OU-Nebraska Locker Room Report

Bob Stoops, Chuck Long, Rhett Bomar (pictured above), J.D. Runnels, Davin Joseph, Travis Wilson, Kevin Wilson, Brent Venables, Chijioke Onyenegecha, Clint Ingram, Dusty Dvoracek and Bobby Jack Wright talk about OU's 31-24 win over Nebraska.

The Sooners knew how tough of a task it was going to be.

Going into Nebraska, the Sooners knew they had not won in Lincoln against the Cornhuskers since 1987. No matter what the true circumstances, were this is a long time to go without a win in a particular stadium and this OU team was going to use that as motivation going into the game.

Most of the players on the current roster couldn't relate to football back in 1987, but most of them knew that the last time the Sooners went to Nebraska the Cornhuskers derailed their national title hopes thanks to a trick play to a Heisman winning quarterback.

Oklahoma still had something to prove to those that covered them and supported them. It was obvious to this reporter that OU was getting better and the fact they beat Baylor in double overtime was another sign that this team was getting closer to becoming a good team, and not a sign as so many suggested they were still floundering.

OU went to Lincoln with a lot on the line and still a point to prove. The Sooners knew a win would move them up the bowl ladder and put them back into a position for a great bowl trip for the team, administration and fans. They also realized that a win would prove that the team was well on its way back among college footballs big wigs and put them back on the college football map.

All week the Sooners were pumped. After a hard workout on Wednesday, star running back Adrian Peterson woke with a little pain in his ankle and went back to the doctor for a full check-up. Peterson was told that nothing was torn in the ankle and it was structurally sound. He was told the ankle was improved over two weeks ago and that he should be ready to run. On Thursday, Peterson had his best practice since the injury and ran like his old self. Also on Thursday, the team learned that senior Travis Wilson would be back and that his ankle was feeling better than it had in over a month.

The fact those two players were back gave Oklahoma a ton of momentum going into the game.

"We knew that we had our playmakers back on offense for this game and that made all the difference in the world to us," said senior captain offensive tackle Davin Joseph moments after the game. "Both of those guys looked good at practice all week and they were excited to be playing again. We have always felt if we had all of our players that we can be a pretty good team, and you saw that we are a real good offensive team with those guys in the lineup. We are a team that is getting better all the time and now we have AD and Travis back. You are going to hear form Oklahoma the rest of the season."

Both Peterson and Wilson would play big roles for the Sooners on offense, and the defense got after Norman native Zac Taylor sacking him nine times, a record for sacks by an opponent against the Cornhuskers. And with corners D.J. Wolfe and Chijioke Onyenegecha having their best cover games of the season, OU got after Taylor and his receivers all day. And despite a second half lull for the second consecutive game, Oklahoma came away winners.

Once the final gun sounded the Sooners ran around Nebraska Memorial Stadium as if they never wanted to leave. A great group of Sooner fans had made their way to Lincoln, and despite being greatly outnumbered by the Nebraska faithful the team could hear their fans cheering for them.

"Man, I can't tell you how great our fans were today," said Wilson after the game. "I could really hear them during the game. I could hear them over the Nebraska fans. Maybe I was listening for them, I don't know. But I found out where they were and I watched them. They didn't back down to the Nebraska fans all day and our band played Boomer Sooner all day. We could hear them. This victory was great for so many reasons, and I want to say thanks for the support from our fans and our band."

When Oklahoma came into the locker room there wasn't a player or coach without a smile on their face. The team had been through a lot this week, and I say team because when an individual within the team is hurting the entire team is hurting. Monday night OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables lost his mom, Nancy Schumaker, to cancer at the age of 58. And then Friday, sophomore cornerback D.J. Wolfe learned that his brother had was in an accident and was in very critical condition.

So, the defense had a lot to play for on Saturday.

