Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops Quotes

Saturday, December 31, 2016

MIKE STOOPS:  Good morning, everybody. Certainly excited to be here. And as the game gets closer, just really kind of anxious to get going. We have been practicing for probably two weeks on Auburn. I think the extra time benefited in a lot of ways, not only the health of our team but the preparation for Auburn. They’re excellent, obviously, running the football but just the different elements of the run game, the formations. They give you a lot to dissect and get to your players.

So the preparation has been good. We’re healthy. And it will be a very physical test for us. Just the styles of play that we play in our league as opposed to what we’re going to see here in a couple of days will be a little different. But there are still a lot of similarities to the plays that people run in our league.

Again, it’s just a different you know, we’re dealing with a very talented, physical football team that has skill, you know, at every position. And I think they will be much healthier in this game than they were the last month of their season. So it should be a very exciting game. And I think our players are anxious to get going.

Q. Mike, you brought it up and you talked about it at the end of your statement that [Kamryn] Pettway is now healthy. They have got their running backs and quarterbacks healthy. How does that change the dynamic of their game to maybe what you saw in the final two or three games of the season?

MIKE STOOPS:  Well, I think for a team like this, [Kamryn] Pettway is obviously a big part of what they do. But their quarterback, finding balance any team that runs the ball that effectively, their ability to throw the ball, play action passes, those types of things will be critical and not giving up chunk yards.

So I think the quarterback play is really important to try to keep balance with their offense and keep you off guard so you can’t just load up and try to stop the run, because they have very skilled receivers and can get the ball deep. So you just have to try to manage it with the way we like to play and not overcommit to the run.

We have to be able to play physical at the line of scrimmage.  We have to be able to get off blocks. We have to be able to leverage the football. They like to get the ball to the perimeter more than any other team we have seen.  So there’s lot there.

Q. You have a whole season worth of Auburn offense film to study. But given their health now, are there certain games from the season that you’re looking at and saying, well, that’s really the Auburn team that we’re going to face in this game?

MIKE STOOPS:  Well, obviously, you look at the past couple years, whether it was Kentucky from last year, whether it’s Georgia, you look and see what the similarities are our front is a little different than other fronts. So schematically how they want to block an odd front opposed to an even front, you have to look at all of those things and dissect the last two or three years. So you have to go back and really look at it.

That’s what kind of gets hard. Even though you have that much time, you start looking at everything. If you start looking at every formation over the last couple of years, it’s just so much there.

But our principles have to stay in place within our system and play within our system. So we have a pretty good idea how they’re going to attempt to attack you, but they have always come up with new wrinkles. That’s just part of being in a game and being able to adjust to whatever new wrinkles they put in.

Q. Is Kansas State maybe the team that helps prepare you the most that you have faced that is similar to Auburn?  And, also, what has it meant to kind of have a guy like Kyler Murray to simulate that in practice for you?

MIKE STOOPS:  Kyler [Murray] has done a great job for us. We probably have the best scout team quarterbacks offer the last three years in anybody in the history of college football. So Kyler has done a great job.

Kansas State, a little bit, not a lot. Their zone schemes are similar to everybody we see, their power, their gap schemes. Everyone has zone schemes, gap schemes, fly schemes. So they’re very balanced in how they want to attack you.

What’s different about them, like I said earlier, they get the ball to the perimeter probably as good as anybody and let their skill guys run the ball, too. So as much as they run it downhill at you, they’re going to get the ball at the perimeter as well with their skill guys.

Q. Mike, Auburn just got a commitment from Jarrett Stidham, and I want to get your thoughts on what he brings to the table and how challenging a matchup he was for you last season?

MIKE STOOPS:  I really like him. I think he will fit in nicely with Coach [Gus] Malzahn’s system. He is a dual threat, but he is more of a prototypical thrower of the football. I think he’s a very mature kid. I was impressed with him playing as a freshman a year ago. I think he has a lot of talent, a lot of arm talent.

