Bob Stoops met with the media on Tuesday to discuss last Saturday's game at Baylor and this weekend's Bedlam football match-up. From listening to his opening statement's its apparent that the the theme in Norman is let the Cowboys feel the pressure on this moment because we've been here before.
"So it gets us into this week with Oklahoma State, an exciting week for everybody. It's great to be in this position when you're going into the last week of the year still pursuing a championship, the Big 12 Championship. It's exciting, it's where you want to be, it's what you want and we've been here a lot.
I was told after last week's game that this is nine years out of 11 that we've been in this position in the last week of the season with the chance to still pursue the Big 12 Championship. So our players are excited about it, we had an excellent day of practice yesterday and we're looking forward to the challenge and competition of it. Coach Gundy and Oklahoma State have done an excellent job and they've had a really good year. So it's a big challenge, an exciting one and I know our players are excited about it."
Of course getting a win on the road at Baylor last weekend went a long way for building Oklahoma's confidence playing away from Norman. Perhaps the best thing to come out of Saturday's 53-24 win at Baylor is that it is Oklahoma's most complete performance on the road this season.
"Offensively, I was excited to see the overall balance. The run, play-action, passing, third-down pick-ups, execution was good and we made some big plays. Eric Mensik up front was one of our players of the game along with DeMarco Murray who had around 190 all-purpose yards again. A bunch of other guys played good, James Hanna, Stephen Good up front. Of course Ryan Broyles is always special and Kenny Stills had another good day.
Defensively, to hold them (Baylor) and to keep them down like we did, I think it was 53-10 going into the fourth quarter I think you're doing a lot right against a team that was at the top of the league in every offensive category, first, second or third. So they had been moving the ball all year and I thought we really did an excellent job on third down. Getting some pressure, having some sacks, the defensive score and the coverage was really good. Some guys that played well, Jeremy Beal was again our player of the game, Demontre Hurst and then the usual guys after that, everybody was really solid.
Special teams were good again. Jimmy Stevens and Tress Way were a couple of our players of the game along with Marcus Trice who had some huge plays in the kick coverage and getting the safety on the kickoff, but those guys hit the ball well."
Now the challenge is stopping one of the best offensive attacks in the Big 12 but Coach Stoops was quick to point out that the Sooner O is no slouch either.
"They've got a great receiver and a lot of receivers. Of course Blackmon is a special guy. They have a good quarterback and excellent running game and they use them all. Again, I'm sure when people face us it's similar. Our quarterback has played great, Ryan Broyles isn't easy to cover and DeMarco has been sensational. There is a lot of that give-and-take on who you are trying to be good against."
But still there is a great challenge, and a great opportunity as well, ahead for Oklahoma's defense.
"When you look what we have been doing, we don't get caught up in that shootout stuff. I remember hearing all that going into the National Championship game a couple years ago and here it's 14-14 going into the fourth quarter. Who knows how it will go. In the end I do feel good about how we've played defense over the last couple of weeks against teams that have been spread-out, teams that have been highly productive and we have played with more discipline and have tackled better. We have been structurally sound and good at what we've done. That will need to happen Saturday."
One of the keys to defensive success is going to have to be strong play by the tackles plugging up the middle. Jamarkus McFarland and Casey Walker will definitely be on the spot this Saturday and at least going into the game Stoops likes what he's seen from these guys recently.
"He (McFarland) is doing well. He's really doing a nice job and really starting to come on. He has played really well the last couple of games and that is exciting. He works hard at it and he's coming on.
"Casey did well. He held up fine and practiced all week. He hasn't missed anything so that is a positive. Other guys up there, Ronnell (Lewis), really played well and seems to really be getting the feel for everything, which is a big plus too."
One thing that Oklahoma can at least place some confidence in is the fact that they've had success against the Texas Tech type spread offensive attacks in the past.
"Well even this year when we played Tech, they still have a lot of the same offense that they had with Mike. There is a lot of it and there's a good bit of it here when you look at the passing game. In particular it is still really similar, I think they are more persistent and creative in running the football more and they've got an excellent back in Kendall Hunter and a bunch of other guys that run the ball well. So that's probably the biggest difference in their willingness and persistence to run the football. But a lot of the other stuff there has some strong similarities."