Coach Stoops is scheduled to meet with the media this afternoon prior to the Sooners beginning their 2012 spring practices. As always, we here at CCM will be here to cover it for you and recap all the juicy tidbits Stoops may accidentally reveal.
You can follow along live in the comments and then once the presser has concluded, we'll post a full recap here as well.
FOOTBALL IS HERE!!! (kind of)
(Ed. note - I tried to put the more "important" nuggets in bold, so if you didn't want to read through this entire novel you can just scan for the good stuff.)
* Spring practices are starting a little earlier than usual and Stoops says that was intentional as they'd like to get in a set number (six I believe) of practices before the players leave for spring break.
* The team will not be in pads this first week of practices (pretty typical).
* Really good news for the wide receivers and for him personally, Stoops confirms that Jaz Reynolds has been cleared to return to practice. I'd suspect they let him take things very easy through the spring. Stoops also reveals that he'll have to undergo one more minor procedure after spring practices, but that he should not prevent him from being ready to go this summer.
*More really good news. After some talk last year that FB Aaron Ripkowski might have suffered a potentially career threatening back injury, Stoops revealed today that he is back and cleared to practice. Really excited for him personally as well as for what he brought on the field last year as an absolutely devastating lead blocker.
* What can you do in the spring to get the new guys in sync w/ Landry?
What can you do? You can practice, that's what you can do.
Good to see Stoops in mid-season form with his testiness.
* Stoops is excited about WR Trey Metoyer based on how hard he's worked since he's arrived. Has the work ethic and the physical ability to be a really good player according to Bob. They are really looking for him to make a big jump this year.
* Asked about the TE situation, Stoops says the two new guys have worked hard and that they are looking for them to make a lot of improvement. Says that it will be both a mental and physical adjustment for them. I'll again here remind OU fans to temper their expectations for Taylor McNamara. Not to say he can't contribute this year, but don't expect him to come in and be some dominating presence in the pass game.
* Stoops says that they will continue to develop Blake Bell outside of the Bell-dozer package and that he's done well in doing so thus far. For me, this will be huge both this spring and then obviously during the season. If he doesn't noticeably improve as a passer this season, I'm not sure how we couldn't be extremely nervous about the prospect of him taking over for Landry Jones in 2013.
* Stoops disagrees with a comment that they just threw the Bell-dozer in there during the middle of the season. Implies that it was something they had always worked on in spots well before they used it in a game.
* Stoops is asked to address the RB situation
We're excited about the guys here and the guys coming in. Whaley won't be available for the spring. we proved a year ago that you need more than a couple guys. hopefully we'll have better luck w/ injuries. I still believe w/ our offense and the number of snaps we get, having four or five guys is important and we feel good about the guys we have.
* Stoops makes the somewhat surprising (at least for this OU fan) proclamation that Lane Johnson is currently the guy at left tackle. This is something that makes me VERY nervous.
At times last year, he really struggled and understandably so given it was the first time ever he played tackle, but at the same time the idea of him protecting Landry's blind side is terrifying to me. Especially when you consider that the JUCO guy we signed, Will Latu, was expected to come in and compete at right tackle with Johnson.
So if you assume that they still see Latu on the right side, then they have him, Daryl Williams, and Tyrus Thompson who Stoops said today were on the right side. I really don't understand the logic behind this, but then again I've understood very little about anything James Patton has ever done with the o-line.
* Joe Powell has moved back to defense (cornerback) after playing some wide receiver late last season and during bowl practices.
* Injury update section:
- CB Bennett Okotcha had minor shoulder surgery and is likely to miss the spring.
- S Aaron Colvin had a similar procedure and will also be held out this spring. For me, this isn't as big a deal as Okotcha because Colvin is such a proven commodity. Okotcha is a player that really could have used the spring to get more reps and improve.
- C Ben Habern will also be held out. Again, nothing serious here and probably would have been limited anyway just to get the guys behind him some work.
- DT Casey Walker will be held out early, but isn't likely to take part this spring.
- LB Tom Wort has a back issue and also will be held out to start, but isn't likely to take part this spring.
* Stoops is asked about his brother Mike coming in and the talk of some out there that he might have the "magic fixes" this defense appeared to need at times last year.
There isn't a need for any magic fixes. In the three games we lost we didn't play nearly as well as we overall have, but how did the offense play in those games? Give the other team credit, but it wasn't just the defense that lost us those games. In the end, players have to make plays and we as coaches have to do our jobs to put them in that position.
* Stoops is asked if it will be a little strange with his brother Mike back out on the practice field?
Nah, you kidding me? We've coached together before, you don't forget what you're doing that quickly.
* Follow up to the previous question asking if it will be weird that for the first time Brent Venables won't be out there with them?
Sure we'll miss Brent, but that's life. I talk about that all the time, very little stays the same forever.
* How big is it after losing both your starting defensive ends to have guys step up and fill their place?
I think it's gonna be a good group. Washington has had a really good winter. Chuka Ndulue has also had a great winter, we were excited by his progress at the end of last year.
Also had good things to say about David King, Geneo Grissom, and Chaz Nelson. Personally, I'm a little disappointed not to hear Nathan Hughes' name, but I'm hopeful it was just more an issue of not naming every guy as opposed to Hughes not being worthy of the mention.
* Stoops is asked what could change with Mike running the defense.
We always tinker a little bit, but we'll be very similar to what we've been doing.
* Stoops is asked about the advantage of having a four year starter returning at quarterback.
It's a great advantage. The leadership, the poise, hopefully to avoid the really bad plays that put you in a bad position.
He's seen Landry play, right?
* Stoops is in favor of the rule changes on kickoffs. As he should be when we've been one of the worst programs in the entire country getting touchbacks on kickoffs. We'll gladly take the extra five yards thank you very much!
* Stoops says he has a special teams coordinator and always has - Bobby Jack Wright. He took it over once Chris Wilson left for Miss. State.
* Stoops says that they'll definitely get QB Kendal Thompson more snaps than he received last spring.
* Does it feel like more of a rebuilding season?
It always feels like that this time of year b/c you're always losing guys. I'm never alarmed about it b/c we always have young guys coming up and working their way in.
* Stoops is in favor of the four team playoff proposal but not at the expense of the BCS bowls since it's a great experience for the players.
* Stoops didn't sound very happy about having to go to UTEP, but realizes they didn't really have much choice. Confirmed the Florida State talk. Says he might have considered it if they would have come to Norman, but understandably the Noles had no interest in that.
* Stoops reiteriates his position on not being a fan of playing so many night/late games.
* Stoops says they didn't have any control over the two byes in September. Compliments Joe C. for how good a job he did putting the schedule together. Says he likes how it sets up.
* Says he will get more phone calls in the next couple weeks about the Sooners who performed well at the combine.
* Stoops wasn't necessarily surprised to see Travis Lewis' forty time at the combine because he doesn't know what he's been doing since he left. Not sure how to really describe how he answered that. Don't want to read too much into things, but you would have thought he might have come more to the defense of Lewis IMO.
And that was about it. Whew, feel like that went WAY longer than I originally thought. You might need to read this in a couple sittings. Sorry :)