An Interview With:
COACH BOB STOOPS
THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with the Oklahoma press conference. We’re joined by head coach Bob Stoops. We’ll also be joined by Trevor Knight and Geneo Grissom.
We’ll begin with an opening statement from Coach Stoops.
COACH STOOPS: I would start by first my compliments to the Alabama team, Coach Saban and his staff. That’s an excellent football team and has been for the last three years. I’ve got the utmost respect for them as competitors and the way they play.
And played a good, tough, hardfought game today. I’m very excited and proud of our football team and the way they competed and fought through the entire year and played a tough, hardfought game here tonight and made the plays that they did.
I thought just some parts of the game, Trevor Knight, of course, was exceptional. I think he showed the whole country what we’ve been watching for two years in our practices and our scrimmages and things like that, that the game has started to slow down for him where he’s really starting to feel comfortable in what he can do when he is. He’s got a very live arm with great legs.
And then some other things I thought defensively our pressure was exceptional. We had I think seven, eight sacks. Stripped for a touchdown. We were on the quarterback all game.
I was disappointed in our tackling. I think some of the tackling was really poor and led to some big plays. But we made enough big plays and stops, and we had so much we had pressure, I thought my brother Mike and defensive coaches, with our blitzes, were really timed up well and executed well, got to them and forced them into some bad plays.
And offensively we took care of the football. We won the turnover battle. We figured that would be a big part of the game.
Anyway, like I said, I thought another thing, I thought Trevor threw into some very tight windows, and I thought our receivers made some really, really competitive, tough competitive catches that were challenged, and they fought for it and came up big in those instances.
I thought defensively Geneo Grissom was outstanding along with Eric Striker in particular with their pressure.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Coach, was the multifaceted offense addition the product of having enough time during this break to install it and have confidence in it working?
COACH STOOPS: Well, I think, you know, the extra time just allowed us to improve. It’s a lot of practices. And we’re a young football team. So the more we practiced it, the better we got at it. And, again, I thought our guys came out and really just competed well.
Q. Talk about the impact of this win for your program and the future for you.
COACH STOOPS: Well, I don’t maybe the outside world will make that of it. We never were in a position where the outside world tried to portray us however many weeks ago. That wasn’t us. So this isn’t going to change us. These guys and us in the locker room, you see them nodding their head, we know who we are. These guys held it together. No one flinched. Everybody kept improving.
From time to time, in different years, the more inexperience you have, the more injuries you have, you’re going to have some ups and downs. You’re not going to go through undefeated every time.
I thought these guys, our assistant coaches, managed the injuries, the inexperience early in the year, the injuries throughout the year, in a really positive way. When you’re playing without six starters, that makes a difference. I don’t care what anyone says. And I can say it now when you’re on the positive side of it. You can’t bring it up when you’re not.
But it’s not easy when you’re losing some key players like we have. But I would say this, with with the young team we have and building on it is going to be big and make a huge difference.
Q. Is it easier to prepare properly when you’ve got an Alabama on the other sideline for a Bowl game I’m talking about? When you’ve got a team that’s that good and a program that’s that impressive as their resumés, is it easier to get the guys to focus?
COACH STOOPS: Probably. But I can’t say I don’t ever remember being disappointed in our guys and their focus in a Bowl game or how they prepared. I’ve never had that feeling.
Q. Coach, the big swing in the game was you guys had first and 30, Trevor had two unbelievable passes, you guys score a touchdown, pretty much in command of the rest of the game. What do those two throws say about your quarterback? And talk about the poise of your team in that situation to respond so well.
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, that was a key moment. Trevor threw two great passes, in particular the one that’s third and forever and he hits with Colton, gets behind everybody and he runs it down. So Trevor put it where he had a chance to go run it down, and he did. He had enough air under it to give him that opportunity.
So I think it’s just an example of the resilience we’ve had throughout the season to never give in, to keep competing, and we did that to the end.
Q. Trevor, obviously there was a lot of new stuff in the offense tonight, some new wrinkles. Talk about running that show. Seemed like the team really gravitated to your leadership and things. How comfortable was this offense tonight when you guys were putting up those numbers with a lot of new stuff in the offense?
TREVOR KNIGHT: Throughout the Bowl preparation we had the plan of going fast, putting in a few new wrinkles with the huddles there. I felt when we came out from the very beginning it was working for us, and we kept going with it. It easily could not have worked and go back to our old stuff, but I felt like our plan was great.
And hats off to Coach Heupel and Coach Stoops for developing that plan, and then hats off to our guys for executing that plan. Things were just clicking tonight, and hats off to the seniors. What a way to go out for them. It’s really something special.
