Stoops: Sooners Confident, Peterson Improving

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sees Saturday's 43-21 thumping of Kansas State as evidence that his unranked squad is close to being the team most expected it to be before the season.

"To go out and play that way reaffirmed to our players that we are not far off," Stoops said Monday. "They are seeing that we are getting better because we are more comfortable each time we go out there, and it's easier to play harder when you are comfortable."

After losing the season-opener to TCU, Oklahoma got slapped with another lose two weeks later at the hands of UCLA. Rather than releasing his players during their September 24 bye-week, Stoops kept his squad in Norman to practice through the weekend. It was not intended as punishment for the 1-2 start, Stoops said previously, but rather the inexperienced team needed the additional sessions.

The result: Oklahoma exerted a little payback for its 35-7 Big 12 Conference title game loss to the Wildcats and evened the Sooners' record at 2-2. But is there enough improvement, swagger and psychological edge on the Sooner sideline that it could spoil Texas’ championship run?

"Starting the Big 12 play with a win was good," Stoops said. "It gives us a boost in momentum and confidence going in to the Texas game. We have made a lot of improvement the last two weeks, and we're getting closer to making the plays that we have the potential to make."

As expected, Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday that OU has now demonstrated that they are back.

"If you watched the team that played against UCLA and then watched the one that played against Kansas State, they're back to being the same OU team that they were before," Brown said. "They played great defense. They gave up no rushing yards. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. They ran the ball well. They didn't even need Adrian Peterson to win the second half."

True, but the Sooners' chances will be significantly enhanced if Peterson, who missed OU's Monday practice, shakes off the high ankle sprain injury that caused him to exit Saturday's game with little more than 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

"It’s early in the week, but I believe he will be fine and ready to go some time this week," said Stoops. "The exact day he’s ready, we will have to wait and see."

Stoops partly attributes the Sooners’ turn-around to freshman QB Rhett Bomar.

"We knew he had potential, but with his youth, there were concerns," the OU head coach said. "But it was a good decision to start Bomar, and he has made improvement in the last few games."

As expected the Sooners plan to focus their defensive attention on UT’s all-world QB Vince Young.

"We have to be disciplined in reading their run game and see where they are trying to get their seams and make sure we have people ready to cancel those gaps," said Stoops.

According to Stoops, tackling Young is more a matter of mental rather than physical execution.

"You have to be really smart in how you rush," he said. "Vince makes you miss, so you have to be smart to tackle him."

(Bill Frisbie contributed to this article.)

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