Bob Stoops met with the press on Tuesday to discuss this weekend's contest against the Florida State Seminoles. However, before he could get to Christian Ponder he had to address the Utah State Aggies who created a fire storm here in Sooner Nation with their intensity and narrow seven point defeat at the hands of the Sooners Saturday night. Essentially the question of the day was, "What the heck just happened?"Coach Stoops discussed offense first and after watching the replay of the game Tuesday night, I gotta say that I don't really disagree with him.
"Offensively, we had a lot of good things happen. We started the game off really well. Landry (Jones) was really comfortable, moving well. DeMarco (Murray) with the big run. We ran the ball really pretty well for most of the night, although there were some occasions in there where you're getting three, four (yards) that we feel, maybe how they were playing us, we ought to be able to get eight, nine. Those are the things we're trying to work on. A few times, Landry aborted protection when it was there and got a little hurried or rushed for whatever reason. Landry is a sharp guy, a smart guy and has played a lot. I'm sure getting back into the swing of things he'll realize that and see it and continue to make good, solid improvement like he always does."
Then there's the matter of the defense which in my opinion played much worse than the offense (let's face it, 31 points should have been enough to win comfortably against USU) but listening to Coach Stoops you'd think they're in the same category of acceptability.
"Defensively, we had some breakdowns in the secondary where we were in position to make some plays. A couple of times we get our back turned to the quarterback and ball where you can't make a play. That shouldn't happen, you have to be in a position to play the ball. Another time or two in man-to-man, we bit on a stock route, turns up on us. Jamell (Fleming) on one play just, poor bump-and-run, gets beat on the side on a fake. But the rest of night Jamell had I think four or five passes broken up, he had an interception, he had ten tackles. That's kind of the life of a DB. You can do great all night, you have one play that you're not and it sticks out to everybody. What I see in these guys that have all made these plays before is they were in position to make them, which is also a plus. We just have to be able to finish on a few of those and play the ball better. I feel confident we'll be able to do that and have a solid defense."
Sorry coach but I gotta go the opposite direction here. The front seven was solid by logging three sacks and holding Utah State to less than two yards per carry on average. However, despite snagging three interceptions the defensive secondary got torched. Jamell Fleming may have led the team in tackles but he also left Jonathan Nelson out to dry a few times and was basically picked on all night. If I'm Christian Ponder that's where I'm starting this Saturday afternoon as well.
Speaking of Christian Ponder, here's what Coach Stoops had to say about Florida State's signal caller. .
"What makes him so good is first his experience, maturity. Then you have skill and talent throwing the football. He has good feet. He makes quick decisions. All of that. Of course, they always have good receivers and tight ends so you just have to be disciplined in coverage, mix up our coverages, try and get pressure to him. It's the same formula really every week. When you're playing an excellent quarterback, pressure always matters. You need to have a good technique and discipline in your coverage."
The thought is that playing against dual threat quarterback Diondre Borel last weekend was a good tune up for playing Ponder this weekend. Christian Ponder is no where near being a statue in the pocket and he may have an overall better skill set than Utah State had last weekend. So was that a good test run for the Sooners?
"It helps a lot. Obviously, Florida State's offense is like night and day compared to what we just faced, the triple option and the style Utah State played. It's different that way, but it's something we emphasize. We took a lot of time on tape on how to not let him out of the pocket, how to keep him in the pocket where we can stay in front of him. Those kind of things. It was good to see him and good experience going into this next game."
"For what I've seen so far, they are a very good team, very talented and a good offensive scheme. It's going to be a tough game come Saturday." - Defensive End Jeremy Beal on Florida State
"Kind of reminds me of our offense. They have a good quarterback and they have a nice run game, as well as a nice pass game to complement each other." - Free Safety Quintin Carter on the FSU offense
"Going back and watching film, we realize that we missed a lot of opportunities: had a touchdown called back, had some penalties in the redzone and had a tipped ball that got intercepted in the redzone. So going back and looking at those little mistakes that are definitely correctable and going back and looking at the offensive line and realize that we were a couple blocks away from DeMarco getting over 300 yards rushing." - Center Ben Habern on the offensive line's performance last week