A visit with OU's Adrian Peterson

It was late Monday afternoon and practice had just ended. Oklahoma's All-American running back Adrian Peterson exited the on-campus practice facility and walked one block to the media room. Once there, he slid out of his shoulder pads, grabbed a bottle of water, and then got on the phone to answer a handful of questions from Sports Washington.

From this past weekend, one could call Peterson a savior of sorts. His 139 rushing yards helped his team avert a stunning upset, as Oklahoma held off upstart Alabama-Birmingham 24-17. At least in the season's early going, the dismissal of quarterback Rhett Bomar renders the tenth-ranked Sooners one-dimensional. To wit: at the start the second half against UAB, Peterson touched the football on eleven consecutive plays. He is being counted on like never before, and has publicly declared his intention of gaining 2,200 rushing yards this season. The soft-spoken junior out of Palestine, Texas was asked what the mood was like amongst his teammates after pulling out the win.

"It was pretty exciting in the locker room," he said. "A lot of the guys realized it wasn't our best performance. But a win is a win. You know, to come out and get that first win and start the process to reach our goals, it was pretty exciting. There wasn't much that (UAB) did that surprised us. We had watched a lot of film and were pretty prepared… I wouldn't say we escaped. We came out and we fought."

Another story from this past week involved Peterson's Dad. Nelson Peterson, who spent almost seven years in prison in Texarkana, Texas, for money laundering, was released to a halfway house in Oklahoma City this past summer. His request to be released to see his son play in the UAB game was denied. Adrian Peterson was asked if he thought about his Dad during last Saturday's game.

"I was thinking about him, but I knew he was obviously watching the game (from the half-way house)" said Peterson. "He was back there watching the game and everything. I've been pretty used to it that he hasn't been here. So it was easy to cope with it. It's always in the back of my head. He normally calls me after games and gets on me about things and tells me what I did wrong and everything. I really had to hear that again (this past Saturday), especially after the fumble… But I play not just for my Dad, but for my Mom and my little girl too."

Peterson was asked the perception he and his teammates have of the quality of Pac-10 football—as compared to the Big XII Conference, in which Oklahoma is a member.

"In the Pac-10 they pass the ball a lot," said Peterson. "In the Big-12 we run the ball. We're physical. That's not to take anything away from the Pac-10, that's not to say that they're not physical or anything. But in the Big-12 it's more dominant, with all the teams in the Big-12. We're more physical and run the ball with a smash-mouth type of play. On both sides of the ball."

Peterson was asked if it is hard being a celebrity on the OU campus—and how he likes to spend time when away from football.

"It's hard - everywhere you go somebody is always coming up to you wanting an autograph," he said. "But it comes with the territory. You've got to live with it, man. So I've gotten used to it now. I'm pretty laid back. I like to stay at the house and chill, play the Play Station 360, every now and then go out, but mostly stay at home."

With Washington traveling to Norman this Saturday, Peterson was asked if he had seen film on the Huskies and had any thoughts on what he will see.

"Actually, I haven't been able to watch film of them yet," he said. "But we just got a take-home video so I will be watching that tonight. But I know what's coming, and I'm just taking it week by week. My main focus this week is Washington."
Derek Johnson can be reached at derekjohnson1@verizon.net

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