“It’s because of the preparation that we’ve had throughout the week. Everybody wants to win on Saturday but it’s about what you’re willing to sacrifice during the week.”
Stoops said his team is practicing with a purpose, bouncing around with energy and having some fun on the football field.
“We really played a complete football game,” Stoops said. “Take the punt return away, one of the best games we’ve played in a few years.”
I can’t disagree with the head coach.
“I think it was really special to our players. We all genuinely appreciate that and feed off that support,” Stoops said. “We’re all in this together. We need the (Big Blue) Nation and we’re going to need it this Saturday.”
Stoops said his players could not have been happier to receive the warm embrace from fans at the airport Saturday night. He hopes to see another warm welcome with a sold out Commonwealth Stadium Saturday night.
“We feel an obligation to go out there and play well. We want the stadium full and we want to give them a reason to cheer.”
His other message to fans is one he’s said many times before. He can’t blame fans for being quiet if his team isn’t giving them a reason to cheer.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to put ‘Beast Mode’ on him yet.”
Stoops praised the play of Benny Snell. He’s been consistent and disciplined on and off the field, but he can’t tag him with Marshawn Lynch’s mantra just yet. He’s got to keep him motivated somehow.
“People don’t realize how much goes on six inches from the ball.”
Stoops said the key to his offensive line’s success has been experience. Opponents have thrown a lot of stunts and blitzes at their running game to slow them down, but as the unit has become more experienced, they’ve learned to take on all comers. To be frank, they’ve been putting people on their backs, “I saw them enjoying finishing blocks.” Why not? Everybody loves pancakes.
“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves,” Stoops said. “We our fully concentrated on Georgia. There’s no talk of the East or anybody in the future.”
Stoops refuses to get caught looking passed the Georgia Bulldogs.
“Probably just an emergency again.”
Stoops said for the first time that Jojo Kemp has a broken hand, but reiterated that he is available to play with a soft cast on that left hand if necessary.
“Cawood Ledford told me one time, ‘You sound better when they win.'”
Tom Leach’s anecdote is true, especially when they win on the last play of the game.
“That’s where you really develop your program to another level.”
Stoops doesn’t want to look ahead, but when discussing the rising freshmen and redshirt players, he brought up a bowl game for another reason: the extra month of practice. The underclassmen receive most of the reps during that invaluable additional practice.
“When you’re in there you’re going to play with your hair on fire.”
That’s what Mark Stoops told his front seven ahead of this week. They inserted more young players into the defensive rotation: Calvin Taylor, T.J. Carter, Eli Brown and Kash Daniel. They heard his call and performed well in a limited role.
This might be the most encouraging statement from the entire night:
“I think our best football is ahead of us.”