OU-Colorado Locker Room Report

Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops and several other key players and coaches break down the Sooners' 42-3 Big 12 Championship win over Colorado. Stoops, pictured above with the Big 12 Trophy, also talks about OU's matchup Orange Bowl matchup against Southern Cal. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The game was finally over and the Sooner reserve defense was on the field. Big Moe Dampeer was the first to start racing over to towards the Oklahoma bench, but he stooped short to do the 'Big Moe dance'.

"I wanted everybody to be as happy as me," said Big Moe moments after the Sooners had trounced Colorado 42-3 to clinch the Big 12 Championship. "I wanted to make sure every Sooner fan had a smile on their face. I can hear many of them throughout the game requesting me to do my dance. I don't think I dance that good, but if they want it then when we win I am glad to give it to them. Heck, it was a great night to dance anyway."

Mark Clayton was running around hugging as many teammates as he could. Adrian Peterson had picked up an orange and was taking a bite. Jason White never looked happier, and J.D. Runnels was saluting the crowd.

Defensive tackle coach Jackie Shipp was standing off to the side watching in delight as the players celebrated in the center of the field. Shipp felt it was better to watch than to join in.

"Let the kids enjoy their moment, they deserve it," said Shipp. "This is their moment. They deserve this moment. They played great in a great game with a lot on the line. When a team plays like this under this much pressure, it deserves to celebrate like they are."

After shaking every hand on the field running back coach Cale Gundy walked over to Coach Shipp, shook his hand and watched as well.

"This is great isn't it," shouted the former Sooner quarterback. "Man, they played great tonight."

The Sooners gathered to accept the Big 12 Championship trophy around mid-field and the seniors gathered around Coach Stoops on the podium. Vince Carter was trying to get close to the trophy and he had to walk on the edge. Coach Stoops let him take his place underneath the trophy and he mocked for the photographers. Dan Cody was holding one finger above his head and jumping up and down. Mark Bradley was jumping all around. The seniors were having the time of their life. And why not? They had only waited a year to earn this feeling.

"We have been working all year to win this game," said senior quarterback Jason White. "Ever since last year we have been working to win this game. Our motto all year has been to finish. Well, this was one of the games that we had to win to finish. Now, we have one more to play and we need to win that game, but tonight I am going to celebrate this game. In fact, I might celebrate this game for a couple of days but I am going to start thinking about the bowl game soon."

Every team strives for the perfect game. And in the Sooners' thrashing of Colorado, they almost played a perfect game. OU dominated on both sides of the ball and Colorado never had a chance.

"I am very proud of our players, and not just the ones that are up here. But the ones in our locker room and our coaches," said OU Head Coach Bob Stoops at the post-game press conference. "The way they prepared, I really felt there was an edge all week and that we were ready to play. Fortunately, we came out an executed all parts of the game in a great way today. Outside of a few penalties, I don't have much to complain about.

"I appreciate their efforts and hard work through the year. Being Big 12 Champs is special. It something that is very important to us. Again, that is where our season starts every year when we look at our goals, and it is important to accomplish this goal. I am very proud of these guys for their work."

Nothing changed today when Coach Stoops looked back at the game.

"We played a great game in all areas," said Coach Stoops. "We were fundamentally sound in all areas, made big plays and totally dominated the game. We had prepared very well before the game. It is not often that a team will play like they prepare, but we did last night. I am real proud of our players and the coaches. The coaches put together a great game plan and we executed it almost perfectly."

The Sooners had been looking for the perfect game all year and they knew they had not played that perfect game yet. They knew they had yet to put together a complete game until last night.

"We have been awfully close to playing a complete game several times this year," said Stoops after the game. "Even when we were winning during the year, I knew that we hadn't totally put it all together. However, the last couple of weeks it has been awfully close. And then it really hit tonight, definitely, and we played like we are capable of. We executed all parts of the game."

The Sooners set the tone against Colorado on defense. Colorado picked up only one first down in the first half, and that was by way of penalty. OU out-performed Colorado in total offensive yards by a count of 281-13 in the first half. That's 281 to 13! Doesn't that stat just blow you away? Colorado was so thoroughly dominated that Buff Head Coach Gary Barnett was almost speechless after the game.

"Folks, I hope you take it easy on us because I don't think you can find anything good to write or say about us," Barnett told the media following the game. "I am proud of our team because we played hard, but we were totally dominated today. We had no chance today. It didn't matter what we tried, they were better than us and they had an answer for us. On offense, we never could move the ball and our defense was on the field all day. We couldn't even get a first down. And when you can't even get a first down, you don't have any chance to win the game. They have a really good football team, the best one that we have played this year. I haven't seen all the other teams, but if there is a better team than the one we played tonight, I would like to see them play."

