Bob Stoops walked into the interview room loose and in good spirits after Monday’s practice. He immediately addressed OU’s injury situation. Other than center Ben Habern, out with a broken forearm, everyone is expected to play.
"Everybody practiced today," Stoops said, referring to Jamell Fleming, Tyler Evans, Brennan Clay and Aaron Colvin. "I expect everyone that played last week, plus Aaron Colvin to play unless something changes during the week, so I don’t have to answer that during the week. That is what I expect right now and if that changes I’ll say something on Thursday."
Stoops also noted that guard/tackle Jarvis Jones is close to 100 percent and will be able to boost the offensive line in the second half of the season.
“He’s really worked hard on that knee to come back and to be back early,” Stoops said. “He’s a good football player, so it’s good to have him back.
Stoops first was asked about his place-kicking situation. He insinuated that Jimmy Stevens has recovered from his muscle pull, though Michael Hunnicutt would remain the field goal kicker, despite missing a 30-yarder against Ball State.
"Today I would still play Michael, the way he’s hit the ball,” Stoops said. “He’s earned that spot but we’ll see if anything changes, how they work through the week or how the game goes.” Stoops added that Hunnicutt has "hit it pretty good for three weeks now."
One of the keys this weekend will be the Sooners' handling of Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s rampant blitzing. Center Gabe Ikard called it "junky."
“What he means by that is there’s a lot coming at you,” Stoops said. “Left, right. … They do a lot of things, much like we do.”
On the other side of the ball, Stoops commented on the play of Texas quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash. Stoops pointed out that Ash initially was used as a change-of-pace player early in the season, but has quarterbacked the same plays as McCoy.
"Early on they kind of had packages for each, and now you see a blend of both in what they’re asking them to do,” Stoops said. “They’re both doing a good job."
Stoops said Texas’ offense looks much different this season with co-coordinator Bryan Harsin, and that, while it’s not exactly the same, there are resemblances to the Boise State offense the Sooners faced in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
“Some things are similar, some aren’t,” Stoops said. “That’s been a while now. Everybody has a track record of what they do. You see similarities.
“They make you think and adjust to formations. They do a good job of moving their people around. They do a good job making people work and to keep leverage on them to defend them.”
As for the Sooners' offense, freshman running back Brandon Williams showed he could be a factor, perhaps as soon as this weekend. In his career debut, Williams dropped the first pass tossed his way but came back to rush for 58 yards on 11 carries versus Ball State.
"Brandon looked really good, so that’s encouraging,” Stoops said. “Outside of the one ball that about hit me in the head because he didn’t touch it -- it went right through his hands.
“He was laughing about it today. He said, ‘Yeah, I was a little nervous’. I said I expected that. He’ll be fine.”
Stoops admitted that the kick return team still sputtered against Ball State despite changes in personnel. He is hoping the reinstatement of Trey Franks, who will resume kick return duties, will give the unit a spark.
“If Trey can do what we expect him to do through the week he’ll be better than some of the others,” Stoops said. We missed some nice holes and opportunities there the other night. I think he can help that, but we’ll see.”
After tony Jefferson's three-interception performance, the comparisons to former Sooners great Roy Williams resumed Monday.
“When we recruited him we felt he was a really special player,” Stoops said of Jefferson. The coach, however, downplayed comparisons between Jefferson and Williams, who is regarded as the best defensive player to play for Stoops in Norman.
“We don’t ever do that,” Stoops said. “I don’t like to put that on a guy; but we’re really excited in two years at what he’s done.”
Stoops agreed that Texas is running the ball much better than last year, and a big reason for it is the emergence of true freshman running back Malcolm Brown, who is averaging 4.9 yards a carry this season.
“They are running the ball well,” Stoops said.
Stoops reminisced about the 2001 “Superman” game, then spoke of his first Texas State Fair experience after the 63-14 win in 2000:
“I had a burger there outside on the bench. We sat on the bench for about two hours while the players tooled around. Sat there with our wives and coaching staff and that was about it. We were off and back. Nobody really noticed us there.
"We told the players, you’ve got 2 1/2 hours -- to see their families and have some fun. I told them, though, I don’t want to be looking for anyone, make sure we’re on the bus and ready to go, or we will never do this again.”
Even though the players all made it back on time, the team hasn't hung out at the fair since.
"You know why? Now they all want to get home,” Stoops said. “I’ve asked them thinking they’d want to, but the older guys usually just want to go home."