Oklahoma-Baylor Locker Room Report

An in-depth look at OU's win over Baylor with quotes from the key players and coaches. On the season, Oklahoma quarterback Jason White (pictured above) now has thrown 28 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Sooners had just beaten Baylor 35-0 and most of the Sooner players and coaches walked onto the field to celebrate a little bit. It is not every day that a college football team can play in the Big 12 Conference and post an undefeated regular season. For these seniors this was the third time that OU has accomplished that feat, which for most it is amazing when you can do it once.

The Sooner fans were incredible in Waco. If you didn't already know it ,Baylor is the best road game for fans to go to. I know that it is not if you just look at the competitiveness of the game, but if you are looking for a road trip that is easy to get to, easy to get a ticket for at a reasonable price, and where Oklahoma fans have one side of the field to themselves, then travel to Waco to watch the Sooners and the Bears.

Over half the crowd was Sooner fans, and this wasn't lost on the Sooner players. A great majority of the players went down in the far corner of the end zone and started walking up toward their locker room at midfield, and along the way they slapped fans with as many fans as they could. Some of the players like Moe Dampeer, Vince Carter, Chijioke Onyenegecha, Mark Clayton and Marcus Walker signed as many autographs as they could. There were many others as well. Along the way a number of players were overheard saying thank you to the Sooner fans for coming to the game, but in reality they were thanking the fans for being so supportive this year, and in reality for every year.

Towards the end of the line Heisman Trophy winner Jason White was slowing down walking toward that locker room and slapping as many hands as he could. Here is one of the greatest football players in college football history trying to reach out to as many fans as he could. As White reached the end of the walk, I started too walk down the locker room tunnel, because that tunnel would take me to the post game press conference with OU Head Coach Bob Stoops. I was walking just ahead of Jason and I turned around and said to him that today was a great day to be a Sooner. He replied, "It is always a great day to be a Sooner, I have never had a bad day as a Sooner."

It struck me how much of a Sooner this guy really is. You really can't be more Oklahoma or Sooner than this guy — a strong-armed quarterback from Tuttle, Okla. who still would rather wear a pair of jeans and drive a pickup truck. I realize that Jason is going to play in the NFL for a number of years, but I will be shocked if when his career is over he doesn't move back to Oklahoma to live out his life. That is something that he is not ready to think about as OU football is totally on his mind.

"I really don't think about my future past Oklahoma much," said White after the game. "I think it goes without saying that I would like to play in the NFL and I think I will get that opportunity. If I handle things right there and do what I am capable of, then I can set things up for me and my family. However, we have some unfinished business here yet to take care of and I am finally to the two games that I want to play in.

"Ever since we lost last year in the Big 12 Championship game I have been working to get back in that game. I want to win that game and then get to the Orange Bowl and win that game. Those two games have been driving us for the entire year. And now we are finally in a position to play them. I can't wait."


A tired and drained Bob Stoops came into the post game locker room. It has been a challenging week for the Sooner head coach. Coach Stoops spoke the truth and talked about ESPN's contracts with the SEC and of potential agenda's that could come from that.

The boys from ESPN reacted like children and called Coach Stoops classless and demanded apologies from the nations' top football coach. Of course, Coach Stoops turned a deaf ear to those from ESPN, but it is never easy to hear criticism from the national media no matter if you are correct in what you said. Coach Stoops has thick skin, but it would have to be a foot thick to ward off negative thoughts from coast-to-coast.

However, when you are the coach at Oklahoma you are a lightening rod for news, and at this point Coach Stoops is the main man in college football. Name one other coach that is bigger than Bob Stoops?

So, Coach Stoops came into the post game press conference area joking with reporters. As all of the media was jammed around a table on one side of some lockers, Coach Stoops snuck over to the other side of the lockers and shouted that he was over here. We all had a good laugh. Coach Stoops has had a good time as his press conferences the last couple of weeks and he was outspoken and candid once again.

"It was a good solid win, as I like to say when you shut somebody out," said Stoops at his post game press conference. "Our defense really played well. I am really excited how in the last couple of games how well we have been playing. Offensively, any time you rush the ball for over 300 (304) yards you are doing a lot of things right. I thought those guys up front were excellent. AD (Adrian Peterson), again, is just special as was Jason White."

