OU-Nebraska Locker Room Report

Bob Stoops, Chuck Long, Darrell Wyatt, Jason White, Adrian Peterson, Mark Bradley, Mark Clayton, Willie Roberts, Brandon Jones, Jammal Brown, Brent Venables Bo Pelini and Lance Mitchell recap OU's 30-3 win over Nebraska. White (pictured above) broke his own school record for consecutive completions with 18 against the 'Huskers. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OU Head Football Coach Bob Stoops found himself in a tough situation once again at the end of a football game. On the one hand, he was happy that his Sooners were dominating Nebraska 30-0 and were in no danger of losing the game. On the other hand, Coach Stoops knows he needs style points to impresses college football poll voters across the country. Margin of victory may not matter to the computers as much any more, but those human voters do look at scores.

Thus the Sooners were running their offense late in the fourth quarter and moving the ball down the field. OU was trying to score despite the big lead, which meant that Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jason White was throwing at the Nebraska secondary. Only after Nebraska forced a fourth down and the Sooners couldn't convert deep in Nebraska territory, did Coach Stoops take a deep breath.

If truth be known, Coach Stoops hates this situation. His dad taught him that you never run it up on an out-manned opponent. You pull in your gameplan and go back to basic football. He knows that you still have to play the game, but if your running back breaks one between the tackles well then that is OK. That is just good old-fashioned football, but if you are throwing late in the game against an out-manned football team then you are not showing good sportsmanship.

Well, Coach Stoops' dad never had to deal with the BCS and never had to try to impress a bunch of voters from coast-to-coast. So, when the Sooners failed on their fourth down try and Nebraska drove for the shutout depriving field goal, Coach Stoops found a little poetic justice.

"I don't really know what is appropriate, you know. And I hate to be in the position that we have to still be working to score at the end of the game when we have a big lead," said Coach Stoops after the game. "In hindsight , and not because they got a field goal, that is wrong. I probably shouldn't have, but it is funny in these circumstances here late in the year and all the BCS talk you need style points. We have been criticized for winning games and how we win them. It is an odd position to be in. To be honest, I don't like being in that position. I laughed when they kicked the field goal. I said that is good for us that they ended up scoring at the end when we should have been taking a knee. That is the way it is in college football today. I didn't make the rules and the rules are what they are. However, it is still an odd position to be in."

On top of his frustration over what to do last night, Coach Stoops had no idea if his teams efforts impressed the voters or not.

"I don't know," said Coach Stoops. "We will see."

That is the game that the Sooners are into. OU is battling for style points with the likes of USC and Auburn for the right to play in the Orange Bowl for the National Championship. All three teams are undefeated, but it seems that it is really only OU and Auburn worried if they will get in.

Of course. it goes without saying that all three teams have to win, but if they do there is no question that USC will play in the Orange Bowl. Despite some lackluster play at times, the Trojans are far and away the No. 1 team in the country. And unless they lose, they have no chance of falling out of that top spot. So, it is OU and Auburn playing for the right to face USC, and by virtue of the latest human polls the race got a lot tighter this weekend.

OU is tied with Auburn for second place in the AP poll, but the Sooners have two more first place votes. The coaches' poll still has OU ranked No. 2, but now just two points ahead of Auburn.

Stoops, however, is showing no concern when asked if he was worried about his teams status in the polls.
v "No, not really because you know that all you can do is do your best to win," said Stoops from his office just after the polls were released. "What are you going to do? I still feel confident in our strength of schedule. And the bottom line is that we have to win this week and in the Big 12 Championship game."

With the win over Nebraska the Sooners accomplished goal No. 1. That goal is always to win the Big 12 South and with that comes a berth in the Big 12 Championship game. v
"It is an accomplishment. And lets face it, that is a strong statement for our program," said Stoops. "When you look at how every one is playing this year and we have so many of them on the road. So, to accomplish that lets some weight off of our shoulders. Now it is highlighted and we are on the road to the next one."

The Sooner coaches and players know they have played their way into a position to play in the national title game, but they also know that if three teams remain undefeated then it is out of their hands. Coach Stoops has often voiced concerns about putting more emphasis on the human polls, knowing that in the human polls winning late always matters more than winning early.

"It is always hard to predict the schedule and who you are playing and how it will be like," said Stoops. "We did everything we could to strengthen ours, and it has mattered. I think if you look at the top Big 12 teams in the country, our top four or five in this league, I am sure they are every bit as good as they are in the SEC. Then, if you look at the bottom four or five in this league, they are probably the same or better than the bottom four or five in the SEC."

