Stanford co-defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Ron Lynn, Stanford offensive cordinator/WR coach David Shaw, OU Offensive coordiantor Kevin Wilson and OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables speak at the Hawthorn Inn & Suites, Dec. 29 2009.
Stanford co-defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Ron Lynn
Thoughts of El Paso
"Obviously we're excited to be here and certainly the opportunity to be in El Paso in a bowl game against a storied program like Oklahoma is something that at the beginning we would have been ecstatic about and at the end of the season we're even more ecstatic about it."
What's the situation with your secondary, is everybody healthy?
"Yeah, we're about as healthy as we're going to be and as health as we've been. Quinn Evans is back and Chris Evans is back so they're in a backup role at this point of the week. They've been practicing and practicing, so we're excited about that."
Who will start at corner?
"We'll start (Richard) Sherman and (Johnson) Bademosi at the two corners. We'll start Bo McNally and Dekano Howell at the safeties."
What do you make of Oklahoma's Landy Jones playing well at home and not so well away from home?
"I think that's a part of the maturation process, but I don't think you need to talk to Stanford coaches about a redshirt freshman quarterback being able to do real well because we watched Andrew Luck progress during the course of the season. We know that he is an outstanding player. At the same time we know Landy (Jones) from the standpoint that he'd been recruited by Stanford as well. So obviously, with interest, followed his career and watched him through every game he's played each game this season. His confidence has grown as the season progressed."
There have been many offense line changes for Oklahoma; do you come up with different ideas to test that line?
"One of the scenarios that'll be interesting to watch develop is the fact that the strength of our defense is our front guys. So we'll see how they do. The one thing I do know is when you have good players playing, regardless of what position they play, they're going to figure it out and be pretty darn effective as the game goes on."
How would you compare Oklahoma's wide receivers to teams you've played?
"Very, very favorably. I don't know if we've played anybody as good as 85 (Ryan Broyles). He's really a threat and they use him in a lot of different ways; put him in different positions in the empty formations. I think he's a guy that can score points at any given time."
Oklahoma's wide receivers have seemed to improve as the season went on, have you seen this on tape?
"No question about it and I think that the confidence, as the season has gone on, the confidence in themselves has grown but also the confidence in the play callers has grown. I think they do catch the ball and can run after the catch."
How do you see the tandem of Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray; do they remind of anyone in the Pac 10?
"They're bigger than the Oregon guy, but I do see them having some of that same kind of ability. I think both of those guys can score at any point in time. If you give them the ball they've got a chance to hit a homerun. I think the fact that you can take them out of the backfield and use them as receivers is an also a huge plus. These are guys that will be a real challenge for us to control."
Stanford offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach David Shaw
Have you gotten an indication yet of whether Andrew Luck is going to play this game?
"Very doubtful, very doubtful. He gets the pins taken out and we'll see what happens. Never say never in this business but very doubtful."
Has Luck thrown at all?
"To my knowledge no."
Stanford back in the day was known as a team that threw the ball around in space, how has it been that you've developed this physical style of play.
"It starts with a change of mentality. We looked at the guys we have and I think any good coach on any team looks at your strengths. I think we're very physical up front. I think we've got a phenomenal fullback; we've got a phenomenal blocking tight end and a phenomenal runner. It's only natural; we'd be working against what makes sense for us to do anything else. I think we've adapted that attitude and we've developed it as the years gone on and the guys have taken a hold."
Have you gotten to a point even where even if a team stops you early, you know you can still go back and run the ball?
"Very confident in our scheme; we're very patient. We talk about pounding the rock, we talk about chipping away. We know also when you've got a great player; you give him enough opportunities something good is going to happen."
How does Toby Gerhart play baseball, football, be the runner up for the Heisman trophy and still take 21 hours for an engineering degree?
"It's hard to describe special people because they're special. They do things that other people can't do. A lot of us have been around this business for a long time; it's hard to run across another kid whose got the character, work ethic, the ability and the mentality that he has to do all the things that he does and still be a team-first kid. As a coach, one of the things you always look for is who you're leaders are going to be and how they lead and make sure they lead the same way you want them to lead. Toby (Gerhart) is an example of everything that we think is great about college football."
How has the gameplan changed with Tevita instead of Luck.
"The changes are minimal. Tevita has been in the system for three years now. Smart, very bright and he's won a lot of big games for us. We know him as well as he knows us. We've kind of grown with him over the last three years in this offense. For the most part there will be no wholesale changes."
Would you anticipate Oklahoma loading up the box since Tevita does not have the arm of Luck?
"I'd anticipate they load up the box no matter who is playing quarterback. That's what we've seen all year. We go into games expecting it, sometimes inviting it and we know that it's going to be our strength versus Oklahoma's strength. There's not going to be no secrets. There's no dodging what's going to happen in a few days ... their strength against our strength."
When you first saw the tape of Oklahoma's defense, what was your reaction?
"What I saw on defense didn't surprise me one bit. There as well coached a defense as you'll see in college football. They're not out of position, they're athletic, they're tough, they tackle, they don't miss tackles and they're not a lot of blown coverages. It's going to be a great challenge and we're looking forward to it."
How does this line compare to other lines you've faced?
"That's a good question. I think it's as complete a group as we've faced all year. I'd disrespect them by calling them bull players because they're an athletic front. They can get after you in the run and the pass. They're as stout a front seven as we've seen all year."
OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson
Thoughts on Stanford's offense
"Their offense is a part of why their defense is good. They go on four, five, six, eight and 10-minute drives ... it shortens you're game."
Changes to the offensive line, especially with a new center. Thoughts?
"As a coach I'm concerned with the snap exchange more than the player. I'm worried about a wasted-play snap."
Compare Rhett Bhomar and Landry Jones' redshirt freshman years.
"That (Bomar's) team was very youthful, the '05 team. It was a different crew at the time. Neither one of them had as great a supporting cast as Sam (Bradford). So the quarterback really looks well when the supporting cast and everyone is better. I think he's (Landry Jones) done well. I'm not disappointed in him. I'd like to see him do better; I'd like to see us all do better. I don't have an issue or any reasons for our lack of production as pointed that our quarterback did not play well."
Thoughts on ball security and quarterbacks
"The ball is the game. Stanford, I think, is fourth in the nation in turnover ratio. To me the only thing you need to teach the quarterback is how to manage the game. When we say manage the game we're talking about respect the ball and take care of the ball. That's where we could have been so much better."
How has the bowl phase been?
"I think we've gotten some continuity, repetition and some time on task. I see us moving in a very positive direction coming off the last victory. It seemed like we as an offense were having a hard time finding ourselves due to some unfortunate things that we didn't predict was going to happen."
Have you ever had to make this many line changes?
"There are always some glitches. To me one of the issues was not the line as much as the tight end situation ... it complements that line. There's always been some shuffling and that's a part of it and I think the guys have handled it good."
OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables
Thoughts of El Paso
"It seems like we got here yesterday. We've enjoyed our time so far. (There's) been fantastic hospitality, great set up (practice site)."
Opening thoughts on Stanford
"It's more the same for our preparations for Stanford; there still a really good team two weeks into our preparation. Great team led by, again, a great presence in Toby Gerhart. (I've) got great respect for him. He's a lot like we are as a team; our mantra of being tough and physical. Their team really feeds off of him; he's a great, great leader. Our guys are extremely excited for the challenge.
They really stretch ya defensively with their ability to run the ball in multiple ways and to create a lot of one-on-one matchups in the secondary. We expect the same offense to show up whether Pritchard or Luck is going to quarterback."
Senior Ryan Reynolds returns, will the linebacker position be expected to stop Gerhart or is it more than that to stop a big running back?
"I think it starts upfront. The strength outside of their back is their ability to open up holes with that offensive front that has a lot of experience. Good size, good athletic ability; very powerful. They've protected the quarterback and gotten into a lot of very manageable third-and-short situations. I think overall as a defense we've got to play more physical, be more sound and that starts upfront. We can't allow them to get into third and short and medium situations. I think they lead the Pac 10 in third-down conversions. They're second in the country in sacks, giving up only two in the last six games. Some of that's the system in which they're in a lot of seven and eight-man protections but that's all set up off their throwing game, set up off their ability to run the football. We played a game and a team in Miami that converted five of their seven conversions on third down, which were 3rd and 2 or less. We really felt like their ability to hold onto the football and work us was big part and big factor in the game particularly at the end of the game when they controlled and converted some key third and short and medium situations. It's a collective deal defensively and again that front four has to play extremely well. They run a lot of gap schemes and a lot of times those guys won't show up, those guys being our defensive line, show up in the stat sheets because of the schemes that we'll see. But their (defense) ability to squeeze and close and condense running lanes will be a huge part. When they're (linebackers, safeties, defensive backs and corners) forced to have to tackle Gerhart, they're forced to tackle him in tight holes as opposed to big, gaping running lanes."
With the snow, how will you approach practice today (Tuesday) indoors or outdoors?
"We have plans to do both. I think closer to practice time we'll make that decision. We usually find out when we get there ourselves. We have a couple of gyms if we need to use those and the proper gear to use inside if we need to."
Have you or the team come against a running back as big and powerful as Gerhart?
"No. He's different. I haven't been coaching that long but he reminds of the types of backs that you saw from the really good, downhill Nebraska teams with coach (Tom) Osborne. Adrian Peterson is a different type of animal but that type of physicality is what Gerhart brings."
Are you anxious a little bit as a coach because you don't face the power running games like you used to in the Big 12?
"I think every team; every game provides a different set of challenges. Obviously you're excited to have an opportunity to play in a bowl game and that type of thing but it is a different type of animal; no doubt. Obviously from Day 1 we've challenged our guys. That's a different type of a challenge as opposed to stopping a fastbreak, no huddle, and play-in-space game. This really challenges all 11 guys every snap. That's what you want to be about as a coach or a player, as a competitor."
How good is Stanford's passing game?
"I wouldn't be surprised to see them come out and try to loosen you up a bit. They've had success doing that. They're very balanced, statistically speaking. Very efficient at what they do."
How can defensive lineman Gerald McCoy affect a team's running game?
"I think, statistically speaking, you probably won't see him show up quite as much as you would maybe anticipate. He's important but there are a lot of other pieces that are extremely important as well."
What type of legacy is McCoy leaving behind with this game?
"His consistency and his leadership that he's provided has been second to none. He's been the same guy every day. Great energy, great attitude and always positive. He leaves a great, great legacy and that's outside of the even stronger qualities that he has as a young man. I believe he has left a lasting impact and legacy not for just the players but for the coaches as well."