"The fact that Coach Venables came out and coached us the next day and always made sure that we were taking care of meant so much to all of us," said senior linebacker and captain Clint Ingram. "We knew that he was hurting it, but he did his best to not let us see it. He never missed a minute of his time with us as far as I could tell. His help and leadership were so important to us in leading us to this victory. Knowing that coach sacrificed his time during such a tough time for him and actually come back and coach us the day after his mother died and being with us every step of the way at practice, showed us tremendous leadership. We also had D.J. Wolfe, who got news Friday night that his brother had fallen and hit his head and that he was in critical condition and unfortunately. For D.J. to come out and play as well as he did today was incredible. We dedicated this game to those two."

The win over Nebraska was a huge relief for Oklahoma. This has been a troubled season and finally they had most of the key pieces back on the field. Once again, they had overcome adversity so the wild celebration in the locker room was proof that the Sooners had just accomplished something very important for 2005 season.

"Let me put it like this. We had not won up here in 20 years, so it was crazy," senior captain J.D. Runnels on the scene in the locker room. "It was absolutely nuts. It was a great time in there. Hopefully this is going to lead us to great things the rest of the season. I mean, coming up here and winning with the program that they've got was going to be huge. With us stepping up early it was huge for us to maintain that the rest of the game."


Since Coach Venables has been at Oklahoma, I have learned that he is a great guy, a true professional, a loyal friend and one dedicated individual. And that was never more evident this week following the death of his mother, who Brent adored and loved so much.

I don't know how many of us could return to work and then work a full day following their death of their mother, which for a football coach on Tuesday is a 14- to 15-hour day. He repeated that work schedule on Wednesday and never missed a beat all week.

Venables often talked about how strong his wife, Julie, was and how he was so lucky to be with her during this time. Venables calls Julie the rock of the family and without question she handled many things at home during these trying times over the last several months.

The Sooner defense held Nebraska to 16-yards rushing, and the nine sacks constantly stopped Cornhusker drives. Despite all the despair in his life, Venables and the defensive staff put together a great gameplan for the Cornhuskers. Venables managed to keep his tragedy away from work, but as word leaked out this team was amazed about his dedication to the team.

All week Venables acted as if everything was business as usual. Following the game he tried to do the same, but when he was asked how he was doing Venables finally let the world in on the love for his mother and his family.

"I am doing fine. Shoot, winning doesn't take anything away from what has happened this week, but it sure helps," said Venables following the game. "It is somewhat ironic. My grandfather, my mother's dad, lived here for 30 years. He was the biggest Husker fan in Lincoln, but despite him pulling for the Huskers he would have been a big Sooner fan today."

"This week has been made a lot easier by all the support in the community, from friends, and certainly from our coaching staff and players," Venables continued. "Bob (Stoops) and the players have been unreal. It is has been almost overwhelming the support that you sometimes don't realize that you have until you are faced with some tough situations. Collectively, we all pulled through it together. And believe it or not, when you go to work and you have to get practice ready and you are watching tape and things of that nature, I was thinking that my mom would not want me to be doing anything else but what I was supposed to be doing. She would have wanted me to get to work and try to find a way to win a game and to lead these guys. You are kind of in your own la-la land and you handle things in your own way. My wife was great and made things so easy for me. This win is about our players and hopefully we will continue to get better."

Coach Venables knew that the team had played hard for him, but he knew that in the grand scheme of things they had played hard for Oklahoma.

"I certainly appreciate that, but more than anything I feel their effort was for the Sooners and for this team," said Venables. "It was for the fact that our defense needs to play well and it was for our season, and I could go on and on why we need to play hard and play well. I appreciate them all and I have such tremendous respect for them. It is times like this you find out who is your family and who is in your kitchen and who isn't. We have a great group of guys who fought their fannies off out there. Our coaching staff really got into it and this was a great team win."


No matter how you want to break down this game, and there were so many heroes, but the fact that Adrian Peterson returned to the Sooner lineup is the biggest key to the win. As I have said from Day One no matter what game the Sooners is playing against, when AD is in the lineup he is the best player on the field. I guess I need to qualify that now and say if he is healthy, he is the best player on the field.

With AD leading Oklaoma out of their locker room and onto the field, you knew that he was ready for business. And his 36-yard run on the second play from scrimmage gave the Oklahoma the momentum boost and confidence necessary to pull off the upset on the road.

"He is a big boost," said OU head football coach Bob Stoops. "You can't deny that. That guy is a really special and good player. Having him back is a big, big plus."

Oklahoma's depth at running back has been very good with Jacob Gutierrez going for big yardage last week against Baylor, but Peterson puts the Sooner offense on another level. The fact he was out for a while proved that OU has a number of running backs they can hurt you with.

"It was great to have him back," said Stoops. "What I appreciate about him is that people always talk about how talented he is, and he is, but to me he is so tough and competitive. When he plays and when he runs, I think when he is out there everybody feeds off of him. The other players see it. He just has a tough, hard -osed presence to him. He was big and Kejuan (Jones) was big. He had some nice runs as well. And unfortunately, Jacob Gutierrez gets hurt early."

"Jacob hurt his elbow on the kickoff (front line blocker)," Stoops continued. "I don't want him on the kickoffs either, but I think everybody understands all the people that we are missing. He has to be on the kickoff. Believe me, I don't want him out there either, but unfortunately he got hurt on a kickoff and I am afraid that it may be a significant injury. That took him out of the game and that is too bad, because we intended for him to get a great number of snaps in the game."

You didn't have to tell the quarterback how much it meant to the team that Peterson was in the huddle.

"Well, the first place we run a boot and the entire defense went with him. It was like that all day," said Rhett Bomar following the game. "Then he breaks it on the second play, so it was just great to have him back there. He is a great player and that right there says a lot. We need him on the field for us."

AD's return to the team wasn't lost on his blocking back either.

"It was huge. We can't really put it into words," said Runnels. "The kid, with or without an ankle, is something. When he is fully healthy he is remarkable."


Every time I go to Nebraska to cover Oklahoma I expect bad weather. I have been to games when it was so cold it was miserable, and I have been there when it is raining or snow is coming down. On Saturday the temperatures were in the 60s and the weather was beautiful. However, we still had some aspect of the weather that was going to influence the game. There was a tremendous wind that was so strong that it forced the Sooners to gameplan around it.

"I just felt warming up that the wind was going to be a factor. And it turned out to be a big factor," said Stoops in the postgame press conference. "I just felt here away from home that I didn't want to get behind early and I felt the wind was going to be a big plus. We went into the game knowing that if they deferred that we were going to be taking the wind and defending the South end zone. We were going to take the wind and defend. Then if we had won the toss, we were going to take the wind. I wanted to ensure that we had it. I felt it was an advantage to start with it and I feel it played to our advantage. I felt we could use it and help us away from home.

Stoops thought it was such a key in the game that he took two timeouts on defense late in first quarter in an effort to be able to force Nebraska to punt into the wind. He also showed great confidence in his defense because he took the timeouts on a second down and two and then on a third down and four."

"I just felt the wind was more important than those two timeouts," said Stoops. "We were managing the clock well and Rhett was good in and out of the huddle. I felt, again, to stop them and hold them out was critical to our success. There was a lot of field position that.

Bomar grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas and had to deal with tremendous wind on many of his Friday nights, so throwing with the wind or against the wind was old hat to him.

"The wind didn't really bother me at all. It mostly bothered the kicking game," said Bomar following the game. "Growing up in Texas we had the same kind of wind that we had today. I had to deal with some kind of major wind it seemed every time we took the field. It is not any big deal at all from my standpoint."


Speaking of Rhett Bomar, he had another outstanding game. Don't look now folks, but Mr. Bomar is slowly growing into his potential and his massive rep coming out of high school. Bomar hit on 14-of-28 passes for 157 yards, but more importantly the offense committed no turnovers with him under center and stayed cool under pressure.

"I just love it today because he was so just solid," said Stoops. "He had no turnovers and his passes were good. I don't think there were any of them that were really questionable that he shouldn't have thrown. He was on the money and some of them were in tight situations. The third down pick up over the middle to Travis Wilson was a huge play.

"Rhett is coming on. He is gaining in confidence, he is feeling more relaxed and doing all the things that you would expect from a guy who has had the number of snaps that he is starting to get under him. He should only continue to improve from it."

Bomar and the Sooners got the offense rolling early and put a ton of pressure on the Nebraska defense. OU led at the end of the first half 21-3 and they had outgained the Huskers 240- 101 in total offense. Oklahoma's lead could have have been more if it wasn't for a blocked field goal and a Garrett Hartley's miss from 44-yards out.

"It was good to get going early because of their crowd and everything," said Bomar. "Their crowd was loud and rowdy, but when AD scored and we started to hit some passes early it kind of shut them up. That was key for us, to get some confidence early for us."

Oklahoma prepared all week for the Nebraska crowd, and despite another sellout crowd the offense didn't seem to be bothered by it.

"We worked on it all week. We knew that it was going to be loud," said Bomar. "It was probably the loudest place that we played this year. It was louder than the Texas game, so it was a key for me to communicate with the offensive linemen."

Bomar's development is now ahead of the curve. Don't look now, but Bomar is on the verge of becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 and in the country.

"He didn't make any mistakes and the big thing for us is that we had no turnovers," said Runnels. "I think that all comes back to him. He is the leader of our group. Call him young or call him whatever, he did great today and he got us a win on the road."


The Sooners jumped out to a big lead, only to struggle on both sides of the ball in third quarter. However, this time Oklahoma got it together in time in the fourth quarter to win the game in regulation.

"In the first half I thought we were really excellent," said Stoops following the game. "In the second half they did a better job than us executing against the wind. In the third quarter, I was really disappointed that we didn't do better offensively with the wind. When we had to at the end, we did a great job.

"I don't know how many sacks we had at the end, but I felt like we had a lot of good pressure on the quarterback. We also covered well for the most part. They threw it, I don't know how many times (46), and sometimes you are going to give something up. But for the most part we were pretty decent."

Last week the offense had only 34 yards in the third quarter, and against Nebraska the Sooners gained only five yards. However, Oklahoma got it rolling again in the fourth quarter. Leading 24-17 and facing a third-and-10 from their own 25, Bomar rifled a pass to receiver Travis Wilson for a 21-yard gain, and the Sooners went on to score on an 85-yard touchdown drive.

"We had talked about that play at halftime. That was a play that we called in the first half and they had gone on an all out blitz and we threw the ball up to Malcolm (Kelly), and we almost got it that time," said OU offensive coordinator Chuck Long. "It is a good all-purpose play, and at halftime we said we need to get back to that play in the second half.

"We called the timeout and discussed it, and when we came back Rhett executed that play very well hitting Travis on a nice slant route. Rhett sat in the pocket and they actually gave us the coverage, over and under coverage, and Travis did a great job getting inside the corner making a big play."

The Sooner offense wasn't alone with their struggles out of the halftime locker room. Nebraska finally got their West Coast offense going gaining 107 yards and one touchdown, and one touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

"We were in a coverage that was designed to play against that kind of passing attack and everybody kind of took their turn. There were a number of mistakes during the first three-fourths of the second half, " said Venables. "Unfortunately, when we needed to be at our best and put them away we didn't. A lot of that is Nebraska with their quarterback making good decisions and their O-line protecting better, but we didn't play particularly well."

For the second straight game, the Oklahoma defense has been on the field late in the game with the opposing teams taking shots at them for the tying score near the end of regulation.