***

Every since Marcus Walker has been inserted at corner the OU defense has been dominant. That fact has nothing to do with Walker himself, except for the fact that he has played very well and he has not given up the big play. The return of Antonio Perkins at the other corner has solidified the Sooner secondary, and Oklahoma no longer gives up big plays. In the last three games the Sooners have given up six points, and you can't lose if teams can't score on you.

Under Stoops, the Sooners have had some legendary defensive performances. The National Championship win over Florida State, the Cotton Bowl game against Arkansas, and the thrashing of Texas A&M to name a few. And now you can include the win over Colorado. When a team is held under 50 yards of total offense, that is just about as good as it gets.

"That is absolutely one of the best defensive games we have played since we have been here," said Stoops. "In a championship game, to play this way defensively was so impressive. The guys were just sound, no busts, and they really tackled well. Our defense had great penetration against the run game and we put great pressure on their quarterback. Our coaches Brent, Bo, Bobby Jack and Jackie really had them ready to play, and they had a great game plan."

The Sooners defense is on a roll. Only those that haven't been paying attention can question the Oklahoma defense at this point. They almost played a perfect game in beating Colorado.

"That was incredible. They way they came out of the locker room you knew it was going to be one of those nights," said Co-Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. "We knew it was going to be our night. It couldn't have come at a better time to hit our stride and to peak. The situation and the stage we were in, and then to play that way is incredible. Our guys had a fabulous week of practice all week, and at the onset they zeroed in on everything that Colorado did.

"Up front is where it started because we said that was going to be a real key. It was going to be a physical game and they were obviously going to establish the run. Up front all four of those guys, and it was all of those guys and it really didn't matter, they were very disruptive against the flow of the Colorado offense. Our secondary had great coverage jumping routes. Everybody was calling out routes as we had great communication all around. Finally, we played liked we are capable of playing against a quality opponent."

The Sooners totally confused Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt with their zone coverage.

"I had a terrible night reading their defense," said Klatt, who finished 8-for-26 with one interception and only 52 passing yards. "On every play they threw something different at me and I didn't adjust. They even had defensive tackles in pass coverage at times and I always seemed to throw at those guys. It was just a terrible night for me."

Big Moe had his best game as a Sooner. He batted down three passes and lived in the Colorado backfield.

"I just did what I could. I just had a great night at getting my hands on passes," said Dampeer. "I never could get into a position to catch one, but Coach Shipp is always telling me to get my hands up and to bat that ball down, and I was on that today. I got to play a little bit more in the game and I am feeling pretty good about myself. I am getting in better shape every day and I am getting comfortable with the defense. Shoot, I must be moving around pretty good to drop back in pass coverage."

Yes, Big Moe dropped back into pass coverage a couple of times and looked like one of the Oklahoma's big safeties.

"The guys had a great week of practice. It showed in the way that we executed," said Venables. "They were flying around and having a lot of fun. They were a lot of fun to watch in that situation being as dominant as they were. We wanted to give them a lot of different looks and baited them into some things.

"Once we got keyed into their protection our pressure was coming all day. Those guys got their hands on some balls during practice week, so it was good to see a week of practice to come to fruition. The game set up just perfectly like we thought it would, and Moe looked pretty good back there. The big fella was moving around pretty good."

"I thought Moe was playing defensive back for us," said Stoops. "He did a great job back and was moving around pretty good. He has pretty good hands and is able to reach out and knock down some balls."

The defense heard the criticism early and they were still taking some knocks from the national media coming into the game, but anybody that has watched OU football recently knows that the defense has been dominant over the last few weeks.

"I think that is enough to be 12-0," said Venables. "We are going to the Orange Bowl. And winning a Big 12 Championship is what we are most proud. We have something to show for the year of hard work. And to do it in a dominating fashion against a team that is very prideful and talent rich is something. They have been in three of the last four Big 12 Championship games and that says a lot about our guys."

The Sooners practiced with and edge and they got healthy. The two weeks allowed AD, Clayton, Mark Bradley, Vince Carter, Davin Joseph, Dan Cody, Lance Mitchell and Perkins to all get totally healthy. OU was as healthy going into the Colorado game as they had been all season, and it showed.

"I think that had a big role in our success," said OU wide receiver coach Darrell Wyatt. "Mark has been playing with a little bit of a hip problem the last three or four weeks and he was playing at about 75 percent. Last night he was moving around like the Mark Clayton of old and he had some great moves. Mark was just a little sore, but he was able to rest and it showed in his play. Our offensive line was able to heal up and they were exploding off the line of scrimmage. Our defense looked quick and fast. I know the rest helped us become a great football team Saturday."

Every football coach in America tries to get his football team to peak at the right time. Well, it appears that the Sooners have done just that. The Oklahoma defense gives up just 46 yards total offense, while the offense put 42 points and 498 yards on the board.

"I like the fact that we've really peaked here at the end of the year," said Stoops. "I think most all areas, I like the way we are playing in everything that we're doing."

