Oklahoma officially kicked off their first week of the 2012 football season when Bob Stoops met with the media Monday to discuss the Sooners upcoming game with UTEP Saturday in El Paso.
It's been 26 days since the Sooners reported to camp. Now it's time for Stoops' No. 4 ranked Sooners to prove their mettle.
Is this team capable of living up to their lofty preseason ranking?
"Who knows?" said Stoops Monday. "You have to go earn it. You have to stay healthy. You have to get a break here or there. You have to play well. I feel like our guys have done that.
"Are we talented? I think in today's college football everybody is pretty similar. Usually what makes a difference more so than talent is who has a little more experience with the talent. In today's game, there's so much parity that everybody's pretty similar."
Stoops spent most of his first press conference addressing several personnel issues up and down his roster, including the recent move of David King to defensive tackle. King was supposed to be the Sooners' best defensive end in 2012. Is there any chance he could move back to his original position with the emergence of redshirt freshmen Jordan Phillips?
"Because of the limited numbers with some of the guys who are out, I think he's going to have to do some of both," said Stoops. "They work the same techniques every day.
"He did it last year and did it well. Playing off a block and using your hands and having your power angles and those kinds of things, they work a lot of the same techniques with each other. He's going to have go in and out at different times."
King's move inside was forced due to the loss of defensive tackle Stacy McGee. Stoops was asked Monday if there's any chance McGee could return this season.
"We'll see," answered Stoops. "He's working the process of whether that will be considered or not."
"He's out for some of his choices," Stoops added. "That's how it is."
UTEP will give the Sooners plenty of opportunities to rush the passer Saturday night in the Sun Bowl. Because of that, Bobby Jack Wright will have his true freshmen rush ends ready to go this week.
"They've had a really great work ethic and ability to pick things up and play hard," he said. "They're two guys that are 250 pounds and they've got range to them and they're doing a good job with it."
Onuoha's status was a bit more unclear than Tappers earlier in camp, but Stoops says he's just been too good to ignore over the last two weeks.
"You could tell every time you saw him he was getting in the weight room or getting out of the weight room," said Stoops. "With a big frame, he's really pushed himself."
Even though Stoops is confident in each player's abilities. He's taking the same approach with his young defensive ends as he is with his highly ranked team. He wants to see it on the field.
"We'll see," said Stoops. "I think both of those guys have a chance to be really good."
ON TO THE OTHER SIDE
Interestingly enough, there are plenty of questions about the players defensive ends line up against every day in practice - the tight ends.
Stoops gave an update on the tight end situation Monday after the first official depth chart listed all three players, Geneo Grissom, Taylor McNamara and Brannon Green, as equals on the depth chart.
"Geneo has been a real positive there. I just noticed the last couple of days in the goal line set, he's made a couple of nice, tough goal line catches for touchdowns," said Stoops. "One was really tough to make. He's really come on.
"Brannon Green and Taylor McNamara - all those guys do a little something better than another and all combined, Geneo might do it the best overall. In different situations they'll all contribute and help."
Stoops confirmed Trey Millard will continue to be involved at the position as well.
"Trey, once in a while, will be in that h-back spot moving around," said. "Trey continues to be one of the best athletes we have."
OFFENSIVE LINE STILL INTACT
The Sooners released a depth chart with true freshmen Ty Darlington serving as the backup center Monday. Austin Woods is involved as a backup guard while Nila Kasitati shares that distinction on the other side of the center.
Stoops still seems high on the interior combination of Gabe Ikard, Adam Shead and Bronson Irwin. And the tackles appear to be in a dead heat heading into the opener.
"(We're happy with) Adam Shead, Gabe Ikard and Bronson Irwin inside," said Stoops. "The three tackles, really, to me they're all starters between Tyrus (Thompson), Daryl (Williams) and Lane Johnson. To me you're splitting hairs. I think they all do a good job. That'll be a good rotation."
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