SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bob Stoops met with members of the media during the Fiesta Bowl Media Day earlier this morning at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn and Resort for his first official press conference since the Sooners started practicing in Arizona. Stoops gave an update on how practices have progressed for his Sooners this week and how his team looks heading into their BCS bowl game.
Can you talk about how practices have gone up to this point? The players have talked about yesterday was a pretty spirited practice, physical practice.
Yeah, practices have been really good. I'm really pleased with them. We were full pads yesterday. Tried to do a lot of physical work doing a lot of good against good.
So remain for the most part injury free, and we have had good practice sessions.
You know what it's like to maintain a program and keep it at the level it is. Can you talk from the other side of what Randy EdsallClick Here to view this Link. has done in such a short amount of time?
Randy has done a fabulous job in a short amount of time of bringing that program along and being Big East champs. You look at what they did the last five games of the year, just how sharp they've played and played well as a team.
Randy is an excellent coach. Everyone knows that. Randy and I used to run around recruiting south Florida together when we were assistants. He was at Boston College. I was at Kansas State. So I've always kind of followed Randy and he has always done a great job everywhere he has been. And he will continue to build that program.
They talked about the underdog factor and no one giving them respect. From your side, obviously your time will give proper respect to UConn.
Obviously they're -- when you get in the game, it doesn't matter who is underdog, who isn't. I'm not sure who was last night with Iowa and Missouri. And we've been here two other times and we haven't won. So we have a lot to play for and a lot to prove as well.
That's a big part of the game. Their physicalness and how they run the football and a great back with Jordan TodmanClick Can you talk about what could be a great matchup especially the way they run the football and the power game against your defense. You have made some adjustments with schemes and things and how you try to counteract that run game.Here to view this Link.. That's their style. So it's definitely a challenge to our defense to match them physically and to be able to tackle and to be gap responsible, be where we should be and tackle well when we get there. It will be a big challenge.
What about your offense, how much have they improved going against such a good defense every day?
Well, we've made good strides through the year offensively. Some games have been more consistent than others. We do go against each other quite a bit through the year, trying to make each other better.
And so offensively we've really through this whole second half of the year played well. We've -- we have been pretty responsible, very few penalties. For the most part we have really taken care of the football. And we maintained some good balance with run and pass. That's when we are at our best.
Do you kind of go into this Bowl game with third time's the charm? How are you feeling at this point?
Sure. Every year is a different journey. What's happened in the past doesn't have to affect you now. Our players are -- they understand we need to win the game. They're preparing that way through the week. We're excited about the challenge and looking forward to the competition.
Has Josh had to work up tempo getting plays in practice? How have you tried to simulate that?
We have practiced the same we've always had. I think Josh has to -- we've talked about it, just, you know, for this his part, watch tape a different way and on his own of getting a rhythm of calling and the pace of things. And we've talked about that. I'm sure individually for his self he is doing that.
Talk about some of the guys that haven't been at this game before that you are excited to see in this setting.
Well, all our freshmen and sophomores, we have got a lot of good young players that haven't been in this situation. They've handled the year. I expect them to handle this just like they have all year. They have been very methodical about their approach. They have been very mature beyond their years. Even going to the Big 12 championship game, they were excited for it. I don't expect them to do anything different in this game.
Can you talk about UConn's defense, which they played passing teams, but they haven't played a team that throws the ball like you can 40 times and complete 70 percent of them. Talk about the matchup there and what kind of advantage you have.
You know, they still -- still in the end you have got to protect the quarterback. They have got an excellent rush and one of their DEs, 91, Joseph, is an excellent player. So we have got to be able to protect the quarterback and execute, beat coverage, be sharp that way.
They're very disciplined in how they play. They played with structure well and they force you to continually execute to beat them.
So we still have to execute our part of it to have a chance to work the ball.