Sept. 6, 2006
Associated Press Game Preview
Amid all the controversy surrounding the dismissal of quarterback Rhett Bomar, it was easy for Oklahoma fans to forget about Adrian Peterson.
The Heisman Trophy contender, though, quickly proved in the season opener that the 15th-ranked Sooners will still be a factor this season.
Peterson and the Sooners look to put last week's scare behind them when they host Washington on Saturday.
Oklahoma was tested in its opener for the second straight season, but this time, Peterson was there to save the day.
The Sooners held off UAB 24-17 last Saturday, thanks to 208 total yards and two touchdowns from the junior running back, who was the 2004 Heisman runner-up.
Oklahoma began 2005 with a 17-10 loss at home to TCU en route to an 8-4 season, the worst for the Sooners since they went 7-5 in 1999.
Peterson spent much of last season banged up, but looked healthy against the Blazers. He scored both his touchdowns in the second half, including a dump-off pass reception he turned into a 69-yard score that gave the Sooners a 21-17 lead.
"We have to give him the ball," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "There's no question."
Bomar and offensive lineman J.D. Quinn were dismissed from the team on Aug. 2 after it was discovered they were paid for work they never completed at their jobs at a Norman, Okla., auto dealership. That meant Paul Thompson, who shifted from quarterback to receiver last season, returned under center for the Sooners.
He went 14-for-24 for 227 yards, but threw two interceptions inside the UAB 25-yard line in the first half.
"I thought he handled the first game well," offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. "Would it be a significant improvement (for next week)? It'd be hard to say because I didn't think he was that far off. ... Hopefully there will be some improvement. You'd like to think there's going to be, but we think he played a pretty solid, pretty fair level game coming out of the gate."
Besides Thompson, Stoops will be expecting improvement from his defense, a highly touted unit that allowed UAB to control the clock for 35 minutes.
"We need to be better. There's no question," Stoops said. "The defense has gotten a lot of attention nationally. They've been bragged on, and they weren't nearly as good as they were billed to be."
The real key for Oklahoma, though, is a healthy Peterson. When the Sooners went 12-1 in 2004, Peterson had 335 carries for an NCAA freshman record 1,925 yards. He had just 220 carries in 11 games last season.
"He is the best player we've seen in 12 years here, maybe the best player I have ever seen," UAB coach Watson Brown said. "He will touch the ball enough times that he is going to make enough plays for them. They just keep going to him and he will figure out the defense."
After nearly giving away the game last week, Washington's defense will be tested by Peterson on Saturday.
The Huskies allowed San Jose State to close within six points three times in the second half, but held on for a 35-29 victory, their first season-opening win since 2001.
"It's a jump start, especially going into a game away from home," quarterback Isaiah Stanback said.
The Huskies - who were a combined 3-19 in 2004 and 2005 - have just one road win in the past two seasons and last beat a ranked team on the road on Oct. 18, 2003, when they defeated Oregon State 38-17.
"We have to get a win like that," Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said.
This is the second meeting between these teams after Washington upset Oklahoma 28-17 in the 1985 Orange Bowl by scoring 14 points in the final 8:48.
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Washington (1-0) at No. 15 Oklahoma (1-0) 3:30 pm EDT
NORMAN, Oklahoma (Ticker) -- WASHINGTON excelled against the run in its season opener. But on Saturday, it will have to deal with Heisman Trophy-candidate Adrian Peterson. Peterson will lead the 15th-ranked Sooners against the Huskies in only the second meeting between the two schools.
Washington (1-0) allowed 50 yards rushing on 29 carries against San Jose State last week. The Huskies will face a much tougher challenge against Peterson who ran for 139 yards and a touchdown in a 24-17 victory over UAB.
"Mostly zone coverages," said Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops about the Washington defense. "Like a lot of people they try to mix it up, but have a standard 4-3 defense that is structurally sound and they are good at what they do." Peterson carried the ball 11 consecutive times to start the second half to lead Oklahoma (1-0) to scores in three of their first four possessions after halftime.
In 2005, the sophomore running back rushed for 1,207 yards on 221 carries and 14 touchdowns in 11 games.
Sooners' quarterback Paul Thompson, who moved to wide receiver in week two last season, was effective under center. Thompson was 14-of-24 for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
The senior signal caller moved back to quarterback on August 2 after Rhett Bomar was dismissed from the team after an investigation revealed he received excessive payments in relation to time worked at a local auto dealership.
"It was very satisfying (to see him play well). I guess for me I can't say that it was unexpected," said Stoops. "I am not a guy that sits here and says things that I don't believe, and I believe he will play well and continue to get better as we go through the year and the more comfortable he becomes. That should only get better and better as he plays, as well as having better receivers." Washington used a devastating rushing attack to defeat San Jose State 35-29 in its season opener. Senior quarterback Isaiah Stanback was a dual threat for the Huskies, throwing for 168 yards and rushing for 102.
The last time these schools met was in the 1985 Orange Bowl when the fourth-ranked Huskies defeated Barry Switzer's second-ranked Sooners 28-17.
I'm looking forward to playing a very good and exciting Washington team this week, a team with a great tradition and history," said Stoops. "We talked to our players about the 1985 game when they beat us in the Orange Bowl.
"They were national champions in 1991. They are a prideful, strong program with a strong tradition. It's Tyrone Willingham's second year and they are reviving that."