Bob Stoops irritated by questions about Roy Finch, Trey Millard and running up the score
NORMAN — Three questions at Monday’s news conference seemed to annoy Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops more than others.
ON ROY FINCH
Tulsa World columnist John Hoover asked why junior Roy Finch, who started at running back late last season after Dominique Whaley was injured and finished the year with 605 yards and three touchdowns, didn’t play at all on offense Saturday.
Finch was moved to slot receiver in the preseason, and coaches have even said they’ve got specific sets for him.
Sooner coaches also said Finch’s move was about finding a way to get the best players on the field. At slot, Finch is behind junior Kenny Stills and true freshman Sterling Shepard on the depth chart.
Here’s that exchange:
Hoover: “Why didn’t Roy Finch play on Saturday?”
Stoops: “We play who we feel is set to play the best for us right now. You want to ask about why another 90 guys didn’t play? We play who we feel is set to play. … From today, through the end of the year, guys play who we feel are in the best position to play at the time. I’ll repeat that answer from here to the end of time.”
Hoover: “I don’t want to ask about 90 other guys, because Roy was the starting running back at the end of the year last year.”
Stoops: “OK, well he isn’t today.”
(Someone begins asking another question).
Stoops: “ …. And Dominique was the starting running back until he got hurt, if you remember.”
Stoops, of course, knows full well why a reporter would ask about Finch’s lack of offensive participation, and it was a perfectly valid question. Fans want to know why Finch, who has shown an ability to make big, exciting plays, wasn’t involved in the offense at all Saturday. Those fans are our readers, viewers or listeners, so it’s our job to ask.
ON TREY MILLARD
Later, I asked about fullback Trey Millard. We’ve heard all throughout training camp that Millard would get the ball more this year. But on Saturday, he got 2 carries for 6 yards (with a long carry of … 6 yards), and caught 2 passes for 19 yards.
Last season, Millard only got 24 carries, but one of them was a 61-yard touchdown run at Kansas State.
Running backs coach Cale Gundy said this during fall camp about getting Millard the ball: “That’s something we wanted to do, and we’re doing that. The thing with Trey is, he’s one of our best tight ends. He’s also our best fullback, and he’s also our best carrier. He’s a hybrid. You have to find ways to get him touches.”
So here’s my question and Stoops’ answer:
Kersey: “Bob, we heard a lot in camp about making an effort to get Trey Millard the ball more. The times he did get the ball, he seemed to gain pretty good yardage. Is there going to be more of an effort to get him the ball going forward, or was thought about at all through the game?”
Stoops: “No. I thought Damien ran it pretty decent, didn’t he? So did Dom. I’m not going to sit here and worry that each guy has gotta get this many (touches). It just happens to be in the flow of the game.”
I wasn’t suggesting Stoops needs to stand with a pen and pad and evenly distribute touches for offensive players. I was, again, asking because it’s something that I’ve been asked. A lot. Stoops’ fans and my readers have developed an adoration for Trey Millard because, in his limited touches, he’s done well with the ball.
ON RUNNING UP THE SCORE
Later, Hoover was trying to ask about preparing for a team like Florida A&M, in a game where you know you’ve got things to work on, but also don’t want to run the score up on an opponent that’s clearly overmatched.
Here’s that exchange:
Hoover: “You’ve always been a guy that has done whatever’s in your power to not run the score up on an opponent that’s outmatched. How will you approach …”
Stoops: “Even A&M (in 2003) when we were up 70-0.”
Hoover: “Laying down in the middle of the field, right?”
Stoops: “Yeah, Kejuan (Jones) take a hit when he should’ve slid.”
Hoover: “How will you try to approach that mentally for this week, knowing that you’ve got so much work to do coming back from UTEP …”
Stoops: “I don’t even think of things like that going into a game. You’re asking me something that I won’t even entertain. To me, it’s all about us and making improvement, being sharper. That’s all I think about.”
Hoover: “With what happened in Stillwater on Saturday night, does that enter into your mind that you don’t want to …”
Stoops: “I wasn’t in Stillwater, I’ve got nothing to do with that. I don’t think that way. You’re asking me something that … I don’t have an answer for you.”
Hoover: “I guess what I’m getting at is, that’s a team from your conference…”
Stoops: “I still don’t have an answer for you.”
Hoover: “… playing against a team from a conference that got beat 84-0.”
Stoops: “I don’t care anything about what happened. I don’t go there before any game.”
In the aftermath of Oklahoma State’s brutal beating of Savannah State, questions about these types of games and the value they present to a highly-ranked team seemed valid to me.
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