Sooners Set for Spring Practice

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops met with the media Monday afternoon as the Sooners prepared to open spring practice in Norman. OU holds two practice this week (Monday and Wednesday) before Spring Break. On Tuesday, the program hosts its annual Pro Day. For the first time, fans can watch the action live from the Everest Indoor Practice Facility via a free webcast from SoonerSports.com.

Head Coach Bob Stoops

Opening Statement:
"We have our first spring practice today on this beautiful spring afternoon. It will be perfect indoors, where we will be. We are fortunate to have a great place to go practice in and can go on as scheduled.

"I feel like our team has had a great winter. I'm really excited about the way everyone has worked and the overall attitude of the team and the way they have prepared and trained leading up to spring ball. We're anxious as coaches to get back out on the field.

"It's always amazing to us that we are already on to the next year with our first spring practice. You get into the bowl season and then recruiting and before you know it you are back into spring practice and leading into the next season. It's an exciting time, we always love this time of year and working with all of the young players and developing them. That's always our focus, everyone always says 'Is there one area you need to improve?' and I never look at spring that way.

"We have to improve in all areas and more than anything we always try to build depth. We try to get the guys who haven't played a lot as much game-type experience, going good-against-good and getting as many snaps as we can to get guys that haven't played a lot on the field in our system. Seeing who can make plays and bringing more players along that you have confidence in to play next year.

"I'm optimistic about this group, finishing the way we did with the last couple of games against Oklahoma State and Stanford there were some major strides where I believe we will be better.

"I definitely believe we will be better at quarterback. That's because we played the entire year without Sam Bradford. Landry (Jones) has a full year under his belt, he threw for almost 500 yards against a ranked team in the bowl game and had an excellent game against Oklahoma State as well. That showed his progression through the entire year.

"I don't think there in any question at receiver, we showed that we were much better at the end of the year than we were at the middle of the year and earlier in the year. I don't think there is any question that we will be better at offensive line because we played without so many of those seniors. All the guys returning have experience now. I also believe we will get Jarvis Jones and Ben Habern back for a good part of the spring. It hasn't happened yet but it is likely to happen after spring break.

"We played the entire year without Jermaine Gresham, so that position can only be better than it was a year ago. We will have more depth at offensive line with Gabe Ikard, Eric Mensik, the players coming in and the players returning.

"At running back with DeMarco (Murray) back we have a great leader and experienced guy there. Along with Mossis Madu and other young guys that showed excellent promise. That position can only be improved as well. There are a lot of positives to me. Most of the injuries and difficulties were on the offensive side of the ball and I believe that in most of those areas we can be better.

"On defense, I think we have a chance to be every bit as good with Travis Lewis back, Adrian Taylor progressing well with his ankle although he still has a way to go, Jeremy Beal has been a leader and one of our best players through the years and Frank Alexander is still up there. We need a couple more guys to come along but we like how our young guys have developed and we believe we will be fine up front.

"Ronnell Lewis and Austin Box have played a bunch of football for us. Tom Wort showed great promise. Joseph Ibiloye played a good part of the year in our dime package. Jonathan Nelson came on with Quinton Carter. Jonathan was one of our best players a year ago. We have to replace our two corners, but again there is some good talent there. Jonathan Nelson can play corner or safety based on whoever is playing the best. Again, I think we have a chance to be solid there.

"I don't think there is any question that punting wise we showed that we were one of the better teams in the country in punting the ball and covering. Same thing in kickoff coverage, we were solid. We just need to improve in our field goals and PATs. That is something that will be an ongoing competition. Patrick O'Hara and Jimmy Stevens will go at it the entire spring along with some other young guys. We will see how that progresses. That is one area that needs to improve for sure."

On Landry Jones' improvement at the end of the year:
"One, his receivers caught the ball, that helps the guy. Two, he was protected and not getting rushed and that helps a guy. Too much of the time when things weren't good, it was all Landry's fault when it wasn't, it was a lot of people's fault. Also, I think anytime you are in your 13th game as opposed to your sixth or seventh game, that's a long time. There are a lot more snaps and a lot of growing. I think as the season went on, he got more and more comfortable. It's natural, the more snaps you get, the more experience you get and the more help you get all result in positive play."

On the offensive line's winter conditioning progress:
"They have been one of our best groups with how they have worked. They have met the challenge every day and I'm pleased with their attitude. I'm pleased with where they are at right now. At least to this point with the work they have done."

On the linebackers:
"It will be competitive, there are a lot of good players. We're fairly thin at linebacker. We don't have many numbers but they are all pretty good players, we like them all. There will be some pretty good competition so I think we will have some good depth or we will like all of those guys so that if one is out we can put in another guy and feel pretty good about it."

On the defensive line:
"I was pleased with how they played against a very physical team in Stanford in the Sun Bowl after we lost Adrian (Taylor) in the first series. Those young guys came in and did a heck of a job. Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee have come on. We moved Justin Chaisson in there. He has grown and gotten bigger. Casey Walker did a nice job in that game. David King at defensive end came on and really played well in that game when Jeremy (Beal) got nicked up in that game. Every year there are guys that are a year older, more mature and more prepared. We will expect those guys to step up and I think there is good ability there for those guys to step up and play the way we are used to playing."

On the early enrolling freshmen:
"They will get a lot of snaps and a lot of opportunities. Hopefully they will take advantage of it and show good signs of being able to make a mark. Receiver is still a position for us that guys need to make improvement and be better. There will be a lot of competition and they will get a lot of snaps. We will have a bunch of snaps and it will be competitive, which is what you want."

On how involved DeMarco Murray will be in spring practice:
"(DeMarco) will do everything every day outside of anything that is live and take-it-to-the-ground. I'm not going to take a chance on him getting twisted up or getting caught somewhere. I've seen DeMarco play a lot of football and it's been a lot of good football. I'm just not taking that chance on something silly happening to a guy who knows how to play."

--- SoonerSports.com


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