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December 29, 2011
COACH STOOPS:Â I would first just start by saying what a great several days it's been.Â We've been here four or five days, and could not have been better.Â The accommodations, everybody here in this whole region, Tempe, hotel accommodations, practice facility, you know, it has really been great.Â The people hosting us at the practice site, everyone has just really gone out of their way to make it great and special.Â And it has been there.
I am very pleased with the work of our players and just their attention to being on time to everything.Â They have been really good in meetings.Â They have practiced really well.Â So, you know, I feel like we have taken the necessary steps in these days to give ourself an opportunity to play well.
My compliments always to Iowa.Â Coach Ferentz and his staff have always done a great, great job and has another tough, physical football team that really plays well coming into this game.
I have said, it is different for me going against Iowa with my history and my brother's history for so long so many of us at the University of Iowa and so many close relationships and ties, it is a little bit different.
But once you get to playing it, that's another‑‑ you go into game mode and you got those four hours you are doing what you always do and competing.
So, anyway, we are looking forward to the challenge here tomorrow night.
Q.Â With all the expectations coming into the season for Oklahoma being a preseason No. 1, maybe this isn't the Bowl game or a situation you wanted to have at the end of the season.Â What is the motivation of this team?Â Are you worried at all about maybe their lack of motivation going into this contest?
COACH STOOPS:Â No, I don't.Â I said this yesterday:Â We've played over 100 years of football at Oklahoma, and we have seven national championships.Â More than most people do.Â So every single year you don't win one, that can't be a bad year.
And we've played for many others.Â But, in the end, not every year things are going to work that way, whether it is a certain break here or there or injuries or whatnot or you just didn't play as well and you catch a team that's hot.Â That's going to happen.
So our motivation is any time you are taking the field is to win another football game.Â We have a chance to win our tenth this year and our guys have worked hard leading up to the game to give ourselves a chance for it.
Q.Â Could you talk about Tony Jefferson in this game and what‑‑ how he will impact the game and how you hope to use him?Â I know he plays two or three spots for you at times.Â Can you talk about his role in that secondary for you.
COACH STOOPS:Â He along with everybody are going to have to support the secondary in different ways.Â Tony is a guy that will have to tackle well and be in position, read the run and pass properly, just like the other safety will.
He will need to play a good game.Â Your safeties and everybody when you play Iowa to stop them has to play well.
Q.Â You touched just a moment ago on your relationship with Kirk Ferentz and your ties to the Hawkeyes.Â Could you elaborate a little bit more on how that changes the emotions of a game when you are going against a friend and going against a school that you have such strong ties to?
COACH STOOPS:Â It doesn't change anything when you get on the field.Â So I will make that perfectly clear.Â It won't for Kirk.Â It won't for me.
But, you know, the friendship, the relationships are there.Â I mean, I said this yesterday.Â I'm repeating myself.Â But my wife yells at my children all Saturday morning "Go Hawks" through the fall.Â So she just can't say it tomorrow.
But, in the end, we've got a lot of great friendships there, and so it's one of the first scores‑‑ once I see what my brothers have done during the week‑‑ or during the game Saturday, it is the next score I'm looking for is to see how Iowa did.
But, again, when you get to competing, you are in game mode, you do what you do all the time.
Q.Â How important obviously for this season to win this game, but going into next year, it seems that a good performance could catapult a team like at the Sun Bowl with Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles seemed to do a couple years ago?
COACH STOOPS:Â It helps.Â In the end, there is more positive energy.Â But it is always a different team.Â You are going to lose seniors.Â You are going to add new players to the mix.Â So it helps to a degree.
Q.Â Yesterday you had so many young players in there in the Media Day with your stars, a lot of sophomores.Â They talked about coaches constantly being on them about leadership and developing leadership.Â Can you talk about kind of what this Bowl process has meant for some of your younger guys and developing more of a leadership role for them in the program?
COACH STOOPS:Â I think they always sense when you get in these Bowl games that some of the practices leading up, that you start‑‑ the seniors are out a little quicker and they are getting more opportunities, more snaps.Â And they are further along than they were in the fall‑‑ I mean, early in August.
So I think they already start to sense their role coming up, that they are going to have more of a role and more opportunities and they start to realize these guys are going to be gone here in a few weeks.Â I'm now in that position where I can be a leader, or I should be if I'm doing the right things.
So I just think they sense those guys on their way out and, hey, my opportunities are going to be bigger and I ought to be able to‑‑ again, guys that are doing it the right way realize, hey, I ought to step up and be a leader.
Q.Â Your thoughts on some of the seniors, some of the guys playing their final game for OU, what they have meant to their class?
COACH STOOPS:Â They have done an excellent job.Â They have been a part of‑‑ I don't know‑‑ several Big 12 championships and just a year ago went and beat Nebraska for the final Big 12 championship and winning the Fiesta Bowl.
These guys have done a nice job.Â This year in different ways we didn't get it done, but we're here again with a chance to win ten games.Â And this group of guys has been really strong for us.
I think guys like Frank Alexander from a year ago and how he played this year, he really played great, great football through the year.Â Travis Lewis fights through a broken toe and really did a great job with it as difficult as it was to manage the whole year.Â Ryan Broyles setting all kinds of records.Â It is unfortunate we lose him for the last three games.
Just a great, great player.Â Any time you set a national record, you know it is pretty special.
So, anyway, it goes on and on.Â Those guys have all done a nice job.
Q.Â How different is this team, whether through attrition, injuries and the way the team's evolved, how different is it from when the season started?
COACH STOOPS:Â I think more than anything, just from the injuries, some of the attrition, most of those guys haven't play a down.Â They don't change what we are on the field.
So the guys you are missing are the Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles.Â Those are significant strong players.Â Adam Shead was starting.Â And then you lose‑‑ I don't know‑‑ who am I missing?Â Ronnell Lewis not being here matters.Â He is a guy that a great, great player for us.
COACH STOOPS:Â Jaz Reynolds really came on in the last year and through this year and was also a big play guy for us.
It changes your complexion a little bit.Â There is no denying that.Â But that doesn't matter.Â We are going to play and other guys have more opportunities now that they need to step up and show that they can play at that winning level.
Q.Â You have your walk‑through today.Â Can you talk about what you have seen out of Joe Powell to this point?Â And is he a guy that you expect to get legitimate snaps from?
COACH STOOPS:Â Joe is ready.Â How many, I guess we'll see.Â You know how that is.Â How many guys get fatigued or if you are on a long drive, how long it is.Â So we'll just have to see.
But Joe has done a good job, really gathered things back up quickly and has done a nice job through the last week and a half.
Q.Â What's the chances we can get you to throw the ball to Winchester?
COACH STOOPS:Â Probably pretty good.Â James has done an excellent job really also in the last couple of weeks.
Going into the last couple of games, whenever we are facing one of the better receivers, whether it be Oklahoma State, Blackmon and certain guys and James often will come over and work.Â He does a great job.Â So we're‑‑ we'll see how it goes.Â I think pretty good.
Q.Â How difficult is it to prepare defensively knowing that Coker is not going to be there and the guy or the committee of guys that will replace him you can't find any tape on possibly?
COACH STOOPS:Â No, that's true.Â But I don't believe they are going to change offenses.Â So I think what you still prepare for are the formations and the plays that they are used to running.
What I see is an excellent offensive line and tight ends and a quarterback in front of that guy that play really well.Â I'm sure they will find guys that if they have space, they will be able to jump in and make something happen.
Q.Â You have signed three junior college guys.Â I wonder since we got you here, could you give us a couple comments on each guy?
COACH STOOPS:Â Yeah, they're just guys that we're excited about in positions‑‑ we feel when we have targeted guys at the junior college level, they‑‑ we have a pretty good track record over 13 years that usually have come in and really made an impact on our team.
We don't go after a lot of numbers‑wise because we feel there are only a few that can significantly impact our team.Â And we feel these guys obviously can do that.
You know, at the tight end position‑‑ and they are all here at mid‑year.Â So they are all‑‑ all these guys at the tight end position and the defensive back field and then at tight end, they are all areas‑‑ well, at defensive end also, are guys that we feel can really make a difference for us.
Q.Â Can you expand on the qualities you saw on them in recruiting?
COACH STOOPS:Â Toughness, quickness, size.Â They have all the physical attributes you are looking for.Â And they make‑‑ they're productive players and make plays when they are on the field.
Q.Â Landry says he has been going back and forth with his decision on whether he is going to stay, whether he is going to go.Â If he decides to go, how much does that kind of hurt your program a little bit?Â Obviously it would be great to have a senior quarterback with his experience coming back.
COACH STOOPS:Â Well, I don't think you're saying it the proper way.Â I wouldn't like to say it hurts our program.Â Landry has done a great job for us.Â If he feels that is in his best interest, these other young guys coming up have been working hard and will be ready to go.
So in the end, we wanted to do what he feels in his heart is best for him.Â And then if it is coming back, obviously you have more experience and that's great.Â If not, then you make adjustments and you move forward.
I wouldn't say at all that it hurts us.Â I would just say it's just the way it is in today's world in college football.Â You continue to grow from it.
Q.Â You talked about a couple of guys at receiver that may get playing time you haven't seen this year.Â Your offense thrives on tempo and it works well when you have your tempo.
COACH STOOPS:Â It thrives sometimes.Â Sometimes it hasn't thrived.Â And I tell you guys all the time, tempo isn't what makes it thrive.Â It is execution and precision and those kind of things.Â That has very little to do with how fast you are snapping it.
Q.Â If you have to play some new players, are you worried about since a lot of things are done with hand signals and things like that, everything flowing as well as you want on offense?
COACH STOOPS:Â Sure.Â I mean, yeah.Â I'm concerned about it.Â (Smiling).
Q.Â I know it sounds like a one‑on‑one here, a lot of questions for you.
COACH STOOPS:Â A lot of questions.
Q.Â Bruce Kittle, I know it was questionable to hire because his lack of big‑time college coaching experience.Â How has he worked out for you?
COACH STOOPS:Â He has done a great job.Â He is a great communicator and very intense guy, great motivator.Â He is smart, understands what we want.Â Had been in our program for a full year ahead of that and understood how we operated, what we did, how we worked.Â So I have been very comfortable with him.
