Ahhhh, the official sign of game week is Bob Stoops’ press Tuesday conference. With a Top 20 match up against the BYU Cougars just days away Coach Stoops and a few of his players met with the media to discuss Saturday night’s game and the 2009 quest for a BCS Championship.The hot topic, since the depth chart released on Monday, is Brody Eldridge starting at center. Listening to the coach’s comments you get the impression that Eldridge earned the start but also that it may not be a permanent gig for him.
"You have heard me going on four years talking about Brody Eldridge being one of our best players on the team period. He just doesn't play a dynamic position that everybody loves to talk about. He has been one of our toughest, most consistent and best players for three years, going on four. We have a lot of confidence with him in there. But we feel like Ben (Habern) has really come on and is awfully close, we will just see how it goes. I'm sure there will be time when Ben will be in there some."
On Sam Bradford's improved leadership:
"Overall, it's just natural as you become one of the older guys on the team. It's hard to say much when you're a freshman or a sophomore, not that you can't, because guys do. Now that he's been around four years, even though he's not a senior, he's one of the guys who has played a lot and it's easier to step in and say something because guys want to hear what he's thinking or what he thinks we need to do here in practice or in a game to win. They have so much respect for his competitiveness and how he plays."
On Jermaine Gresham's work ethic:
"Jermaine is one of the best workers we have on the team. He is a great competitor. I equate him in his mindset in games to very similar to Adrian (Peterson). He's a fierce competitor, loves it. He has improved his blocking. I'm not going to say he couldn't have improved his blocking, he could have. That's one of the reasons that he wanted to come back, to be a better blocker. As far as playing hard, and doing the things we ask him, he has been one of the best guys I've had in going on 11 years."
Of course Stoops didn’t just spend the time praising the offense. He’s expecting big things from the defense in 2009 as well.
"The potential is really high for this defense to be very good. It has a chance to be when you look at not only the skill that is back and the overall ability, but also the experience. Last year we started a little rough and as the year went, we really played pretty well. Hopefully we can start better, the defense has a chance to be really good."
As for the opponent, this is one of the better season openers since Bob Stoops came to
"Overall, we're looking forward to the challenge this weekend. We're starting against a really good BYU team, a team that has a great history of success and a great tradition. Our players and our program have been aware of that since we have had this game scheduled. The recent success under Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall and the success they have had over the last four or five years is really notable. They're an excellent team, winning conference championships, winning 10 or 11 games almost every year. We understand it's a big challenge, our players have known that all year.
"This week, game week, they are excited about the challenge and working to prepare to play a good football game. This Saturday, we really need to play a good game to give ourselves an opportunity to win. It's exciting just to be starting another year with our team. I feel really positive with the way our team has handled themselves through the entire camp. They have had a good mentality with working and have been very positive. It's been an exciting group to this point. Now comes judgment day, through the season we have to earn it every week. I feel like the guys have done the work to this point to get us in a good position here in game week."
"As much as anything, we're kind of anxious and tired of waiting for it. I just want it here, although I can take all the practice time I can get, I want it here tomorrow. In the end, you're excited to play and to see the personality of the team as you go. Every year the team is different, so you want to see your team out there in the middle of it and see how they react."
"I feel like if we just have to go out there and believe in ourselves, read our keys and play hard every snap. You never know what the outcome is going to be in football so you just have to go your all for every play." – Defensive End Frank Alexander On Facing The BYU Offense
"I think he was one of the best blockers we had last year at tight end. To move him to center and to see the way he has been able to comprehend the things the coaches have asked him to do and see the way he has been able to play has been impressive.
"I never would have thought that Brody would be at center. I can imagine that Brody is probably even more surprised to be playing center than I am to have him at center. His size isn't a concern for me. The way he handled defensive linemen last year, he has proven that he can do it." – Quarterback Sam Bradford On Brody Eldridge Moving To Center
"These guys are such a great opponent and we're not taking them lightly by any stretch of imagination. We know we have our work cut out and we have to keep preparing this whole week. We know the task that lies ahead of us." – Running Back Chris Brown On The BYU Cougars
We're just going out there to play a game. You can't put a lot of emphasis on the opponent right now. I don't know too much about BYU. We've been watching the film and seeing the receivers and the offensive game but it's just like playing any other team. You have to go out there and prepare the same way." – Cornerback Brian Jackson On The BYU Cougars