Stamper More a Part of this One

MIAMI -- Two years ago Ryan Stamper was a redshirt freshman linebacker who had made all of four tackles in his career. His trip to the BCS Championship Game was a vacation in just about every way. Now the versatile Gator linebacker is a key player on a much improved unit that's getting ready to face the most prolific offense in modern college football history.

Oklahoma has scored 702 points this season including 60-plus in the last five games. The Sooners average 206 yards on the ground and another 356 through the air. They are great on third down (52%) and great on fourth down (57%). Their red zone efficiency is 95%.

Stamper talks about the game and such with yours truly and an assortment of media guys

LV: Ryan, it's game week for the BCS Title, how excited are you now?

RS: I'm just so excited about it, man. Being from Jacksonville I've never been to South Florida before. Just seeing all the palm trees and the beaches it's amazing. It's my second national championship game, and it just feels real good knowing that this time I'm much more of a contributor than I was for the last one.

LV; Has your preparation been a lot different knowing you are going to play this time when two years ago you knew you probably wouldn't?

RS: It's a whole lot different. This is definitely more of a business trip. We're definitely going to have a good time and enjoy all the things, but the main point is to be Oklahoma. That's why we're here.

LV: You guys have faced a lot of good offenses, but nothing like this one. what is your assessment of Oklahoma?

RS: I see a team with a lot of athletes, just like us. They're a team that's well coached and has an offense that is no huddle. You really have to be in great shape to play against these guys because right after they run a play they get right up to the line and call another one. That's how they get so many plays and put up a lot of points on defenses.

LV: How much of a problem is that for you guys? You guys live off situational substitutions and utilizing your depth and that's hard to do when a team never huddles.

RS: It really is tough to make our substitutions. We had a scrimmage yesterday to focus on making our substitutions and running guys on and off the field so I think we'll be ready for it.

MG: When you watch tape of them do you see other defenses getting confused out there?

RS: All the time. When we're watching the film they don't show the in-between parts they just go to the next play. But when you get to the next play you see defensive players everywhere and they call the hike. And it's not just one team they did it again; they did it against everyone they played and they'd run a play when the other team wasn't lined up and they get a lot of big plays like that.

MG: Has the Oklahoma running game been overlooked because of the success of Sam Bradford and the passing attack?

RS: I think so because the guy (DeMarco) Murray is hurt, but I think No. 29 (Chris Brown) is really good. He runs hard and is fast so I don't think their running game will take a step back even with No. 7 (Murray) not in there."

LV: Talk about the challenge of dealing with Gresham who is a ginormous (made up word) TE with excellent speed.

RS: I don't think it will be difficult. We've faced some good tight ends that we would have to double cover in certain situations. The South Carolina TE Cook was really good and we did pretty well with him. He (Gresham) is a dynamic athlete and he's projected to go in the first round but I don't think he'll be too much of a problem.

Ryan Stamper finished the season with 35 tackles including a QB sack and recovered a fumble. But his value goes far beyond numbers on a stat sheet. Don't believe me? Ask Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.

"Ryan Stamper is the most reliable football player on our team. If you were to take a football player, and you can ask these two guys right here, if you were to take a guy on our football team and say who's a guy that you know you can always count on... Ryan Stamper."

Add you can add sophomore cornerback Joe Haden to the list of those who admire and respect Stamper.

"I definitely agree with that. I always mess with Stamper all the time, he's he looks a lot older than he is (laughter), so we call Stamper the grown man of the defense (laughter). He just always does his job, just always kind of like Coach will tell you, left, right, right, left, be in this spot, be in position, and when you look at film, he'll say hold the B gap, Stamp is going to be in the B gap. Just little stuff coach tells him to do, he's always going to be there."

Fightin Gators Top Stories