Sooners Have It All
No. 1 teams have it all, and Oklahoma is a No. 1 team.
"They have play-makers everywhere," summarized Kansas State defensive coordinator Bob Elliott. "They have the best line we've faced, they have running backs that can do damage, they have wide receivers who can go get the ball and turn short passes into long gains, and they have a pretty good quarterback."
Jason White, that "pretty good" quarterback is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
"He's really good," Elliott said. "He's deserving of all that Heisman-hype. He manages that offense really well, throws the ball well and makes the right reads."
White completes 65 percent of his passes for 279 yards per game. He's thrown 40 touchdowns, just six interceptions and is the nation's leader in pass efficiency.
White, 6-foot-3, 221-pounds, throws a touchdown for every 11 passing attempts, has 17 completions of at least 40 yards, has eight games (out of 12) with at least three touchdown passes, and throws an interception only once in every 65 attempts.
Oh yes, don't think White is around at the end of the game to pad those stats. Against Texas A&M, he did't play a snap in the second half, and in six other games didn't play past the midway point of the fourth quarter.
"He plays with such poise," said KSU defensive end Thomas Houchin on what impresses him the most about White.
"They have such big-play ability," said Andrew Shull, who plays the end opposite of Houchin. "You watch tape and one play after another is a 50-yard pass or a 40-yard run. He (White) has them in the right play at the right time play after play, and game after game."
White has a variety of targets, but his favorite is 5-11, 187-pound Mark Clayton, who leads the Big 12 with 107 receiving yards per game, while his 71 catches rank third.
"He's better than Roy Williams (Texas) and runs better routes than Rashaun Woods (O-State). He's shorter and that gives him better control of his body," said KSU defensive back Cedrick Williams. "He's up for all the awards and at the top of the world right now, but I'm not going to back down from him."
Three other Sooners have caught at least 10 passes, which includes Brandon Jones with 41 receptions.
The Sooners average just 159 rushing yards per game, which ranks only eighth in the Big 12. But with Renaldo Works (71 yards per game, 8 TDs) and Kejuan Jones (65 yards per game, 10 TDs), Elliott says, "We have to stop the run first. If you let them run, they have the talent to do it."
Providing holes for those backs is an offensive line that goes 317, 303, 289, 312 and 313 from tackle-to-tackle. Two of those — center Vince Carter and right tackle Jammal Brown — earned all-Big 12 honors in a vote taken by the league's coaches.
Overall, Elliott says, "We've played teams that can throw it, but not live and die with the throw like these guys do."
In summing up the task, Elliott says K-State does not have to play perfect, but it does have to play hard.
"Our guys have confidence and they know if they play hard, they have a chance," said Elliott. "If you play hard and make a mistake, at times it works out because of the intensity and speed with which you play."
What is a must is getting off to a decent start against a Sooner team that has scored on its first possession in 10 of the 12 games its played.
"We have to make sure this is a close game all the way through," Elliott said. "If we stay with them from the start, you never know what can happen at the end. You talk about surviving the first onslaught against teams like Nebraska and Oklahoma. We need to be ready right off the bat."
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