Seeing Red in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO -- Inside Texas was seeing Red on Day 1 of the Big 12 Conference Media Days. Two of Texas' most important opponents in the 2007 season, Oklahoma and Nebraska, were on display. The biggest question for each? Quarterback.

Quarterback questions, the loss of Adrian Peterson, NCAA sanctions, leadership gaps to fill...none of it fazed Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops' confidence.

"We should have an overall stronger team than we did last year," said Stoops.

If that's going to be the case, the Sooners will have a lot of questions to answer on the football field and question No. 1 from everybody was about the quarterback competition. But Stoops said he isn't close to deciding on his starting QB.

"We don't have a timetable," said Stoops. "That position needs to be earned."

Junior transfer Joey Halzle, redshirt freshman Sam Bradford and true freshman Keith Nichol are all bunched together and Stoops won't name a leader for the position yet. What he did do was address what he liked about each of them.

On Halzle:
"Joey Halzle, young guy that has maybe the most experience in game preparations for the last year or so and a little more maturity in age. But doesn't have a lot of time just on our campus."

On Bradford:
"A highly recruited guy, couple years ago, that's made great progress. Worked in a great way for us last year. He's got really great size. When you look at him 6-5, 220, 225. Worked really hard as well. They all worked hard. But again limited experience. But we like what we've seen."

On Nichol:
"A young guy that was just there through winter and spring, graduated high school early but got great ability as well. He's a guy about 6-2, up to 205, 210. He's got great feet to run along with a strong arm, too."

Stoops said it may be several games into the season before the starting quarterback is truly decided because of the importance of leadership.

"You only get that from time on the field, and they haven't had that yet," said Stoops.

Another position change that's been grabbing headlines is Norman is running back due to the loss of Adrian Peterson, but Stoops said playing without Peterson is not a concern for his team either.

"I believe for the most part everyone saw us do that a year ago," said Stoops.

Oklahoma had a great deal of success without Peterson and actually averaged more yards per game on the ground after Peterson went down to a broken collar bone. In the last two years, OU has played eight games without Adrian Peterson and won all eight of them. The three-headed attack of Allen Patrick, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray will run the ball for the Sooners in '07.

The final question on everybody's mind was the NCAA sanctions, but Stoops said he's not concerned about them moving forward.

"There's nothing there that would inhibit us from winning championships," said Stoops.

Nebraska linebacker Bo Ruud, also there for the Big 12 Media Days, agreed with Stoops' assessment.

"Two scholarships from Oklahoma won't affect them that much. They still have a lot of talent and it won't affect them that much. They'll still be Oklahoma."

As for the Cornhuskers, they're still going to be Nebraska in 2007 despite putting in a new QB as well. Of course, the quarterback Nebraska will be starting should be much more experienced than Oklahoma's. Sam Keller transferred to Nebraska a year ago from Arizona State after being one of the highest rated and most efficient QBs in the country. Keller sat out a year and is now ready to take over as the Cornhuskers' starter.

"Last year I always said we had the best scout team quarterback in the country," laughed Nebraska tight end J.B. Phillips. "Even then he was yelling at the freshmen and showing guys how to get it done."

But despite Keller's experience, head coach Bill Callahan will not be handing the position straight to the former Sun Devil. Callahan insists that it'll be a five-way competition between Keller, Joe Ganz, Zach Lee, Patrick Witt and Beau Davis.

"We have a number of quarterbacks who are going to compete for the starting job. We're pretty well stocked at the position," said Callahan. "The starter will be named the week prior to the game."

As for the rest of the team, the nucleolus of one of the best offenses in the country (14th nationally, 414.6 ypg) is back, two linebackers and three DBs returns to a Top 25 scoring D, but the main question is if Keller, or one of his four competitors according to Callahan, can drive the bus.

A glance at each team's take on the Texas series:

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops:
"I said it when we were winning five in row, each one from year to year has nothing to do with any other. You earn it individually each year, on its own, and I feel that's the case this year. You got different players, a new team and you've got to win it again."

Nebraska LB Bo Ruud:
"That (last year) was my first taste of Texas. We thought we had it. We gave it up and now we have to go down there. It's a hard place to play, but we look forward to the challenge. It'll be a lot of fun to go down to Texas. I'm sure the atmosphere's great, should be a lot of fun."

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