Adrian Peterson just seems to get stronger as the game goes on. He seems to have great second halves almost every time he's healthy.
Coach Stoops: Yes, he does. The more and more you feed it to him he gets stronger and stronger. And the offensive line, too. You know, they just keep at it and eventually they hit one of those seams and we did a few times. That's where sometimes you just have to have patience with it, too, when you run it and you get a couple or you get hit in the backfield. You're just off or occasionally, one guy will cross a space that shouldn't, and you have to have the patience to stay with it and eventually you hit it, you get it just right.
And that happened a few times and AD has such just incredible explosiveness when he hits it that he's hard to handle.
Do you sit back in amazement at some of the things he was able to do?
Coach Stoops: Yeah, but every day I see it. I've been around him a long time and I shake my head at practice I can't tell you how many times. My gosh, you don't see people hit it like that when he hits a hole and turns the corner, it's something. That's a lot coming at you.
But I felt like the line did kind of wear them down some in the second half, probably.
How about AD's attitude with all the injuries and setbacks this year?
Coach Stoops: He's handled it great. I'm sure it was frustrating to a point but he also understands that it's not his fault that he's hurt, that he had a high ankle sprain and those aren't the easiest things to manage. He tried to fight through it and play a few times in games. You feel like you can until you go to make those game time cuts and he just wasn't able to manage it. He didn't have the push off he's used to having and then we had to pull him.
But he's been very mature about it. He's been a great teammate through the whole year. I think what I appreciate about him is that it has never been just about him. He has a genuine humbleness to him that he hasn't been sitting there worried that he's not getting all the attention. When he was able to come back, the guy's been sensational.
Coach, do you think your offense has been most successful out of the I-formation?
Coach Stoops: I think that's obvious that's where AD's the best. Of course, we're going to play to that and of course, when he busts it and then you look great doing it. I don't think that's any secret. I think that most teams know that we like to be in it when he's there and it also sets up play-action passes, it sets up defenses on how they want to defend you.
But we have had on other occasions where we've been pretty decent out of the shotgun. In watching Jacob Gutierrez run in the Baylor game, we were awfully good in the shotgun, too. Of course, AD being deep and coming straight downhill, that's a strength of his and so we play to that as much as we can.
In recapping the season, this had to be a good way to finish a frustrating season?
Coach Stoops: It's been a great group to coach, I can say that. It's been a fun team to coach in that the attitude has been great the whole year. Our seniors have been the guys that have been used to winning every single game, virtually, and that didn't happen early on. They could have gone into regression and they never did. They kept their character, they kept their discipline and their leadership and we fought through it and have ended up in a good position.
7-4 is what's left out there and we've got a chance at a good bowl game. As much as anything, I appreciate that it gives us a lot of time between now and then to develop our team for next year. In a number of these practices early, we'll pull out our seniors and inject more freshmen and more young guys in there and start shaping the team to some degree for next year.
I liked seeing our young guys today out there, so many of them making big plays. So it's been a good year because we're working with good character young guys on this team and it's fun to go out and practice with them every day, see them in the locker room.
You want to win every game but sometimes you don't. That doesn't take anything away from the character of these young guys we get to work with.
Coach, how frustrating is it now, knowing that you could have been 8-3 at this point?
Coach Stoops: I'm not much on going back. What's done is done. It serves me no purpose to go back and rehash that. To some degree, there's some aggravation to it but I'm not going to go into that and if there was something I could do about it, I would. But there isn't so we're going to move forward.
Can you talk a little bit more about the seniors who played on defense today? Dvoracek and Ingram had some great plays out there.
Coach Stoops: Yeah, Clint had his fourth interception out there today. I've always said he's like a ball magnet. The guy just does an amazing job finding the football. Dusty, incredible again. He fought through, he's been in a boot the last two weeks and has been able to come out and play in a great way. All those guys.
I feel bad that Travis Wilson wasn't able to be out there. I'm really proud of Jejuan Rankins, a guy that's been a little bit forgotten about. He's a guy that started two years ago the entire undefeated season for us. He's had two high ankle sprains on opposite legs. But I love the fact that he has been so valuable to us catching punts.
You know, he's limited in his movement and what he's able to do. But he can possess the football into the wind, and with the wind. We've seen through the year when we've had other people out there, we haven't handled it and that's a big responsibility. So he's contributed fighting through those ankles just to go out there and field punts for us. He's still not able to cut and do the things he's used to doing and yet, I'm hopeful that by bowl time he'll be able to and that he can jump in and have a big game in the bowl.
You seemed to follow the script of recent games in getting ahead early and then struggling? Were you concerned about how you were playing after you got up 21-0?
Coach Stoops: Not really. Sometimes, I think, and I'm not talking about you guys sitting here, but I think the media and fans think, ‘aw, you just score every time you get the football'. Well, show me anyone else who does that. So, at times, you may be just a little bit off. We had a couple of dropped passes, right? If we hit the one to Manuel Johnson, we're gonna score again. He drops the ball. It doesn't take much to end a drive. Penalties end drives, dropped balls end drives. They make a play. So it's not realistic that you're going to score every single time you get the football.
It's a little bit humorous to me to assume that it's just going to happen that way. That's not giving the other teams enough credit. They're capable of making their plays as well, they've got good players, they've got good coaches and sometimes, they hit it and you don't.
Talk about how you were able to get the players to put last week behind them. Did the scuffle in pre-game warm ups have any effect in that?
Coach Stoops: I don't think so. I don't think there were really ever any blows landed. It was just maybe some bouncing around and shoving back and forth. I don't think there was any sweating, that there were any punches thrown.
And I think what you brought up is an issue for everybody else. So much of the time, I think people think, the fans and the media, when they're talking about it; you think that we're involved in this discussion all week about the calls. We're not. Our guys are going to class, going to study hall, they're with Schmitty in the weight room and at practice. And we're in here getting ready for practice, watching tape, critiquing what we did and we're not dealing with it either other than what our job is to do on the Sunday after, visit with the Big 12 office about what we thought and we deal with it.
But other than that, it's the same week that we always have. So again, I think a lot of times, people have written about distractions when there aren't. We're not dealing with it; we're doing what we do. So it wasn't a distraction.
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