Q.Â Do you have any idea on your brother Mike's future, whether he might be a defensive coordinator somewhere or head coach somewhere?
COACH STOOPS:Â No.Â I think he has opportunities, I'm sorry, both ways.Â What he prefers is a good job, not one way or the other.
I think there is a legitimate chance for each of those.
Q.Â Who has been your scout team quarterback for Iowa and also has it been the same guy?
COACH STOOPS:Â It has been Ben, Ben Sherrard.Â He has been the last couple weeks.
Q.Â With Travis Lewis's comments yesterday, he said you put your foot down in this program after the regular season.Â Players weren't doing things the right way, not going to class or whatever.Â Have you been more no nonsense throughout this time?Â Do you think it has improved the attitude of this team?
COACH STOOPS:Â I think some of that is just more recognized because we've lost a few games.Â I have put my foot down every year this time of year.Â There has always been guys that all of a sudden aren't back or as people see, all of a sudden they are transferring.
Some of them have been told they need to transfer because I'm not renewing their scholarship.Â And for a variety of reasons, which I have laid out before, whether it be continual and habitual skipping class, not being eligible to play or suspended from practice for these kind of academic reasons or for drug testing reasons or for walking out or skipping out on a weight workout, you are here to go to school and to be a heck of a football player, or at least try to be.
And if you are not doing‑‑ living up to those obligations, you are not earning your way and you are bringing the team down.Â So I'm not saying all these guys, but some of them, that's what happens.Â It is just noticeable this year where other years‑‑ and we've had more this year.
But I said earlier, we've had more players academically suspended or missing practice than I had at any time here.Â And I love our policy of if you miss a certain number of classes, you are taken off the field.Â It is the right thing to do.Â And if guys in certain ways‑‑ if that means putting my foot down‑‑ I have done it other years too.
All of a sudden, no, you are not earning your way.Â In fact, you are taking away from the team.Â You need to find a place to go because you are not‑‑ you haven't played, you don't go to class, you skip workouts.Â What are you here for?
In the end, I think it is the right thing to do.Â And it sends a message to other players, they get it usually.Â We'll see.Â We'll see where it goes from here.
Again, this isn't the first time.Â Every year at this time of year players understand, hey, have I been doing what's necessary to be here or not, and if I'm not, maybe I need to go somewhere where the demands aren't so much.Â I can skip class.Â I don't have to go to workouts.Â I can walk into class 30 minutes late.Â I can skip a practice once in a while.Â If you go to some of these smaller east handkerchief Us, maybe you can do that, but not here.
Q.Â Do you think it has cleaned up the attitude heading into these Bowl practices?Â Have you noticed a difference?
COACH STOOPS:Â Yeah.Â You know why?Â Because that 2 percent of my team isn't eating up 90 percent of my time all of a sudden.Â It is pretty simple.Â You feel a lot better, that's for sure.
Q.Â If you are not the largest favorite, you are one of the largest favorites.Â Does that put you in a no‑win or difficult situation in this game?
COACH STOOPS:Â I have no idea.Â I don't care what it does.Â I just got to win.Â We just got to win.Â We just got to play well.Â That's what I put all my thoughts into.Â So I don't know how to answer that.Â It doesn't matter.
We are in that situational the time, aren't we?Â We are supposed to win all the time.Â And if we don't‑‑ or when we do, a lot of times it is ho‑hum.Â This is no different.Â As a team, we need to play well and win.
Q.Â Getting back to what you said, when you look back at this season, is that what's going to be most disappointing, that the character of the team didn't live up to your standards or the standards at least that you expected when you guys went to camp in August?
COACH STOOPS:Â Not really.Â I think there was some other significant issues through the year that were hard to overcome.Â You lose your leading rusher, not easy to overcome.Â And second half of the year, you lose your top two receivers, not easy to overcome.Â You have back‑to‑back years where you are going on the road to play two teams that have had the best seasons they've had in the history of their program.
Some of it is a little bit circumstances weren't the best.Â And then, you know, some of it our part.Â I'm not taking away what we can do better as a team, whether it be how we come into a game, whether we have done a good job coaching, whether I have done a good enough job having them prepared.
So all of this goes together.Â And they‑‑ like I said, I have had more issues like that maybe than I have had in the past.Â That's also a contributing factor.Â To say that's the reason, no.Â All of it comes together.
Q.Â We talked a lot about Landry and Blake Bell.Â How is Drew Allen coming along?
COACH STOOPS:Â Drew has done really well.Â He is not quite as big as Blake.Â But he is the backup in the Bell Dozer package, he is doing really well and throwing well.Â He has a great attitude.
It is really fun to see.Â I seen these guys‑‑ you are around them all day now, so you are around them more.Â Those three are palling around together all the time.
So it is really neat to see healthy competition, but they are all so very respectful and good with one another.
Q.Â Has Landry been campaigning to get into Bell Dozer?
COACH STOOPS:Â No, no.Â I think we would have to rename it (laughter).Â If we threw him in there.Â Not his style.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports