The Award-Winning Magazine Offering The Most Complete Coverage of Sooner Sports
  HOME FEATURE STORY SUBSCRIBE OU SPORTS IN THE NEWS COVER ARCHIVE WRITERS CONTACT US      ADVERTISE
More Recent Stories

Marquise Brown Q&A

Road Warrior

The Greatest Rivalry

Road Warrior

Hard Work

Road Warrior

To The Point

King's Corner

The Draft

To The Point

NFL Bound

Looking Back: Billy Vessels

Road Warrior

King's Corner

NFL Spotlight

Boomer Bio

Lincoln Riley Q&A

Keys To Success

End of an Era

Stepping Down

Dominating Force

2017 Recruiting

OU finished off a memorable 2016 season on high note

Road Warrior

Emmanuel Beal Q&A

Fast & Furious

Road Warrior

OU vs. Texas: By The Numbers

King's Corner

Steven Parker Q&A

Orlando Brown Q&A

Speed Burner

King's Corner

Next Step

Welcome Home

QB Questions?

Common Cause

Right on Target

Flying High at No. 1

Headed North

Playoff Bound

Dominique Alexander Q&A

California Connection

Red River Rejuvenation

To The Point

Ty Darlington Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Sooner Flashback: Jakie Sandefer

Next Generation

Hiring Time

Sooners hire new offensive coordinator

Samaje Perine Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Mike Stoops Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

All in the Family

Road Warrior

On Point

King's Corner

Sugar Bowl Review

Editorial

OU to meet Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Josh Heupel Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio

The Closer

Sooner Success

Mike Stoops Q&A

Bill Bedenbaugh Q&A

Spring Football Review

Spring Football Review

To The Point

Boomer Bio: Julian Wilson

Boomer Bio: Chuka Ndulue

Boomer Bio: Bronson Irwin

Jalen Saunders Q&A

Patience Rewarded

Boomer Bio: Sterling Shepard

Taylor-made for Oklahoma

Tony Jefferson Q&A

Attention Getter

A Change of Plans

A Change of Plans

Proud Heritage

Hot Commodity

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio: Aaron Ripkowski

Cornerstone

Playmaker

Playmaker

Strictly Striker

Javon Harris Q&A

Boomer Bio: Austin Haywood

Locked In & Loaded

Ben Habern Q&A

Landry Jones Q&A

The Classics

Top Ten Recruits

Bonus Prospects

Oklahoma Influences

Tight End Tough

Marquis On The Mark

Sooner Stars Set To Return

Jeremy Beal Q&A

Jamell Fleming Q&A

Boomer Bio: Trey Millard

Stacy McGee Q&A

Red River Tradition

Red River Tradition

James Patton Q&A

Boomer Bio: Eric Mensik

Quarterback Race

Quarterback Race

Boomer Bio: Kenny Stills

Boomer Bio: Marshall Musil

Getting His Kicks

Making The Right Moves In Recruiting

Bradford looks sharp in workout

No Doubt About It

Boomer Bio: Willie Martinez

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Norman Bound

Showdown In The Sun

Jay Norvell Q&A

Jay Norvell Q&A

Boomer Bio: Dejuan Miller

Adrian Taylor doing just fine

Joseph Ibiloye Q&A

The Real Deal

Road Warrior

Meet Dusty Dvoracek This Saturday!

Casey Walker Q&A

Best of The Red River Rivalry

Bradford To Start Against Baylor

Facebook & Football

Tackling Machine

Keith Jackson Appearing this Friday in Norman

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio: Stephen Good

Top Targets

Brent Venables Q&A

Boomer Bio: Cory Brandon

Tisdale and Griffin

Wayman Tisdale Dies

Sam Bradford Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Blake Griffin earns Naismith Award

Ryan Reynolds Q&A

The Wait Is Over

Outlook for 2009

Outlook for 2009

Staying Put

Bradford, Gresham, Williams Coming Back

Make Room For Sam

Lendy Holmes Q&A

Bradford Wins Heisman

Heisman Material

Boomer Bio: Frank Alexander

Sooners Headed To KC For Big 12 Title Game

Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Offensive linemen Roundtable

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Travis Lewis Q&A

Travis Lewis Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Jackie Shipp Q&A

Bob Stoops Q&A

Boomer Bio

They’ve Got It Covered

Bradford Talks About Sooner Experience

Big Dreams

Plenty Of Things To Chew on this Offseason

Marcus Walker Q&A

Looking Ahead

Greater Expectations

Manny Being Manny

The Big Easy

Super Sidekick

English Lesson

Revved Up & Remodeled

Firmly Committed

A Cut Above

The Definition of Rivalry

On The Rise

Irresistible Force

Bookends

Bradford Named Starting QB

Venables Verbatim

Sooner Spectator & Rivals.com Teaming Up

Final Chapter

Catching Up With Sumlin

Welcome Back Little Joe

Wilson’s Defensive Wisdom

Reggie Smith Q&A

Malcolm Over The Middle

Fantastic Five

Thompson & Alexander To Sign Autographs

WE'RE BACK!!!!

GET READY FOR THE RETURN OF SOONER SPECTATOR!

OU’s Greatest

Boomer Bio: Brody Eldridge

Boomer Bio: Fred Strong

Dual Threat: Stephen Garcia

Thirty Reasons Why OU will beat Texas

Double Duty

Kody Cooke: A Conversation

Boomer Bio: Lendy Holmes

Welcome Back

Quick Five With Nic Harris

Road Warrior

The Opposition

Defensive Backing

Recruiting: Crimson Bloodline

Wilson Weighs In

Replacing Runnels?

Defensive Outlook

Top Shelf: Austin Box

Rufus Revelations

Reaction to Capel Hiring

A.D. Unscripted

OU will miss Sampson

OU Scrimmage Report

Joey Halzle Q&A

Gray, OU prep for The Dance

Moore is Better

Sooners eye stretch run

Haskell remains a lost treasure

Boomer Bio: Patty Gasso

Sherri Coale Conversation

Taylor Made

Future Considerations

McCoy becomes a Sooner

Michael Neal Q&A

Recruiting: Dominique Franks Q&A

Strong Willed

Football Recruiting Notes

Remembering Billy Ball

Enough Gloom & Doom

Back In Business

Endowed Scholarships Announced

USC or Texas: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Stoops is not leaving OU

Sooners down Ducks in Holiday Bowl

Biding His Time

Kelvin Sampson Q&A

Next Stop Division I

Boomer Bio: Allen Patrick

Chris Messner Q&A

Bob Stoops' take on Bedlam Victory

Terrance Anderson's Journey

OU vs. Tech: The Answers

OU vs. Tech Matchups

Road Warrior

Stoops talks about OU's 36-30 win

OU vs. A&M matchups

OU Coaches’ Roundtable

Recruiting: Derek Burton

Boomer Bio: Juaquin Iglesias

Carl Pendleton Q&A

Sooners topple Huskers in Lincoln

OU-Nebraska Matchups

Recruiting: Ugo Chinasa

Sooners top Baylor

OU vs. Baylor Matchups

Recruiting: Offensive Line

Recruiting: Adron Tennell

Sooners top Jayhawks

OU vs. Kansas Matchups

Boomer Bio

A Pleasant Conversation

Texas tops Oklahoma

Red River Rivarly Matchups

Dusty Dvoracek: In The Trenches

Sooners Roll Past K-State

OU vs. K-State Matchups

Recruiting: Replenishing The Backfield

Boomer Bio

Sooners give one away

Recruiting Demarco Murray

C.J. Ah You Q&A

The Answers: OU vs. Tulsa

Not Pretty, But Sooners Win

Spectator Sneak Preview

Bob Stoops' take on TCU loss

Texas Christian Sacks Sooners

Moses leads Sooner tight ends

Rufus Alexander Q&A

Thompson gets nod at QB

Birdine Lost For Season

Sampson to Visit Kuwait for Hoops with Troops

Walk-on making noise at WR

Travis Wilson Q&A

Clint Ingram Q&A

Sooners open fall practice

Brent Venables Q&A

Sooner single-game tickets go on sale Monday

Questions about Sooners' aura not surprising

Joseph talks about summer workouts

OU at Big 12 Media Days

Kim Named to U.S. Walker Cup Team

Sooners name Golloway

Stephenson decides to stay at Wichita State

Stephenson takes OU head baseball job

Soon to be Sooners

New Sooner Nic Harris excited about new digs

2005 Season Preview Issue Available Now!!

Letter from the Editor

Q and A

Ever Elusive

Sooner Selections

Ole Miss powers past Sooners

OU's Weekly Sports Report

OU inks JUCO point guard

OU's Kim wins Big 12 Golf Title

White and Vermeil talk about first day of rookie camp

White gets a chance with Kansas City

Red Rallies to Down White

Big crowd expected

Prelude To Greatness?

Breaking Down The Offense

Spring football eases pain




On Sale At Newsstands August 29th!
Mike Stoops Q&A
OU's defensive coordinator talks about upcoming season

When Mike Stoops arrived back in Norman last season after an 8-year stay at Arizona, he was well-aware that sleep deprivation is common among Big 12 defensive coordinators, who lay awake at night trying to figure out ways to stop all of the high-powered offenses terrorizing the conference these days

As he prepares for his second season in his second stint as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator, Stoops knows he and his fellow staffers have their work cut out for them this fall. They will need across-the-board improvements if they expect to improve on their stats from 2012 — when they surrendered 26 points and almost 400 total yards a contest, while forcing only 16 turnovers in 13 games.

Since his return, Stoops has spent a lot of time preaching to his defense about playing more aggressively up front and in the secondary, about making plays and being more opportunistic. OU is exploring some potential changes in schemes, and Stoops and new defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery spent the spring looking for players ready to step up and be difference-makers.
Sooner Spectator caught up with Coach Stoops recently between recruiting trips and asked him about a number of different aspects of his defense, including expectations for 2013.

