OU Football: Week 11 Notebook
NORMAN, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Sooners, ranked No. 10 in this week's BCS poll, travel to Waco on Thursday night to take on No. 6 Baylor. The Bears come into Thursday's contest riding a powerful offense and an underrated defense. Baylor ranks No.1 in total offense and scoring offense, but is also No. 6 in scoring defense and No. 11 in total defense. A blackout is scheduled for Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, so the atmosphere should be electric for this battle between top-10 teams. OU coach Bob Stoops met with the media on Monday to talk about the matchup.
• Stoops said linebacker Frank Shannon, who suffered an injury against Texas Tech, is practicing and improving steadily. Stoops said he should be good to go against the Bears, but wouldn't say for sure.
• The Sooners switched up their defense in the offseason to combat the wide-open offenses of the Big 12 like the Bears'. Stoops said the defense has played well so far this year, playing with more focus and attention to detail in practices and meetings. Stoops said having lots of new players on defense this year could be a contributing factor. "There's a lot of inexperience there and sometimes, that lends itself to a sense of urgency," Stoops said. "They're pushing themselves and making sure they can play at this level and are doing that with a lot of new parts."
• Stoops said ultimately, defending the Baylor attack comes down to physical things more than mental things. "Being able to cover people and tackle in space," Stoops said about the biggest keys for the defense. "Same thing inside; being able to make plays when you're there to make them."
• The Sooners are 14-point underdogs against Baylor, just the third time in Stoops' tenure that OU has been a double-digit underdog. Stoops said he didn't care about being an underdog and said it wasn't a point of emphasis with his team.
• Kansas State nearly beat the Bears earlier this season by controlling the clock on offense with a pounding ground game and stuffing Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk. It's exactly the same blueprint that Stoops has said the Sooners need to have on Thursday night. "They played very sound defensively and their offense stayed on the field a decent amount of time, a lot of what we've been talking about," Stoops said.
• Stoops said Aaron Ripkowski and Brannon Green, the two players who will be most counted on to replace Trey Millard going forward, were playing well in their new and enhanced roles.
• Stoops had a lot of praise for freshman linebacker Jordan Evans, who stepped in when Frank Shannon went down against Texas Tech. Stoops praised Evans' natural ability at the linebacker position. "Those guys, those two freshman, to go through that whole game a week ago and have the few mistakes they had and all the plays they made, is really remarkable," Stoops said in reference to Evans and fellow freshman Dominique Alexander.
• Baylor's emergence on the national stage the past few years has surprised a lot of people all over the country, but Stoops didn't act like it came out of nowhere. Stoops said Baylor's location in the middle of Texas, combined with the increase in talented players coming out of high school was a perfect storm of sorts for the Bears. "I don't believe there are lesser teams," Stoops said. "Art and his staff are doing a great job of not only developing players, but also recruiting them."