Bob Stoops had his weekly press conference on Tuesday and reflected back on last Saturday's game against Florida State as well as looked ahead to the Air Force Falcons this weekend. Among the topics discussed were Landry's performance against FSU, as well as the offensive and defensive performances as a whole, the uniqueness of the Air Force offense and, "home of the brave.
Landry Jones was named the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Week this week and while Coach Stoops said his performance was special he also made it a point to say he didn't do it alone.
"Landry played special and played like what we feel he's capable of. I can't say that we're all that surprised. We've watched Landry a lot and he has a great arm, talented. He's really a hard working guy that has good poise to him. Throughout the year he'll have some ups and downs but he's a steady guy. I think too, you'll recognize that guy needs support. If he's not protected, it's going to be tough. When guys drop balls, he's not going to look good. Guys made some nice catches for him too and blocked as well on the perimeter. In a lot of cases, he was supported well."
Of course Landry wasn't the only person to have a special performance on Saturday.Oklahoma's defense locked down on a really good Florida State offense that is going to score a lot of points on a lot of people this season. After the way they stumbled out of the block against Utah State in the season's opening weekend the Sooner D bounced back on Saturday with a very impressive performance.
"Defensively, (Florida State) did a nice job executing on the first drive. You really give them credit. You watch that drive, it took a long time and a lot of plays. They were working it and did a pretty good job of it. Then we settled in and played some things better execution wise. We really played well the next nine possessions to give ourselves a good strong lead. The coverage was great. We had great pressure to the quarterback. Our run defense was solid. The whole secondary had great games. Jamell Fleming was credited for having a special game, he and Jonathan Nelson. Travis Lewis had another great game. Up front, Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander had good pressure. Adrian Taylor had an excellent game. Stacy McGee was also cited for having a really good game. It was good to play well in all phases in a big game against Florida State."
I said during our Sooner Nation broadcast on Thursday night that this Air Force game could turn out to be an ugly win for the Sooners. The Falcons are stingy on defense and can eat up a lot of time on offense. They are unique to Oklahoma's schedule in what they do and the present a unique challenge to this football team.
"Another major challenge when you look at Air Force. Troy Calhoun has done an absolutely great, great job. They're coming off of a big bowl win and they're really rolling in their first two games of the year. They beat a good BYU team just a week ago in a strong way, 35-14. They're really a disciplined, excellent, executing football team. Everyone talks about their offense, but defensively a year ago they led the country in interceptions, I think with 20. They led the country in turnover margin. They're doing it well again this year, playing really good defense. Offensively, they present a different attack then you're used to seeing with the formations and all the different options and perimeter plays that they give you. So it'll be a big challenge, not only physically, but mentally to be able to execute against them in all parts of the game."
Oklahoma will face several teams this season who are strong on defense but Air Force is the only team they face that really runs the triple option to perfection.So what it is about this offense that makes everything so difficult for the Sooner defense?
"Well it interrupts your natural flow of playing more traditional pro-style offenses. We're all pro-style offenses but with all of the options and formations that they use it's just different. At the college level, you get a lot of variations of offense. You're constantly adjusting to the different nuances each team brings you."
Then there's the issue of the National Anthem. I've never been one who is in favor of shouting, "home of the Sooners!" at the end of it but I also realize that it is a personal choice that people make. I don't say anything to those that do and I don't make a big deal out of it either. However, I agree with Coach Stoops that if there was one opponent in which we'd like to take that moment to honor the brave men and women who have fought and are currently fighting to protect our nation's freedom against it would be one of the service academies.
"I guess I'll chime in, I know I'm going to be asked, to brief on the entire controversy about "home of the brave" and not the Sooners. I am totally in agreement with our administration and most everybody that hopefully the people that will be singing "home of the brave" can surely be louder and stronger than anybody that's saying "the Sooners." I have great respect for these young men and all the academies for their service, their commitment, their sacrifice. You have to respect it and appreciate them. I'll never forget something that really means a lot to me when I was a young coach still in 2001 when we went up to play Air Force at Air Force. Fisher DeBerry, who I have always looked up to as a coach, you have to when you're in the coaching fraternity. A guy like Fisher DeBerry with his long tenure and success in doing it the right way and with such class. I'm only three years into it, even though we had won the National Championship, I'm going to play him. We had played a really good game and we recognized it as a big game for us because of how difficult they are to play and play well and we're celebrating after the game and the guys are on the field jumping around and Air Force's whole team goes over to the student section and starts singing their fight song. I really appreciated that all of our players got quiet and stopped celebrating and just kind of stood at attention and watched them out of respect as they sang with their student body singing their fight song. Fisher commented to me a little while after that he really appreciated the class we represented Oklahoma with, the class our players played with, the respect we showed his team afterward. That meant a lot to me, because again, I'm a guy that really looked up, and still does, to Fisher DeBerry and the way he coached. So anyway, hopefully with our people being here and Air Force coming here we'll surely be loud in singing home of the brave and nothing else. I would sure hope that would be the case."
I find it a bit interesting that was his longest quote of the day.
"I've been living the dream. To start as a true freshman is every high-schooler's wish and this is the school that I wanted to come to. I'm just living the dream." - Fullback Trey Millard on playing for the Sooners
"Tackling is going to be the biggest thing this week. I can't stress how much or how important tackling is in this game because what Air Force does. They have great running backs; they call them slots and full backs, but they're all running backs in my mind. They all break tackles and they all don't go down for the first guy and we have to make sure we make open-field tackles and that we can get them down without any extra yards after contact, because they're really good at that and that's what they bank on. If you watch film, they bounce off of defenders left and right and that's how they beat teams. So the biggest thing is tackling this week, that's the biggest by far." - Safety Jonathan Nelson on defensive keys this week.