"All of our guys were just very sound and we made some good adjustments. Not me, but our offensive assistants at halftime that helped us in the second half," Stoops continued. "We saw in the first half that they were cheating the blitz and not covering certain guys to overload their pass rush or to gain extra coverage. We took advantage of that once we were able to show our players at halftime as well as running the football. We were close in the first half to busting a few runs, and in the second half we did. Everything came together in the second half and we played well. It was a good win."

For the third time in Coach Stoops' tenure at OU, the Sooners have gone unbeaten and untied during the regular season, something that is very hard to do in college football.

"I appreciate you recognizing that because it is not easy to do," Stoops told the media. "That is especially true in our league and in the division that we are in. Even around the country there are not a lot of people that do it, so I appreciate our players and their commitment, hard work and character, and our assistant coaches who put them in such a good strong position. To do it back-to-back years is special. And three times in the last five years is gratifying, but we realize that the biggest prizes are still out there. We are well aware of that and none of our guys were celebrating too much. And in fact, there was no celebration at all. But they are excited because they realize it is not easy to do."


It was obvious that the big question on everybody's mind was whether a 35-0 victory over Baylor was going to be BCS friendly or not. And as that question was being asked, Auburn and Alabama had just kicked off.

"I don't know. You know that is such a debate," said Stoops. "There are so many opinions on it and it is what it is. I don't know. I am comfortable in the fact that we chose to run the clock out because as coaches that is important. Anybody that doesn't see the dilemma that we are in is not being totally fair. We are in a bad, bad position right now. I think as you look at it with USC and Auburn, I give my complements to them and respect. However, I respect us and our players.

"All of us have legitimate, strong arguments as to why we should be No. 1. We all play in strong conferences and there are very few legitimate reasons or negatives against any of us. So, hopefully it is projected that way because that is the truth. You will never hear me say a negative word about any of those teams because I have respected too much what they have done to this point , and we are right in there with them. It is a difficult situation, but we still have some games to play so we will see where it goes."

Coaches are not computer savvy, or at least most of them. Many of them can't tell you exactly what is really important in the BCS poll or what is important to voters in the AP or coaches poll. However, coaches like Stoops have an indirect idea what is important, and as the season goes on they get more and more information to add to their thinking.

"When I was talking about whether we should run the score up or not we are deciding on whether to use sportsmanship or choosing to go for BCS points," said Coach Stoops after the game. "Part of the computer rankings, I was looking at it last week, said that Oklahoma has scored something like 380 points or something like that and had given up (190) points, and that gives them a score of 1.92. That tells you that scores matter, so to be in that position is rotten for a coach, and I believe it is for all of us. Again, anybody that is not seeing that side of it is not being totally fair."

As Coach Stoops answered our questions he often looked tired and certainly worn out. He admitted that sometimes it is impossible to enjoy success when you are playing in the upper levels of college football, even when you are 11-0.

"It really is and I appreciate you saying that," said Stoops. "Is it difficult being 11-0, and with the structure that we have it is at times difficult to enjoy it. It is difficult, but believe me we are having a good time. I am enjoying it and the players are. It is a great road to pursue — to be on the road that we are is incredibly exciting, so we are doing the best we can."


The journey isn't over. And in reality, the Sooners have only accomplished their first goal. OU has won the Big 12 South, which has put them in the Big 12 Championship game. That is important because winning the Big 12 South is one of the toughest things to do in college football. If you win the Big 12 South you have accomplished something.

Just as important is the fact that OU has gone undefeated and untied during the regular season. As great as Barry Switzer was at OU, only his 1974 team went undefeated and untied. The great Bud Wilkinson coached teams that did it five times in 1949, 1950 (loss in Sugar Bowl to Kentucky) 1954, 1955 and 1956. Already, Bob Stoops and his Sooners have accomplished that feat three times in 2000, 2003 and now 2004. However, it takes so much energy feeding the monster of Oklahoma football that Coach Stoops will not be able to sit back and enjoy that feat until long after he retires.

"I try not to think about it to be honest with you," Stoops said from his office the day after watching his team go 11-0. "As you have said, we are all so busy and I do my best to not look back and not dwell on what we have done. We are really always constantly pushing for more pushing to improve. That is something that hopefully when I grow old that you do once you are in that space, or in that place. I am not there yet. I really don't reflect much that way. Hopefully, I will be celebrating those accomplishments with my grandkids someday."


