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Archive for Saturday, October 27, 2001

OU quarterback faces stiffest test yet

October 27, 2001

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— Jason White used to camp in front of the television with his father and watch Oklahoma play Nebraska in games that often helped decide the national championship.

This year's game is just as big, although this time White won't be watching. Instead, he will be making just his second start at quarterback when the second-ranked Sooners play No. 3 Nebraska today.

"I believe he'll handle it well," coach Bob Stoops said. "The bottom line is you're playing against a good team. You've got to outperform them and make more plays than they do. Jason will go in there going after it like everybody else. That's what you feel good about."

White, a sophomore, began the season playing only in mop-up roles after Nate Hybl was named the starter during fall workouts. But an injury to Hybl gave White his chance, and he has taken advantage.

He came off the bench against Texas and played impressively, helping lead the Sooners to a 14-3 victory. Hybl started again the following week against Kansas, but was replaced after four lackluster series. White took over and again played well, throwing four touchdown passes and running for 117 yards.

That performance resulted in the coaches picking White as the starter against Kansas. He responded by throwing for 343 yards and a touchdown.

"It was hard to stay with it after I didn't get the job," White said. "But you win some and you lose some. I got put in the second row and I was the backup quarterback. But I got my opportunity and, with a lot of help from my teammates, I won a couple games."

He's impressed his coaches, too.

"I like the way he carries himself out on the field," offensive coordinator Mark Mangino said. "He's confident, he's in control and he knows what he needs to do."

White will need to continue his solid play today. The Sooners (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) have had a difficult time running the ball consistently, and that doesn't figure to change against Nebraska.

White's ability to scramble gives the Sooners a different look than when Hybl was in the lineup, although Stoops said White has at times done more harm than good by trying to run.

"Sometimes they get him and you get lost yardage," Stoops said. "He's got to balance when's the right situation to take off and make something happen and when's the right situation to get rid of the ball."

That was the case last week, when White was sacked eight times. At least three or four of those, Mangino and Stoops said, were a result of White holding onto the ball too long instead of throwing it away.

But most of White's grades have been good his running made a big difference against Texas and Kansas, and he didn't have any interceptions last week against Baylor.

"He's got the ability to make plays," Nebraska defensive coordinator Craig Bohl said. "We certainly look at the injection of his athleticism as another weapon that they do have."

White's performance in the pressure-cooker against Texas gives teammates and coaches reason to think he will hold up well this week.

"As long as he goes out there and plays the way he's been playing, he'll do well," running back Renaldo Works said.

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