Monday press conference central: week 13

OU head coach Bob Stoops

NORMAN, Okla. — Sooner head coach Bob Stoops reflects on OU's thrilling win over West Virginia and moves forward to Bedlam, and Sooners Illustrated was on the scene.

First, here is a complete notebook, with the first part of the video below. Come on into Sooner Magic Insider for all the rest of the videos and coverage.

  • There were a few reoccurring topics today during the press conference. One of those was the game-winning play by quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Kenny Stills. Stoops, who said Jones sometimes calls the audibles but co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel usually does it, gave his thoughts shortly before the play: "I saw him. I saw him plain as day, you know, giving Kenny the signal and so yeah we saw it coming."
  • That play capped off an OU record-setting performance by Jones that featured 554 passing yards and six touchdown tosses. Even so, there are still some people complaining that he threw a few bad passes. Stoops' response: "You gotta be kidding me? Well again, there's a lot of ignorant people. I mean people don't know. You know, people are pretty foolish in what they [believe], what their opinions are and/or how they understand football. But any guy away from home that goes 38-of-51 for 554 yards with a scoring drive to win at the end with six TDs and one interception--people don't know football. So, so what. They just there's a lot of ignorance out there in the world when it comes to different things. They may be bright in whatever they do, but they're not bright in football."
  • It is true, however, that it turned out to be his first comeback victory: "Well, that's fair to say because we haven't been behind a whole bunch at the end of games and so that's part of the issue. It isn't like he hasn't had the chance to do it a whole lot. To be honest, he just hasn't. But to come back again he was awesome throughout the day, but definitely in that last drive. I mean the plays he made, he's throwing strikes and I believe he's on the run the one he throws to Justin Brown over the middle. He escapes, he's running to his right, throws it back inside. Those aren't easy throws to make."
  • As for those, Stoops couldn't think of the last one: "I don't know that Jason was ever behind maybe. Maybe the last game LSU. We were driving towards the end and we did, we had one dropped by Mark Clayton and we overshot Kejuan Jones right down the middle wide open."
  • No question he couldn't have done it without the connection he's developed with Stills and his other receivers, though: "I think that's been pretty obvious for the last several weeks that they're on the same page and have been playing very consistently together and been spinning the ball out to all of them, which is a big thing, a big deal, too. And even the running backs here and there. I thought Damien Williams had a couple excellent catches out there and I thought Landry made some great throws to him."
  • Another major topic of discussion obviously was West Virginia's Tavon Austin's ridiculous performance. The Sooners used seven DBs and that turned out to be a major mistake with him in the backfield: "To a degree it does. You know, last week probably with Tavon Austin in the backfield we needed to make an adjustment there definitely. That isn't something they had done hardly at all until that game, so that changed things. But yes, in that situation if he's going to be in the backfield, yes we do. But if they don't have anybody in the backfield, you're fine with seven DBs."
  • Stoops said they counted 20+ missed tackles, a mark both unusual for this year and all-time around OU: "We haven't had that in a long, long time. So, but again the interesting part I don't want to take, I don't want to sit here and not give Tavon Austin [credit]. Obviously he'll get his credit. He should. When the other guys ran it 20 times for 62 yards, he ran it 21 for whatever and they didn't run different plays with those other guys. You know, so this guy can make some things happen and he hasn't been in the backfield."
  • As for grading it out, here was his response: "Well listen it has been. We had a bad game and played a guy that made us miss him. So, it's not like our first game or we haven't tackled pretty well through the year. We didn't play very well overall. I thought we could play better, and again I'm not discounting the skill of what he made us do. So, it's a little bit of both."
  • But 80 percent of Austin's yards came without any contact. So, that begs the question how they define missed tackles: "It depends on how much space. Yeah, when you're in position to make the tackle and you don't make it, it's pretty obvious what a missed tackle is. So, but also we know in some instances we can do some things better technique-wise and the amount of space we're giving a guy to tackle. You know, so it's a little bit of everybody and what we need to make some improvement."
