Big 12 media days: Five things we learned about the Sooners
DALLAS — The OU football team took its turn with the media Monday morning. Here are five takeaways from talking to the Sooner squad.
1. Oklahoma will rely on its offense this year.
The success of this year's Sooner team will hinge on whether or not starting quarterback Landry Jones and Co. will be able to come out firing on all cylinders with eight returning starters including previously injured seniors center Ben Habern and running back Dominique Whaley.
If the offense can avoid late-season meltdowns, and if a couple of wide receivers step up to complement Jones, this Sooner offense as a whole could be the most threatening weapon in the Big 12 Conference this year.
"Last year I didn't play as well as I was wanted to and then we had to move a lot of people around due to injuries," Jones said. "But this year I like these young guys; they've got great ball skills, they're really explosive and they're really coachable."
2. The Sooners are prepared to battle TCU and West Virginia.
The Sooners admitted that both incoming teams would benefit the league, but — as Habern said — now those teams become OU's enemies vying for the Big 12 title.
"We're going to prepare for them like we prepare for any team in the league," Habern said. "They're talented, ready to instantly compete and if we take them too lightly, they will beat us."
3. Preseason rankings don’t matter at all to OU.
Stoops said more than once that preseason rankings don't matter to him and Jones said last season the team was also ranked No. 1 and "nothing happened from that." And not having the nation's overall ranking has helped this Sooner team, Jones said.
"Last season we were walking on eggshells and it was more about not losing versus going out there to win," he said.
Now that the type of mentality toward the game is changing, look for a more relaxed and focused Sooner team to run out on the field this fall.
4. The Sooner defense is studying what went wrong last season.
While the offense seems to have its bearings straightened out, the OU defense also had to undergo a mindset change, too. This summer, the defense has already been watching last year's losses and learning from those mistakes.
"We knew for a fact that we didn't want to be like last year's team and that has been the biggest motivation for the secondary this offseason," senior defensive back Demontre Hurst said. "We know for a fact we are better than that and we take that to practice with us."
Learning to swallow pride and admit the defense was lacking last season has helped Hurst and the rest of his teammates own up to the fact that there was lost camaraderie on the defensive side of the ball that cannot happen this season if the Sooners want to achieve their goals.
Jones’ stress level have decreased after getting married.
After the subject was brought up during a couple of interviews as comic relief, the result of the July wedding was consistently this: Jones no longer has that stress to deal with in his personal life.
"He's definitely less stressed now," groomsman Habern said.
Even Jones admitted having the ring has made his life much easier to deal with.
"It's like you have the period of time where you have to act like you're married but you're really not," Jones said. "I'm much less stressed now that I'm a married man."
Tobi Neidy is a public relations senior and a sports reporter for The Daily. You can follow her on Twitter at @TobiAnn.