Adrian Peterson is not the only key skill player back giving the Sooner offense a jumpstart for the stretch run of the 2005 season.
The return of senior wide receiver Travis Wilson from an ankle injury also means a great deal to the Sooners, and he recently slowed down enough to talk to OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: Adrian Peterson has played hurt this year, and he did last year in the Texas A&M game as well. What did that show you about him as a player and as a teammate?
TW: "He had everyone's respect early, but I think he really earned it against Texas A&M. After seeing that run for a first down after what he went through to get back on the field, popping his shoulder back in, then still picking up a key first down was very impressive."
JH: Most of your offensive weapons will be back for Texas A&M, so up to this point have you been impressed with what the offense has accomplished without some of its key skill players?
TW: "No, it has just been a matter of getting our timing down in the passing game and getting into a comfort zone with some new players. I think in the past couple of games, people were starting to become more comfortable with one another. When teams get into that comfort zone they become hard to stop. I think early we had trouble playing together as a team and as a unit. Over the past couple of games, I have seen some maturity in a couple of guys and now getting everybody back is an extra bonus for us. I look for us to start making big plays again."
JH: When you and Larry Birdine ran into each other during two-a-days in a seven-on-seven skelly drill, I bet you never dreamed you would still be bothered by your ankle this deep into the season did you?
TW: "No, I have been fortunate these last couple of years to avoid injuries. I never thought about getting injured my senior year. It is unfortunate that things happen and I have to just make the most of my opportunities that now come my way. It is how I overcome adversity that will make me a success or not."
JH: You were mad at Birdine that day, so are you still mad at him?
TW: "No, I wasn't really mad at him. I mean, it was just for a second, but I was going through pain and that was what I was madeabout."
JH: What was he doing out in the flat from his defensive end position on that pass anyway? You were running a short-out route weren't you?
TW: "That is what I asked him that day. I told I had never seen him out there, especially in a skel drill. I don't know what was going on. I guess he was trying to hustle that day or something, but he was out there and I got hurt. He got hurt the next day or a couple of days later."
JH: Do you have just an ankle sprain or is it more than that?
TW: "Yeah, it is a tendon right below the ankle bone. It is just the matter of the swelling getting out for me to get better. It is a matter of me strengthening it so that I can cut on it. I needed to get my explosiveness back, and I think I have."
JH: What is the confidence of this team right now?
TW: "The confidence of the team at this point in the season is the best that it has been. We came out with big expectations at the beginning of the season and we didn't get off the way we wanted to. This is the team right now that I expected to see all season. Every win is not going to be a blowout of us, but I see us playing with toughness week in and week out. We will go out and compete and compete hard."
JH: What did the older guys try to tell the young guys through the tough times early in the season?
TW: "We tried to tell the young guys before that it doesn't come easy. No matter what you have seen in the past, it doesn't come easy. You just have to complete play in and play out. Then when we start to win, things can loosen up a little bit to where they can start to relax and get into their comfort zone. I think, overall, everybody is feeling a little bit better about our team right now. Nobody is getting to big-headed. We definitely know we could have been a lot better this year. We are very happy to be where we are at right now, considering how we started and all of our injuries."
JH: What about Rhett's progress?
TW: "Week in and week out you can see evidence just because of his numbers, confidence in how he is running the offense and how he gets us in and out of the huddle. He takes a pounding almost every week, but he is such a competitor that he has earned more and more respect. In my opinion, he has become a great player."
JH: You have caught some passes from some great quarterbacks here at Oklahoma. How does the pass that Rhett throws compare to the Jason White's and Nate Hybl's of the world?
TW: "As far as I am concerned, as a receiver, I feel I should be able to catch anything. That said, he is right up there with any of them. When he makes great reads he gets the ball to you in great shape. I think the most important thing for the quarterback is to get the ball to the receiver, and then the receiver has to take care of the rest. He does a great job of getting the ball to you. I have had no problems catching his balls."
JH: You made a great play catching a slant against Nebraska. It seems like Rhett throws a great slant?
TW: "That pass is thrown every day in practice. You have to get to the point where you know where it is going to be and he takes one, two or three steps back and throws it. He has gotten real comfortable with it and now he throws it to perfection almost."
JH: Have you noticed a difference in how this team carries itself and its attitude?
TW: "Yeah, I have seen a definite improvement in our confidence after we suffered a couple of losses earlier in the year. Early on, the young guys started to second guess themselves. But us older guys have been through our share of wins and we know what it is like. The young guys come in here and get off on a wrong foot and they start to think that the war is over, but it was just a matter of them settling down and imagining what it was going to take to get there. It is not easy. Just because we are Oklahoma doesn't mean we are automatically going to have success. They are leaning that, because I can just tell in the way they walk and their swagger they understand what it takes and they see that we are starting to win. They are starting to like winning and they are starting to understand what it takes to win."
JH: You played last year with receivers, who as a group, were the best in OU history. This group of young receivers was actually rated higher as recruits, so how do you feel they really match up with that great group of receivers who just graduated and who now are all playing in the NFL? Do they matchup?
TW: "Without a doubt. The scary thing is that by the time they leave here the young guys might be known as the best group to ever play here. What we had last year was special, but I don't think any of us last year came in as freshman as well as this group is adjusting to the collegiate level of play. There is a big difference from high school to college and this group has adjusted great. They are going to be great players and are going to make a lot of big plays over the next few years."
JH: Since you have been at OU you have seen some interesting games against Texas A&M haven't you?
TW: "Right, there is now question about that. A&M is a great team and we have competed with them for the past three years. In my freshman year, we go there and end up losing. Then we have the blowout here in Norman the next year, and then last year we went back to Kyle Field and they gave us a run for our money. We matchup pretty evenly and that is what makes it such a great game between us. It would be a big win for us because it is in the South Division and it is important to us, but they want it just as bad as we want it. If we win we become bowl eligible. It is a rivalry game that is important to us."
JH: What are your thoughts on the A&M defense?
TW: "Their defense is skilled and full of a bunch of athletes. They come to play some days and then it looks like some other days they don't play up to their potential. We take nothing for granted from them, because we expect the best out of them this weekend. We know how talented they are across the board."
JH: They don't seem to have a dominating defense like they have had in the past?
TW: They have not played up to the level of the days when they had the Wrecking Crew. but they have dominating athletes who are great players. They have a great defense. It is just that sometimes they click and sometimes they don't. That is the way sport is. We expect to have to play well to beat them."
Wilson sees offense making more big plays
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