***

The prevailing thought among the media was that OU was totally focused because they knew they needed an impressive performance to impress those involved with the BCS. To a man, the Sooner players and coaches say that had nothing to do with their performance.

No, I wouldn't say that. We owed it ourselves to go out and play great in this game and win the Big 12 Championship," said Sooner defensive end Dan Cody. "Shoot, I don't even know what was being said about us because I haven't had cable since last spring (laughter erupts in the press room). I don't know what was being said. I napped most of the afternoon today, so I didn't see any of the other games. We just knew that if we went out and won the Big 12 Championship game then everything would take care of itself."

That was pretty much agreed upon by everybody.

"I guess common sense told us that we need to win, but that is not the big reason why we won," said Peterson after he just rushed for 172 yards, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to rush for 100 yards in 11 games. "We never talked about it during the week. We just talked about winning the game. That was what was important to us."

***

The Sooner offensive line had a dominating performance. White wasn't hit all day and Peterson, Kejuan Jones and Donta Hickson all had a great day running the football.

"We wanted to go out and be dominant today, and I thought we had a great game," said senior offensive tackle Jammal Brown. "I know Vince was driving his man six or seven yards of the ball and Davin was as well. I thought I was having a good game. Nobody on my side was getting close to Jason. We felt very comfortable today during the game, and I think that was very evident. They never surprised us with anything and we just knocked them off the ball.

The old saying is that everything starts off the line of scrimmage. That was the story, but not the total story with the Sooner offense.

"We had a complete game today. Because we were so dominant up front we really had one of the most complete games of the season," said OU Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long. "Calling plays, I felt I could call just about anything and we were going to execute it. Our running game was getting good yardage and Jason was having (22-for-29 with three touchdowns and two interceptions) a great night. Our receivers were getting open and Jason was finding them. We had a pretty good performance tonight, but we can play better. We committed way to many penalties and we had a few plays that went for negative yardage. We can correct those things."

***

Mark Clayton was awesome again finishing 106 yards on eight receptions. Clayton has improved his hands so much that it seems that nothing gets by him.

"I am supposed to catch what is near me and Jason put the ball right on the money," said Clayton. "Sometimes he has to throw it where the defense can't get to it and we have to lay out for it. We practice that all the time. If I get my hands on a ball I am supposed to catch, and tonight I did."

What was even more remarkable was the fact that the Sooner passing game worked on that terrible field at Arrowhead Stadium. The two teams were playing on mud and it did cost the Sooners a couple of times.

"The field was horrible. On one of Jason's interceptions Mark (Bradley) fell coming out of his break," said Coach Wyatt. "The defensive back had a clear break on the ball because Mark had slipped down. It was an easy interception for him. Then, we had a post route early in the game wide open to Mark (Clayton) and Jason slips on his stride and he throws a bad ball. If Jason doesn't slip it is a throw that he makes better than any quarterback in the country, and it would have been an easy touchdown for us. AD slipped on three or four of his runs, and our defensive guys were having some trouble with it. That happens to a lot of pro fields in cold weather areas. They do what they can to keep the grass growing, but that field wasn't very good at all."

***

The Sooners got the good news today. It will be OU and USC in the Orange Bowl on January 4. Oklahoma has been in two straight National Championship games and three of the last five. So, the BCS is working pretty well as far as Oklahoma is concerned.

"We have intentionally gone out and worked to strengthen our schedule," said Stoops. "We understand a little of how it works. I know the strength of schedule component was diminished a little bit this year, but it was still a factor. We've won a fair number of games too, and that can't be overlooked. Going undefeated through the regular season in two straight years helped."

USC has been ranked No. 1 all year and the Sooners have been ranked No. 2. OU lost a chance at the National Title last year when they lost to LSU, while USC won a share of the National Championship.

"I haven't seen them a bunch, but we've got great respect for how they're coached and for their players," said Stoops on the Trojans. "They are very similar to us. They have a great quarterback. And with USC you see (Matt) Leinart, (Reggie) Bush and a great group of receivers on offense. You look at us and you see Jason and Adrian and a great group of receivers. On defense, there is a great fundamental structure and an aggressive style of play. We probably mirror each other in a lot of ways."

"Both have great traditions and great histories, and both are undefeated," Stoops continued. "It's about an attractive a match-up as it could be, I would imagine. We're very excited. We feel like it's going to be a great game and we're proud to be associated with it."

***

The Sooner players will get the week off, but will practice this weekend. The Oklahoma coaches, including Coach Stoops, will hit the road tonight recruiting.

"Playing in the championship game doesn't hurt you any, but it does put you behind in recruiting a little bit," said Stoops. "You still have to get out there and meet people. We got some ground to make up."

The players will also get next week off for finals, but they will practice next weekend. So, the next two weekends the players will practice, but both weekends the coaches will be on the road recruiting.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories