Junior linebacker and team captain, Travis Lewis, has been entrusted with media responsibilities this week when others have not. As the Sooners look to refocus for another road test against Baylor in Waco, Texas, how are things playing out on the practice fields and the locker room early in the week?
Q: Travis, talk about Jeremy Beal for a minute. You guys have had a lot of good defensive ends come through here, how does he stack up? Travis Lewis: At the top of the list. He has an engine that does not stop. He's a great team guy, but on the field he's a beast. I wouldn't want to play with anyone else but Jeremy. He's a great player.
Q: What about in the locker room and off the field during the off season? Lewis: He's a great teammate and hard worker. He didn't win that award, which we give out to our seniors, for nothing. He is what it means to be a Sooner athlete and a great teammate.
Q: Some say that his film-work ethic is as good as anyone's. They say he can almost anticipate any play because he's done so much work in the film room. Is he one of the best you've seen in that regard? Lewis: Yeah, he's up there. But Jeremy is very instinctive. He doesn't have to get a lot of film to know pressure points and plays. He's a great player when it comes to instincts, it just comes natural to him.
Q: Coach Stoops limited the media availability to just a certain number of you guys. Do you think that will help the younger guys focus on the task-at-hand this week which is a big road game challenge? Lewis: No, we just don't have a lot to say. We need to go out there and win, there's not much else. You can get 20 players to say the same thing. We need to go out there and get a win this week.
Q: Talk again about how different this team plays at home, I think you guys have out-scored your three conference opponents, at home, by 110 points. The more you think about it, is it the want -to, the passion or other things? What are the keys to playing so well here at home? Lewis: Going out there and playing our football. It's simple, we just need to go out there and not beat ourselves. It's pretty simple with what we need to do.
Q: What does the loss to Adrian Taylor, in the locker room, mean to you guys? Lewis: We didn't lose him in the locker room, we lost him on the field. He's still a voice in the locker room and he's still a great teammate. You'll never see Adrian with his head down, he's a very upbeat person and he's with us, just not on the field.
Q: How much does it mean to you that he is still hanging around? Lewis: Big time. We need him in that locker room. As a team, we need him. And I hope he knows that. I think it's hard to get down on yourself due to the fact that it's your senior year, you're already fighting on one leg and then you endure an injury like that. He knows we need him. I talked to him this morning and he'll always be there. Adrian doesn't allow him to get down on himself.
Q: Austin Box is a guy who's battled through a lot of injuries, and it looked like he had one of his better games on Saturday. Can you talk about what he's been through and what he brings to the table? Lewis: We have some players who've been through a lot, who've had to fight through a lot of injuries. I think it speaks a lot about his character to keep fighting. You know Tom (Wort) got the job and Austin kept fighting and came back, even when he wasn't the starter. But he kept working and kept preparing as if he was the starter. This is what happens. When you get opportunities, players like that really take advantage of them.
Q: Can he be a difference maker for you guys down the road? Lewis: Oh yeah, of course. Austin is that kind of player. I know you haven't seen a lot of him because he's been so banged up, but when he's in there he's not really making mistakes, he's making a lot of plays.
Q: You guys said that he was playing really well in camp, is he close to where he was back in the fall? Lewis: I think he is. I think it's more about endurance for him, and getting that stamina back. But as far as his health, I think he's 100-percent. He's just become a little fat boy, he's trying to work off some of those pounds (laughing).
Q: How much can it help Tom, now that he's rotating in-and-out of every play? Lewis: I think it will help both of them big time. I know that no one likes to have a guy who you rotate in-and-out with, but when you're in there you do get to go 100-percent speed because you don't know when the next time will be that you get out there. You can get in there and fly around, make plays and separate yourself from the others. Competition is always good. Endurance wise, it will help Austin out and I hope that Tom takes this as a challenge. Hopefully, it will motivate him to work that much harder, because all of the great one's do. We all had to fight for playing time or a spot. The great one's learn from it and come back stronger.
Q: This Baylor team you'll see isn't the same old Bears team you're used to seeing. Lewis: No, they have some beasts at the skill position, especially with the quarterback. He is one of the top, if not the top duel-threat quarterback in the nation. We're going to have our hands full with this offense. Everybody knows about the numbers they're putting up, the points per game and the yards they gain. They do it all. It's going to really test us.
Q: You were really the leader hairstyle-wise at the linebacker position. Now that Austin is back, who has the best hair in the middle? Lewis: I've always had the best hair. C'mon now. Box has that (Justin) Beiber/Tom Brady look going. It's a bad look. The way he brushes it behind is ear like women do. Then you'll see him get out of the shower and he has the whole Steven Segal thing going. I tried to tell him, but I guess that's his thing. So, I'll let him run with it.
Q: You've chased Robert Griffin around a few times, what's it like to corral a guy with that much athletic ability? Lewis: It's not fun (laughing). He doesn't just have speed, he's got quickness too. He can juke you and he can get away from you. If you let him out of the pocket then he's going to make things happen. Our biggest thing is keeping him in front of us and when we get a chance to tackle him to hit him.
Q: What's the main difference with him this year, as opposed to years past? Lewis: I think, as with any player, he's more mature. He knows that offense better, I don't think he just sat around last year while he was hurt. He was in that quarterback room learning the system better. He's a smarter player and he's making better decisions. He's not just a freshman who's being thrown out there. He's a veteran now.
Q: He looks like he's getting out of the pocket now for different reasons. He used to scramble to run, now it looks as if he scrambles to buy his receivers more time? Lewis: Yeah, he uses his legs to make plays down the field. One of the up-sides to him is the fact that he can use his legs to buy more time to extend the play. He's a great player all around.
Q: If you never had to answer a road question, would you die a happy man? Lewis: I would (laughing). But that's up to us to silence all the doubters, to prove something to ourselves and to prove to everybody else that we're a great team, regardless of where we play at.
Q: Are you a superstitious guy? Lewis: I have some habits that I do, I'm not very superstitious.
Q: Will you change anything up this weekend? Lewis: No, I do the same thing. Well, I don't do the exact same thing because I'm not in my own locker room. But as far as the order I get taped and what I eat, it all stays the same.
Q: Would it be a decent idea to shake it up this week? Lewis: No, I just think we need to go out there and keep doing what we do. We can't worry about switching things up. We just need to go out there and not beat ourselves.
Q: It's not as if you guys are getting blown out on the road, these are fairly close games that usually come down to a high snap, a dropped pass or a missed field goal, With that being said, is there really a need to change things up? Lewis: If we can just focus on the little things, and not beat ourselves, I don't think any team comes close to us.