"There is a lot you can learn from those situations," said Venables. "Obviously, winning the game is the most important thing to learn, and keeping them out of your end zone when you have to. We try to do those things that would necessitate not putting ourselves in this position, but it says a lot about the character of our guys and their will and their want-to. Again, we have to be a lot smarter. And as coaches, we have to get our guys to play a lot smarter, especially when they are tired and the game is going down the stretch. This time we came up big. Our guys came up with the really big stops there the last couple of times they had the ball."


Oklahoma put tremendous pressure on Taylor during the final two series and were throwing everything that they had at the Nebraska junior.

"We were changing up our blitzes. There isn't any magic to it," said Stoops. "It is just a matter of beating a block or changing the angle where the blitz is coming from allowing our guys to come free sometimes. I just thought that Brent did an exceptional job of working and designing some of those blitzes. I am so proud of Brent. He has been through such a difficult time. A week ago, his mother passed away and he really hung in there and had a great gameplan."

"We knew that we were going to have to get to Taylor, and getting to him as many times as was a key to us winning the game," said captain and senior defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek. "He does a great job of evading the rush sometimes. He was a heck of a player. We worked real hard all week in practice on getting to the quarterback and getting our hands up when we get there, and we did a really great job of that tonight.

Dvoracek has been a great player at OU since the first day he stepped on campus, but he has never played better in his career than he is playing right now.

"Dusty is playing at such a high level. I am not sure since we have been here that we have ever had a defensive tackle that has played better," said Coach Stoops. "He is so big and strong and he moves incredibly well. He really studies his position well and he listens to Coach (Jackie) Shipp. He uses his technique about as well as any other defensive tackle that I have been around."

Dvoracek came up with two sacks during the final two series.

"I just went out here and told our guys that if we stop them we win," said Dvoracek. "It turned out plain and simple. We stopped them and we won. We had the lead and they had no more timeouts, so we have to stop them to win. All of our guys realized that and we dug deep and got the job done."

Dvoracek also had a career first, coming up with his interception early in the third quarter.

"That was the first one ever," said Dvoracek. "I didn't even know that I had it. I just lowered my head and covered my head up. I got tackled pretty quickly, but I promise that I will score on the next one."


Senior cornerback Chijioke Onyenegecha did score on his interception. He could have had two interceptions for scores, but dropped one before catching the second and going 63-yards for the score. On the play, we finally got a chance to see Chijioke's speed. Before Chijioke arrived at OU he was considered one of the top collegiate sprinters in the country running a 10.3 100-meters. Having he tore his hamstring during one of the top collegiate meets his sophomore year, and despite the fact it has healed enough for him to play football, Chijioke has never really turned it loose. That is until Saturday when Nebraska running back Cory Ross had the angle on him yet didn't come close to tackling Onyenegecha.

"I was trusting my speed," said Onyenegecha following the game. "I saw him coming and that he had the angle. I just tried to stay comfortable and run. I saw the end zone in front of me and it was basically like a track meet. You see the finish line and try to be the first one there."

"He had one earlier that he had hit him right in the chest that he dropped," said Stoops. "However, I am very happy for him. Chijioke has hung in there, he is playing well and he keeps making improvement. To see him catch it and outrun everybody for the score was another huge play."

Onyenegecha was glad to get to get a second chance.

"I was glad to get a second chance," said Onyenegecha. "I knew I couldn't drop it twice, so I just focused on the ball and looked it into my hands the second time. I caught it and tucked it and ran. I knew what they were doing. It was third and short and I was reading the No. 2 receiver. He was running the out. I told Reggie (Smith) to stay high on the vertical and that is exactly what they did. I just jumped the route and took it to the house."

The Sooners knew going into the game that Nebraska was going to complete some passes, but holding Taylor to 26-for-46, two touchdowns and two interceptions was a pretty good day for the secondary.

"Chijioke probably had his best game, other than giving up that one touchdown pass," said OU Secondary Coach Bobby Jack Wright. "Our play wasn't bad back there. Like I said his play, other than that one play, was pretty good. He made a big-time play on that interception. That was huge and that was a difference-maker. We were in a good coverage for it and he made a good play on it. They threw it right to him.

