"He is a great guy," Stoops said of Rodriguez. "He is from the same area and I like the way he coaches, very aggressively. We seem to have similar styles in how we coach and prepare our players, I feel. He has done an excellent job."
West Virginia has visited Oklahoma to share ideas, and on that trip several of the assistant coaches formed some tight bonds. Little did those coaches realize they would be facing one another in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, but that is something that often crops up during bowl season.
"[The relationship] is a good and positive one," Stoops noted. "They were out here a couple of years ago with their staff. There was a group of different staffs here, mostly offensive. They shared ideas and went thought some of what they do and how they do it. I know (assistant coach) Kevin Wilson and some of our staff have close relationships with Rich and his staff. I have gotten to know Rich through that, and actually we traveled back together from Pittsburgh where I spoke at a coach's clinic."
While Stoops hasn't had time to do much work on West Virginia yet, he and his staff are familiar with defending the spread offense. Missouri used many elements of the attack, while other opponents also showed the spread in different manners. Stoops knows that WVU features the run out of the spread, and showed a good understanding of what the Mountaineers do to move the ball on the ground.
""They use all of their players and they use their quarterback a great deal. Any time someone is really effective using the quarterback, then there is an extra guy that you have to account for," he explained. "You have to find different ways to account for him. They do a great job of using the quarterback in the run game, and that is a big part of it. Then they have great skill players. They are guys that even when you are in good position, they can make you miss them or outrun people. Again, they are creative in how they do run. They find ways to outnumber you or where they feel they have the advantage.
"I think Coach (Rich) Rodriguez and his staff has done an amazing job over the last several years in playing the way they play. They play very hard and have some excellent athletes. It is a big challenge."