So I’m sure they will blend Coach will blend the offense. You always mold to it what your players do and what they can’t do. So I think he will give them a little different dimension throwing the football, spreading the ball out. Sean [White] does that as well and some of their other guys. So they will just play to his strengths, and I think he will give them a lot of flexibility to do a lot of things. He is just a very talented player.

Q. First off, how is the downtime from a health standpoint?  How are you health wise?  And, two, how do you feel like the last few ballgames of the season, how you’ve played, how that will help you going into this game?

MIKE STOOPS:  Well, health wise, we’re as healthy as we have been. Obviously this year we have taken a lot of hits on the defensive side of the ball for various reasons. The guys that brought us here are here, and we will get the majority of the snaps in two nights or two days or whatever it is. So that part, we’re in pretty good shape.

This year has been just it’s been a tough year finding the consistency. In stretches, I think we’ve played well to put ourselves in a position to win.  Overall, we need to play a more consistent game. And hopefully that will happen here, save our best for the last.

We have really fought through a difficult year and really proud of just the way the kids have handled it and hung in there. This will be another big challenge.

I think our league from an offensive perspective is different from most. I think most people that watch football can agree to that. We saw that the other night in what Oklahoma State was able to do to Colorado.

We just have to find more consistency in what we do regardless of what the situation is. That will be key here playing Auburn because they’re a very talented defense as well.

We’re going to have to do our part in this game. This defense that Auburn will put on the field will challenge our offense more than anybody else has probably this year.

So that being said, you don’t know how the games are going to turn out. But we have to make sure we don’t give up a bunch of big plays and a bunch of points. So that’s going to be critical for us.

Q. Mike, how do you match up physically with these guys?  And you mentioned the OSU game. Is that something that you guys look at and gives you confidence?

MIKE STOOPS:  Again, we know what we go up against week in and week out. Nobody goes up against those types of offense. So we understand it. It’s just the style.

There’s a little bit of a style clash here, but we faced that playing Alabama three years ago. You play a team from the Southeastern Conference; you’re going to get a physical football team and a talented football team.

I think our players understand that, respect that, and know that we are going to have to play great technique at the line of scrimmage. We are going to have to get off blocks, and that’s football. And hopefully they’re looking forward to that challenge because it’s going to come.

Q. Mike, since the [Joe] Mixon video went public, Bob’s [Stoops] caught a lot of flack and sort of had to relive that decision and that moment all over again. And I know the perception is that it has been taxing for him personally. I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on how that has affected him and how he has come through that.

MIKE STOOPS:  Well, it’s taxing for everybody associated with our program, our university. Bob has persevered through a lot of things. You don’t last 18 years at Oklahoma without enduring tough times. And Bob, as you guys know, he is very resilient, and he tries to do the best he can for the University of Oklahoma. It’s important to him. He has a lot of pride in the way he runs his program. So I’m sure it hurts, but that’s part of the job. And we’re all getting through it and moving forward.

Q. Mike, you kind of mentioned it earlier. But with all of the talk around the Big 12, the perception of the Big 12, what does it mean to be able to have this game, be in the Sugar Bowl, play one of the top teams from the SEC, and potentially win it for basically the status of OU, the status of your league?

MIKE STOOPS:  Well, we want to represent, first and foremost, Oklahoma and Oklahoma football. We can’t dictate how everybody else plays in the league.

We want to be different. We want to be able to play a lot of different styles. And that’s what good football teams do; they match up with everybody. And this is a different matchup, but you have to adjust. And that’s why you want to have a diverse defense that can do a lot of different things.

Again, there’s always the media’s perception on how they want to classify leagues.  There’s always going to be two, three, four really good teams in every league. And then there’s a middle tier, and then there’s a lower tier. That’s in most leagues. We only have ten teams in our league, too. That’s different than a lot.

But that’s for conversation. And, for me, it’s still just about us and being able to match up when we have to step on the field from a defensive attitude. As defensive coaches, we know what good offenses are and how they attack you and how they attack the field. So it still gets down to matchups on the field.

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