Q. Trevor, Coach talked about the game slowing down for you. Can you kind of explain what that is, how that feels? And also wanted to ask, Bob, your offensive line had two starters out, played pretty well?
TREVOR KNIGHT: The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you feel. The more completions you get, the more comfortable you feel. And it’s all about just getting in that rhythm, hitting a few shots early, set the rhythm, the tone for the game. The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you are.
Moving forward from that, you know, going into next year and everything, that’s what we’re going to ride on.
COACH STOOPS: It’s been a challenge, but we lost the whole left side of our line, the left guard and left tackle. So at practice all you see guys doing, it’s like musical chairs. Bronson goes to guard, someone comes in for him, he goes to tackle. They just move around every series in practice.
And Coach Bedenbaugh did an incredible job keeping those guys together. We’re incredibly thin here by the end of the year. But those guys, again, like always, didn’t flinch, kept battling and competed to the end and did a great job. They protected Trevor. Did we give up a sack? I’m trying to think.
Q. (Off microphone).
COACH STOOPS: Yeah. So that’s a heck of a job.
Q. Coach, can you talk from a strategy standpoint, two different things: One, it seemed like you wanted to go as much up tempo as you could, but you needed to run clock. And later in the game, at the very end, you bring it back to your defense, just be willing to let the clock run and back to your defense with a minute to go?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we knew they didn’t see it, they hadn’t seen a lot of tempo teams. And the ones that did gave them trouble. So we felt that would play into a positive way for us.
So we knew in the first half we weren’t worried about clock. We wanted to move the football. We didn’t punt the first half, and the second half we weren’t slowing down until really we didn’t even think about slowing down until the last five, six minutes, is when we started, all right, we’re two scores ahead, let’s do what we can to use the clock.
And then at the end really proud of our guys who came off the 10yard line and get all the way to the other 40 or 45, moving the ball and eating the clock. They use all their timeouts. We put together I don’t know how many first downs in a row. That was big.
And then I did feel they would have to have to throw the ball to have a chance. And I love the way we were rushing. We already had I don’t know how many sacks. I felt and I know Mike felt we didn’t necessarily have to blitz them to get to them. And, sure enough, we’re not blitzing on that, Eric comes off the corner and strips him on the very first play.
Q. Last year in the Cotton Bowl you guys had to chase around that guy from A&M, was probably pretty frustrating. What was it like for the defense despite giving up a lot of yards to make a lot of big plays to turn the game around? And for you personally, what was this game like?
GENEO GRISSOM: This game was huge. The Dline knew we were going to have to play well in order to be successful. And able to come out and execute. Coach Jerry Montgomery got us prepared, and he did a great job.
Q. Bob, and even Trevor, I wonder if you could talk about, Bob, from your perspective, it seems like you really went deep into the well offensively. You got first down passes to Taylor McNamara and Derrick Woods. Seemed like you had these guys coming in and making plays that hadn’t played all year. How much work went into all that?
TREVOR KNIGHT: I feel that’s our team this year. We had guys step up all year. It’s very easy when you’re not playing, sitting on the sideline, to put your head down. But that shows that our team, quarterback position and every position, that we just stayed the course. We kept battling every day at practice. So when it was our time to shine, we could go out and do that.
COACH STOOPS: Guys like Derrick Woods comes in and has a huge one of the biggest plays of the game. Sterling got banged up and Derrick comes in makes an incredibly tough competitive play over the top of a guy on third and long, extra long, to pick up the first down.
Q. (Question off microphone)?
COACH STOOPS: Well, again, I’m really proud of our entire coaching staff on how hard they worked and found ways to try and utilize everybody on our team. And when you start to lose a lot of key players, you have to you start digging into the well and making sure you’re trying to maximize every person’s in the room what they can do. So like Taylor and Derrick getting in there, finding a play or two to make, is an example of that.
Q. Could you expound more on what you said earlier about what this win could do for this team, especially being a young team with so many guys back? And then also the attitude that they played with tonight. They came out right away and took it to Alabama team that won three national titles in five years.
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, but I want to say it in an absolutely humble way. We weren’t coming in on a load of wood. We’ve won some games around here and earned a decent so regardless of that’s how we feel, anyway. Whether you felt that way or not, or anyone else, we weren’t really concerned about.
We played how we expected to play, to be quite honest. And, again, you’ve heard me start off by I’ve got the absolute utmost respect for Alabama. But we have a lot of confidence in what we do, too.
And so with as many young players as we have and inexperience we came into the season to start with and the guys we have coming back to recruiting class we’ve got coming in, we’ve got a chance to really start, to continue to be special, and that’s what we’re going to keep trying to do.
