For the first time this spring, Bob Stoops spent 50 minutes on Monday afternoon addressing the media ahead of the start of spring practice. Stoops gave a brief opening statement where he addressed the completion of the stadium renovations and praised the guys from the last two seasons for dealing with tricky working conditions. Then he opened the floor to questions.
- Stoops said, “Very disappointed that Baker put himself in that position. As you know it’s still ongoing, so we won’t determine anything until it’s complete. He’ll go out and practice tomorrow, so anyway, his reaction is he’s very hurt he put himself in that position as well. I’m sure it’s hurt him and it’s embarrassed him. But he can overcome it and I’m sure he will.”
- Stoops confirmed he will wait until an investigation is complete to make any decision on Mayfield’s playing time.
- When asked a follow up question, Stoops did his best Bob Stoops and basically reiterated he was “very disappointed” and that’s all there is to it. In typical Norman media fashion, they cow-towed to their King and moved on to other topics.
- I would have loved to have heard the following questions, “with some of the off-field issues surrounding the program in the last couple of years, do you feel any extra pressure to make a statement with a potential punishment against Baker?” or “How much thought have you given to stripping Baker of his captaincy?” or “How embarrassed are you by what happened?” This was the biggest story line of the off season for Oklahoma, and it got all of 2 questions and was addressed for a full minute and thirty seconds. Come on, guys.
Running Backs/Wide Receivers
- With Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine gone, Stoops said Abdul Adams has had a good winter and feels stronger and faster than he was.
- On Mark Andrews separated shoulder, Stoops said, “it hurt him… it was tough. He really did go through a lot with that and missed some practice because of that. Mark is a big part of what we’re doing and will be a bigger part moving forward. He’ll have a bigger role as we go forward.”
- Stoops believes Jeffrey Mead is a guy who will be in a position to “make more plays”. Mead had just 10 catches last season as a junior.
- The head coach cited other guys who could make a big jump this year, including Jordan Smallwood, Dahu Green, and A.D. Miller.
- Stoops raved about Mykel Jones, saying, “Mykel is going to be a really good player. He’s another guy who we feel has a lot of big-play potential. We have a lot of faith in him and love him as a player and that this can be a year he breaks out and can be a big factor.”
- Murray is dealing with a strained hamstring, but he’s also playing baseball for the Sooners. Stoops said Lincoln Riley is working with Pete Hughes to coordinate schedules.
- Stoops said that Murray playing baseball was not part of the deal when he brought him to Norman, simply adding, “I’m a firm believer that if God’s blessed someone with the talent to do something else, to go ahead and use that talent.”
- Stoops said he wants the Sooners to be more of a 4-man front. He added they will still use their 50 defense (5 defensive linemen) when teams want to run the ball, but want to use the 4-man front more than the 50.
- The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel is the man. In leading into a question about the defense, Tramel says, “Bob help out a football novice like me…”, typical humble Berry. Great dude.
- Stoops addressed how important flexibility is for the defense when you have to play teams with different styles like Ohio State, Texas Tech and Kansas State.
- Stoops expects big things from FS Will Sunderland and SS Kahlil Haughton, saying, “They’re all in a position where they need to make a jump, and I believe they will.” Said Sunderland will play free safety, will “have to be more accountable with his mental assignments.”
- Stoops believe safety Will Johnson, who battled injuries last year, will finally be able to show his full potential this season and there are expectations for him to impress.
Bill Snyder’s throat cancer
- “I’m praying for coach Snyder. Luckily I sent him a nice note of appreciation ahead of that. Someone had sent me an email about people helping you along the way, and I just really recognized the break he gave me. Not only to go to Kansas State initially but to go be a co-coordinator and the faith he had in me. I have to reached out to him that way. Have I spoke to him? No. I figured I’d wait a little while until maybe everyone isn’t trying to reach him. Thoughts and prayers are there with him. He’s a determined tough guy and I’m sure he will battle it in a positive way.”
Big 12 Championship game coming back
- “I think it’s great. It’s another opportunity to be out there on Championship Week with a big game, with a very important game. I was one of the ones who voted to play the second-best team, because I felt it had the best impact, instead of playing divisions and playing a team with 3 or 4 losses. To me, that’s your opportunity to have the biggest bang. You’ve got to beat somebody again that’s a really good football team. I thought it was a positive move.”
- As for the rematch potential and any concerns, Stoops added, “That needs to be considered with scheduling. But you don’t know from year to year, and you do your best to scheduling.”
- Junior safety Steven Parker and redshirt junior linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo will both miss spring because of surgery. Parker played through a shoulder injury at the end of the 2016 season and underwent surgery in the offseason.
- Stoops said he is incredibly impressed with the new group and credits the high school programs for getting these guys ready for the next level.
- “They’ve been great with class work and great in workouts. The linebacker group is as good a group as I’ve been around. Just happy with all of them.”
- On incoming RB Trey Sermon, Stoops said, “He’s fast. He’s gotten stronger as he’s gotten in here… athletic guy.”
Best exchange of the press conference
- Another tip of the cap to Berry Tramel, who started off his question by saying, “Bob, this is your 19th spring practice, when you got here you said all the right things…”. Stoops then interjected saying, “you said I said ’em, you don’t think I believed them?” Tramel responded with, “I quit believing much of what you guys said a long time ago.” Stoops, laughing, said, “What?! I believe nothing about what I read, but go ahead…” That was a funny moment for both guys. Good stuff. Tramel asked Stoops about his thoughts on this job 19 years later, and the head coach went on to confirm his love and loyalty for the University, the program, Norman, and the job.
- The follow up to this question was if “you feel like an Oklahoman now?”, since Stoops has lived in Norman longer than he lived in his hometown of Youngstown Ohio. Stoops replied, “Absolutely, no doubt. I go home and no one can recognize my accent here. I go home and they don’t know where I’m from either.”
The Sooners will start spring practice Tuesday, and the spring game will take place April 8 at 1 p.m.
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