After the Sooners logged impressive
blowouts over Texas A&M (77-0) as well as the Longhorns (65-13), the only
thing Oklahoma fans were worried about was where there beloved Boomer Sooner
would be listed in the history books as one of the greatest teams ever.
That all changed on a cold Dec. 6
night in Kansas City.
Heading into the Big 12
Championship Game, it was projected the Sooners could afford to lose the game
and still end up in the Nokia Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma held tremendous advantage in
all of the Bowl Championship Series polls and seemed to be a lock for the title
game. Who would have thought the Sooners could have even lose to Kansas State,
much less be dominated 35-7?
In the wake of a four-touchdown
loss to K-State, the Sooners, who failed to even win their own conference
championship, advanced to the Sugar Bowl and will meet LSU on Jan. 4 in the BCS
This will not be the first time the
Sooners and the Tigers have faced off in New Orleans. In the teams only other
meeting, Oklahoma shut out the Tigers 35-0 in the 1950 Sugar Bowl.
Although Sooners head coach Bob
Stoops concludes just his fifth season in Norman, the former Florida defensive
coordinator comes in as perhaps one of the most successful coaches the history
of Oklahoma football. Stoops has led the Sooners to five straight bowl games, two conference
championships, and the school’s seventh national championship in 2000, that
coming in only his second season at the helm. Stoops has amassed an amazing
Once known for its vaunted
“wishbone” offensive attack, Stoops has made the forward pass fashionable even
in Norman. Featuring a base three-wide receiver set, the Sooner offense has
become one of the most prolific passing and scoring attacks in recent history.
Averaging over 300 yards passing and 150 yards rushing per game, the OU offense
totals 461.4 yards of offense each game. The staggering stat is the Sooners
national-best 45.2 points a game.
The man in charge of the Sooners’
record-setting offense is senior quarterback Jason White. The 6-3, 221-pound
senior has had a season to remember. Starting all 13 games this season for the
first time in his career (his past two seasons have ended early due to knee
injuries), White has thrown for 3,744 yards on 265-414 passing and 40 touchdowns
to only eight interceptions. While White’s statistics are impressive, remember
White saw little fourth quarter action due to lopsided Sooners leads.
White’s has become a regular at
post-season award banquets and telecasts listed as a finalist for the Maxwell,
Walter Camp, and Unitas Award. He has already staked claim to the Davey O’Brien
Award. White was also one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
A pair of running backs lead the OU
Sophomore Kejuan Jones (5-9, 187)
and Renaldo Works have done most of the running for the Sooners. Starting all 13
games this season, Jones leads OU with 866 yards on 205 carries. Averaging 66.6
yards a game and 4.2 yards a carry, Jones tops the Sooners with 11 rushing
touchdowns. Jones has also been a threat out of the backfield catching 16 passes
for 183 yards. His only receiving touchdown of the season is the longest for
Oklahoma this year, 77 yards.
Works has rushed for 714 yards on
145 carries scoring eight touchdowns. Works’ 64.9 yards a game is second only to
Jones and his 4.9 yards a carry leads OU running backs who have at least 50
carries. Similar to Jones, Works has been proven to be a threat out of the
backfield, catching 17 passes for 150 yards.
Sophomore Donta Hickson (5-10,
194), freshman Dan Townsend (6-0, 220) and junior Brandon Jones (6-3, 208) have
each been featured in reserve roles in the OU backfield.
Perhaps the strength of the offense
is the bevy of wide receivers the Sooners will throw at opponents. For the
season, 10 different Oklahoma players are listed in double-digit with receptions
and five have at least 20 catches. Biletnikoff finalist Mark Clayton has emerged
this season as White’s favorite target amongst the OU receivers. The 5-11,
187-pound junior from Arlington, Texas has caught 79 passes for 1,393 yards and
a team high 15 touchdowns. Clayton leads the team in average yards per game with
107.2 as well as per catch with 17.6
Junior Brandon Jones (6-3, 208) has
caught 45 passes this season for 704 yards and eight touchdowns.
Sophomore Jejuan Rankins (5-11,
172) rounds out the starting lineup at receiver and has caught 33 passes for 406
yards and six touchdowns.
Juniors Will Peoples (24 catches,
299 yards, 3 TDs) and Mark Bradley (10-185 yards, 2 TDs), sophomore Travis Wilson (22-264 yards, 2TDs), and senior tight end Lance Donley (13-157 yards, 2
TDs) have all been major contributors to the Oklahoma receiving
On the offensive line, the Sooners
are experienced as well as very big. Junior left tackle Wes Sims (6-5, 317),
sophomore left guard Kelvin Chaisson (6-5, 303), junior center Vince Carter
(6-3, 289), sophomore right guard Davin Joseph (6-4, 312), and junior right
tackle Jammal Brown (6-6, 313) provide the Sooners with an effective front for
the rushing attack.
Carter leads the offensive line and
was a finalist for the Rimington Award, given annually to college football’s top
While the OU offense has had a
tremendous season thus far, the Sooner defense may be even better. With a list
of players that would make a NFL General Manager drool, the Sooners surrender
just 255 yards per game just under 15 points a game (14.8).
Running a base 3-4 attack, the OU
defensive line is one of the deepest and most experienced in the country. All
juniors, defensive end Jonathan Jackson (6-3, 238), tackles Tommie Harris (6-3,
289) and Dusty Dvoracek (6-3, 282), and defensive end Dan Cody (6-5, 270) have
allowed opponents only 109.7 yards per game on the ground.
Harris, a finalist for the Bednarik
and Walter Camp Award, took home the Lombardi Trophy after a season in which he
faced constant double-teams. However, Harris managed 34 tackles, nine stops for
loss and four sacks.
Experienced is also a great
description of Oklahoma linebackers Teddy Lehman (6-2, 243), Pasha Jackson (6-3,
240) and junior Gayron Allen (5-10, 220).
While Allen and Jackson have had
tremendous seasons, Lehman emerged as college football’s top linebacker.
Following in the footsteps of former OU greats such as Brian Bosworth and Rocky
Calmus, Lehman beat out Harris for the Bednarik Award and took home the Butkus
Award as well. Lehman led the Sooners with 109 tackles and an unbelievable 17
tackles for losses.
The Sooner secondary allowed just
145.9 passing yards per game and only 11 touchdown.
OU may have the best two cover
corners in America in junior Antonio Perkins (6-0, 188) and senior Derrick Strait (5-11, 195). Perkins listed as a finalist for the Mosi Tatupu Award while
Strait won the Nagurksi and Thorpe Award, given each year to the top defensive
back in the country. Strait had a phenomenal season with 69 tackles, seven stops
behind the line of scrimmage and three interceptions.
Senior Brandon Everage (6-0, 202)
and Donte Nicholson (6-2, 210) give the Sooners an effective 1-2 punch at
safety. Nicholson ranked second on the team with 83 tackles and had five sacks
while Everage had 59 tackles and four TFLs.
Groza Award finalist Trey DiCarlo
gives the Sooners yet another threat, this time in the kicking game. The senior
kicker has nailed 86.4-percent (19-22) of field goals and is 7-of-8 from beyond
40 yards with a long of 46. Blake Ferguson handles the punting duties, averaging
41.2 yards on 48 punts and has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 15