On Drew Barker since Hinshaw arrived: “No. 1, he’s done what’s supposed to off the field. I’m really proud of him. His GPA was a 3.75 last semester, had a 3.5 GPA this summer. So that’s No. 1. He’s handled his business off the field. And on the field, we started with our footwork, our motion, everything in January when I got here, and it’s been paying off. It’s been paying off with the receivers, it’s been paying off with all the quarterbacks. But Drew has gotten better and better and better all the way up to where we are now.”
On if Barker is more serious now: “I think when I came in here, he was very hungry for knowledge and wanting to do the right thing, but I don’t think he knew how. I laid it out for him. I explained all the details of what it’s like to be a pro quarterback, to be a professional and handle your business the right way. And he’s done that. He’s worked very hard at it, and it’s become a ritual to him, which is No. 1, the most important thing for a quarterback. You have to embrace that. You can’t just do it for a little bit and then go back to your old habits. He’s made it habitual, what he’s doing right now. He’s got to continue to do that, and so does Stephen Johnson.”
On challenging Barker to improve his brand: “One hundred percent. I said, ‘Let’s see, when I came in and said the name Drew Barker, what does everybody say?’ And the things that came out of my mouth were not good. The things that came out of the AD’s mouth were not good. The things that came out of the equipment room was not good. I said, ‘Your brand stinks. Let’s just call it how it is. So we have to change it.’ And the only way you're gonna change it is not with your mouth, it's gonna be with your actions and what you do on and off the field, and he's done what he's supposed to do to change his brand. Now we got to do it on the football field in game situations. We can't just do it in practice, we got to do it in the games. So we're constantly talking about, 'Put yourself in a game situation. Put yourself – you're playing Southern Miss in this drill right now. You're not playing against our defense, and you've got to go manage the game, manage the football, do everything you're supposed to do as a quarterback.”
On Vince Marrow saying Barker had to re-recruit himself: “Well, the bottom line is things that are in the past are in the past. You can't dwell on them, but then you have to go change the future. To do that, you have to work on the present, and the only way is to make every day better and that's how you get the present now and that's how you get the future to be good. So we've changed the past and now we're working on the present, which will, again, if you take one play at a time, it's gonna equal a season of success.
Never miss a local story.
On working on deep balls with receivers: We were overthrowing every deep ball that we threw. We're just chucking the ball as far as we can throw it, and that's not how you throw a deep ball. Ninety-five percent of deep balls are not touchdowns, OK? They're completions or they're incompletions. Our goal – and I think their mentality was – is that when you throw a deep ball you have to throw it perfect, it’s got to land and he’s got to catch it and run into the end zone. It doesn’t happen that way. Deep balls are caught down the field for explosive plays. Now we’re getting to the point where we’re throwing the ball where we give the receiver a chance. That’s our goal. If you give the receiver a chance then you have a chance to catch it. If you overthrow it, we have zero chance. So we’ve gotten to a point now where the receivers are running the route and they’re expecting the ball to be there, which is a good sign. So the receivers are running routes now, they’re in positions where they know they can go make a play. And the other thing is receivers, they need reps at making plays. They can’t just do it on Saturdays. So we’re giving the receivers more of a chance to make plays on deep balls down the field.”
On how Barker is throwing short and intermediate passes: “He’s very dialed in. He understands where his check downs are. He’s done a phenomenal job doing that, and that’s a big thing for a learning curve for a quarterback: to not force the ball into every single coverage, every single time. He’s doing a good job. He knows where his check-downs are, he knows where he’s going with the football. He’s got to continue to do that.”
On how they got Stephen Johnson: “When we got here, Coach Stoops said -- we had two quarterbacks transfer before I even got here, so we were down two quarterbacks -- so he said we’ve got to find somebody and we need to find somebody now. We had Gunnar Hoak coming in as a true freshman and we did not need to sign anybody. We needed to sign someone with experience that could come in and compete with Drew for the starting job. That’s when I searched all over. Guys were committed to other schools, junior college kids obviously, the kid we were looking for and we went all over the country and I looked all over, called everybody I knew and then the guy that stood out to me was Stephen Johnson because of his motion, because of his athletic ability and the fact of his story. We talked to Doug Williams and the whole deal. He had played there at Grambling … and we talked to Doug Williams and Doug Williams loved him, the whole deal. So we checked everything out about the kid and what a great human being he is and that kind of thing and that’s what brought us to signing Stephen Johnson.”
On what they like about Johnson: “He works very hard at trying to do everything the quarterback job is supposed to do. He’s supposed to get the ball to playmakers. He can make plays, too, with his feet. He is very fast. We’re excited about that. But he’s got to quit throwing the ball over wide receivers’ heads. He has a habit now -- he knows where to go with the football -- but his arm sometimes is not even with his body. He needs to relax and complete those balls. He can run and do all of those things, but there are situations where he’s got to be able to throw and complete it. He’s getting better and better and I really like where he is right now.”