Mike Stoops and seniors Steven Parker and Emmanuel Beal sat down with the media to preview Oklahoma’s Rose Bowl playoff game against Georgia.
Here’s what they had to say about the Bulldogs and the impending clash of styles.
OU Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops
Obviously very excited to be here. It's been an interesting journey getting to this point, but really proud of these guys, proud of the way we've handled things throughout the course of the year to get to this point. This is a unique experience, being our second time in three years. I feel like we're a little more prepared for what's about to happen. I think I could see that just in the 24 hours, 48 hours we've been here and the preparation for this game. I think we've learned a little bit through that experience a few years ago, the importance of what we're about to embark on. So that part, I think, has really helped us to where we're at. Georgia presents some unique challenges in a lot of different ways. Couldn't be more impressed with the entirety of their offense, what they do. I think it's well conceived. They have very talented players at all 11 positions. It will be a unique challenge, and one that we're certainly looking forward to. We're going to have to play awfully well across the board defensively. But when you get to this point, they're all going to be big challenges. I think our players are excited about the opportunity to present our statement defensively of who we are at Oklahoma and how we play. So we're looking forward to it.
On Georgia’s offense:
Well, obviously you've got to start with their ability to run the football. They have three, four different change of pace backs, all unique in their own right. When you rush for that many yards, the way they attack you is unique. Very well conceived. The biggest improvement I've seen is their offensive line and what they've been able to do up front with those guys. And then giving those running backs a little bit of space, they don't need much. Great players, you get them, they do a good job not letting you penetrate too much and giving those guys opportunities. To me, I think their most underrated players are their wide receivers. I think they're all tremendous players. They could stretch the field vertically. They get in and out of breaks extremely well. So they present 11 guys every time you step on the field. Defensively, they're going to make all 11 of our guys play with can great discipline. Gap control becomes very important, your gap integrity, your ability to tackle. They get small guys doing big things. They know how to get edges, get the ball to the perimeter. So they make you defend a lot of space, even though it seems like it's a condensed field when you play them.
On the Bulldogs’ one-two punch at running back:
Mixon and Perine, that's what they look like. So we've seen that for years. No, just great, mature runners. When you think of two guys like that, who has guys like that? Then Swift comes in and he does an unbelievable job. So we're used to seeing them because we had two of them for a long time. We know what having a one-two punch like that does for you. They're excellent players, excellent vision. You see their ability to be patient, let things develop, not rush the runs, trust their lines. So you see their experience, and they don't need much of a crease because their vision is so good.
On Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm:
I think he's been fabulous for a freshman. You try to really dissect a quarterback and what they do and what they don't do well. I thought maybe they schemed their offense. Obviously, they rely heavily on their run game, so that's going to -- that's a quarterback's best friend. Whether it's Baker Mayfield, Jake Fromm, it really doesn't matter. Your ability to run the football sets up everything you do as a quarterback. They certainly excel at that. But they put him in good positions to do what he does. We don't look at him as a game manager. How they set up their game plan week to week, they do an excellent job. They know how to get him in the situations they like. That being said, they don't want to be 3rd and long all day. They do a good job keeping themselves in manageable situations. And their receivers have really stepped up and helped them as well.
On facing the Big 12’s spread offenses:
Well, I've always told our players, we know what good defense is. Statistics can be misleading in a lot of ways, whatever. It doesn't matter. We're here, we're ready to play a great Georgia team. But it's unique. The spread offenses that kind of took over our league. The pace of games is different. So, again, statistics don't really -- there is a standard I think you have to play at. There is an attitude that you have to play at, and there's technique that you have to play at. For us to be successful, I think all of those have to be the preparation -- the preparation all have to be critical to how you play.
Senior linebacker Emmanuel Beal
On physical practices:
Honestly, we've been physical and chippy all year. We're just going out there and doing what we normally do. We're not going to change up what we do just because we're playing an SEC team, more physical, faster, stronger, we've been doing that all year, so we're going to continue doing what we're doing.
On Georgia’s passing game:
I like their receivers. I mean, they're big, they're fast. They like to go up and get the ball, so I believe that's going to be a good test to our secondary.
Senior safety Steven Parker
On Georgia’s passing attack:
I mean, with their passing game, there are some similarities, but like Coach said, their receivers can stretch out the field a lot, especially with they've got a 6'4" receiver and some nice receivers to add on to it in the slot, No. 4 and No. 5. So we're going to have our hands full right there. With the route combination and the things that we're going to see, like I said, there are some things that we get in the Big 12, but it's just kind of unique how they window dress and show everything as far as -- or hide everything as far as the routes that they're going to give us.
On young players being a factor on the Sooners defense:
They know exactly what they came to Oklahoma for. You come to Oklahoma to win championships and play in big and huge games. Like I said, these guys right here, they haven't shied away from the challenge at all throughout this season. I know that they'll be ready to go. They've been preparing just like we have, so they're going to be ready.