Oklahoma Begins Preparations for Classic Showdown

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ARLINGTON, TX -- The 11th ranked Oklahoma Sooners began their AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic preparations at Cowboys Stadium today as they looked ahead to a matchup with the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies. Spirited music filled the air as the Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) held a two-hour practice in shorts and shoulder pads.

Earlier in the day, Head Coach Bob Stoops and select players met with the media to talk about the upcoming matchup with the Aggies and getting back into the groove after the holiday break.

“I feel good in that we have healed up a little bit from some of the sprained ankles and some of the injuries we’d had through the year that we’ve kind of managed and worked through,” Stoops said.

Texas A&M will bring Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel into the Classic, but OU will counter with their own decorated leader in senior QB Landry Jones. Jones returns to the site of his first game action, when he took over for an injured Sam Bradford against BYU in 2009.

“Landry has been a very steady and excellent football player for us for four years. He’s been through a lot of games and a lot of challenges,” Stoops said. “Down the stretch for us he’s been fabulous.”

The Sooners finished the season with a five-game winning streak, claiming a share of their eighth Big 12 Championship. Over that
streak, Jones has thrown for 1,980 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Tonight OU will attend the annual Lawry’s Beef Bowl in Addison.

Afterwards, players and coaches will attend the Dallas Mavericks game against the San Antonio Spurs.

The 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be held on Friday Jan. 4th on FOX. Telecast starts at 6:30 p.m., with kickoff scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Gus Johnson will handle play-by-play duties with Charles Davis as the color analyst.

For the first time the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be heard around the world on ESPN Radio. Providing play-by-play is Brad Sham, the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys”, Ed Cunningham will provide color commentary and Ian Fitzsimmons will report from the sideline.

HEAD COACH BOB STOOPS

Opening statement: “On behalf of our football program here at the University of Oklahoma, we are incredibly excited about this opportunity to compete down here at the Cotton Bowl. We are looking forward to play an excellent football team in Texas A&M, a team we have a long history with and did not get to play this year. Texas A&M is a great football team that Coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have done a great job in a short period of time in building.
“It is a great opportunity, a great venue to play. Our players are excited about it. I believe the game sold
out in one day, so there is great interest in the game by the fans. Overall, it will be an exciting week for us
and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
On the difference of Texas A&M being an SEC team: “The only thing you see that is different is that
you have different schemes when you have new coaches. I think it has been quite obvious to everyone that
they brought a Big 12 offense to the SEC and have lit it up. They are third in total offense, also third in
scoring offense. The way they have spread it out, they’ve handled those SEC defenses fairly well. In the
end, that is what you notice: Johnny Manziel, the spread attack, no huddle, throwing the football around,
and Johnny pulling it down and running when he doesn’t like what he see’s. It is a challenge. Defensively,
they are active up front with their linebackers and great defensive ends.”
On having confidence going into any game with Landry Jones as your quarterback: “Absolutely.
Landry has been a steady and excellent football player for us for four years. He has been through a lot of
games, and challenges. The way he has played down the stretch for us, he has been fabulous. We have
great confidence in Landry and we recognize what a great quarterback Johnny Manziel is, but we love our
quarterback as well.”
On what sticks out the most as a player regarding Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel: “His ability to
make plays. If you do not cover guys, he puts the ball where it needs to be. If you do cover him, uh oh,
there you go, he’s running. He just has a knack for making something happen even when you have played
well. It is hard to explain, he just has a way to make plays.”
On what he noticed about the two Texas A&M tackles and the challenges the Texas A&M
offensive line presents: “Matthews and Joeckel. They both have great ability and great size. You can see
the experience, technique, and everything in really the whole offensive line. They have been taught well and
are talented guys who have worked their craft in a great way.”
Coach Stoops on what Landry Jones has meant to the program of Oklahoma: “Landry has had a
long and great journey. It started here out of nowhere when Sam Bradford got hurt, and he genuinely could
not wait for his opportunity to go out and play. Through the year he did a great job in tough circumstances
with the other guys around him that were hurt. He has grown and developed through the years. A great
worker, a great talent, and you look at the records and the championships; it has been special. He has
been a great QB for us.”
On the momentum the team has going into the AT&T Cotton Bowl: “I feel throughout the whole year,
each week is a little bit different. We fought through some tough games and found a way to win them. This
will be another challenge, but I feel good that we have healed up a little bit from the injuries we’ve had. So,
hopefully we will be a little stronger, and I believe we will be coming into this game.”
On what type of team Texas A&M looks like: “People always ask, “Is it the Big 12 offenses or the SEC
defenses, or lack of Big 12 defenses? Or is it this that and the other?” I always said that it has been a little
bit of both. Again, when you look at them, they are a Big 12 offense. We run a lot of the same plays.
Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Baylor, we all run the same plays. Call it what you want as to
how they look, but they are an SEC team now.”
On the health of Austin Woods: “It is an incredible story. His journey and going through chemotherapy
and fighting cancer for the last year. We knock on wood and pray that he continues to be cancer free. He
has been an inspiration to the whole team the way he has handled it. You wouldn’t know about it if it
weren’t for us talking about it. He hasn’t changed the way he does things.
“He has missed very few practices and workouts through the entire time. For example, he would miss a
Monday practice because he was in the hospital and Tuesday he would be out on the practice field. Anyone
that was looking for a reason not to work, he sure had it and always declined to do all he could to help the
team and continues to do so.”
On the successful coaching career of Kevin Sumlin: “Kevin is a bright guy, relates with players well,
and has a great background. He has all the enthusiasm and competitiveness and things that you want in a
head coach. He did a great job with us and felt he would, moving forward continue to do well.”
On the Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma series, and Texas A&M leaving the Big 12: “It is funny; we seem to
have all kinds of rivals. Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas State, Texas A&M. Ffor whatever
reason we seem to be a lot of peoples rival. Playing them was always a challenge. Texas A&M is an
reason we seem to be a lot of peoples rival. Playing them was always a challenge. Texas A&M is an
excellent program. You always knew you had to come prepared to play. It is sad to see anyone leave.
However, we are all businessmen, we are all big boys, we are doing fine too. If that is what needs to
happen that is what needs to happen. I say it a lot; very few things in this world stay the same forever. You
just have to keep evolving with it.”
On the Cotton Bowl becoming a part of the BCS playoff system: “Absolutely. I think this is the perfect
location. It is easy for people to travel in and out of. The way everyone here manages this game, it is much
like a BCS bowl in everything that you do. From facilities to practice to gifts for the players, it is, they are
all set up for it.”
QB LANDRY JONES
On his career and being able to start and end it in Cowboys Stadium: “It has been a ride. It’s been
fun and I have been extremely blessed to come this far in my career to have a chance to end it where I
started it. I am thankful that God has allowed me to do great things at the University of Oklahoma.”
DB TONY JEFFERSON
On Texas A&M’s offense: “They are a typical Big 12 offense, just in SEC form. They spread you out and
do the same type of things we have seen all year in the Big 12.”
DT JAMARKUS MCFARLAND
On playing against a Heisman Trophy winner: “You can practice for it in some ways, but you still have
to play your style of game. You can’t change what you have done all season to be successful. But, you do
have to be aware and respect the talent that he has and keep him in the pocket and make him use his arm.



 
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