Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he expects former walk-on running back Dominique Whaley to pick up where he left off last season.
Whaley's breakout debut ended midway through the season when he suffered a broken ankle at Kansas State.
Stoops was asked Monday during the Big 12 teleconference if Whaley can be the same player he was last season when Whaley rushed for 627 yards and nine touchdowns, essentially in six games since he was injured on the first offensive series in Manhattan.
“I really think so,” Stoops said. “In my mind he looks to be back to what Dom always was, that's explosive, strong, fast. Whether he's 100 percent or not, maybe only he and the good Lord really know. But he sure looks it to me. I'm hopeful that will be the case.”
Here's a look at what else Stoops had to say during the teleconference:
Improvements made by quarterback Landry Jones, a four-year starter: “A lot of what he's always done his great leadership and hard work. But I believe we'll see more consistency because of two reasons. I believe he's a better player. He's more mobile this year. He's throwing a great ball. He's even improved that. And I believe players around him will be more consistent. That position needs (to be) supported. Hopefully the players around him I believe have a chance to be more consistent and be better this year.”
New rule of kickoffs moving up five yards and touchbacks being brought out to the 25-yard line: “What you're really going to have to gauge is watching all these NFL preseason games everyone is trying to gauge how long the ball is in the air. If they line drive it and you catch it five yards deep you still have a chance to get it out to the 25 or better. If it's hung up there a pretty good while and you catch it three or four yards deep you might just want to keep it in there. They're five yards closer to you in the cover team and you're going to get it at the 25... I think anything that can help with the injuries is positive. Heck, the NFL is doing it, we ought to do it. Some of the big blows and big injuries come on those big collisions on kickoffs. To limit some of those is a good thing.”
Defensive line newcomers filling voids left by two players leaving for the NFL and another being suspended: “I've been real pleased. Overall the guys up front are doing a really good job. R.J. Washington, David King and Chuka Ndulue have really been consistent. Rashod Favors, a young guy we moved over from linebacker, has made significant improvement. That's going to help. And we have two young guys, freshmen that as time goes I think can help us. Jordan Phillips, a new guy up front inside, has really made great improvement to go with the talent that he has. That can help us in there, too.”
How will the coaching staff handle a late kickoff Saturday night at UTEP: “What we've become fairly used to is take your time during the day. In the morning go to the stadium, walk around a little bit, spend some time at the stadium, do some substitutions, let 'em relax. You have your meals, your lunch and your breakfast and somewhere in the afternoon we'll start having our meetings to get their mind on the game. You just sort of pace yourself. Hopefully you're ready to play at the right time.”
The interior offensive line situation since injuries has affected depth: “As the season went along last year Adam Shead was one of our better performers and we expected Adam all along to be in there in a starting capacity. (Among) the other guys Gabe Ikard has been a great player for us. And Bronson Irwin is a guy who has really developed well over the years here and is ready for his time in there. We're definitely thin but I think there will be some good quality with the guys that do play.”
Thoughts on players that commit but still take visits: “He's not committed if he's taking visits. We tell 'em that. We say: ‘If that's not the case then you're not committed to us and we don't accept that commitment and we'll keep recruiting guys at your position.'... In the end you're kidding yourself if you think that's a commitment. I always kind of equate if I tell my wife: ‘We're going to get married in February but until we do I'm going to date these other three girls all through September, October and November until we get married.' It doesn't work.”