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August 10, 2011Bob Stoops met with members of the media following Wednesday morning's practice to give un update on Travis Lewis' situation as well as how the team will react to missing one of their leaders on defense.
Bob, did you scrimmage today?
We did. I don't know, probably 40 plays, something like that. It was good. We got a little second-down, third-down series and a little third-and-short, a little goal-line. So it was good. There was good and bad on both sides.
I know one of your main emphasis is running the ball better, how did you do?
At times we did. At times we didn't. It's good and bad for me because that means the defense is doing some good things. Each of them had their times. Both sides need to be more consistent. Offensively we're definitely doing a better job of getting on people and locating who we're blocking. Our schemes and our assignments are a lot better and that's going to help us.
How many scrimmages do you think you'll have before Tulsa?
We just have two major ones schedule. We just have, we call them mini-scrimmages, where we get 20 or 30 plays a couple of other times. You've got to get some of it to get a feel for going full-speed, tackling, those kinds of things. You've got to do a little bit.
Bob, how much more comfortable is Tom Wort knowing the defense right now than he was a year ago?
It's not even close. Not even close. I noticed it from the first day. I even said something to him. I could tell on tape that you're light years ahead from a year ago and he goes, 'Oh yeah!' He's just more comfortable in knowing what we're doing. But that's natural. That was his first year playing last year and I remind everybody the year before he didn't even get to practice because of his knee injury. It was like he was a true freshman.
Who will call signals on defense?
We'll see. Between Tom and Corey - they all know the signals. Heck, there's eight guys that can call them. We don't even call much. All we tell is the front four. Everybody else gets it on their own. That's not an issue.
Bob, Corey Nelson never seemed like a guy that shied away from a challenge. Is he embracing this one as well?
Oh yeah. He is. The guy played incredibly well a year ago as a freshman. Everybody heard me rave about him in the spring. He's up to it. He'll meet the challenge and he has that kind of personality and that kind of makeup. There's no way around it. It's an incredible blow to us. I'm not going to deny that. Travis is a great player, so it definitely makes a difference. But Corey is a guy that has the kind of ability to step up and play there and play well for us.
Have you got a better diagnosis? Is eight weeks the long-term
Well, everyone is going to ask. It's too early to tell that. That's what they start off with and four or five weeks from now they'll check it and maybe it's early, maybe it's later. We won't know that, so don't ask me for at least six weeks.
And what it is, it's a little round bone called a sesamoid bone that's in your ligament. It isn't any of his major weight-bearing bones. It's a small little bone that's in the middle of your ligament that you can crack. In fact I cracked one my senior year and had to have it shot up the entire year. Mine wasn't in the big toe. His is in the big toe which is a little tougher to deal with. It was not a stress fracture and it wasn't any of those major bones. It was just a little small bone that is in the middle of a ligament.
Did it just happen on a freak play?
Just doing the Oklahoma drill and just kind of bracing himself to punch. Which guys do about 100 times a day and for some reason he felt it pop a little bit.
What was the pain like when you went through yours? Was it just annoying?
Again, his is in the big toe. So it's not fair to compare. It doesn't feel good, no. It's pretty tough.
Is the silver lining in this that you at least have a month of preseason practice to adjust versus three days heading into the season opener?
Yes, if there is a silver lining, I don't know that I'd put it that way but at least we do have some time to adjust and get guys comfortable to where we feel it makes us the best.
Can you talk about the other part about how it makes Jefferson go back to his old spot and Javon Harris back to his and how it affects the rest of the defense?
We aren't able to experiment like we were. That was only a five-day experiment so it's not like we lost a huge investment. Now guys are back to where they played all last year.
Who are the backups now?
Well, we'll see. We've got all kinds of guys working in there. We're getting a bunch of snaps so you can look at the depth chart and it's all still the same.
Will you continue to work Tony back there for when Travis comes back?
We can. I'm certain in some sets we might put them back there.
Have you learned anything about the eligibility of a couple of guys?
When I learn of eligibility I'll make a statement as soon as I know.
Bob, talk about kickoff coverage last year? It was good most of the time but every once in a while you'd have a blip and it ended up being a major blip. Have you concentrated more on it this fall?
We have, but we've always worked it a lot. At the end of the day, there are a couple of those instances where someone is right there to make a tackle and doesn't make it. You can't make the tackle for them. Some of it is guys and their ability to tackle, or their willingness to tackle and other times it's just getting in the right spaces. We have worked it more, but I can't say we didn't work it a year ago. We just didn't do it very well.
How are your special teams looking right now?
I think we're a lot better. Right now our kickers are really doing well kicking the ball. Jimmy Stevens and Michael Hunnicutt are much better than a year ago and not even close. Tress Way is hitting the ball - he gets as many 70 yarders and his does 50 yarders. He's hitting a bunch of them. Hopefully that will continue.
Bob, any young guys on defense catching your eye early that are standing out at all?
Geneo Grissom has looked good, which I guess that's been talked about a lot. Franklin Shannon is doing a nice job. Bennett Okotcha is doing well at corner.
How about the battle between Gabe Lynn and Jamell Fleming?
They're both doing well. They're doing a good job. Once we get into live Saturday scrimmage and have more snaps we'll be able to determine a little more there.