Preparing for Adrian Peterson

Transitioning from facing two former national leading rushers to facing one that finished second in the Big 12 last season should be a walk in the park, right? If only it were that easy. Tuesday afternoon, Coach Bill Snyder and players addressed the issue of facing sophomore standout Adrian Peterson and the effort it will take to derail the sooner rushing attack.

When asked about Peterson, Coach Bill Snyder had nothing but positive things to say about the back. "He's just a fantastic running back," Snyder said. "He's got size. He's got speed. He's got athletic ability. He's a tough young guy."

So far this season, Peterson is averaging 113 yards rushing per game, third in the Big 12. It's nothing to scoff at, but it's far below his 148 yard per game average last season. "He's a marked man right now," said junior running back Thomas Clayton. "Any defense that goes against those guys is triggered obviously to stop him."

His numbers may be down, but the level of respect Snyder showed for his ability certainly wasn't. "He runs laterally very well. He runs downhill extremely well," Snyder said. "You can't arm-tackle him. That's for sure. And it's hard to tackle him with just one guy sometimes. He's just a very, very fine player. Very talented."

Snyder compared Peterson's drop in production to Darren Sproles' last year. "Everybody thought something was wrong," Snyder said. "Nothing was wrong. Darren was just as good as he always was. I'm sure that's true with Peterson as well."

Wildcat players also voiced respect for Peterson's ability. "He uses his size to his advantage; he uses his speed to his advantage," junior linebacker Maurice Mack said. "Once he gets to that corner, he can let the jets fly.

Mack said the defense had confidence in facing Peterson. "You've got to have confidence, whether you're going against Adrian Peterson or Darren Sproles or any running back out there," Mack said. "You have to have confidence that everyone is going to hit their gaps, and everyone is going to shoot to the ball, and make tackles. If you don't have confidence in your team and yourself, you're not going to play well at all."

Senior defensive end Tearrius George said the key to stopping Peterson will be to affect the direction he's going.

"Get him moving laterally," George said. "From watching film, he's a north and south runner." Not that there is a magical bullet to stop the sooner star, but these Cats have clearly been watching film and have put a premium on stopping Peterson. Thus far in the season, many teams the sooners have faced this year have geared defenses towards stopping the run and then forcing Oklahoma into a one-dimensional attack.

Wildcat running back Parrish Fisher, who showed he knows a little bit about running the football on Saturday, also gave a vote of confidence for his defensive teammates.

"If our team comes in there and plays like they can- wraps up and if we get all 11 guys to the ball, (Peterson's running) won't be an issue," Fisher said. "It will show out there what our defense can really do."

What must the Wildcats do to win?
Mack said the game could be by whichever team defends the run best.

"It's going to be a good defensive game," Mack said.
The old adage goes if you cut of the head of the snake the rest dies and in this case stopping Adrian Peterson looks to be a priority. If the Cats are to go into Norman and win this game, limiting Peterson from the type of runs he made late in the game with the outcome in the balance against Tulsa will be pivotal. Peterson is the type of back that will get his yards regardless but limiting those yards and when he gets them are a key. The other factor is rhythm and attempting to keep Adrian from getting comfortable as he is the type of back who can change a game as it wears on.

So what is the key to winning? Well that is for the defensive coaches to answer and scheme but make no bones, stopping Peterson could be "the" key. Teams that have been able to force the sooners into trying to win games throwing the ball this year have met with success.

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