Petersen, Broncos like the underdog role

Boise State head coach Chris Petersen talks about the Fiesta Bowl matchup against Oklahoma.

Below are excerpts from Boise State head coach Chris Petersen's Friday press conference on the matchup against Oklahoma.

On if Oklahoma is legions ahead of the teams they've been playing

Petersen: No, they're the best team we've seen for sure. The more you study them you're hoping to find these weaknesses, but I think they're Oklahoma for a reason. It's pretty apparent.

Our guys do their best when we're challenged the most. You put the tape on and they'll see. They're smart football players. They'll know and they'll do their homework. We'll get some good practice here coming up and we'll show up with our A game.

On if he has memories of watching Oklahoma on TV as a kid

Petersen: I do. I think Thomas Lott was their quarterback my first memory. I think he wore a bandana and I thought, 'How cool is that?' I put one on and went out in my front yard and tried to get some yards myself. It didn't look the same though (laughs).

But they're one of the storied programs in the country. I think anytime anybody researches them they become even more impressive of all the things they've done their in the past.

It's just a great opportunity for our program to be talked about and to get an opportunity to compete with those guys.

On Adrian Peterson

Petersen: He's a special, special player that only comes around ... not often. It just leaves you with so little room for error. You can't miss a tackle or it's over. He'll go the distance.

The guy is big and powerful. He's one of those guys that will be the fastest guy on the field. It's just another challenge. One of the many we'll face.

On if it blows him away how big, strong and fast Peterson is

Petersen: How about that? I know it is. It's amazing. He's truly one of those special guys that doesn't come around very often.

He's gonna be, if not the top pick, right there in the NFL draft. He's a special guy. It will be fun for our guys to get a chance to play against him.

On how he compares to Steven Jackson (former Oregon State running back)

Petersen: Well, since I've been at Boise he'll be the best running back that we've ever seen. Steven Jackson's an awesome NFL player, and he's faster than Steven Jackson.

On how Oklahoma compares to Georgia (who they lost to 48-13 in their 2005 season-opener in Athens) in terms of their physical ability

Petersen: It will be similar to the Georgia type thing where they're a little bit bigger and probably more physical than we've seen in a while.

I've said this before, we would've done OK against Georgia if we didn't turn it over six times in one half. It would've been interesting. We would've been in the game, and we never got a chance.

So this is now our chance to go out there and compete against a program like this. Turnovers are gonna be huge. If we don't turn the ball over we'll have a chance to hang in there.

On what he's learned about his team while watching Oklahoma on film

Petersen: The thing I know about our team is the bigger the challenge the better they've played all year.

Every game that we've had, when we've wondered what's going to really happen here, they've answered and they've played their best.

So I'm expecting these guys to play the best game that we've had all year.

On if their defensive gameplan will be to make OU's quarterback beat them

Petersen: I don't know if we're there yet, in terms of exactly what we think we need to do. And if we did know, I wouldn't say (laughs).

On what he'll tell the team in his pregame speach

Petersen: I see this very similar to the Nevada game where these guys know what's on the line. So, as a coach, you want to go in there and get them riled up, and I'm sure we'll do that a little bit during our preparations.

Really what we need to do is calm them down, so we can play with the right energy level and play to the best of our abilities. Sometimes you can get too geeked up and you don't play your best.

On if he'll talk to Colorado coach Dan Hawkins (Boise State's head coach last year) and Oregon's Mike Bellotti about Oklahoma

Petersen: We'll definitely talk to those guys. I talked to 'Hawk' yesterday, but you do your own film study and make your own opinions.

A lot of the stuff they're telling you can see on tape anyways. The one thing that they're saying, "They're good. Ooh, better you than me."

On what team they've played comes the closest to being compared to Oklahoma

Petersen: I think they're like the Georgia's and the South Carolina's. Those big, powerful conferences. They're like those type of athletes.

On if they've played any team this year that's close to Oklahoma

Petersen: It's hard to know on tape sometimes. I do feel like this is by far the most athletic team that we've seen.