  • Free safety Tony Jefferson had a few missed tackles, but he shouldered the entire load with comments afterwards. Stoops, however, said that wasn't necessary: "Well, a little bit. Like I keep saying, we're asking them a little bit too much sometimes to make some tackles in some areas that's pretty difficult. So, that's where we've gotta make some adjustments in how we're playing some of our guys up front in front of them, too. So, we got our hand in it as coaches to try and make some adjustments to give those guys a fair opportunity, too. So, he's being a little bit too hard on himself. It's a little bit of [both]. There's some plays he probably could have made, but there's some, too, that are pretty tough with the guy we had out there."
  • Of course, OU's success on kickoff returns and coverage was another focal point Monday. Brennan Clay continued to spark OU, especially with a nice return that set up the winning drive: "Yeah, Brennan is a very versatile back, can do everything. He can run the football. He's got great hands. He's always been a good pass protector. You know, return guy. He does. He contributes in a lot of ways. Always ready to go in and you always can count on him."
  • In the coverage game, they limited Austin to less than 19 yards per return and never allowed them to set up outside the 35 after a Sooner score. That success allowed them to kick it deep late: "Well, I always do because every time you try and pooch it or squib it, they end up sitting there with the ball at the 35 or 40. Why not just kick it out of bounds then? You know, they're gonna get it at the 35, I'd rather do that. So, you know, in the end I just felt, ‘Hey, we've been really good at doing this, covering them. We gotta do it one more time.'"
  • Stoops said he never even considered kicking it out of bounds: "No...I didn't even think about it. I mean they asked me what I wanted. I said, ‘Kick it deep. We've been covering them. We gotta do it again.'"
  • Back to Clay's returns, he said he can't remembered a season this good for a guy with key returns at key times: "I don't know. Not really. He really has. He's been a huge spark in three or four games. You know, so he's [been big]. And the guys blocking for him have just done a [great job]. Coach Gundy's in charge of that unit, he's done a great--they've all done a great job of just being technique-sound and picking up the right guys. And we've done a better job overall."
  • Updating the injury situation, offensive lineman Daryl Williams will miss the next game: "Daryl Williams will be out for a few weeks, so obviously for the next two games. Outside of that, everybody else [is good]. He has a sprained MCL, medial collateral ligament. So, he'll be out for a few weeks. Not sure how many, but hopeful he'll be back for whatever bowl game it may be."
  • The offensive line has been a major positive this season even still with the injuries. And they turned in a good game the other night: "They did. I thought the guys really hung in there, really well the other night and losing Daryl fairly early. The guys did a great job. I know the few plays Derek Farniok went in, actually our first touchdown, went in after a guy's helmet went off and protected well. And through the game they did a really good job. I thought Landry had three, four occasions where he escaped the pocket, bought extra time and made some excellent throws on the run that were really big with him being able to slide out and make some things happen with his feet and buy a little bit of time."
  • Their flexibility with some of those guys, including Ty Darlington, will allow them to do some things in midst of the injuries: "He could. Yeah, Ty can go in at center and you move Gabe to guard, I guess, on occasions. We'll work through with what some of our plans will be. The coaches will be talking through what's our best way to go if things like that happen. Hopefully we don't get any more."
  • One interesting discussion in terms of game strategy the other night deals with how they used the clock late. The Sooners milked it to leave hardly any time for West Virginia after their last score: "Well, it was a little bit to use some time but it was also we felt we had been effective, especially in there with Blake, you know, getting some good plays. So, we thought let's get him in there and we'd be effective scoring and using some clock, so and then of course it didn't work. And actually before I called the first timeout, I thought we were gonna get it off sooner than we did. So, and then I eventually called it because we still weren't on the same page what we were doing, so I eventually used the timeout."
  • This weekend's Bedlam contest will mark the last game for 20 seniors, and Stoops reflected on those guys: "Well, I think what I've been really pleased about is really from the winter and spring on they have really been a solid group with our attitude, our character, which I felt overall slipped last year where they have really maintained a really consistent, positive work ethic, attitude, discipline off the field. With our expectations are, what they've [done], what we're used to having around here and they've done a good job of setting an example of how to do it and influencing other guys to do it right. So, you know, we still got two big games left for them but they've done a great job to this point."
  • Wide receiver Justin Brown is undoubtedly one that has had a different path than the rest, and Stoops talked about what he has meant to his team: "Yeah, Justin's been absolutely fantastic as a young man because I'm sure today it's still difficult for him. But he's really embraced it. He's had a great, great year. You know, he's incredibly mature and a bright young man. He's gonna have a bright future after here, and I think early on it was stuff. It's still tough, but I think as he went through the season he found himself really being a total part of the offense. Landry's comfortable with him--and Landry will go to him as much as he will anybody--and then as it's gone, he's just made plays. He's been consistent. He's been tough in a tough situation because it's just hard with all the emotion and the friendships and all of that to have two teams you really care about now. You know, but he has really made the most of it I would say and I would like to think it's been a positive for him the way he's played for us and the great year he's had. So, he's really impacted us in an incredibly positive way."
  • As for the game specifically, Stoops said his kids are really embracing it as a rivalry: "Absolutely. How could you not? You know, in the end guys definitely do. You know, it's pretty simple to."
  • And does it perhaps have more significance than in the past? "Well again, all I know is I've gotta play it and it's been a rival game and it didn't start last year. It's been for a good number of years."
  • Might the Pokes winning the Big 12 last year have added even more fuel to the fire in this rivalry? "I don't know. You'd have to ask them. I've always had respect and great respect for what they were doing before last year, so I don't know."
  • The Cowboys are very similar to that last two opponents in that they possess a potent offense: "Well, all kinds. I mean they got excellent skill. They're excellent for running the football. And then they do a great job with play action and throwing the football, so you know we need to get some things improved and change some things up to hopefully defend the run first better to start with."
  • Their offensive line is strong: "I think it's fair to say yes that their line has played well. They've run the ball well, always takes some pressure of your quarterbacks. And it opens up play action passes where there's more space and the receivers do a good job. So, all the quarterbacks have been good in their system, too, but also yeah the guys around them have executed really well."
  • And that's a major reason why they boast a powerful running game: "Yeah, it starts with the guys up front when they run the football do an excellent job blocking and picking up the right people. And [Joseph] Randle does a great job making good cuts, has great vision, can make people miss him. Does all of those things. He's an excellent back."
  • In recent weeks, however, that running game hasn't been quite as dominant. Stoops wouldn't buy that, though: "I thought it looked pretty good last week from what I saw. I guess, so I would disagree...Well, I think from game to game what's emphasized more and what opportunities you have maybe moving the football other ways. They still have been moving the football, so I think from game to game they may chose to emphasize it more than some other different games. So, still has always been effective."
  • Defensively, most of the dominance is up front. They have the better of the two lines heading into this one for a rare time: "They did do a good, really good job inside, outside getting pressure and active with their defensive line and front. Bring their blitzes. They mix them in from time to time, so you've got to be aware and hopefully be able to pick them up, but they did a really good job of it."
  • With Kansas State's loss to Baylor the other night, the Sooners are now still squarely in the mix for the outright conference championship, though they need some help from their southern rivals. Even so, that hasn't been a focus of emphasis: "No. It's more an opportunity that we might have at anything like that would be to play well and win this week, so that's what we'll talk about."
  • That upset special in Waco didn't surprise the Sooner head man: "You know, I guess with all respect to Kansas State, but I think what I wanna say is it isn't surprising because of again the parity throughout the conference. If you're just off a little bit, it doesn't take much for anyone to beat you and certainly a team that's as explosive as Baylor is offensively that anything can happen. So, you know, again as I say that it's just nothing surprises me in this league because everyone's capable of beating everybody else."
  • Another taste of good luck would not be all that surprising for the Crimson and Cream. It has had its fair share in the day But Stoops remained insistent it won't be discussed for motivation: "It has. It has. What really matters to my guys is practice today and the game Saturday. So, how are we gonna play well, do what we do, work the process, see what happens, see where we're at Sunday. End of story."
  • And a few exchanges between the two Stoops brothers the other day might have caught some eyes. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, though: "No different than any other game...Well, what does volatile do for you? We're talking through what adjustments can we make, those kinds of things. But that's no different than any other game."

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