Oklahoma-Kansas Locker Room Report

Bob Stoops, Chuck Long, Kevin Wilson, Jason White, Mark Clayton, Jammal Brown, Adrian Peterson, Brent Venables and Lance Mitchell break down OU's win over Kansas. Clayton (pictured above) caught five passes for 122 yards and one touchdown against the Jayhawks.

It was two weeks ago and the Sooners had just run all over Texas. OU had made such an effort to run on Texas that the great Sooner passing game was placed on the back-burner, or so it had seemed.

Following the Texas Tech game freshman Adrian Peterson had exploded on the college football scene landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News, and his tremendous effort in the Texas game did nothing to diminish his rising star. Peterson was the toast of college football and he shot up the Heisman Trophy charts to No. 1 or No. 2 in the country.

All the while, Jason White the current Heisman winner sat back with a big smile and endorsed AD for the next Heisman.

"I think he is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate," said White at last week media luncheon. "I think AD adds a great deal to our team and he has been fantastic on the field. I think he has played as well as anybody in the country and that he is one of the best players in college football. He deserves the Heisman Trophy as much as anybody else right now."

White had a smirk on his face as he finally accomplished something he has been trying to do since he won the award last December. He finally was able to push all the Heisman talk onto somebody else. Finally, AD could handle all the Heisman questions and finally the coaches could talk about AD for the Heisman Trophy. That is until the Sooners 41-10 win over Kansas.

AD did nothing to hurt his Heisman candidacy, finishing with 122 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. It was the seventh straight game that AD went over the 100-yard mark, and he became only the third player in NCAA history to go over 1,000 (1,076) yards in seven games as a true freshman. joining the exclusive company of Marshall Faulk (San Diego State, 1991) and Emmitt Smith (Florida, 1987).

AD got most of his yardage in the fourth quarter because for most of the game Kansas put eight or nine men in the box. In fact, AD had only 23 yards on 11 carries through three quarters.
v "Man, I couldn't believe what I was seeing sometimes," said senior right tackle Jammal Brown after the game. "I would come to the line of scrimmage and I would start counting guys in the box and I couldn't believe it because there would be eight to nine guys in the box. I don't care how good of an offensive line that you have, it is going to be a very tough day blocking nine guys when we only have six or seven. I mean, we can expect AD to miss or run over one of two, but not three."

Thus, the current Heisman Trophy winner jumped right back into the Heisman race. Pretty much left for dead in that race, White went to work on man coverage from the Jayhawks and hit on 27 of 44 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns.

"It was old school man," said senior wide receiver Brandon Jones who caught four passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. "We have been running the ball so well with AD, but when they brought eight to nine men in the box we went back to what worked last year. It has been great running the ball and we are not going to stop, but we have been waiting to show off our passing game too. We can still throw the ball as well as anybody in the country, and we can throw deep with any team in the country. Jason was great today and we once again showed that we can pass the football."

"They were trying so hard to take the run away and they had to bring both safeties down in the box to get to the run quicker," said White after the game. "When they did that we beat them over the top of it. We always look forward to a deep ball. It is exciting to watch our receivers go get it. The offensive line did a great job up front to give me time to go do it. All around we did a good job, but there are a lot of things that we can improve on."

The offense has labeled deep throws as ‘taking shots down field' and it seemed on every series White felt he had some good shots to take.

"They played down low quite a bit," said White. "A lot of times I caught them looking at No. 9 (Mark Clayton) and they were really focusing on him. They were trying to take him away a little bit and that that opened things up deep down field. Their corners were pretty much on an island in man coverage, but it wasn't always man-to-man because they did play zone some. However, no matter what they were in their safeties were playing so close that we were able to get on top of them with deep posts. When they line up like they did they don't have anybody left inside to help them. I had such an advantage today because I have so many great receivers to throw to and they were all working hard to get the ball. Heck, they were so open sometimes that I had almost half the field to throw the ball to them."

White's ability to throw the long ball has become legendary at OU. Last year, OU Offensive Coordinator and quarterback coach Chuck Long said that White was the best long ball thrower that he has ever coached. Long hasn't changed his thinking.

"Jason throws a great long ball and our wide receivers love to run deep routes," said Long following the Kansas win. "Jason has great touch on his long passes and he is incredibly accurate with his long ball. Not many quarterbacks can put their ball in a tight spot 60 yards down field, but Jason can and he can put it in a spot where a defender can't get it. A number of quarterbacks have a stronger arm than Jason, but they just throw up their long passes and just throw in a general area. Jason has a strong arm, but he doesn't just drop back and just wing it. There is a purpose with each one of his passes and Jason knows where he is going with the pass. A lot of hard work goes into that kind of timing with the receivers, but that is how he can hit so many of them in stride."

White has been throwing long passes to his buddies since he was back in the seventh grade. It is no different now as White throws long ball to his buddies on the Sooner squad.

"I think we have a great connection with Jason, especially on the deep pass," said Clayton after the game. "Jason looks for it and we know if we run hard and run our route hard that Jason will get the ball to us and get it to us in a great spot. Jason just doesn't throw us a deep pass down field, he throws it to us in a perfect spot where we don't break stride. It was fun today because they played the type of defense daring us to go deep, and we have the type of quarterback that loves to throw the ball deep. As a receiver, it doesn't get any better than that."

For the second straight game, Travis Wilson came up big. Wilson finished with five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a long ball of 41 yards.

"The Kansas defense set up to stop our running game and we beat it by throwing up top," said Wilson following the game. "Jason likes to throw the ball down field and I think we have a number of receivers who like to catch the deep ball, and I am included on that list.

This sounds like a marriage made in heaven.

"I feel the same way about them because I like to throw the deep ball to them," said White. "You just put a lot of air underneath it and throw it to a section of the field and let them run and go get it. The great advantage to our receivers is that when they see the ball go up they know it is going to them and you know they are going to give everything they have to go get it. It just put it in a spot where I think they can be. I appreciate the fact that they think that I am some kind of super guy throwing the ball, but in reality I am just throwing it up there and they are going and getting it."

***

On the day, the Sooner offense finished with 41 points and 507 total yards, with 389 of those yards coming in passing game. Not a bad day's work for an offense that seemed to move the ball, but couldn't put the ball in the end zone in the first half.

"We had a great day through the air. And once again, our run game came around in the end," said Long following the game. "It was great to see Adrian reach the 1,000 yard mark. He is the first freshman here at OU to reach 1,000 yards that quickly. That was a remarkable feat. Hats off to Kansas because they came in with a great game plan to try to stop our run game, but once again it opened up our passing game for the second straight week in a row. I thought Jason really threw the ball well and all day long he made great decisions, especially on third downs when nobody was open and he would throw the ball away before he would take the loss. It was one of those games where we had to grind it somewhat. It was painful sometimes, but our guys hung in there and got the job."

For the second straight week an opponent made a decision to make an all-out effort to stop the run forcing the Sooners to the air with bad results for the opponent.

"That forces us to stay patient and to stay with that run," said Long. "We thought after that Texas game that teams would start to try to stop the run game. They stopped our run game initially, but we stayed with it and by the fourth quarter we are running the ball well."

The Sooners pounded the Jayhawks in the fourth quarter, and that is something that AD will take with him when the Sooners travel to Stillwater this weekend.

"All of us just kept saying that we needed to keep hammering the ball in there," said AD following the game. "We know that if we keep running it that we can eventually make some things happen. If I just keep running hard then good things are going to eventually happen."

***

The Sooner offensive line is in great physical condition, and the fact they can pound an opponent into the ground by the fourth quarter is going to come in handy down the stretch. It was not a perfect day for the Sooners in pass protection, but overall they played well.

"I think we did OK for most of the day," said Brown. "I know that we made some mistakes in pass protection and that is never something that we can be satisfied with. Our goal is to not let Jason get hit and he got hit today. That wasn't good. However, we put 41 points on the board, finished strong and Jason had a big day passing so I guess it wasn't all bad."

Run Game Coordinator and offensive line coach Kevin Wilson has done a great job turning the Sooners' offensive line into one of the best units in the country. Coach Wilson always strives for perfection, and that is why there is always work to be done.

"We didn't have a clean game because of all the penalties. We allowed Jason to get it some, but overall it was a pretty good game for us," said Coach Wilson. "On offense you are always trying to be perfect, but you are never going to be. We had 500 yards of offense, threw for almost 400 yards, rushed for 100 yards in the fourth quarter, and yet we can find a lot of things we didn't about our offense. We are improving and playing better, but we can still play a lot better, and by the end of the year I think we will be."

***

The Sooners went from being a balanced offense to throwing the football for the most part in the second and third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Oklahoma got back into the groove on the ground, but the offense had a hard time getting into a good groove for the whole game.

"What happens was that we didn't have as many rushing attempts in the first half because they were loading up the box so much. When you do that you have to be willing to accept that they are going to hit Jason a little bit more," said Long. "On one sack, it is easily correctable as that was just a physical error and that as the sack were they were on Jason very quickly. For the most part, I thought they protected very well, but when you throw the ball more they are going to rush you more and they are going to hit you. That is just life in the passing game."

For the past two weeks teams have loaded the box against the Sooners with eight or nine men in the box, and the odds are teams will continue to do that in the future. What will the Sooners do to continue to beat it?

"You only have so many guys that can block and they try to put one extra defender in the box that is unaccounted for," said Long. "That is when you start getting into situations where you take a lineman from the other side and pull him with the counter play for example. Then you can get enough hats on one side, and that is where strategy comes into play. For the most part, they have only 11 players they can play and that is when you get into a lot of one-on-one coverage. That is where we exploited yesterday."

Can you say counter-toss anyone?

White's intelligence also allows the Sooners to take what the defense gives them at the line of scrimmage.

"We do have built-ins in our offense," said Long. "We have built-in throws off of our run game. Some of those throws that you see that go off to the side for example might be a run where we actually have a built-in throw off it, which is nice for us. Some of the things that he threw out to Mark in our spread sets were run plays called with a throw built-in. We are striving for more balance this year compared to last year, and when you strive for more balance you have to some built-ins in your offense. We are a high-tempo offense where we want to get up to the line of scrimmage and get going. We want to snap the ball so that they don't get set. We want to personnel you, motion you and have some built-ins. We don't want to slow everything down and have audibles on every single play. We have some, but not every play because we want a good tempo with our offense, which has been good for us."

Oklahoma has shown tremendous patience the last week in the run game, going back to it in the fourth quarter. Against both Kansas State and Kansas, OU was a dominant running team in the fourth quarter, despite the fact they struggled early in the game in both games to run the ball.

"I like the way we stick to things," said Long. "We did get out of balance in the first half out of necessity. However, the second half was about getting back to it and making adjustments at halftime to get back to it. Then, in the fourth quarter we stayed with the run game and it really helped, which is something that we feel we should do."

***

The Sooner defense once again played very well giving the Jayhawks a fluke 78-yard pass and a bobbled snap by punter Blake Ferguson set up a Jayhawk field goal right before the half.

"Man, I have to take all the credit for that stupid play," said Ferguson. "I mean, the snap was only perfect and I dropped it. Now, I am afraid to go out to dinner or anything afraid I am going to drop everything. I am not sure why that happened, but I am going to make sure that it won't happen again that if for sure."

OK, Blake. We will give you one mistake and since you are having your best year punting the ball. One slip-up is OK. Just don't do it again.

For most the game the OU defense bottled up Mark Mangino's crew. Kansas finished with only 256 yards total offense and could only rush for 72 yards on 34 carries. The Jayhawks threw for 184 yards, but the Sooners picked off two passes. It is the third straight week the Sooners have played outstanding defense.

"When you take all things into consideration, we are improving and not busting as many assignments," said Co-Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. "We have guys that are more comfortable in their positions, and obviously we are zeroed in on our personnel packages and who can do what. We are putting the right guys into position to make plays."

"They had one play and one drive for the most part against us," Venables continued. "Trust me, we played well, but I remember all the bad stuff. It was an overall good day. You get frustrated in that drive late. They hand it to the fullback and he looks like Jim Brown running around against us. He is a hard runner, but those things frustrate you more than anything. We watched the quarterback scramble. He went through Lance Mitchell and they hit the seam route behind Lance. That was a good call on their part and a bad call on my part. That was right before the timeout, and they saw what we were doing and I should have put something else in there. That is not Lance's fault. (Brodney Pool) just misjudged the ball and he could have got a little more help from the corner to re-route the receiver. We basically had him double-covered and they still beat us, but it was basically a good day overall."

"We put consistent pressure on them and did well against the run all day," Venables continued. "That team on the other sideline is well-coached. Coach Mangino does a great job getting his guys prepared.

Kansas struggled on third down against the Sooners coming up 7 for 18, but third downs are hard to come by against the Sooners.

"We have been good on third down for a while," said Venables. "However, we were good on third down again. It makes a big difference because you have to find a way to get off the field. We have to give our offense more opportunities and more drives. We are happy with our performance in what we call money downs. We find a way to make plays and get us off the field and give our offense the football."

Mitchell had a super game for the Sooners, finishing with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery touchdown that covered 28-yards, but he wanted to talk more about the great play of Dan Cody.

"That guy always has a great game and he allows us to get into our coverages a whole lot easier," said Mitchell. "Dan played great today and he is on fire rushing the passer."

Lance admits that he didn't show much finesse his touchdown return.

"Donte (Nicholson) got in there and got a good block for me," said Mitchell. "I kind of threw the quarterback out of the way. I don't think he really wanted to tackle me anyway. This was old school because I played running back in high school, so I have a little bit in me. We don't get those kind of opportunities very often, so you have to jump on it when you do get that chance and today the Lord blessed me."

Mitchell wasn't happy that he gave up a slant route, but in all he gets a passing grade.

"Lance played really well, but he missed a couple of things," said Venables. "Man, there I go giving out negative things again and I am sorry. It is hard for me to give out too much sugar. I am really happy for him. I didn't know he could move like that as a ball carrier, but he was a running back in high school. AD better watch out, because Lance wants his job."

***

The Sooner defensive front came up with four sacks in the game and in the Jayhawk backfield."

"The front four is really playing well. Jackie (Shipp) and Bobby Jack (Wright) have done a great job of getting their guys ready to play," said Venables. "They will have their toughest game this weekend (OSU), but our front four is really playing well. They are getting penetration and doing a good job of maintaining their ground. They have gotten better each week, and I think that is just going to continue."

"I thought the front four played well all day," said OU Head Coach Bob Stoops following the game. "They had virtually no run game. They got great pressure around the corner and inside those guys seemed to play really well. The front four has played well all year, but in the last three games they have been playing great."

The continuing saga of Moe Dampeer was in full force Saturday against Kansas. With starter Carl Pendleton out with a sprained knee, Dampeer saw extensive action and thrilled the sellout crowd with an interception and 31-yard return.

"When I caught it and after I made my initial move, I thought I was going to take it to the house," said Dampeer. "I got out to the open and started to look around. I saw a shadow and cut back towards the middle of the field. It turns out I think that was my shadow because I should have cut the other direction and then there would have been no way that an offensive linemen would have caught me at that point. I cut right back towards him and he tripped me up and I didn't take it to end zone. In my first two games I have a fumble recovery and an interception, and I am contributing. I am thanking Coach Stoops and Coach Shipp for sticking with me and giving me a second chance. I am going to make the most of that opportunity."

It was just two weeks ago that you wondered if Moe's career was finished. Without question, he was hanging on by a thread. But you have to give Moe credit because he hung in there and wouldn't quit, and now he is getting playing time for the third rated team in the country. But he is not out of the woods yet.

"I don't know if he is in the shape needs to be, but he is contributing, which is positive," said Stoops. "I mean that in a good way. He is trying and he is making strides. We will see where it leads, but he still has a ways to go."

However, Stoops was impressed with Moe's interception.

"I loved it. I was pulling for him like everybody else," said Stoops. "It was fun watching him run, and he got a little extra conditioning there. I am not criticizing Moe as he is a good guy and a good player. Hopefully, he will keep contributing for us."

Coach Stoops isn't the only person who hopes Moe continues to play well.

"As you can see Moe is quite a ball player for us," said Mitchell. "Moe has made some great plays for us and he is just getting started. The best is yet to come from Moe."

Pendleton is expected back for Oklahoma State, but Moe has played well enough that he is in the Sooner rotation on the second group with Remi Ayodele.

***

Oklahoma's No. 3 ranking in the first BCS poll forced Coach Stoops' hand in the final moments against the Jayhawks. Normally, Stoops would have taken a knee and not scored with time running down against Kansas, but with good impressions needed to impress voters across the country, Stoops gave the go-ahead and White threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game to wide receiver Mark Bradley, who made his first start for the Sooners. Stoops said that the BCS poll was on his mind late in the game.

"It is not fair to say that it doesn't," said Coach Stoops. "As opposed to just sitting on the ball in the last few minutes of the game, it forces you to play. I think Mark (Mangino) is fully aware of that, so for me to sit here and say that it has no factor — I don't think I would be telling the truth. You guys know that I always do for the most part (this drew a chuckle from the media). I contradicted myself a little bit there didn't I? Saying 'for the most part'. I would have been fine if we didn't score too. Then my big dilemma would have been if we didn't score on third down would we have kicked a field goal and I don't know what the right thing is to do. I figure it is to just keep playing."


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