Big 12 Media days: Oklahoma
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
7/24/12 at 5:19 AM
Coach: Bob Stoops (14th season)
2011 record: 10-3 (6-3 in Big 12)
Big 12 preseason prediction: First
Coach Bob Stoops on his brother Mike Stoops' return to program: "I do believe in the last couple of years, for whatever reason - and we've really looked at it - that our defense hasn't been quite as strong as what we've been used to in our first 10, 12 years. So hopefully we can make fewer mental mistakes in some areas and be a little sharper in what we're doing to play more consistently and better defense."
QB Landry Jones, on Stoops saying players around the senior need to improve: "That's great and all, Coach Stoops is an awesome coach and behind me in whatever I do and always had my back. What's cool about him is he always wants to put confidence in his quarterback. When he says something like that, your confidence goes sky-high."
CB Demontre Hurst on the defense: "Within ourselves, we know what we haven't been doing in the last couple years. This year, it's really on us to make a difference. It starts with us. This year we're gonna try to do something special."
OL Ben Habern, on running the ball more: "That's our main goal. Establishing the run game opens so much more of the offense. ... if we establish our run game early in games and with a fifth-year quarterback and good receivers, it's just going to help us that much more."
Whaley cleared for workouts: Running back Dominique Whaley has been cleared to practice after suffering a season-ending ankle injury against Kansas State last season.
While Stoops is anxious for the return of Whaley, who ran for 641 yards and nine touchdowns in seven contests, others also need to perform as well.
"The other guys, Brennan Clay, Roy Finch, have been mainstays, have been good football players for us," Stoops said. "And we've got a bunch of young guys that are all in."
Finishing the drive: Quarterback Landry Jones will naturally be looked to for leadership in 2012.
Stoops was asked what he wanted the senior to work on during the offseason.
"I didn't ask him to improve on anything," Stoops said. "I asked about 10 guys around him (to improve).
"(People said) Landry struggled. No he didn't. The offense struggled. He had more dropped passes in the last three games ... we couldn't even keep track of how many. We didn't run the football as effectively as we needed to at all. All of that goes together."
Blake Bell will continue to be an important part of the offense in 2012, the coach said. Last season, Bell had 13 rushing touchdowns, the most by an OU freshman quarterback. Twenty-six of his 44 carries (171 total rushing yards) were for a first down or touchdown.
"It's very much the same as it has been," Stoops said. "Blake's an excellent athlete, continues to do well. He throws the ball well. But we're not going to alternate quarterbacks."
Does Jones wish he could complete drives?
"Oh, absolutely," Jones said. "I wouldn't be a competitor if I didn't want to finish the drive. ... Blake comes in and that's great and stuff, but you want to stay in the game and finish the drive."
Still unresolved: The Sooners could have plenty of new faces at wide receiver.
"That's going to be a big part of what we're doing here in two-a-days," Stoops said, while also mentioning veteran Kenny Stills and newcomer Trey Metoyer.
"A lot of these guys are new, some of the young high school receivers we have in and then with the addition of some junior-college guys ... so we've got a lot of work to do there. But I believe there's talent there to work with."
Wide receivers Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson, along with defensive back Quentin Hayes, were indefinitely suspended on May 20. While Jackson remained on scholarship, Stoops announced during a Sooner Caravan stop in June that the three others had their scholarships stripped.
On Monday, Stoops said all of the players' situations remain unresolved.
Still waiting: There is also the unknown for junior college transfers.
Receiver Courtney Gardner "hasn't qualified yet," Stoops said. "He's working on it."
Receiver LaColton Bester is believed to have completed classes "but we don't have all the information yet," Stoops said.
Offensive lineman Will Latu is also thought to have completed classes, but Stoops said he hasn't received a final word on him.
Tough call: The Penn State situation reached Dallas on Monday, as many coaches were asked their thoughts.
"My expertise is just in coaching football. So administrators, presidents and them, you trust they understand what needs to happen. And that's not really up to me to judge," Stoops said.
"The whole situation is just incredibly tragic. That's the only way I can use to describe the whole thing. ... But in every way, in every way possible, children should always be protected by adults."
Sept 1: at UTEP (FSN) 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 8: Florida A&M 6 p.m.
Sept. 22: Kansas State TBA
Oct. 6: at Texas Tech TBA
Oct. 13: *Texas TBA
Oct. 20: Kansas TBA
Oct. 27: Notre Dame TBA
Nov. 3: at Iowa State TBA
Nov. 10: Baylor TBA
Nov. 17: at West Virginia TBA
Nov. 24: Oklahoma State TBA
Dec. 1: at TCU TBA
* at Dallas