Oklahoma's Peterson stronger and faster, but also smarter

Discussion in 'Sports Zone' started by TxStar61, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. TxStar61

    TxStar61 New Member

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    Oklahoma's Peterson stronger and faster, but also smarter
    By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer

    August 22, 2005 NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Adrian Peterson set an NCAA freshman rushing record, was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and helped Oklahoma reach a second straight BCS title game in 2004 -- all without knowing exactly what he was doing.

    The phenom missed so much practice time last fall because of a shoulder injury that he never mastered the playbook.

    ``The majority of the plays, he really didn't know,'' said Davin Joseph, the Sooners' hulking left tackle. ``He'd run past us when we were trying to block for him.''

    If he was winging it the first time around, the seventh-ranked Sooners can only imagine how dangerous Peterson will be this season.

    Coach Bob Stoops says Peterson returned bigger, stronger and faster. But perhaps more importantly, Peterson says he's smarter, understands the offense better, and is generally more comfortable.

    Last season, with Peterson rushing and Jason White passing, Oklahoma had its most potent 1-2 punch ever.

    Peterson set a school record with 1,925 rushing yards and White's 3,205 passing yards were the fourth-highest total in Sooners' history.

    But after a college career stretched to six years because of injuries, White has moved on -- along with 10 NFL draft picks who were part of the Sooners squad last season. With White, two offensive linemen and three wide receivers headed to the pros, the Sooners want to keep opposing defenses guessing and not just focusing on Peterson.

    ``We'll be different, but the goal is to still be that kind of offense,'' co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. ``It may not be exactly the same, but what you're always trying to do is balance, and balance doesn't mean you're 50-50. It means you can run it and you can throw it.''

    Oklahoma is counting on either junior Paul Thompson or redshirt freshman Rhett Bomar to pick up where White left off. If either Thompson, the backup in 2002 and 2003, or Bomar, last year's other hotshot recruit, has pulled ahead in the race for the job, Oklahoma's coaches haven't let on.

    They've touted the candidates as neck-and-neck since the start of spring practice, and even flirted with the idea of playing both in the season opener Sept. 3 against TCU.

    Besides replacing the 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, the starter will find a much younger receiving corps, replacing three NFL draft picks. Only one starting receiver is back.

    Coaches hope Peterson can help in that area, too. The time away from fall camp limited Peterson in the passing game, and he was often replaced by Kejuan Jones, the team's best blocking tailback, when the Sooners planned to throw. Peterson logged only five catches for 12 yards.

    The 6-foot-2 Texan has been working on his blocking and pass-catching, and Wilson said the Sooners have had practices where Peterson was on the field for every passing play. He's not ready to call the sophomore the next Marshall Faulk, but he considers Peterson ``better than average'' in receiving and blocking.

    Wilson has grand visions of what the speedster could do if he caught the ball in the open field. Suddenly, 5-yard dump-offs could turn into long gains.

    ``If you get him in the pass game, sometimes you eliminate half of the guys he's got to beat,'' Wilson said.

    That's one factor that weighed heavily on the minds of Peterson and his coaches in the offseason. Peterson needed surgery to repair his left shoulder after admittedly trying to run through defenders last season. He's changing that strategy this season -- at least to a certain extent.

    ``I'm still pretty physical, but if I've got one yard to go and somebody's coming to hit me, I'm going to get that one yard and get out of bounds,'' Peterson said. ``There's no need for extra contact.''

    Peterson said he's still always going to run the ball hard, but he thinks fans will notice that he's avoiding unnecessary contact. In the Sooners' three public scrimmages, Peterson was held out of contact entirely -- a move Stoops said was only a precaution. In other practices, Peterson has engaged in full contact against the Sooners' defense.

    Despite all the talk about Peterson changing his style, running backs coach Cale Gundy isn't so sure the new Peterson will look much different from the old one.

    ``The guy loves to compete, he loves to play and he doesn't like to shy away from anything,'' Gundy said. ``I don't know if you'll see much change.''

    Updated on Monday, Aug 22, 2005 4:27 pm EDT
  2. royhitshard

    royhitshard New Member

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    I am very excited to see how OU does this year. I am sure that AD will be just as good if not better! I don't think we will have the dropoff in wins like the "expert" keep saying. 10 days till Gameday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. TxStar61

    TxStar61 New Member

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    Well I'm not so much an OU fan as I am an Adrian fan. I've been watchin this kid since he was a JR. in high school. So I'm very excited to know that he didn't know what he was doing last year! LOL! Maybe he'll get it right this year!
    Man If he didn't know what he was doing last year...and feels more comfy this year and knows more this year... Look out FOOTBALL world!

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