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Oklahoma Football: Monday Press Conference Notebook

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma Sooners face a tough test on Saturday as the Tennessee Volunteers roll into Norman for the first high-profile game of the year for both teams. Monday, OU coach Bob Stoops and select players met with the media to preview the Sooners' upcoming game.

Stoops Not Biting On SEC Chatter

Bob Stoops' comments about the SEC and the strength of the conference have been well-documented. The comments have been strong and have raised eyebrows across the country, but Stoops hasn't backed down from anything he has said. What's more, his players aren't ignorant of his feelings toward the conference.

“Oh yeah,” linebacker Geneo Grissom said when asked if ‘SEC' played a factor in the Sooners' excitement for Saturday. “Definitely and we all know coach Stoops' feelings about the SEC. As his guys, we're 100 percent behind him. We're going to make sure we help him out there and make a statement.”

Stoops didn't get into anything or offer any other conversation-provoking comments about the SEC on Monday.

“No, that's been overblown,” Stoops said. “We don't need to go there again.”

Stoops did chuckle when someone suggested they'd never seen a rivalry between a coach and another conference. When told his players seemed to take their cue from his stance on the SEC, Stoops appeared indifferent.

“I don't care about it one way or the other,” Stoops said. “I like it if they're ready to play and they do their job preparing to play and I believe they will. Whatever works for them, that's ok but it's not something I concern myself with.”

Ford Becoming Reliable Receiver

Running back Keith Ford has quickly gained a reputation as a bruising running back, but it's his pass-catching ability that has opened a lot of eyes through the first two games of the season.

Against Louisiana Tech, Ford had four catches for 65 yards, including a 28-yard catch over the middle.

“That was really one of the first times I actually ran a route and someone threw it to me,” Ford said.

Ford said he couldn't really catch the ball in high school, but has worked hard at it since then, particularly this past offseason.

“Just in the offseason, we used to do 500 jugs a day, it really helps a lot, catching tennis balls and just doing the little things,” Ford said. “It just goes to show if you work hard at something, you'll get better at it.”

Stoops said the work Ford has done catching balls out of the backfield has been noticeable and praise him for his work ethic in getting to that point.

“I don't ever recall him having poor hand, but he's gotten to where he can catch those difficult ones and make it look easy,” Stoops said. “He has worked hard on it and all those guys have really good hands, which makes a big difference in your confidence and getting the ball out there in space.”

New Uniforms Saturday Night?

Rumors have been swirling on when the Sooners will unveil their new alternate uniforms on the field, but Stoops said they haven't decided about doing it for the Tennessee game on Saturday.

“We're checking into it and some of it might have to do with production, meaning the shipments and is it all prepared to go,” Stoops said.

The Sooners will have an on-campus pep rally of sorts for the students on Thursday night and on Saturday, fans have been asked to stripe the stadium, something Oklahoma has done the past two years. Showcasing the new uniforms on Saturday seems like a perfect fit, but quarterback Trevor Knight said the topic hasn't been broached yet.

“Hopefully we get to bring them out, but if not, that's OK too,” Knight said. “I think it'd be pretty cool to bring them out for the fans and everything. It'd be a pretty special thing for our team.”

Fellow captain Daryl Williams said he didn't have a strong preference either way on the new uniforms.

“I'm not a big guy on fashion, I'm just worried about beating Tennessee,” Williams said. “If they ask the captains to pick, I'd probably leave it up to Trevor or Striker.”

When asked if he would announce the decision or surprise, Stoops asked the group for advice.

“I don't know, what should I do?” Stoops asked. “I haven't thought about that, I've been thinking about the football game.”

Other Notes

-The Oklahoma Supreme Court dissolved the stay on Oklahoma's year-long suspension of linebacker Frank Shannon on Monday, meaning last year's leading tackler is officially out of the picture for the 2014 season. Here's a complete explanation of the Court's ruling and the full story on the incident.

-Defensive tackle Quincy Russell is no longer on the team. Stoops confirmed his dismissal after Russell posted the news on his Facebook page this morning. For more information about the news, check out our story here.

-Ford said he's taken care of his fumble problems through a lot of attention to detail and a new grip on the football. Ford said running backs coach Cale Gundy has him holding the ball more toward his armpit rather than the traditional “high and tight” method.

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