PLANO, Texas -- Bob Stoops made a Sooner Caravan stop in North Texas Tuesday night and his talking points sounded very familiar to the ones he had the day after last season’s Sugar Bowl.
“Oddly enough, the media back there a year ago said it might have been the worst in the country which they found out it wasn’t,” said Stoops about his defensive line in 2013. “Let’s hear something about that right?”
As the crowd cheered and roared, Stoops continued to play to the crowd.
“They’re not always as smart as they think they are right?”
Stoops should feel a lot of confidence, a bit of swagger heading into the 2014 season because of his front seven on defense.
The media did point out the giant holes in Stoops defense heading into 2013.
They had every reason too.
Stoops fired longtime assistant Jackie Shipp for failing to recruit capable defensive tackles over the last several years.
OU had struck out on most of their key targets at the position the previous recruiting year. They were left chasing junior college transfer Quincy Russell as if he were the last hope to put together a capable defensive line.
And Stoops had kept his 3-4 defensive alignment a secret.
Even if the new alignment wasn’t a secret, Mike Stoops hadn’t built up a lot of trust after a disastrous 2012 season on defense.
But things worked out, and Stoops find time to crow a bit once more Tuesday night.
“Our front seven does have a chance to be one of the better ones in the country next year. Eric Striker, Charles Tapper, Geneo Grissom, in the bowl game against one of the better offensive lines, supposedly, that everybody says in the country, we totally dominated the game. There’s no denying it.
“They couldn’t block Eric Striker. Geneo Grissom also had three or four sacks. Through the year Charles Tapper had an incredible year. They’re only getting better, bigger, stronger, they have great attitudes the way they work.”
Tuesday night was a bit of a celebration for the fans who showed up at this caravan stop. Stoops took no questions from media members in attendance.
He really didn’t want to take any questions from the fans in attendance either.
“We got time?” asked Stoops when informed the fans would be given a chance to take questions. “The Thunder game is coming on.”
Stoops was able to take the night off from the tough questions about Frank Shannon, the 17 players from the Big 12 being taken in the NFL Draft, or what he needs in facilities that he doesn’t already have.
It wasn’t even that comprehensive from a feel-good standpoint because Corey Nelson’s new future as a member of the Denver Broncos wasn’t addressed.
Stoops only made about six actual statements on the night as a whole. Addressing Blake Bell, beginning a new season, his front seven, putting last season behind him,his thoughts on the college football playoffs and not having a quarterback controversy this season.
What we did learn is that Stoops seems refreshed, and happy to take in adoring cheers during the offseason for the first time in a long time.
He deserves some type of reward for finishing of the 2013 season as he did. A positive offseason is certainly change for the better around Norman.
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES
* Bob Stoops elaborated the most on his defensive front seven for fans in attendance Tuesday evening.
“Linebackers coming up continue to get better. I’m excited about the development of Dominique Alexander, Jordan Evans, two young freshman that continue to make more and more plays and look really solid. They’re big guys with big frames. It’s really positive.”
“Jordan Phillips I think can be one of the better players in the league next year. He dominated last year when he was in there. He got hurt, we missed him at the end and that’s the other thing. We go into the Sugar Bowl and we missed six starters. We’re not even halfway whole. Without those guys other guys stepped in and played well and I think we’ll just build on that. I think our front next year has a chance to be one of the better ones.”
* Bob Stoops also continued to speak very highly of Blake Bell
“Great, great athlete. Great team player. Great guy in the locker room. Every guy on the team loves him.”
“He’s the ultimate team player. He’s a great athlete. He’s a natural tight end. His dad played eight years in the NFL as a tight end. You look at his build - 6-6, 260. He has natural soft hands. He understands spacing and where to go for the quarterback. He gets all of it. It works so well in the spring until he got hurt in the last week. You couldn’t see him in the spring game but it fits him perfectly. It really freed up Trevor when he moved to tight end. It’s going to be great for Blake and it’s going to be great for Trevor.”
* Stoops also spoke on how the College Football Playoff might change his approach to this season.
“I think a lot of teams that haven’t been scheduling tough, nonconference schedules may now start doing it. Joe Castiglione and I have been doing it for 15 years.
“We’re playing Tennessee. We just finished a four-year series with Notre Dame and Florida State and we’re 3-1 in that series. There’s not many years when you get a chance to beat Notre Dame and Alabama in the same year. At the end of the day, we’ve always scheduled tough. That’s what we’ll keep doing. Other than that, we’ll continue to do the same.”
* Stoops spoke on what it’s like to not have a quarterback controversy this fall
“I’d love to have a quarterback controversy if we had another great one. That’s never a problem, I don’t think. In the end, it’s not a big deal. It did free up Trevor’s mind a little bit that Blake’s good. He’s such a sensitive, quality guy that cares about Blake, that he knows he has a good home. That’s a positive. In the end, it will be good.”