. He's throwing to some very good receivers. He throws a nice ball. They have a good system on how they try and spread you out and stretch you. He's been very productive when you look at their yards.

On the atmosphere at Kyle Field
It's a great gameday atmosphere. It's well written about, everyone understands that. We've been down there, we understand that. I think what's important is when you get in there and you get ready to play all that matters is what is between the lines and in that hundred yards. That's what you focus on and that's what you're concentrated on. You have a way of really blocking it all out and just focusing on what's in front of you and how to play. That's what we've been able to do at most places.

On if he's surprised Texas A&M has lost three home games this season
Sure, they've been in close games. Sometimes a play or two either way changes that. That's why you play each week. It's still one of the best gameday atmostphere's there is.

On what winning the 2000 game in College Station did for the Sooners
It was another game in that run of getting to a championship. We already had a special feeling going into that game and that feeling is what gives you an opportunity to make the plays we made to win that game. And then afterwards coming out of it we really had that feeling. The plays we came up with, it wasn't just Torrance's interception, which was an incredible play and return, but then you look at some of the drives we had on offense that also scored in the second half and in the fourth quarter. And then the stops at the end. After that game we had a pretty good feeling it was going to be tough to beat us.

On if he feels Quentin Griffin should be a Heisman Trophy candidate
I would believe he should be. He ought to be up there with several people. I would imagine that the race right now is wide open and whoever finishes out the year playing that way should get more and more opportunity. I've said all along if we continue to play well and win and Quentin continues to be a factor like he has been for the last three games against ranked opponents, rushing for well over yards in all cases, that he would get that kind of consideration.

On Quentin Griffin being the teams' MVP so far this season
I'm not much on claiming an MVP right now. I think that would be fair to put him up there with a few of our players. I don't like to label or finish anything. We're only a little more then halfway through. Quentin's very special to us and everybody appreciates his toughness, his work ethic and the plays he makes. You guys get to see it some, but when you watch a coaches copy of the game, see it close and what he does and the people he makes miss him and the extra yards that he gets on his own, is really amazing. That's where the players get to see it and why the players appreciate so much.

On how much of the success of the running game can be attributed to Quentin Griffin and the offensive line
It's always both. I don't think you ever run the football without your offensive line. I think all good backs, when you get that number of yards, have made people miss them and break tackles.

Although we busted several assignments the other night and were terribly inconsistent in our offensive line last week, we still were strong enough to create some seams.

And Quentin made some excellent runs on his own. The long run he breaks, he breaks one tackle, makes one guy completely miss and takes off down the sideline for a big gain. So, some of that is on his own. He's gaining momentum and is really playing in a great way right now. And we'll need it, we always do.

On the defense forcing turnovers and the offense not turning it over as much
We have forced a lot of turnovers on defense, that's been a trademark of us for several years. And offensively we have played wisely and have been very secure with the football. We've had few fumbles. We lucked out when Curtis Fagan caught a ball and fumbled it out of bounds. For the most part, we've been pretty strong at taking care and being strong with the football. We need to continue to do that.

On Dan Cody's status for this weekend
I'm not going to elaborate. He, in all likelihood, won't play.

On who will replace Cody
We'll play the other guys. We've got Jonathan Jackson, Jimmy Wilkerson practiced and looked good the other day, Calvin Thibodeaux, Eric Hillaire. You go with what you've got.

On Antwone Savage setting the all-time receiving yardage mark
That kind of got lost in the shuffle and I'm probably guilty of that. I should have mentioned that. Very proud of Antwone. He's been very consistent and good receiver, and a big play receiver for us for three years and this. Antwone had an excellent game again last week and is always a big part of our offense. We do a lot offensively. We're running a little better this year and we don't just throw to one guy. It's hard in our offense sometimes to get all the recognition, but Antwone's been a very good player for us and a very consistent player us.

On if the offense they are running now is what he envisioned when he first came to Oklahoma
Yes, but we need to get better. We can be better. Although the last couple of weeks we've been hampered with conditions. And also hampered with having a big lead.

I believe in being smart. We're up with three and half minutes to go in the third quarter, 27-3, we're not going to be foolish with the football and keep slinging it around and trying to get yards and be arrogant and get points. We're going to be smart and win the football game.

We've got a good defense. Be smart, don't take a chance for anything. You miss a protection the quarterback gets blindsided there goes the ball, they get an easy touchdown. We're not going to be foolish in those situations, so we toned it down last week. We toned it down against Iowa State up 35-0 in the first half.

I believe in respecting the game and playing the percentages as long as you have a comfortable lead. What I'm getting at is that we're waiting for an excellent, nice day where we can do everything. Our run game has come around and even to the point people know we're going to run it and we're still productive doing it. I believe we'll still throw the football awfully well. I like what we're doing, more downfield throws to compliment the running game. Hopefully we'll keep doing that. We're closer and closer to what we've envisioned.

On if he's more comfortable playing conservative when they've had a lead this year than in the past
Absolutely. I think it's pretty obvious when you watch us run when we want to. First and ten, they know we're going to run it and we get six yards. You get stuffed once in a while too, but you get your share of good gains. That's important to get the clock moving, take away the number of possessions they're going to have and play smart football. We're in much better shape this year in doing that, or in picking up third and short situations then we have been.

On if he and the team has that special feeling this year
We feel pretty confident. We like what we're doing. I like the attitude and the way we're preparing, and I like single focus and mindedness on our next game. I like how it's setting up and we've got a real strong feeling right now.

On this season beginning to unfold exactly like the 2000 season
There are similarities. I don't know how to explain it. In some of our early games we were still finding our way. Got to the middle of year and we had a pretty tough stretch and really got a lot of momentum and started playing in a strong way. Kind of like we have from Texas on. Had on off week before we played Nebraska and beat them. Had an off week here and came back and beat Colorado.

Those kind of things give you that sense that a lot of things are setting up in a similar way. As much as anything, I sense a confidence in the way we're playing. We're much more sure of ourselves this year then a year ago. I think we're playing in a more determined and confident way. How to explain that? I don't know. I just feel we're it in the way we're playing.

On the BCS and if he favors a general playoff system
There needs to be some type of playoff system. Some of it makes sense and is good. Other parts of it doesn't make sense and is bad. They need to eliminate the parts that don't make sense and get it to make sense more.

I look at last year with Colorado, in all respect to them they won the Big 12 Championship and looked great, but you can't go to a national championship game with two losses. It shouldn't happen. If you're not a conference champion, I don't believe you should if someone else is close and is a champion.

It seems rational. Some parts are rational that you would think they could fit in. What will happen this year? I don't know. I don't much care. All I care about is going to Texas A&M.

Hopefully down the road they'll find a way to tweak it or use some kind of playoff, but use the bowls to do it. I just keep throwing this our there. I'm not smart enough to think through it. I think if you have four BCS bowls with eight teams. The following week you have four teams and two BCS bowls. And the last week you have two teams and one national championship bowl and rotate between those seven. You need a lot smarter people then me to figure it out.

On if the Big 12 title game would be eliminated in his playoff theory
That or make everybody play one. I don't know why all those other teams don't want to play a conference championship like the Big East and the ACC, Big 10. What if Ohio State and Iowa played. They ought to get together and have it the week after they're finished. Let's see who's who.

On if a team like Nebraska shouldn't have gone to the BCS championship last year because the didn't win the Big 12
I agree. If you're not your conference champion it's hard to be a national champion. That's not taking anything away from Nebraska. I was in favor of them last year because that's how the rules set up. Until the rules change nobody had anything to complain about with Nebraska. I didn't. I believe they deserved it because when we started the season that's how it was set up.

On his thoughts if Texas gets into the Fiesta Bowl without winning the conference
Hopefully we're going to keep rocking and see what we can do. I'm not worried about anybody else.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories