Saturday was “Meet the Sooners Day” in Norman as players and coaches mingled with fans in the morning before sitting down with the media for the first official press conference of the season. In his opening remarks, Bob Stoops talked about the progression of the young offensive linemen, the depth of the receiving corps, the development of the linebackers, and the growth of the defensive backs.
“I feel like we’ve got a really solid football team coming off last year. Overall, we’ll be further along offensively in our system. We lost the most players on our interior line, but I feel good about the young guys coming up in those positions. Bobby Evans, Ben Powers and Cody Ford have all looked really good in the spring and summer. At receiver, of course everyone asks about replacing Sterling. You don’t replace a guy like Sterling, but I do believe guys like Dede Westbrook will have an opportunity to make bigger plays. The overall group though will be a stronger unit than a year ago with the added experience. Mykel Jones, a young freshman, has really been showing up. I’ve loved seeing Jordan Smallwood coming up off that knee a year ago.
Defensively, we really feel good about what we’re doing with our system. It will be a big chore replacing three of our four starting linebackers, but we’re really excited about what we’ve seen from our guys. Tay Evans is a guy who’s really been great this spring as someone who can really run. Obo has been really good at the jack position. We’ve got other guys like Will Johnson, Kapri Doucet and Caleb Kelly who are really athletic with a lot of power to them. We’re just very pleased overall with the guys who we need to step up. In the secondary, Dakota Austin played great for us a year ago and has stepped up. Michiah Quick has really had a great couple of days and is showing up at the corner position. In the kicking game, Austin Seibert is even in better shape than he was a year ago. He’s really looked good hitting the ball.” – Bob Stoops’ Opening Comments
Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops spoke on preparing for Houston and Ohio State and the evolution of Steven Parker among other things.
“I think we feel relatively good about our starting 11 and what we can do with those guys. We played all spring with them and having those players these first few days has helped. Finding out what style we want to play and kind of maneuver our way around. We’re going to have to play some young guys if someone goes down but they’ll be ready. I’ve been very pleased with their development in such a short amount of time.” – Mike Stoops on Houston and Ohio Sate
“I think he has to take that jump to the next level. I think he’s been a really good and solid player for us across the board but he has the capabilities to become a dominant safety. We certainly expect him to take a jump in that direction. He has to be a playmaker for us; we ask him to do a lot of things. His greatest strength is that he’s very diverse in what he can do. He has speed, hips, range, and those are all great qualities for a safety.” – Mike Stoops on Steven Parker
The hottest topic on Saturday was Oklahoma’s offense and second year coordinator Lincoln Riley was more than happy to talk about his crew.
“I think they sense that there will be more opportunities. We want to be a more well-rounded group. In a perfect world we don’t have a guy that maybe we don’t throw it to that high of a percentage of the time, but he won so much that it was hard not to. I think through the development of the offense, as we go through these years in recruiting, I think we are going to be a more well-rounded group and thus, hopefully, the thought is much tougher to defend.” – Lincoln Riley on the receiving corps without Sterling Shepard
“He’s ran for a lot of yards. I’m a little surprised because the history here is as good as it is anywhere for running backs in the history of the game. This guy has been so consistent and it’s awesome to see a guy that is having this happen, and is so humble in the career that he has had up until this point. The fact that he still has a lot left is very special and to be able to share it back there with another great player like Joe and see those two work together is good when he has the opportunity to do that and to see good things happen to good people. He’s a great example.” – Riley on the Samaje Perine approaching the school record
“How they look at him is probably different. He’s played a year with these guys now and he’s established himself as a leader and someone that they’re going to look to, especially when the leadership is needed he’s been able to fill that. Before we had other guys filing that role and he hadn’t played here yet. It’s harder to do when you haven’t played and made plays and earned that respect. He definitely carries a bigger voice now, and it’s something he’s done a good job with.” – Riley on Baker Mayfield’s leadership with the team
“People better appreciate him because he is fantastic. He is a fantastic player, he is a great young man, and he is one of our most valuable flat-out players on the team because of the energy that he brings. He is with our young players, like with Abdul Adams, he’s got his arm around Abdul all the time helping him out, teaching him whether it’s something about offense or something about college in general, or helping him grow up. I think Joe will be a team captain here one day. He acts like one right now. He is obviously a really good football player, and we think that his best ball is definitely ahead of him.” – Riley on Joe Mixon