Sooner Spectator: What was the biggest challenge you faced last season in your return to Oklahoma after having been gone for eight years?
Mike Stoops: Basically, getting used to all of the changes, becoming familiar with all of your players and their abilities, and also becoming familiar again with all of your opponents in this league. I think it takes a season to really understand the concepts and how different teams try to attack each situation and critical situations. Trying to get a book on new opponents is always a priority and important to your success. So we spent a lot of time last season studying opposing offenses and what their strategies are in every situation.

SS: Did you feel there was more pressure on you last season because fans expected you to come in and have a ton of immediate success?
Stoops: There is always going to be a certain amount of pressure that comes with a job like this one. Certainly, you understand that. But there is a process to everything and we’ve been a little bit in transition in some areas, still learning our players and establishing a foundation for what we want to do. There is always going to be pressure to have success, no matter what the situation is. That’s just part of this business, especially at a place like Oklahoma where you are expected to put a quality product on the field every time you step out there.
Our whole deal was getting the players to buy into what we needed to do to get better — helping them understand what it takes to be the type of defense we need to be to have success in this league. Yes, the pressure is there but it is not something you focus on.

SS: Everyone seems to have a solution to what OU needs to be better defensively. Some say it’s a simple matter of bringing in better players. Maybe it’s more about what you mentioned before — getting players to buy into the system and the program?
Stoops: Honestly, I think we just need to develop our players better. I think we need to coach them and develop them and instill a stronger mindset in each of them. A lot of it is about attitude and mental toughness, and those are areas we have to be stronger in as well. If we do all of those things, I believe we have all of the components to be a top-level defense in this league. I believe that. Our players have to continue to develop and gain confidence as we go. We have a lot of younger talented players who are still trying to find their way and we are counting on them to make that leap forward this season. If all of our guys continue to grow and develop like we believe they will, we are going to feel very good about the 11 guys we put out there come the end of August.

SS: Coming out of spring drills, did you feel the defense made some of those strides you just mentioned?
Stoops: I think we made some improvements schematically trying to incorporate what we did a year ago to some of the tweaks we’re making as we go forward. We feel comfortable with our identity and with a number of the players who we feel like we can count on. We are confident in the direction we are going and I believe our players understand it better and better and are excited about possibilities. Hopefully, all of that will lead to us playing at a higher, more consistent level. I thought there were times last season when we played really well — but obviously down the stretch, we didn’t. I believe we fell from the No. 1 defense in the league to No. 4 or something like that.

SS: You’ve been in the coaching business for close to 25 years. At this point in your career, are you still learning and developing as a coach and IN what you bring to the program?
Stoops: It’s continuous process, just like so many things in life. As a coach, I am always learning and looking to find ways to improve what I do and to improve what we do on the field as a team. You’ve always got your fundamentals to build around, but with offenses continuing to develop and go in different directions, you basically have to try to stay one step ahead. That requires you to continually grow as a coach and adjust how you teach the game and develop your players. If you don’t keep up with everything going on around you in the game, you are obviously going to fall behind.

SS: You obviously still have a lot of passion for the game. After being in the business for so long, where does that come from?
Stoops: For me, it’s just the competitive nature of who I am. I’ve always expected nothing less than the best from myself and from my players. That’s what this game is all about — developing and preparing yourself and putting yourself in the absolute best position to be successful. It’s something I take a lot of pride in. If your players play hard, play smart and give you everything they’ve got, I believe you’re always OK with it at the end of the day. Occasionally, you don’t get a great effort or you are hurt by mental mistakes, that’s the hard part for coaches. We all put a lot of time and energy into what we do — and then seeing how hard we compete on Saturdays is the payoff. It’s what I enjoy most.

SS: Is it fun for you to be back at OU and have the opportunity to work alongside your brother Bob again?
Stoops: It’s always fun to share the passion and all the work we put into something together week in and week out. To be a part of the same team and to share the same goals, that’s something you cherish as brothers. Certainly, there is no one you trust more than your brother, so to have the opportunity to build a program together and experience the highs and lows together with Bob — that’s a pretty unique opportunity that we both feel fortunate about.

SS: How tough is it coaching defense in a league like the Big 12 where all of the offenses are up-tempo and no-huddle and looking to put up a lot of points in a hurry?
Stoops: It’s challenging, but I like it. Winning is what we are ultimately here trying to do and I feel statistics can be a little misleading in this league. We are all about playing well and being assignment sound and having a good approach for every game. Of course, no one likes giving up a ton of yardage. There were a few times last season when we did not put our players in the best situation. I take full responsibility for that, along with our defensive staff. You are going to get challenged week in and week out in this league and you have to make the proper adjustments and be sound in what you do defensively to be successful. To play a great defensive game in this league really means something, and that’s what we are striving for every week.

(Editor's Note: This interview appears in the 2013 Football Preview issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877)