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January 1, 2005

Chuck Long

Adrian Peterson

J.D. Runnels

Jason White

Kevin Wilson


JOHN HUMENIK: We'll just go right ahead and get started with the two coaches from Oklahoma, Chuck Long and Kevin Wilson, so questions, hands up.

Q. Chuck, could you talk about how different this time feels than it was in 2000?

CHUCK LONG: Well, we have a much better feel mentally going into this game from last year. Oh, from 2000? 2000, very similar. The only difference really is we have probably more of a veteran team this time around. Expectations in our program are a lot higher this time around. In that 2000 year I think we started the year off around 18th or 19th in the country pre-season, and we just kind of worked our way up and ended up being undefeated No. 1 in the country, and the expectations weren't as high then. This year obviously after what we've done in our program they're a lot higher, but it does have a similar feel in terms of we are the underdog going into this game like we were in 2000. We have a very similar path to this game. We had the same road games as we did in 2000, same type of games on the road. We had to come back against A & M and Oklahoma State like we did in 2000 on the road. We played a championship in Kansas City and won it just like we did in 2000 and we're playing the Orange Bowl like we did in 2000, so it's very similar the way it's laid out. It's kind of eerie in a way. But we're excited about this game, have a good feeling going into this game. I know the guys are excited to play, and on top of that we have some guys like Jason and Jammal that were around in 2000 and know what it was like then, and it's helped with the experience of it today. It's an excited feeling right now going into this game.

Q. Chuck, you had such a great year last year, but yet this year you've consistently said this year's offense is a better offense, we're actually having a better year this year. As you get ready to play the biggest game of the year, all that theory and all that thought has to hold true in this game. How confident are you that as you go into the biggest game of the year everything that you put together is really going to fly?

CHUCK LONG: We feel a lot better than last year. Last year mentally we were coming off a tough loss in the Big-12 Championship game, and we're a lot healthier than last year going into this game. We were banged up going into this game as compared to this year. Offensively speaking, we feel we have a lot better balance this year than we did last year. You know, we made it a point in the off season to establish a run game and get back to that run game that we did so well in the Rose Bowl year, and we won the Big-12 Championship that year, so we want to achieve some balance. We've worked hard to do that. Coach Wilson has done a great job with developing that as well as teaching it and getting the guys positive around that all the way through. We haven't wavered from it. We still want to continue our balance going in. I think because of that we feel a lot better. We feel like we can do more things with our offense, specifically play action. Play action has really helped us this year off of our run game, and that's something we want to continue to do this game.

Q. Chuck, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the USC defense and some of the things in a general sense that you might want to try to exploit or you might want to try to avoid.

CHUCK LONG: You know, they're very sound defensively. They don't want to get out of their gaps. They're very gap sound. They're well coached. Coach Carroll is primarily the defensive coordinator there as well as the head coach, but he handles the defense and he has vast experience on all levels. You know, when we put on the film for the first time and watched him, we saw a very gap-sound defense, which was really no surprise to us, and they rallied to the football very well. All 11 guys get there, and they preach that there, you can tell. You can see that on film. They have a good front four, they rely on those guys to get penetration and disrupt both the run game and pass protections. They do have a variety of blitzes. They don't do it as much as some teams we played this year, but when they do, it's like in a surprise mode. They try to get you off balance and try to pop it in there to try to get you off balance. They play more man than probably anybody we've played all year, a lot of man, man-free; they'll press those corners and get up in the receivers' faces and try to disrupt the timing of the patterns. That's something that we faced a little bit this year, not as much as what they do, so those are the things we've been working hard on this past month.

Q. Coach Wilson, could you talk about the situation with Joseph coming back home? I mean, you have so many players that when they play Texas they're playing against their home state or whatever. Could you talk about the lineman that you have from Hallandale and have you noticed an extra oomph in his step or anything of that nature playing close to his home town?

KEVIN WILSON: Davin is a great player, a great person. He typically has a pep in his step most weeks no matter where we're playing. I think like the young men from Texas when we have a chance to go down to the Cotton Bowl, he'll take the responsibility of playing well in front of his family and his friends. By no means -- someone asked me earlier would it be a distraction, and when you play at Oklahoma it's like there's distractions every week with all our fans and the media and the hype and the excitement of OU football, so I think we're a little immune to distractions. We've got two linemen who are great players, and they'll tell you Davin Joseph is every bit as good as them, if not better. He's had a couple weeks of prep and he'll play real well come Tuesday night.

Q. Kevin, one of the things that USC players earlier this morning, they raved about your guys' ability to win one-on-one blocks. Would you agree with that, that it's been a key to the season, and could you also just talk about what are your thoughts on their front four?