While Coach Stoops is reluctant to look back for long as great accomplishments thus far, his senior class doesn't mind. It is not that they aren't still focused on what is in front of them, but they have won so much that they can't help but realize how special they really are.

"It is impressive what we have accomplished," said star senior wide receiver Mark Clayton. "We feel good about that and what we have done. Our coaches teach us to come in and prepare to win every game and we have been able to win a lot of games."

"It is not easy to do what we have been able to do, and we know that," said four-year starting senior center Vince Carter. "Not a whole lot of teams have been able to match us. When you consider the work that we have put in and guys being dedicated, that is what we are all about. I think we are a blue-collar type team. I know we have some great playmakers, but even they work incredibly hard. We never go into a game and feel that we have been out-worked, and that has always been a good feeling."

"The winning tradition was one of the reasons that I came to Oklahoma," said freshman cornerback Marcus Walker. "I didn't know the exact number behind it, but I am not surprised because it seems that OU has won the Big 12 Championship forever. I know that isn't really the case, but I know that we have won it a bunch and we have the best chance to win it every year."

"It is a great feat and accomplish to win a lot of ballgames in the regular season," said senior defensive end Jonathan Jackson. "It is a credit to the program and the coaching staff that we have here. I is a lot of fun to have a lot of victories like that."

Stoops does realize that his seniors and players certainly enjoy the fruits of their labor.

"Absolutely, it is hard to do and very difficult to go undefeated during the regular season. They have been able to do it back-to-back years in this tough league, and it comes with a lot of hard work. People just see them here in the fall, but what they have done through the winter and summer months when people don't get to see them are probably more of a reasons why they are successful overall."

Two more wins and the Sooners can really celebrate. Stoops likes the team he will be taking into the post season.

"I really like where are at this point," said Stoops. "We have our shortest injury list we have had since the beginning of two-a-days. I don't think there is any question that we are overall stronger at this point in the year than at any time that we have been. As far as the attack that we have on offense, we have the best balance that we have ever had. On defense, we have shown good ability.

"This is the seventh opponent that we have kept to either no touchdowns or one touchdown. That is seven of our 11 opponents. I do feel great about the way we are playing and the health of the team. I also like the mental aspect of our team. I feel that we are fresher and things aren't wearing on us. Nothing has been a grind for this team."


Jason White didn't do anything to hurt his chances for a second Heisman, but he probably didn't improve his position either. Thanks to the wacky world of the Heisman weekly polls, we can get a pretty good idea how volatile the voters are.

White got off to slow start completing only one of eight passes in the first quarter. White would start getting hot in the second quarter and by halftime he was 13 of 25 for 135 yards and two touchdowns. In the second half, the coaches turned the game over Adrian Peterson and the Sooner run game, but White still finished with respectable numbers completing 19 of 32 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns.

"I was off at the beginning of the game, but we made adjustments as the game went along and I began to get into a rhythm," said White after the game. "I thought we had a real good second quarter and should have scored more points in that quarter. We made some adjustments at halftime. In the second half, our offensive line took control of the game and AD and Kejuan (Jones) did a great job of running the ball. After the first quarter we settled down and had a good day offensively."

Jason may have been a little off in the first half, but he has thrown 186 passes and 19 touchdown passes since his last interception against Kansas State. The Sooners finished with 501 yards overall on the day and 304 yards rushing.

"You don't always start in a groove and with a guy like Jason. You have to give him time to get into that groove," said OU Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long. "As a coach, we have to give him time, or any quarterback time, to get into that groove. Some coaches don't have that kind of patience and they want to get the next guy in there, and sometimes you have to. However, we don't have that situation at Oklahoma. In Jason's case, he is a guy that we know is going to get hot at a certain point in the game. You have to give him enough chances to do that and we certainly did the other day.

"What we did early was try to bomb them too much and they went into the game thinking that they were not going to let us get over the top of them. They did a nice job of not letting a bomb beat them, so when we started to settle down to a quick passing game, that is when we started to get on a roll."


After a sluggish first half, the Sooners came out in the third quarter and took charge of their end of the game. The offensive staff got together at the half and came up with some major adjustments that gave the Sooner the edge to put the Bears away.

"We went to the quick passing game and we got back to our smashmouth running game," said Long. "We didn't do it early in the game and we took some of the steam off of their pass rush and their blitzes. Baylor was a heavy blitz team going into the game. Often times when you have a heavy blitz team, it takes a little while to get into a rhythm of the blitzes or to stop the rhythm of their blitzes. Once you can get their rhythm down you can gash it for big gains. That is exactly what happened in the second half, especially. Sometimes with a blitzing team you just have to stay patient. They may get you right off the bat, but if you stay patient enough you are going to gash it pretty good."

The Sooners went to the quick passing game throwing to Kejuan Jones (5 catches for 46 yards) and the tight ends — Bubba Moses (3-40) and Joe Jon Finley (2-21) — and then started to pound the ball with AD and Baylor had no answer for it.

"We had to go down to our running backs and to our screens, and our tight ends had a real nice day again," said Long. "Our tight ends are gaining a lot of confidence and they had some great catches. That is what we had to do, and we did it."


Peterson was tremendous, and in the humble opinion of this reporter had his best game as a Sooner. He was determined to get back on the 100-yard per game track and he ran harder than at any time this season. Peterson finished with 240 yards and three touchdowns. And if it wasn't for a shoelace tackle here or there, he could have easily gone for 300 or more.

"I just got comfortable in the second half and got loose and got to work," said Peterson after the game. "I ran the ball hard in the second half and the offensive line did a good job of opening holes for me. J.D (Runnels) and the receivers did a good job blocking down field, and we just made big plays. On a couple of plays I just got tripped up and it made me mad, but I guess those things happen for a reason. If the offensive line keeps making those big holes then I am going to keep running through them and sooner or later we are going to have a giant day."

While Peterson's sprinters speed is certainly something that contributes to his greatness, it is his toughness that sets him apart from all other running backs.

"Absolutely, he is physical and tough. The guy has the great vision to make cuts and find the right holes," said Stoops. "He is one of those that is truly special and they don't come around a lot. He has a great gift."

Peterson's three touchdowns was a career-high. And with his 1,671 yards, he now ranks fourth on the Sooners single-season rushing list. Peterson also tied the record for most 100-yard games by a freshman at 10, equaling the total by Wisconsin's Anthony Davis in 2001.

AD's exploits are not only enjoyed by the fans, but by his teammates as well.

"AD is All Day and if we give him the ball he is going to run hard," said Jackson. "He can run hard and make people miss. He is a great back that runs hard the entire game, and I expect nothing less from him."

While most of the focus in the backfield is on AD, Kejuan Jones continues to have a solid season. Jones finished with 30 yards rushing and 46 yards receiving Saturday, and he did a great job picking up the Baylor blitz.

"Kejuan has had a great year and played well again today," said Stoops. "He has played well for us a number of years. He has been a team guy and he has not been selfish about it. The two help each other. That is what I appreciate as a coach is about his unselfishness and his willingness to contribute any way that he can. That has been a big factor in AD's success. To come in and be supportive by older players has played a key role in his success."


Once again Coach Stoops proved to us all that he will do whatever it takes to make his football better when he pulled freshman place kicker Garrett Hartley out of redshirt during the last regular season game of the year.

"It is pretty obvious that Trey (DiCarlo) has just struggled, and points matter to much when you are looking at two championship games in front of you," said Stoops following the game. "It just got to a point that we thought Garrett, who we have known for a while that he is excellent and is very skilled in the way he hits the ball. We just felt that we couldn't help it anymore. I talked to Garrett earlier in the week and asked him what his feeling were about it. I told him to visit with his parents and to have a long discussion on what you feel is best for your future because I told him that I was going to do what he felt was best. He came to me emphatically and said, ‘Coach I want to play. If I can help this team win a championship or two, then I want to do it.' His parents were all set for it as well. We felt we needed to do it. And I feel that with his appearance now through the end of the season, I believe will even be better for him as we go into next year."

DiCarlo was allowed to keep his job during his slump because he was still out kicking Hartley in practice. It wasn't by much and Hartley was still able to impress the coaches. However, DiCarlo would kick well in practice earning another shot from Coach Stoops. As the slump reached its third game, DiCarlo started missing so badly Coach Stoops started to talk to Hartley about coming out of his redshirt, and the freshman was eager to get on the field.

"I told coach if he wanted to put me in there that I wanted to go and that I would do the best I could for the team," said Hartley. "During the game I saw Coach (Bobby Jack) Wright go talk to Coach Stoops and I saw him nod his head. Then he came over to me and said that I was going in and that I would kick the next extra point or field goal. The first kick I was nervous, but everything seemed to go well after that. Hopefully, I will do my best and we will keep winning."

Thus true freshman Garrett Hartley is your kicker the rest of the season. He has not been tested and the last big kick that he tried he missed in the Texas state playoffs. All that means is that he is due to make his next big kick, which will be for the Sooners.


What a performance by the Sooner defense. The defense shutout the Bears and Baylor finished with 156 yards total offense, just 2.9 yards per play.

"They were spread attacking very similar to Texas A&M. We expected that and anticipated it and we really had good coverage," said Co-Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. "We were competing well and we were in position. They have some good skill guys and we said that the quarterback going in was a very capable player. More often than not, our positioning was great and we just put the-peddle-to-the-meddle the whole game and played with the kind of consistency and focus that is needed for the stretch run. There is not a better time to play like we have the last two weeks."

"We had them in second and third and long most of the game, and that is what we like as a defense," Venables continued. "When we have an offense in that situation you can pin year ears back and get after them. The execution is the biggest part of what is going right with us. All the calls aren't magical, and again it those guys going out on the field and executing."

Senior middle linebacker Lance Mitchell didn't play in the second half as he rested a sore left knee. Gayron Allen started the second half and Zach Latimer saw major PT in the fourth quarter.

"Gayron and Zach played well. They responded well," said Venables. "Lance could have played and he wanted to play. He was just a little bit sore, but we just wanted to give him some rest going down the stretch with our biggest games coming up. His knee has been bothering him on and off a little bit all year and he hasn't been at full strength. You admire his toughness and his focus wanting to be out there with his teammates, but it was a situation where we were in decent control and we wanted to see how that first drive of the second half went. We were hoping that we could keep him out of the game and we were able to do so."

The Sooner pass rush was tremendous, coming up with seven sacks, three by sophomore Larry Birdine.

"It was good, but we should have had a couple more," said Venables. "The pressure was good all day and Baylor hadn't given up. They were competing well, but our guys executed and played really hard. We defeated some blocks and the coverage in the secondary was great because the quarterback had to hold onto the ball to allow us to get those sacks as well."


The Oklahoma front-four is one of the best in the country. The Sooner defensive ends are great and the defensive tackles are better than everybody gives them credit for. Plus, when the Sooners combine that with their blitz package they are tough to block.

"The pressures up front and our blitzes were on, but even just the guys up front got great pressure," said Coach Stoops. "We have some excellent players up front in that front four that have played well all year. So, to get seven sacks they had to get great pressure."

"It was a great game for us today," said Jonathan Jackson. "We came into the game knowing that Baylor was going to try to pass it around on us a lot. We thought we could get pressure on them and we just did that and created havoc in their backfield. We had a big day on defense. With our front four and defensive line, we want to have a lot of fun, so we just pinned our ears back and got after the quarterback."

Dan Cody is the best defensive end in the country and Jackson is not far behind. And both of them over shadow Birdine, who had the big game as a pass rusher.

"I was just getting off the ball and coming off the corner," said Birdine. "Sometimes the quarterback falls right to you, and then sometimes you have to chase him down. Today, I was fortunate as he came right to me because either Jonathan or Dan was chasing him from the other side, or we had great pressure up the middle. Our sacks today should be team sacks because it was the team that really got them."

The Sooners has certainly picked up their play the last couple of games, and that is by design.

"This is what we wanted to do today. This is what we wanted to do all year," said Jackson. "We are hitting our peak at the right time and we are playing pretty well right now. We are playing pretty good as a unit. Our defense had a great day today," said Jackson. "People have been criticizing Coach Stoops in the press and that isn't right. He is a class guy and he doesn't try to run the score up. He just sends us out there to play the game right and that is what we do and did today."


Chijioke Onyenegecha and Big Moe Dampeer both danced after the game to the Sooner bands' ‘Go OU' chant. Both can move pretty well, but the moves of Big Moe are a fan favorite.

"I am just trying to have some fun and give the fans what they want," said Moe following the game. "Life is about having fun and we are having some fun right now."

Joe Jon Finley has to be commended for his efforts to fire up the crowd as well. It is great to see players, whether they are playing or not, do what they can to contribute to the Sooners' success.

So, the players did have an idea what is going on publicly. The team will practice Monday, Tuesday and early Wednesday, and then get Thursday, Friday and Saturday off before returning to practice on Sunday.

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