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Archive for Monday, October 10, 2005

Wood: Peterson again key for KU

October 10, 2005

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The gameplan was so innovative, it was a full year too early.

Stop Oklahoma? Simple - just stop Adrian Peterson.

In 2005, that's quite a concept. In 2004, it was an admirable idea that crashed and burned.

Provided Peterson recovers from his sprained ankle, Kansas University no doubt will aim its defensive missiles at the sophomore running back when KU and OU play football Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Hey, why not? Using the same attack the Jayhawk defense did last year is the way to go this go-around.

After three quarters last season in Norman, Okla., Peterson had 11 carries for 23 yards. This was a freshman who rushed for 100 yards in every game to that point, was talked about being NFL-ready out of high school and was virtually unstoppable because of his speed and ability to bounce off defenders.

Peterson was stuffed, crunched and munched by KU's aggressive linebackers most of that day. He had nowhere to go, no chance to use his breakaway speed.

In the end, it didn't matter one bit. The rocket in Jason White's socket more than made up for it.

Last year's Sooner quarterback passed for 389 yards that game, burning the Jayhawk secondary deep and displaying the uncanny accuracy that won him the Heisman Trophy as a junior.

He hit Mark Clayton on a 61-yard touchdown pass, Travis Wilson on a 41-yard strike and Brandon Jones on a 69-yard pass. By focusing on the prodigy, swarming to the budding star, the Jayhawks underappreciated the grizzled veteran who had the ability to throw right over the top when allowed.

KU subsequently lost, 41-10, in a game that was out of reach midway through the third quarter.

That day, Peterson rushed for 99 yards in the fourth quarter with Oklahoma already up three scores - stat padding, I assume - and finished with 122 yards on 22 carries.

His Heisman Trophy campaign, nearly killed by KU's defense, was salvaged because of the bottom line: another 100-yard performance.

The far-away voters were fooled, but any 2005 opponent with the film of that game may have learned something - how to stop OU's most significant weapon when the legs are fresh.

That was step No. 1. Step two was accomplished during OU's nonconference schedule this season - gaining the realization that stopping Peterson is crucial.

His injury-plagued Texas performance aside, Peterson averaged 2.2 yards per carry in OU's first two losses. In the Sooners' two victories, he rumbled to 6.8 yards per rush.

With White and two of his favorite targets long gone, a freshman quarterback in Rhett Bomar still getting comfortable and a receiver corps talented but young and thin, Adrian Peterson should be the focus once again if he's ready to go Saturday.

It didn't work for KU last year. But with the other weapons no longer a factor, it should this time around.

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