Originally Published: Aug 6, 2010 10:34 AM CDT
Lots of good information taken from the first media session with the locals. Some things that stood out to me:
-Cautious about stating how good he thinks this team will be. Typical upbeat but with lots of qualifiers. He’s not ready to put them in the same category as almost all the teams. Every year I always ask in the first presser if his team is of championship ilk? He’s always said yes. Maybe it’s because of coming off the five loss season or perhaps it’s because he’s just not sure what a lot of these guys can do. But whatever it is, I see him as much more cautious about how this team will be (coaches voted them No. 8 nationally in poll released this morning.)
-He’s surprised in seeing he’s not voting in the poll and said he’d look into it.
-As he’s said every year in memory, he believes after seeing his incoming group go through conditioning testing and one workout that this group “has a chance to be really specialone of our best.athleticall academically eligible.”
-Stoops is in awe of the physical gifts of OLB Ronnell Lewis. So is everyone who spoke.
-I asked Stoop if he’d consider alternating QBs since he’s so high on Blake Bell. More on this later, but he did not rule it out by any means
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables just smiled when describing what a monster Lewis is. He says he’s the most violent hitter he’s ever coached. He raves about the depth of quality linebackers, but said a lot of their past success is because of a great “system.” The best line came when he said, “ we could line up a circus monkey who would have a hundred tackles in this system.”
-The most negative thing about today to me was that I got the sense that DT Adrian Taylor will not be a big factor this season. That’s critical because he played nearly every snap last year before his dreadful ankle fracture suffered in the Sun Bowl. If he’s gone, they’ll have to start over at arguably the most important positions on a football team besides the QB. A pretty decent player named Gerald McCoy shuffled off to the NFL going No. 3 overall in the NFL draft. Venables and Stoops claim that DT is not a major point of concern and that there is ample young talent just waiting their turn. OU fans best hope they are right. in his debut with preseason media throng. The Dreadlocked One is excited about the new DB Coach, Willie Martinez. Says he didn’t play well last year: “played too high, bad technique.” Says he’s not seen too many guys look like Ronnell Lewis. If a RB gets a call to his side we were laughing, what are you thinking? Seeing him as a DE yesterday he looked like a big ol’ bear down there.” Carter says he’d prefer to be a good tackler than a big hitter. Says Blake Bell has a huge arm. Says “J Nel (Nelson) brings a lot speed to the secondary. We think we will be a great defense and losing those games will be a motivating factor.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Williams was uncommonly short-winded. He said last year’s problems revolved around the inability to run the football“we became a one-back offense with no tight end.” You can’t win with that. One year ago he stunned us when he touted his offensive line as “maybe the best we’ve ever had”a gross exaggeration, pun intended. His repeated theme is that LJones will look a lot better because “the guys around him are a lot better.” Wilson wants to get the ball in the hands of RB DeMarco Murray more“18, 20, 22, 24 times as opposed to 13.” Wilson says the trainer tells him Murray is in the best shape of his career (why wouldn’t he be with this being his “contract year“ as he will be strutting his stuff for NFL teams. He tempered that statement with obvious concern about Murray’s propensity for injury. I asked him about that and he did his best to waffle, but it’s an obvious concern. The good news is that there is depth, with my expectation that newcomer Roy Finch will get ten touches a game as a RB or catching passes. Wilson can be smug on occasion, but has never ducked away from his mistakes: “Last year I didn’t do a good job of having them ready to play.”
Landry Jones came in with a serious look and demeanor but much more confident than last year. He’s not afraid to talk about his faith and how much he enjoyed speaking to groups this summer. He says his team started to come together this spring and that things are so much different if you are the starter. “This is my team and this is my offense.”
-Jones realizes the responsibility of being the Oklahoma QB but doesn’t shy away from it.
He’s gained ten pounds of muscle and his arms are thicker and more definedup to 225 from 215says he feels better because of game experience. Seeing defense and recognizing where he’s going to throw the ball before the snap and having confidence in my guys. His confidence is also helped by the fact that everyone is healthy and it’s good to know who’ll start. Says he worked on the summer on taking care of the ball because “I threw way too many interceptions. Can’t get it batted up in the air and can’t force ball into tight spots. Coach Josh Heupel brings a lot of mental toughness into meeting room. We don’t talk about statsjust winning and losing.” Rallying from a “five loss team is a motivating factor. This program is about championships.” Winning the bowl game was huge and going into the offseason on a high. He sees the tough non-conference schedule as a positive. On Blake Bell and Drew Allen stepping in: “at a program like Oklahoma you always have completion and I have total confidence in those guys if I get hurt. I have focused on my speed and knee drive. It will help me in avoiding sacks and just being able to run the ball better.”
Hard-hitting safety Quinton Carter did a nice job in his debut with preseason media throng. The Dreadlocked One is excited about the new DB Coach, Willie Martinez. Says he didn’t play well last year: “played too high, bad technique.” Says he’s not seen too many guys look like Ronnell Lewis. If a RB gets a call to his side we were laughing, what are you thinking? Seeing him as a DE yesterday he looked like a big ol’ bear down there.” Carter says he’d prefer to be a good tackler than a big hitter. Says Blake Bell has a huge arm. Says “J Nel (Nelson) brings a lot speed to the secondary. We think we will be a great defense and losing those games will be a motivating factor.”
Overall, it was a very informative session with the inevitable August optimism permeating the air.