They threw another one to him and he dropped it. D.J. played his best game ever. He covered them like a blanket and he stoned them when it came time to tackle. He had a heck of a game. We were pretty solid tackling on the day."

Oklahoma an adjustment to combat the West Coast offense bringing in with back-up cornerbacks Eric Bassey and Marcus Walker when the Cornhuskers came in with their four-wide receiver personnel.

"That gets a little more speed on the field and gets a little better cover guys on the field," said Wright. "They are lining up in man coverage just like corners on their inside receivers with a safety over the top of them. When people have four wideouts out there and we have to go man, I am just putting four corners out there to match-up with them. You have to have healthy guys to do it. We haven't had healthy guys to do it the past couple of games. We have been wanting to do it for weeks. Bassey has been on the bench since the Texas game with an injury and Marcus has been hurt all year, and he hurt himself again Saturday. His shoulder popped out again and they popped it right back in and we went on from there."

Walker will get surgery on his shoulder as soon as the season is over.


Sophomore place Garrett Hartley certainly had an up and down day. Hartley connected on 35- and 50-yard field goals, but missed on a 44-yarder and never got a chance to kick a 50-yarder because his holder, Cody Freeby, botched the snap. He also had a 35-yarder blocked.

To top things off, Hartley converted a fake field goal in the fourth quarter with a six-yard run to the Nebraska 17-yard line. And one play later, Jones would race 17-yards to the end zone.

"When I knew the play was called I actually got a little rush," said Hartley. "I was actually looking forward to it.

Coach Stoops called for the fake to take advantage of the Huskers' strong rush, but he had to actually call it twice in the game.

"I actually had on the one that they blocked," said Stoops. "I was really furious that he didn't run it then, because I felt he would have walked into the end zone. I think there was a little confusion up front, and between the two and that helped them block it. But they did lot of pushing and we were supposed to run it then. I just felt the way they were rushing they weren't regarding any fake whatsoever.

"I felt if they were going to rush that way we were going to take advantage of it. We didn't that one time and they blocked it, so we came back to it when we got the opportunity again. They changed it a little by having a guy back deep, but I still felt strongly that we would get the first down, if not score. I just felt it was there and the way it was all happening I knew that we needed it."

Hartley was hammered out of bounds at the end of his run, but he bounced right up and celebrated with Freeby all the way to the Sooner sideline. Coach Stoops didn't seem too concerned that Hartley took a hit.

"Sometimes they need that," said Stoops laughing. "No, he is a good guy. You don't want him to get knocked around to much, that is for sure."


Coach Stoops says a big win on the road at a place like Nebraska can do wonders for a young football team.

"It just shows that we are improving and we are making strides," said Stoops immediately after the game. "We are leaning from it and we are growing from it. This could help us and boost us here for the last stretch of the season. I don't like the fact our defense was under pressure on the last series, but in hindsight, just like a week ago, when you win these kinds of games they do build you a lot. They teach your players that in those situations to keep cool and keep competing and then to make your plays when you have those opportunities. You always want to win big, but in these situations you can really grow from them in a lot of ways where players can hold onto for years."


With Peterson returning the line-up and Oklahoma rushing for 180 yards, the Sooners' offensive line finished with a pretty good day after following a good gameplan.

"I thought we had a pretty good handle on what we expected to see from them," said OU run game coordinator Kevin Wilson. "We had their strengths and their weaknesses and how we wanted to attack them down pretty good. We thought if we would spread out they would spread out and they wouldn't load the box. We thought if we could pack them in with a tight fit that we might be fast enough to get outside them. So, we took advantage of some of their weaknesses.

"We thought they had some concerns leaving cornerbacks one-on-one, so they used their linebackers a lot in pass coverage leaving some opportunities for us to use some spread run game. We hit them with a couple of quarterback draws. I think if Jacob had stayed healthy, we would have hit a lot more in the gun. Some of the runs that went for short gains for us, I think, could have gone for bigger gains with Jacob in the lineup because he is pretty crafty out of the gun stuff. Then when they packed it in, we ran Adrian on the stretch plays thinking that we could outrun them to the corner."

