Mike Stoops began the press gathering with an opening statement:
Mike Stoops: “I thought defensively we did some very good things. You take out four plays we pretty much limited everything they do. Being on the field for 35 minutes, I felt we played exceptionally well. I think our position was good on the ball.
“Copeland Bryan was exceptional. You can see what he brings to our team. He is a guy who has four sacks in one game and one play. It shows you the type of player he is. He played well for us.
“Offensively we broke down in a lot of areas in areas that really hurt us. We had some plays there.
“Our quarterback play really hurt us for whatever reason. Richard had his worst game. It is hard to do well when your quarterback makes some mistakes that he made in that game. He virtually threw the ball up for grabs three times. That is something we don’t coach and we don’t expect out of our quarterback.
Stoops: “They are a terrific football team. They have no weakness. They make you defend the field and they defend the whole field. It is a tremendous challenge. These guys have played them every year. It is no different than when we went over their last year. They were no. 1 last year. We did some good things on both sides of the ball. It will be a fun week and a fun game to go out and play the No. 1 team in the country.
“We worry about ourselves here. We have to get some things going in a more positive direction, more consistent direction is our biggest focus.”
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On whether it will take a perfect effort to beat USC.
Stoops: “Your margin for error is minimal. I am impressed with how they wear people out and their overalls strength and their depth at virtually every position. They stress you pretty much for 60 minutes.
It not only wears you down physically, but it wears you down mentally.”
On Reggie Bush:
Stoops: “He is fantastic. He is the closest thing to Barry Sanders you will probably see in this lifetime. A guy who can stop and start and make people miss in a phone booth and his ability to accelerate at top sped once he does make that cut. He is a terrific athlete and he plays strong.”
On the close first half with the Trojans last year:
Stoops: “Not much. They run the same plays. They are going to do the same things. they are showing the same offense they did last year. it is USC’s offense. I don’t know if it is Norm Chows’s, they can fight over that. It looks like the same plays to me. All I know is they have awfully good players running it. they execute things very well.”
On Matt Leinart:
Stoops: “He is effortless on the field. A great toughness and great vision. He makes everything look pretty simple.”
On the whether being number one has an intimidation factor to opponents and if you get the opponent’s best shot when you are on top:
Stoops: “I don’t think so. I think everybody plays better when you are the top team in the country. We prepared like we are going to get everybody’s best shot.
“If kids down deep believe, I don’t know I can’t get inside every kids heart and mind, but we prepared for the best.
“You can only play four games at the highest peak level emotionally. You just have to make sure you are well prepared and the kids play and execute. You play 3 or 4 games that are emotionally you are at the peak. That is what I believe. coaches say you go in them all the same, but there are games that kids play at a higher level than others. In the other games you just hope you are good enough to go out there and play and if you play them sound and consistently than you don’t have many bad games.”
On USC’s running game:
Stoops: “They are hard to load up and then you load up for the run game and then they are very quick to hurt you through their passing game. They know the strengths and weaknesses are of every coverage and they have the people to hurt you out there on the perimeter. It is a little bit of a cat and mouse game. You try to show them some different looks. They have an answer for everything. They are extremely well coached and they block people and they run hard. It is a simple game when you run and block and pass like they do. They make it look very fundamentally easy, but they tremendous players doing so as well.”
On the play of Syndric Steptoe:
Stoops: “Step has a lot of stop and go. Step is great speed and is good when you give him a little room. He has been a big play guy for us the last two years. We have to continue to get him the ball. he is a play maker.”
On OL Adam Hawes:
Stoops: “I thought Adam did a lot of good things starting his first game against a quality opponent. We are starting only one senior on the offensive line. He showed good promise. I thought he handled himself well. I am happy with his overall play.”
On whether they are considering making wholesale changes to the starting line-up:
Stoops: “We play the best players available and that give us the best chance to run our offense and our defense. We will continue to try to develop our younger players, whether it be on second team or scout team. We can try to move forward but stay with the base groupings we have. We re not going to make any wholesale changes to either side of the ball.”
On whether they would consider playing some true freshmen who they were trying to redshirt:
Stoops: “It depends on the situation and if it helps you win even if it is one game. We are here to try to win every game we can. I don’t know what that number is going to be. We are going to try to win games. I don’t think there is anyone right now that is redshirting that could come off and make a huge difference from us winning or losing.”