Q. Geneo, defensive line was pretty maligned during this season. Did you ever think it could end like this this year with this many sacks against Alabama?
GENEO GRISSOM: Honestly, yeah. We have a lot of talent on our Dline, a lot of guys that can make plays. It’s a matter of time before we were all able to get in a groove and execute.
COACH STOOPS: I remember, Geneo, in twoadays, right, remember me calling the group up, and I said all I’ve heard for half the year is we don’t have any D linemen. I said I count 10 of you right here.
I guess we do have a Dline, huh?
Q. Geneo, it looked to me during the second half, especially, the offensive line for Alabama were struggling, jumped offsides, but you were able to get off the edge. What did you see on film or what motivated you to just really where you guys were able to exploit the tackles and get a lot of pressure in the game?
GENEO GRISSOM: Like I said, Coach Jerry Montgomery did a great job preparing us. He helped us see things that us players normally wouldn’t be able to see. He was able to tell us, give us little tips on things that would help us, and we were able to come out and execute.
Q. Coach, I know you’re a modest fellow, but your brother was talking highly about you out on the field, Mike, how he felt good for you for this particular win. Talk about that and what he’s brought to your program, and also the fact that it was on the biggest stage and your offense put together their best show of the season, how gratifying that is for you?
COACH STOOPS: Again, I feel very blessed to work with the great people I do, great assistant coaches, great young men that have great character and heart to them and fight.
So you’re lucky when you’re in those kind of situations. I’ve been supported by a fantastic administration that continues to help us build our program. So I’d never look at it as about me. I just can’t. And so, like I said, I feel blessed and fortunate to be in this situation, and we’re going to keep building it and keep chasing trophies.
So it was exciting, though, I can’t deny that, to come out and play against a great team like that and play the way we did.
Mike has brought, obviously when you watch us, great tenacity on defense in the way we play and compete. And I feel the sky’s the limit because nine of those guys are back next year. And we’re going to be better.
But he brings great detail, attention to detail in meetings and brings an attitude in the way we want to compete and makes the players happy. You hear him at practice. But I think it makes a difference in their demeanor and the way they compete.
Q. Bob, you’ve answered a lot of questions about the strength of the Big 12 over the last couple of years. You spoke your mind last summer about the SEC and propaganda. You kind of served as a punching bag a little bit for fans in that conference. What does this win do today to kind of vindicate everything you’ve been kind of fighting against the last couple of years?
COACH STOOPS: I’m not going to expound on that. I won’t have to dodge any punches, I guess you could say that. But I would say, as I started off, I have the utmost respect for Alabama. And I think this shows that obviously we can play with anybody.
So enough of that. And I just watched them go through their entire conference and play pretty well.
And, again, I admire the way they play, I really do, and Coach Saban and the way they do things. I’m not pointing any fingers, but I think sometimes the comparisons aren’t necessarily very true.
Q. Coach, tell us about the team schedule. When you guys get back to Norman, what about your schedule? How much time will you and your coaches get to sit and enjoy this?
COACH STOOPS: We’re all recruiting except the way the recruiting schedule is this year we can’t be out this coming week or following week because of coaches’ convention.
So it’s very unusual for us. We’ll be in the office talking to recruits. And I got a feeling we’ve got a big recruiting weekend coming, too, with a lot of guys not on campus but just announcing.
And we’ve got a lot of good things going recruiting, and hopefully it all comes to fruition here in the next week or two. This obviously wouldn’t hurt that either.
Q. Are you going back tonight?
COACH STOOPS: No, no, we’re going to go back in the morning.
Q. Geneo, you personally recovering two fumbles tonight and as the team forcing four turnovers, just talk about the impact of not only forcing turnovers but being able as a team to capitalize on them en route to this win?
GENEO GRISSOM: Coach Stoops told us before the start of the game that turnovers would be huge. Without turnovers it would be harder to win the game. We were able to get those turnovers, and luckily the ball popped out right in front of me both times.
Q. Bob, you’ve often talked about how players have to be resilient to give up a big play in the passing game early, and then later Sanchez jumps a pass and gets a big interception and your DBs start getting your hands on more footballs as the game goes along. How proud are you for the secondary that have hung in there and actually started making more plays towards the end?
COACH STOOPS: There’s another redshirt freshman out there competing. You have to have a short memory in the secondary if you’re going to play the whole game. And he had his opportunity. He jumped it and had a great return with it.
So you play out there long enough over an 80play game, in the secondary, you’re going to have some plays on you. So you just gotta fight back and make yours on some third down, fourth downs, or come up with a pick here or there and a key deflection, and they did that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.