We’re back to our Monday press briefing featuring head coach Matt Wells, tight end Donta Thompson, and defensive back Adrian Frye.
Wells first talks about the Sooners:
Jalen Hurts playing as good as anybody in the country. Obviously in the Heisman talk and justifiably so.
Trey Sermon is a big strong, athletic back. They have a few of them. Rhamondre is extremely talented and twitchy and thick. You have got to tackle him and wrap up and get population to the ball.
You look at it on defense. Kenneth Murray is a Sunday player. Gallimore is a Sunday player. And they’ve got some younger guys up front and in that front seven that are long, strong and athletic. They just haven’t played a ton but you can see it on film; they flash on film.
Both corners have great make-up speed. They’ve got track speed. They’ve got straight-line speed. You see them on tape get beat by a step and they’re right back on guys.
So poses a big challenge. But like I say our guys are ready, looking forward to it.
With the quarterback situation for us, you’re going to see both guys. Not sure how that’s going to play out. We’ll see how the week goes in practice and we’ll have a plan to find exactly for those guys by the end of the week before we get on the bus to head to the airport.
So with that I’ll go ahead and open it up for any questions.
Q. When you watch Jalen Hurts on tape, you saw a dynamic quarterback in Khalil Tate. Now you see him. Are they similar when you watch them or is there a big difference between the two?
COACH WELLS: No, I think Jalen Hurts throws the ball better. He’s thicker. He’s stronger. He’s more of a power runner, but don’t confuse power runner for a lack of speed. That’s not the case with No. 1. He’s got really good speed.
Khalil Tate’s got elite speed. But I don’t think Khalil throws it as well as Jalen. And he’s not as thick and powerful.
Next, we move to the discussion of the quarterback, which is the $64,000 question and Wells said that Jett Duffey and Jackson Tyner will both play:
Q. Speaking of your quarterbacks for practice this week are you going to do reps 50/50 or give one quarterback a little bit more than the other? Have you thought about that yet?
COACH WELLS: We have, yeah. I’m not going to reveal it because as I said we’re going to define the plan as the week goes. We’ll have it defined at the end of the week. But you’re going to see both of them the in the game. So you’ll see both in practice. But you all won’t see it because I’m going to close practice all week.
Q. Looking at last year’s game against OU, (indiscernible) Jett did get some reps, and how comfortable he was against the Sooners knowing he has experience?
COACH WELLS: It was a completely different defensive coordinator and defensive front and structure.
Q. What do Jackson and Jett bring to the team?
COACH WELLS: I think Jett brings some experience that you mentioned in the Big 12 and he’s played well at times. He is elusive. He’s got some athletic ability when he does pull it down and run.
Jackson has done a really nice job of coming in and learning our offense really quickly, and kind of just going through it for the first time in training camp. And from what he lacks in terms of game experience, I think he makes up in his knowledge and how quick he picked up our offense.
Wells also confirmed that Xavier Martin would be the emergency quarterback and that Alan Bowman’s shoulder did not require any surgery, which is good.
And Wells talks about how the offensive line needs to get down some of the small things and the Oklahoma defense and what they do:
Q. How do you feel the offensive line performs against Arizona and what do they need to do against Oklahoma?
COACH WELLS: I mean, I don’t know what they’re going to do against OU. But we talked about Arizona, I think, a week ago at this point. There were times where we didn’t protect the QB well. We weren’t executing in terms of our protection and kind of the — not just the assignment, but there’s things that happen in the middle of an assignment and protection that if they do this, we do this, and I’m helping here, I’m not helping here. And we haven’t got all those intricacies down yet. Certainly need to do a better job of protecting the passer, we would all agree to that.
Q. This Oklahoma defense, how different is it from last year? I know you spent most of your time studying this year, but it’s relatively the same group of guys just in a different scheme, right? What are they doing (indiscernible)?
COACH WELLS: They’re getting off the field, creating negative yardage, lost yardage plays, negative yardage plays. They’re getting guys behind the chains. They’re canceling out gaps up front. They’re sound in the secondary. Their guys are playing confident.
And I think that is a testament to coaching because the confidence that they, to me, display on tape goes back to understanding a scheme. And if you understand something then you play confident. Therefore, you play fast.
I think in three games that’s pretty evident of Coach Grinch’s defense, and it is a different scheme. But you can tell that they’re rotating some guys in. They’re getting a lot of their 2s in — and I’m not saying when the game has gotten out of hand, certainly that’s the case — but they feel confident with some guys that they’re giving them playing time early in the first quarter.
Wells also talks a bit about the offense and the question was about if he wants balance among the positions (this is the second time we’ve somewhat had this question) and Wells says that balance is good, but the end part of the answer regarding that safety that’s maybe double-teaming T.J. Vasher is what will help tilt the offense a bit:
Q. What kind of balance would you like to see among ball distribution with your receivers? And, B, is there any concern at all about I guess X in particular, you haven’t had a lot of catches from those guys yet?
COACH WELLS: No, no concern. But I think the ball distribution, you want it to be decently balanced across with the Hs, the Xs and the Zs. Certainly if you get into game and a guy’s got the hot hand or they’re giving you something you’ve got to take it, that’s not a coaching cliche but you’ve got to.
But certainly it can’t be an end balance in terms of T.J.’s catching all these balls. And the X position isn’t — it doesn’t have to be a certain guy, it can be RJ and EZ together combined with all the Hs combined with some at the tight end spot.
I think that’s certainly, I think all of us on offense are cognizant of that. But the — well, not but, but and it’s going to allow — the balance is going to allow us to I think take advantage of stuff. If not they’re going to tilt safeties to T.J. every time. They’re going to bracket T.J., they’re going to (indiscernible) on him, they’re going to combo him in the red zone, and I would, too, until somebody can prove they can make plays.
Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson also met with the media and I don’t have time to really break down what he said, although I thought it was interesting that he said that it wasn’t the 99-yard drive that deflated the defense, but the drive before that. Interesting to see him recall that drive (I’m sure he’s re-lived it quite a bit). You can check out RedRaiderSports’ Billy Watson summarizes Patterson’s media scrum and also has a couple of quotes from defensive end Eli Howard.
Defensive end Eli Howard said the Arizona game is helping the team prepare for the Sooners, the bye week was perfect timing. The San Angelo native also discussed how impressive Oklahoma is.
“Despite the quarterback situation, (the bye week) came at a perfect time for us. I mean, you start conference, you’ve had three games, a fourth of the year done, you really can kind of self-evaluate and kind of see what we need to work on as a team during that week, and then, you know, also prepare for OU. So, I think it was perfect timing. We’re blessed because we have another (bye week). Right now, we’re just focusing on trying to beat OU now.”
A-J Media’s Don Williams writes about the X-receiver spot mentioned above:
Turner, during his years at Louisiana-Monroe, was productive in games the Warhawks played against multiple power-five conference opponents. Wells lauded what Ezukanma showed in preseason practice.
Both are ostensibly first-year players for the Red Raiders, though. Compare that to Tarver, who last year at Utah State was a senior who made 32 career starts.
Ezukanma’s a redshirt freshman, and Tech hasn’t had a receiver of his age put up eye-popping numbers this decade. Since 2010, the most catches by a Tech freshman or redshirt freshman was 32 by Jakeem Grant — and for only 284 yards. The most receiving yards by a Tech freshman or redshirt freshman since 2010 was 545 by Vasher, who caught 29 passes.
The only item that I’d mention is that Turner is playing out of position a bit, in that he played inside receiver at Louisiana-Monroe (I think).