KEVIN WILSON: They were setting you up (laughter). You bought that, didn't you? Trying to butter up the fat guys (laughter). It's going to be a great -- it's a great match-up of teams across the board. Their front is outstanding. We think we're pretty good, too. It's going to be -- every game is -- we're talking about man coverage one-on-one, a great front on defense and an experienced veteran, very good offense competing. We have prepared in a way I think that I've seen us prepare several times that give us a chance to play at a pretty positive level, and I like our preparation. It's going to be a huge challenge, but I believe our guys are looking forward to competing against their great front because they're special players and I think our guys relish this opportunity to go out toe-to-toe after a good group and fight every play as best we can. You watch them play, they play with an attitude on tape and we're going to try our darndest to match that with effort and intensity and toughness. It's going to be a battle all day.

Q. Chuck, in terms of personnel, you described the front four. What about the seven on the back end?

CHUCK LONG: The linebackers are smart players. They get all those guys lined up. They have some veteran players at linebacker. They run well. One thing we've noticed on film is quarterbacks, when they get in their pass coverage they often free up -- when you play a lot of man coverage, they read quarterbacks' eyes pretty well in their zones and in their man. We have to be good about looking them up and getting them out of the way of the place we want to go with the football. They're very active linebackers, run well. I mentioned the corners, they like to get up and press, and they do a variety of different things in their press and then they'll bail out of their press. They'll bail out of there. Their safeties have good speed, very active, and they have some physical safeties. They have good team speed. You know, we have good team speed and so do they. We're very similar that way. We have to counter that with a lot of -- some misdirection, whether it be in the run or different things in the pass game, whether it be motion and shifting around, whatever it may be, which we've done all year. You know, an excellent 11 guys. You can see that they've played together for a while and they have good chemistry going and have good trust in each other, and so do we. We feel good about our team going in and what we're able to do against them in this game.

JOHN HUMENIK: Questions just directed towards the players for the next couple minutes.

Q. Adrian, what was the deciding factor for you to come to Oklahoma, and once you did, did you ever envision that this would be where you would be on January 1st?

ADRIAN PETERSON: Well, I've just really made the best decision for me. It really wasn't a deciding factor where I was going, just took on the thing that I wanted to accomplish, and when they all came out, Oklahoma was the best choice for me.

Q. Did you think you were going to be here? Is this where you planned to be?

ADRIAN PETERSON: When I came in I knew what kind of program I was coming into and the group of guys I was playing with, so I wouldn't say I'm surprised. I knew we came to play hard, bust our butts and just get out there and win games and we'd be here.

Q. J.D., it seems very important in this game that you as a lineman or you and Bubba, the tight end, you as the fullback, you have to establish edges, get out on the perimeter and make sure you can pin the defensive ends in and also pick off the linebackers who are not big, but they seem to make a lot of plays. Talk about the challenge that you have against what they have, especially on the perimeter and with their linebackers.

J.D. RUNNELS: Well, our tight end fullback group, we feel like a pretty big part of the run game and a lot of our scheme depends on us, a lot of our backs. Grudie is a real good linebacker, we'll have to put a handle on him, and a lot of our guys we're going to have to man up and take care of business. We have a big job ahead of us, but we're prepared for the challenge.

Q. Jason White, Orange Bowl is arguably the third biggest event for you. Do you think that that's a mental advantage for the Sooners over the Trojans?

JASON WHITE: In the history Oklahoma has played well in the Orange Bowl, but I don't think it's an advantage over USC, just in the fact that they're a well-coached team and I'm sure they handle adversity well. They're going to be just as prepared to play as we are.

Q. Jason, having been here long enough to see Oklahoma go from kind of having some down years for a while to obviously building up this amazing run you've been part of the last five years, if you could maybe pinpoint one reason why the program is able to keep this level of success year after year at this point, what do you think that would be?

JASON WHITE: A lot has to do with the coaches. They got us started here. Coach Stoops came in and did a great job. He's got a great staff behind him, so I think that's the main reason, the things he does that really keeps the program on top. He's very big on discipline, keeping his players disciplined, and that carries over to the field.

Q. Jason, Coach Long alluded to it a little while ago, but could you discuss what it has been to have Adrian for you, how it's helped the offense and you as a quarterback to have him?

JASON WHITE: It's been great for offense to have Adrian. He's played well all year. He runs hard every time he gets the ball. As Adrian will tell you, it's not just him. It's the offensive line where it gets started. Adrian is a big asset for us, he's a big play guy and we love to have him on the team, but as he'll tell you, it gets started up front and he just takes advantage of it.

Q. Adrian, do you envision running the ball against USC will be easier or harder than getting up first thing in the morning on New Year's Day and meeting with us?

ADRIAN PETERSON: I don't know (laughter).

End of FastScripts...

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