Still, Auburn has gained ground on the Sooners because the human polls reflect success late not early. OU whipped a top five ranked Texas team early in October, but here it is a month later and the Tigers whip a ninth-ranked Georgia team 24-6 on a week that the Sooners spank an average Nebraska team 30-0 and the Tigers make up major ground.

The Sooners are winning game, but are they losing the perception game?

"I don't know because I don't know why that would be," said Stoops. "We have been No. 2 in the country the entire year and played a strong schedule. I believe in the end people see that also."

The Sooners would not even be No. 2 of OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione had not worked hard to upgrade the schedule in the summer adding Oregon and Houston and dropping Arkansas State and Florida A&M, which has turned out to be the big reason why the Sooners are still ranked No. 2 in the country.

"Joe did an incredible job of getting that worked out and getting Oregon. And look at Bowling Green..." said Stoops. "They are up there ranked and those were big games to get. Those could end up being big factors. This is the reason why we made a late effort to get Oregon on the schedule. It was for strength of schedule definitely, and that is a strong reason for it. We just don't have our hand up looking to go play just anybody. We have a lot of respect for Oregon, and there is probably not a ton of people looking to get Oregon on their schedule. Playing that game and winning that game is helping us right now."


After the game several players were asked if they paid any attention to the BCS, or if they were aware that Auburn had won a big game earlier in the day which could give them the ability to close the gap against the Sooners. And to a man, most said they had no idea what the BCS was doing, but there were a few that admitted that they do realize what is going on in college football.

"I watch ESPN some and I know who is winning and who is not," said Lance Mitchell following the game. "I know they are saying that Auburn is closing the gap against us, but I don't see how that can be the case. Nothing against Auburn, but we have been ranked No. 2 all year and we have played one the toughest schedules in the country. We can't worry about that because our job is to go out and win every game we play, but I am not going to lie and say that I don't know what is going on because I do. Most of us do."

"Yes, I know what is going on with the polls," said freshman running back Adrian Peterson. "I watch ESPN or Fox Southwest and they are always talking about the polls. My friends tell me what is going on as well and my family. So, I know what is going on. I think if we win out then we will be playing in the Orange Bowl. I think it would be wrong for us to go undefeated with our schedule and not play in the game."

"Yeah, I know what is going on but I don't always agree with it," said senior offensive tackle Jammal Brown following the game. "We have been ranked No. 2 in the country all year, played a tough schedule and we are in a position to win the Big 12 Conference Championship, which is one of the toughest conferences in the country. So, what is the debate? If you win the Big 12 and are undefeated you should play for the National Championship."

You have to wander if once news gets out that Auburn has closed the gap on the Sooners, if more will play attention to Auburn and how they have played in the next couple of weeks.


Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan questioned the Sooners decision to throw the ball after the game. Walking to the Nebraska buses after the game, Coach Callahan was talking to friends and media and said he didn't think it was right that the Sooners were still trying to throw with a 30-point lead. He didn't sound angry, but I was surprised by his statement.

Certainly, Coach Callahan understands what is going on in college football. And when a team like Oklahoma is in a position to possibly play for the National Championship, you have to do what it takes to impress voters.

This game had strange twist anyway in that before the game a member of the Ruf/Neks — Adam Merritt — was assaulted by Nebraska Offensive Lineman Darren DeLone. According to reports, Merritt was taunting DeLone during pregame warm-ups in the northeast corner of Owen Field when DeLone ran over to Merritt and head-butted Merritt in the face with his helmet and then shoved him into the three-foot brick wall.

Merritt had to be transported off the field on a medical cart and taken to Norman Regional Hospital after having several teeth knocked out by DeLone's head-butt. The shocking part of this story is that DeLone lost his cool and attacked a fan and was able to get away with it.

DeLone was not arrested by Norman police and Coach Callahan or anybody from his staff did not bench him for his actions. No matter what a fan says you can't have athletes attacking fans during games, and when an action such as this does occur the coaching staff has to take action and suspend him for that game and for the rest of the season.

So, I am puzzled. On one hand , Coach Callahan can be concerned about Coach Stoops throwing the ball late in the game because he is worried about the integrity of the game. But he plays an offensive lineman that attacked a spirit leader and puts that fan in the hospital? I realize that Ruf/Neks can say some rude things, but they are no different that a number of spirit groups around the Big 12. Players have to ignore what they say and certainly they can never take action.

Norman police say they are investigating the incident.

Then you have Callahan being overheard calling Sooner fans "F&****% Hillbillies" as he was running off the field. It seems strange that a guy coaching Nebraska could call OU fans something like that. I mean, I have been to Nebraska and there isn't an area anywhere in the state that reminds me of the big city. So, if he thinks Sooner fans are hillbillies, what does he think of his own fans? Callahan doesn't seem like much of a nice guy. Maybe we can talk coach Stoops into beating Nebraska worse next year. Callahan also told his players not to talk to Bo Pelini after the game, and when a few did anyway graduate assistants and assistant coaches went up to get them away from him. Nebraska used to be one of the classiest programs in the country, but under Callahan they have slipped a bunch and that is a shame.


Another strange factor about the game was that it appeared that Callahan was trying to shorten the game against the Sooners. The Sooners held Nebraska to just 274 yards total offense with 207 of that coming on the ground and just 73 in the air. The Huskers gameplan was so weird that on nine different occasions on third and long, they ran the ball up the middle.

Reserves gave up the Nebraska field goal with no time left on the clock, but the game was played at such a strange tempo that it is hard to gauge how well the Sooners really played on defense. It is easy to see that they played well against the run and almost pitched a shutout, but Nebraska didn't really try to win the game offensively did they?

"This was a game that at times seemed like a magnified inside drill," said OU Co-Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables from his office on Sunday. "I wouldn't say that we weren't challenged because we were challenged in a different way. Nebraska is a good running football team, and in that respect we did pretty well. We gave up a few long runs. And not to take anything away form them, but we felt that was more us and not them, especially a couple of long ones that they had. I felt like we played pretty well in the Kansas game, but I felt we played pretty well in both the run game and pass game outside of the one long run at the end of the game. It was certainly better than the last couple of weeks."

We all know that Coach Venables has a lot of pride and everybody on defense wants a shutout. When Nebraska kicked that field goal to end the game, it left him with mixed emotions. He wasn't mad at the fans for throwing oranges on the field, which cost the Sooners a 15-yard penalty, but he was mad at his reserves for allowing Nebraska fullback Steve Kriewald to rip off a 48-yard run to set up the field goal.

"What was more frustrating was letting them get the 48-yard run more-so than the field goal, "said Coach Venables. "I can understand what their mindset was kicking the field goal there. There is nothing wrong with that. I think when you play as strong as we did throughout the night it takes a little bit of the luster off the game when you give up the field goal. It is the two plays before the field goal or the big run that frustrates you. However, you keep things in perspective because they made it simple for us. They were going to shorten the game. I don't have the exact number in front of me, but on their third downs they probably ran it eight different times. You don't get that kind of break very often."


On offense, two big stories came out of the game. One was that Jason White is the best player in the country. I know this is the same story line over the last few weeks and was the main story line last season. However, when you throw hit 29 of 35 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns, plus hit a school record 18 passes in a row, you deserve those kinds of accolades.

"Jason was just unbelievable once again. The guy just continues to amaze me with what he is able to do," said Stoops. "We take things for granted, but the ball was a little bit slippery, the grass is wet and it is drizzling rain for a good part of the game, but he is just in there reacting in a great way.

White was so hot against Nebraska that it was a bigger story when he missed. And while his receivers all said to a man that White was incredible, as you might expect he turned the attention around to his receivers who caught everything that was thrown at them.

"I felt they (receivers) were red-hot tonight," said White. "Not all of the balls were pretty and they made them look pretty. I felt the passing game was really clicking tonight, and that is just because they were taking away the run. We were still able to pound the ball in there a little bit."

White was the last of 23 seniors to be introduced to largest crowd in OU history, and he admits playing well in his last game on Owen Field was something that he wanted to do.

"You always want to go out with a bang," said White. "You know it is going to be your last game at home and the last time you are going to get to run out on the field wearing this uniform with your teammates. So, you want to go out with a bang. I thought, for all the seniors, it was a great night for all of us."

If you were one of the 84,916 that gave White a standing ovation for over a minute or more, just know that you touched the heart of the sixth-year senior.

"It was totally overwhelming and something that I will never forget," said White has fought he hold his emotions. "I have always said that the fans are great here and it really showed tonight. I have never had so many people yell at one time and I felt it in my heart."

White feels Sooner fans will have more opportunities to cheer this team on.

"The win tonight was our first step to the Big 12 Championship. That is our main goal right now," said White. "That is always our first goal, and now that we have accomplished that we need to beat Baylor and then go win the Big 12 Championship this year. When we do that everything else will fall into place."


The Sooner receiving core once again stole the show. Eleven different receivers made catches including senior Ataleo Ford. Ford has been a tremendous squad-man throughout his career, but couldn't find his way to the top of the depth chart. However, it was obvious that when he was in the game that White wanted to get the ball to him.

"I wouldn't say that I was going to the line of scrimmage just focusing on him, but I will admit to you that I took a special interest where he was at and how the defense was lining up against him," said White. "Ataleo is a real good receiver, but for whatever reason he hasn't seen much playing time. He has been great in practice and he does a number of good things for us. I like getting the ball to Ataleo because he is just like the rest of our receivers in that he can do something with it after he catches it."

Ataleo didn't get much of a chance to run with it after he caught his one pass, as he ran for only four yards.

Travis Wilson had his biggest day as a Sooner hauling in nine passes for 135 yards. Ironically, Wilson started catching everything in sight after he was called for back-to-back holding penalties. Wilson came back to catch passes of 36 and 23 yards to make up for the penalties.

"I didn't think I was holding at all, but the officials didn't see it that way," said Wilson following the game. "I didn't want to let my teammates down so I new I had to go to work. Jason was throwing the ball so well that if we just got one step on the defensive backs in the secondary the ball was going to be in our hands. I just managed to get that one step and Jason did all the rest. We had a great gameplan with our passing game, and the coaches were great. They came up with a plan that worked to perfection and Jason made it happen with his ability to throw the ball."

Wilson earned a starting spot during fall training camp and Mark Bradley started three games ago. Bradley continues to make big plays for the Sooners catching three passes for 92 yards and one touchdown against Nebraska.

"Travis and Mark have improved so much through their hard work and dedication to being better receivers," said OU wide receiver coach Darrell Wyatt. "Mark may be the best athlete on our football team, and he has the ability to make you miss or run over you. He is one of the best blockers on our team and he may be our best special teams player right now. Travis is right there with Mark as an athlete, but maybe a little more physical and stronger. I don't know if he can make people miss like Mark, but he has great speed and other athletic abilities that make him a complete receiver. Travis made a catch over the middle with his hands that was just textbook as far as receiver goes."

Count Coach Stoops among those that feel the Sooner receiving core is the best in the nation.

"We have so many receivers that had big games," said Coach Stoops. "Travis Wilson was just fantastic in the game and Mark Clayton was exceptional again. Then, Mark Bradley continues to come up with big plays for us and BJ (Brandon Jones) got into the end-zone again for us.

Winning the Big 12 Championship was what most of the players wanted to talk about, and Bradley seemed relieved to have that goal behind them.

"It feels great. It was a hard task coming in," said Bradley. "Nebraska is one of the best programs in the country. We knew we had to come here and make our presence known. Nebraska is a great program and we respect them. They played as hard as they could, but we just came out on top."

Bradley scores once every four times he touches the football. I don't know if that is an exact stat, but I bet it would be close.

"They came into to the game with a plan to get the ball to me," said Bradley. "I just have to make plays out of them. We have so many great athletes on offense that it makes my job easier. We have a Heisman Trophy winner and we have a receiver in Mark Clayton, who is up for the top receiver award. Then we have Jammal (Brown) and Vince (Carter) leading the offensive line, so I am surrounded by tremendous athletes that makes my job easy."

Bradley also completed a 30-yard pass to Clayton down to the Nebraska 1-yard line. However, it was really a wounded duck that Clayton leaped up to catch between two Nebraska defenders. Mark is the son of wishbone wiz Danny Bradley, but on this day dad could have thrown a better ball than son.

"I would have to give my dad credit for that today," said Mark laughing to reporters. "I don't know what was going through my mind when I tossed that one. My arm was very tight tonight, but we executed the play and Mark made the catch, and that is all that counts."

Clayton is as good at it gets on coming back and out-jumping defenders.

"Mark had a nice knot right below his elbow, so his arm was hurting tonight," said Clayton after the game. "We worked on coming back and jumping for balls this past summer. We worked on coming back and getting the ball at its highest point. I feel like if you want to take it to the next level as a receiver, that is a necessity."

It was great to see Brandon Jones get back to the end-zone. Jones lost his starting spot to Bradley, but started against Nebraska. Jones has continued to play a great deal and he continues to be a top receiver. BJ only caught the one pass, but he scored on that one play.

"I was glad to get back into the end-zone," said BJ. "I am going to finish strong and I think we are going to play our best football in front of us."

Maybe the happiest receiver was tight end Willie Roberts, who caught his first pass of the season stretching his 6-foot-7 frame high in the back of the end-zone for a touchdown.

"We practiced that play all week. We went over it over and over again," said Roberts. "The fade route is a route that I have been running since high school. It is kind of second nature to me, almost. We just had to go out and execute it. Jason made a good pass and I just caught it. We used my height and my jumping ability to our advantage. Jason just threw it up and I caught it."

Don't you just love how this coaching staff gets the best out of this entire roster? Remember the fake punt pass to reserve quarterback Hunter Wall? Wow. Now they throw to the back of the end-zone to Roberts for his first catch and a touchdown.


Lance Mitchell played his final game on Owen Field on Saturday. And after coming back from ACL surgery last season, Mitchell said it was tough playing that last game.

"Yeah, I thought about it before the game and I thought about it after the game," said Mitchell. "During the game I tried not to think about it, but at times you would drift a little bit. I am just glad and proud that we got out of here undefeated at home. Our No. 1 goal during summer workouts and in the winter was to be Big 12 Champs. Now that we have that accomplished that we can set our sights on being Big 12 Champions."


Coach Bo Pelini did a great job of controlling his emotions this week and he never said anything negative about Nebraska or the Nebraska athletic department this weekend. You could tell it bothered him that Nebraska players were told to get away form him after the game, and it shows how bush league Nebraska is now.

Antonio Perkins returned this week from a knee injury and he jumped back into the starting line-up with true freshman Marcus Walker, sending Chijioke Onyenegecha to the bench.

"With Perk back with his experience, it really helps us," said Pelini. "We went with Perk and we felt fortunate to have him back in the line-up. We had to make a decision because we can only start two guys. I think that was the combination to go with. Things were working out well so we didn't do a lot of rotating."

Coach Pelini admitted that it was tough at times to coach against a team where he loved the players so much.

"Yes, it was tough absolutely," said Pelini. "I have said many times that I have admiration and respect for those players over there, but I have a job to do and I did it. I have moved on from that, but you can't forget the feelings you have for the players. I am here and I feel fortunate to be at OU. I am having a great experience here at Oklahoma and now it is another time and another place."


Senior Gayron Allen drew a rare star in front of sophomore Rufus Alexander and played very well finishing with eight tackles.

"I am just glad to get a chance to get out and make some plays," said Allen. "It was great to be a senior and to get a chance to play as much as I did. I thought I got into the flow of the game pretty quick, and I can't believe that I came up with that interception."

"Gayron is a senior and he has earned the right to be out there," said Venables. "Rufus has some big-play ability, but Gayron had a little bit more of a solid week of practice, and Gayron is awfully good in the run game. He is very good at getting off blocks. Not that Rufus isn't, but Gayron is a little more polished in that regard.

Allen came up with three interceptions in one practice and that prompted Coach Stoops to predict that Allen would get on against Nebraska, which he did.

"I was glad to see Gayron get that interception," said Stoops. "He is such a good player for us and a good guy on our football team. One day at practice he came up with three picks on the day. I told him that if he could get three at practice that he was going to get one during the game. I predicted that for him and when he did that several of the players reminded me that I did that. It was funny because I predict a lot of things that don't come through, but this one did."


Adrian Peterson didn't start the game against Nebraska giving way to Kejuan Jones. Peterson, who saw limited time in the first half, starting the second but finished short of 100 yards (15-58 ) for the first time in his career.

"Adrian was sore and a little beat up this week, so we decided to start Kejuan and use Adrian a little bit differently in this game," said Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long. "We worked Adrian at practice, but very sparingly. We tried to give him a break this week. Our medical staff said he could play. Adrian wanted to play, but Kejuan got more of the work this week and we decided to use our shot-gun stuff quite a bit, and KeJuan is very good in that set. So, it just didn't work out for us to get Adrian into the game that much in the first half.

"We decided to try to run the ball in the second half and we started Adrian, but they were playing so many players in the box they were just daring us to throw it , which we did. We were hoping to hit a big play or two somehow to get Adrian his 100-yards, but it just wasn't meant to be tonight. Adrian has been carrying a big load for us this year and we have to be careful how we use him in practice. He is a big, strong guy, but he is human as well, and maybe he is a little tired. However, he is a great athlete and he will get it going again if we handle him right, which we will."

If Adrian is tired, you are never going to get him to admit it.

"I am alright, just a little sore. That's all, "said AD after the game. "I was good enough to play and I wanted to play in the game. I was running OK, but we were never able to get into a rhythm tonight, but we still did pretty good."


Tight end Bubba Moses did not go through the senior ceremony, giving further evidence that he will be allowed another year of eligibility next season. Moses came to OU as an academic partial qualifier, and the NCAA rules allows a player who is on course to graduate to regain the first year that he lost due to the partial qualifier status.

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