"I thought our protection was pretty good in the game. And in the last couple of games we have gotten better with our protection," Wilson continued. "The only sack we had was on a screen, and it was actually on a double-screen. We were running a tailback screen right and a wide receiver screen left and they shot us an A-gap blitz and we didn't do a good job of seeing that. Before we knew it their guy was on our quarterback.

"Not only did we not have more sacks, we really didn't have many hits on our quarterback. We have been pretty pleased with our performance up front. Since the Texas game, the guys have practiced better and been more consistent. And I think we saw that yesterday."

The Sooners had another tense moment when senior center Chris Bush broke his right hand, forcing freshman Jon Cooper to move over from right guard where he was sharing time with J.D. Quinn.

"Jon was rotating all day at right guard with J.D. He was playing a lot and playing really well," said Wilson. "I didn't say anything, but Jon actually missed Tuesday and Wednesday at practice because of a virus. He was throwing up at our Tuesday meeting and he did not even practice on Tuesday. We held him out of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, but he practiced Thursday and was still struggling. So, he didn't get a lot of work all week. But he is a good player who is playing good. He was playing well and he had a couple of outstanding blocks. For a young guy he was doing great.

"Chris has a break in his right had, but one that he is going to be able to play with," Wilson continued. "That is probably going to hurt his snapping ability, so if he is playing either he is going to have to snap it left handed or go to guard. More than likely he will go to guard.

"We are supposed to have Chris Chester back. Last week, they said he looked ahead of schedule and he did a lot last week. So, with the open date this week maybe he will be back into the mix for Texas A&M. I have been hesitant to play Jon at center because of Rhett, who has struggled with the snap some. However, Jon has been playing every bit as good as Chris Bush and he has been playing every bit as good as J.D. Quinn. If Jon has to go over and play the rest of the year at center, I would expect him to play as good as Bush has been playing it, if not better. I think he is a real good player. We didn't have a real concern at the end of the game with Jon at center."

Even if Chester can play against Texas A&M, look for Cooper to start at center. Chester is not expected back at 100 percent, but he should be good enough to play some. Before the injury, Chester was drawing almost as much interest from the pro scouts as Davin Joseph.

Before the season started, Coach Wilson called Cooper his best freshman and if he had not been injured early in camp he would have quickly moved into the starting line-up at guard. As it is, he is forcing his way into the starting line-up now despite the fact he only weighs 275-pounds. By the time he is to 300 pounds, he could very well be one of the top offensive lineman in college football and a future first round draft choice.


What a day for senior defensive end Calvin Thibodeaux, who had two sacks in the game including one on the very first defensive play of the game.

"We wanted to stop the run first. On the first play I was just coming hard and I got the edge on their offensive tackle," said Thiboeaux. "I kind of gave him one of my moves and got by him easily was on top of the quarterback."

That play by Thibs grabbed all the momentum for the Sooners and forced Nebraska to work behind the sticks for most of the first half, which was not lost on the Oklahoma offense.

"It was huge. Just look at the first sack of the game and the momentum that established for us," said Runnels. "Our defense is always going to show up and we know that those guys were going to win it for us. We hated to put it back into their hands, but they had been playing so great all day, getting sacks and coming up with big plays that we weren't worried about it."


Coach Stoops said after the game that he felt the elbow injury suffered by Gutierrez was substantial, but today he said that now his medical staff is telling him that it may not be as bad as first thought and that he could be back for Texas A&M.

Stoops also said nobody has been ruled out for Texas A&M, and that he thinks they will get Chester and Donta Hickson back for the Aggies.

The Sooners plan to practice Monday through Thursday and then take Friday and Saturday off before returning to start preparation for Texas A&M.

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