Nothing like a Red River Shut Out to get players, coaches and Sooner fans in a great mood. We've said here that Texas should have the talent and experience edge next October. That may be true. But Oklahoma retains the mental and coaching edge.
Before last week I would have given Texas pretty good odds next year. However, after another Bob Stoops 'skull dance' on Mack Brown's head - I'd say the Sooners are at least even money at this point. Of course the performance by fabulous freshman Adrian Peterson pushes me firmly toward that opinion. And just as important was the failure of Vincent Young to dominate, or even perform as well as last year.
It does indeed appear to be true that UT players regress with every year spent in Austin. Too much Sixth Street? Too little coaching? Too much 'Texas is best' BS? Probably a little of each. So much has been said that OU does not have to 'negative recruit' against the 'Horns. The national media, Texas media, pro scouts and even the UT players are doing a better job of driving recruits toward Norman.
With each Red River victory the talk increases. After a while the talk becomes reality. And facts are hard to refute, even when based on gossip and opinion. All of which should make Sooner fans very thankful for Bob Stoops.
Several years ago Ohio State fans, and many in the national media, thought Jim Tressel was Stoop's equal. Then LSU's Sabin, now Pete Carroll. Time will tell, but it appears that Bob Stoops is indeed the reincarnation of Bud Wilkinson.
Bob Stoops is 60-11 in 5+ years at OU. Mack Brown is 60-19 in 6+ years at UT. Not even Barry Switzer saw that coming in 1998 when he predicted that Texas, under Mack Brown, was getting ready to 'dominate' the Big 12 and build a national powerhouse that we all would fear. But rather than dominate, Texas is still looking for their first conference championship under Mack, as well as their initial BCS berth. And instead of fear, Texas is increasing becoming a source of scorn. In fact, many national writers are now beginning to say, "Oklahoma needs to beat someone good, Texas doesn't count". Maybe not, but other teams have plenty of trouble with the Horns, at least in those game splayed outside of the Holiday Bowl.
The bottom line is that Texas may have a great coach, one of the best. But ours is better. Two years ago UT fans would have never admitted it. Stoops was then accused of being 'lucky' - as well as 'cocky'. Now it's 'cocky,' but not certainly no credible Horn fan with an IQ in excess of 80 says Stoops is just 'lucky'.
The accusation also brings up some old scores with tomorrow's foe, Kansas State. Wildcat fans were devastated when their three top assistants defected for Norman, and Stoops was the evil villain. Remember in 2000? Numerous signs around the pitiful KSU stadium proclaimed Stoops as 'stupid'. Think we'll see any of those tomorrow?
It was the nation's first time to see AD, and what a show he put on! Kenny Mossman said Monday that Heisman trophies, (and other major awards), are not won with campaigns, but with memorable performances on a national stage.
It's no wonder that twenty four hours after the game Adrian Peterson was the newcomer in the Heisman race, and many say one of the front runners. Before we buy into that, let's remember how fickle the media can be. Literally any candidate can hit rock bottom with one disappointing performance, particularly if it comes in a losing effort.
Peterson punished the Longhorn defense for 225 yards and became the first freshman in Oklahoma history to rush for over 100 yards in his first five games. Nevertheless, Peterson is just a freshman having the time of his life. And right now, off the field, he isn't sure how is he is supposed to act or what he is supposed to do. He granted his first ever Heisman interview Monday after the big game and was the same soft spoken, humble young man from Palestine, Texas. Peterson's impact on the squad is the most dramatic since Jamelle Holieway emerged on the scene some 19 years ago, taking over for an injured Troy Aikman.
Of course, Holieway came on and was incredible in leading the Sooners to their sixth National Championship. And before the arrival of AD, Holieway had been the most accomplished freshman player in Sooner history. In a couple of months we'll be able to see if that designation still belongs to Jamelle.
Coach Kevin Wilson admitted that Peterson earned his accolades. "He's as physically mature as any young skill player that I have seen. Just being that strong sets him part, and I like his mental maturity too. He is handling all of this success well and he is working hard with a great attitude. He has a total maturity package and not just a guy who is strong and physically put together. He is a very mature kid."
Peterson told OU Insider Monday that he felt good about his performance, but was still looking to improve on the details in his game. He revealed that he played Saturday at 216 and has been near that weight for every game. Adrian indicated that Jerry Schmidt had not assigned him a target weight for next season, but assumes that he'll likely put on 6 - 7 pounds per year under Schmitty's tutelage. However Peterson said his strength and speed would take precedence over his weight.
Defense suddenly a force
As Oklahoma marched through the 2000 season, the defense became a stronger force on a week by week basis, reaching brick wall status by the time Florida State, defending National Champ and the greatest college team in history, faced the Sooners in the Orange Bowl, scoring a staggering two points.
Saturday's 12 - 0 shutout showed us that Brent Venables and Bo Pelini may have been bringing this years version along at a similar pace. Although the Sooners lost cornerback Antonio Perkins for three to four weeks, the OU secondary played a great game, showing the 'Horns a few unexpected wrinkles.
Pelini tried to explain Saturday's success. "It was a collective effort by us. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of different things that we can add to a game plan, but you have to mix and match by the type of offense that you are going to play. We have to make sure we are still going to be sound in both run and pass defense. We sit down every week and come up with it collectively and make our decisions based on how we can give our guys the best chance, and at the same time give the offense a lot of problems."
Pelini admits that the double corner blitzes originated with the New England Patriots when Bo coached with USC's Pete Carroll. "We started to do that a little at Nebraska last year, but you have to find the right time to do it and the right type of offense to do it against. You're giving up something to get something with that stunt. You can't just go out there and call that all the time, but we felt Saturday was the right time to come out with it."
Pelini thinks Eric Bassey, (6-1, 200), and Chijioke Onyenegecha, (6-2, 210), will do a great job while Perkins rehabs, but will travel freshman Marcus Walker, (5-11, 180), just in case. Jowahn Poteat, (6-1, 198), is also playing well enough in practice to be included in the mix, with Darien Williams, (6-0, 200) waiting in the wings.
When asked if Walker would retain his red shirt status, Pelini said; "Yeah, it's kind of an in-game decision and also on how he keeps progressing. Marcus is going to be a heck of a football player and we think he is going to be a pretty special corner. We don't want him to lose a year if he is just going to get a couple of snaps, but he is ready to play. I mean he is ready to play some football, but it is going to be a collective staff decision and it won't be just myself making that decision."
How about the job Rufus Alexander and Clint Ingram turned in Saturday? More evidence for a possible Sooner victory next October. Other Sooners who have impressed most in practice?
Let's start with a surprise - Wayne Chambers. Chambers, (6-3, 242), is taking advantage of a redshirt year that is allowing him to get on a catch up pace. Chambers, who'll be a junior next year, was pressed into action early, never really having time to learn his assignments and perfect his technique. This year he is doing both, and may get the start in place of Mitchell next fall.
Jason White will be tough to replace in 2005. Not his talent, as OU has three talented QB's in the wings. His command of the huddle and knowing what to do will be missed most. At this time it's impossible to ignore Rhett Bomar, (6-4, 208), who possesses all the intangibles possible for a freshman, and continues to impress coaches and team mates on a daily basis.
Along the defensive line Cory Bennett, (6-3, 270), may be a factor, if he continues to get bigger and stronger. Coach Jackie Shipp is mighty happy to have Cory for future DL reference.
He's not in practice here, but 2003 OL recruit Brandon Keith, (6-6, 322), is having a fabulous year at NEO, and could start on next fall's OL, as it looks like his academic work is progressing on schedule.
The Oklahoma defensive tackles had their toughest test to date and they more than held their own against the Texas Longhorn running game. The three-man rotation of Lynn McGruder, Carl Pendleton and Remi Ayodele were outstanding against the Longhorns.
Coach Jackie Shipp admits that Lynn McGruder, (6-3, 300), with five tackles, and one unassisted, probably had the best game ever since he's been at Oklahoma. The five unassisted tackles were all tackles for losses. McGruder explained his play: "I was just excited to be out there and to be able to perform. Our whole focus was to be disruptive and stop the offensive line and the running back game. It came out to be a big game for me, and I certainly can't be disappointed with that." We asked Lynn if his Texas relatives motivated him during the game. "Family always motivates you, but it was still deeper than that. We just left it all on the field. You can't explain the atmosphere in that game, but you have to play and that is what OU - Texas is all about. I grew up wanting to play in that game all my life, and when the time comes you have to play you can't leave anything at home. You can't worry about family or fans or anything else, but your team."
And now, for the big news of the day . . .
Lawrence Dampeer, (6-3, 320), has been allowed to travel to Kansas State today in recognition of the effort and hard work he has shown over the past ten days! As we have said many times, Dampeer is a charismatic player loved by coaches and team mates as well. Look for Dampeer to get a few snaps in vs Kansas State, and certainly next week against Kansas. The entire program is better off with Dampeer involved, and his play may indeed energize the defensive line.
Recruiting . . .
Contrary to reports coming from Texas, TE Martellus Bennett, (6-6, 240, 4.7), of Houston, denies that he has committed to the Horns. He said this week that: "I'm just taking it step by step and day by day and looking for what is the best for me. I am still considering Miami, Texas, Oklahoma, LSU and Arizona."
Kyle Moore, DE (6'6, 250, 4.7), Houston County, Georgia admitted a serious interest in Oklahoma this week saying that he'll visit Norman for Kansas next weekend. Moore is being recruited by everyone and is looking at USC, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Purdue, in addition to Oklahoma.
Another Georgia prospect that the Sooner keep hearing from is OT Paul Duncan, (6-6, 288, 5.38). Duncan will also visit OU next weekend and already has been to Clemson-Wake Forrest, Alabama-Ole Miss, Tennessee-Georgia, Notre Dame-Washington, and also attended the Georgia-LSU game. Pretty high profile programs, but Duncan admits that OU is near the top of his list: "They are obviously in there pretty strong if they are in my top five. They are just one of those schools that everybody knows a lot about. They are always one of the very best teams in the country and they are a program that is known for their great football program and their great academics. They have a great all-around program and are one of the best teams in the country."
Texas A&M commit, linebacker Jodie Richardson, (6-2, 215, 4.55), Duncanville, Texas also stays in touch with Oklahoma and was at the OU Texas game. "I enjoyed the game a lot. You can feel the rivalry in the stands. You can tell that he OU players hate the Texas players and that the Texas players hate the OU players. You can feel the rivalry so much that it just grabs you."
"I am still committed to Texas A&M, but Oklahoma is right there with them. If I don't go to Texas A&M, I am going to go to OU. Anything can happen between now and signing day. I really like Texas A&M, but I like Oklahoma as well. This is a very important decision for my future."
Consider Oklahoma's flirtation with Richardson as payback for A&M's courtship of Lufkin, Texas defensive back Alton Dixon, (6-0, 190, 4.48), who says his heart is with Oklahoma, but continues to seriously consider A&M due to family matters.
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