Stoops: Sooners Haven't Earned Consideration For Top Ranking Yet

Monday, September 17th 2007, 6:49 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops doesn't know which coach voted his team first on his top 25 ballot, but it certainly wasn't him.

After the Sooners moved up one spot to No. 4 in the coaches poll and got a first-place vote for the first time since last year's preseason poll, Stoops said he'd put Oklahoma at No. 1 numerous times _ but not this one.

``Hopefully we will this year at some point, but we're a long way from any of that,'' Stoops said Monday at his weekly news conference.

Oklahoma (3-0) has won its first three games by a total of 158 points, but fell one spot to No. 4 in The Associated Press Top 25 and now trails USC, LSU and Florida in both polls.

``That doesn't matter right now at all. Some of these games that some of these other teams played were huge games and they played well,'' Stoops said. ``You've got a long year to work through all that. All I'm thinking about is going to Tulsa Friday and playing there.''

Stoops admitted his team's play so far hasn't given him any glaring issues to be concerned about when he arrives at work. Even the Sooners' fumbling woes _ they led the nation in lost fumbles last season and then gave up three more in the first two weeks _ went away in the 54-3 victory against Utah State on Saturday.

But he said the Sooners ``haven't earned'' consideration as the nation's No. 1 team and there's still room for improvement.

``You come to work every day obsessed with improving what you have, regardless of where it's at,'' Stoops said. ``It can be better. That's what you're focused on. And each week presents a different style and different changes and different adjustments, and that's what you work on.''

This week's opponent provides a common challenge in the third spread offense the Sooners will face in four weeks, but Tulsa's scheme utilizes even more motion than Utah State did and moves at a frenetic pace. The Golden Hurricane (2-0) amassed 595 total yards, including 490 through the air, in a 55-47 win against BYU last week.

``It's a little bit different but there are similarities there that we have become used to and have kind of become routine for us in practicing,'' Stoops said, touting his defense's ability to cover and tackle in space for their success against the spread. ``Our guys have been working that way, so there is some carry-over and some familiarity.''

Stoops said it would be ``another major part of this season'' to play on the road for the first time and keep improving, and he said the Sooners wouldn't alter their routine to travel the day before a road game even though Tulsa is only a two-hour drive away.

There were mixed reviews on what impact crowd noise would have on redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford, who'll be making his first start outside Norman. Bradford has thrown 11 touchdown passes and only one interception in his first three games.

``I think the players just get out there and just become engrossed in what you're looking at and what you're playing that you don't (notice),'' Stoops said. ``I'm sure it will be to some degree, but in the end it just gets down to you communicate and focus on what's between the lines.''

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said BYU appeared to have difficulty communicating at Tulsa last week, and that may have played a role in the Cougars committing 14 penalties. He said he thought a new athletic complex in Tulsa's north end zone may be creating an echo for the crowd noise.

``It gives us a first chance to do some of the things you have to do to manage sound and communicate,'' Wilson said. ``It has been pretty good here at home. Now you need your first test on the road.

``We'll have a fair amount of fans there, I know, but we're expecting it to be pretty loud and pretty rowdy. I know they're excited about their team. It will be a good challenge, not just for (Bradford), but for all of us to see how we handle it on the road _ the crowd, travel, a different locker room, the whole deal.''