On if he'll talk to his players about how big this game is

Petersen: I don't want to make this thing bigger than it is. If we listen to you guys all day long it's bigger than the Super Bowl. I just want to make sure everybody coaches at their best and plays at their best. And if you start getting caught up in all the hype, I don't think all those things happen.

We know it's a big game. Hey, we're excited and thrilled to be part of it. But it is just another game, it really is, against a great team. I think you get so much time to lay around and think about it that you can start playing mind games on yourself, and we need to not do that.

On if they'll use the fact that the OU fans aren't excited about the game as motivation

Petersen: I think we always play best when we're in the underdog role. All those things will help us kinda focus in and hopefully play our best.

On people putting Oklahoma on a pedestal almost like they're an NFL team, and how he'll bring his team back down to believing this is just another college team

Petersen: I think they're gonna study tape and they're gonna know. They'll do OK. They really will. They'll play good as long as they do what they're coached to do.

We're not going to ask them to do anything special. We're not going to ask them to play better than they are. If they listen to the coaches, play their techniques and do their assignments, then we'll be OK.

On if it will take some inspiration from his part

Petersen: I don't think so. I think these guys will play very inspired. I really do. They know what's at stake. They've worked their whole careers to get to this point, so I don't think the inspiration part will be a big deal for those guys.

On if the 20,000 Bronco fans who will travel to the game will have an impact

Petersen: I definitely do. Everybody knows the home field advantage and how we play at home. There's no feeling like we had when we went to Utah and when we went to Nevada. Those kids feed off our fans. The more that we have down there I know that's going to help us.

On if he wished they coming in more under the radar against a team like Oklahoma than in a bigger game like the Fiesta Bowl

Petersen: Well, I think we're the underdog. We kinda know who's the favorite in this game and I think that's enough. Like I said, these guys usually play their best when we're in the underdog role.

On if this is a redemption type game for quarterback Jared Zabransky after his performance against Georgia (8-for-17 with four interceptions in 2005)

Petersen: I hope not. I want him to keep this thing in perspective. I think the Georgia thing is a very good thing for at this time sitting right here.

If he's going out there trying to prove himself all over again we're gonna fall right back into the same trap. He doesn't need to do that. He needs to play like he's coached and if that means throwing the ball into the stands, throw it in the stands. That can be a good play.

When I think he gets into that mode of I've got to redeem myself from this one, I'm on this stage, we're right back to square one. I hope he's not doing that, and I think the Georgia thing is going to be a good lesson for everybody that played in that game.

On if it's a good thing that Oklahoma doesn't score a lot of points compared to Boise State, and if that helps give them a chance

Petersen: It's always hard to make comparisons. They play in such a different league than we do, a different style, different players and all that.

There's no question our defense is going to have to play well and keep the score down for us to have a chance, because this is certainly a different style of defense than we've seen all year.

It can't be one of these WAC shootout type of games. I don't think it would be good for us.

On OU already showing that they can play without Peterson and have other playmakers, and at what point do they not focus too much on him

Petersen: Yeah, that's a fine line. They've got some very good players on their whole team. If you just put all your eggs in one basket, they've got numerous ways to beat you.

We've got to worry about stopping schemes. And certainly when Adrian Peterson's in the game, we've got to know where he is at all times. But the guys are still gonna have to play their responsibilities and can't do something that they're not asked to do. They can't be giving up one thing to try and stop one guy if that's not their responsibility.

On if he's ever met Bob Stoops

Petersen: No, not all. I've seen him on TV about a bazillion times (laughs). That's about it.

On what stands out about Oklahoma's defense

Petersen: They're just physical and fast and they're really well-coached. You don't get to be Oklahoma without having the whole package. They've got very, very good players and they're well-coached. They've got a good scheme.

It's just a great challenge for our whole program whether we're talking about just playing those guys and being on the same field with them. It will be a great challenge top to bottom. Their players against our players. Our coaches against their coaches. Everything.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories