HYBL named Sooner starter

Thursday, August 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(NORMAN) - Bob Stoops made his long-awaited decision Thursday, naming Nate Hybl as Oklahoma's starting quarterback.

Hybl, a junior, beat out sophomore Jason White in the competition to replace Josh Heupel, who led the Sooners to the 2000 national championship.

``The bottom line is, we feel Nate has earned it,'' Stoops said after the team's morning practice. ``He's done well and better (than White) in some areas. He's had fewer bad plays as well. It's still a very positive situation.''

Oklahoma opens its season Aug. 25 against North Carolina.

Hybl had a strong showing in the final full-scale scrimmage Wednesday night, completing 24 of 29 passes for 179 yards including a 35-yard touchdown. White was 11 of 18 for 141 yards with one TD.

Stoops said he looked at several factors, such as execution, consistency and leadership.

``Jason has been great about the competition. They both made each other better,'' he said.

Offensive coordinator Mark Mangino said he and quarterbacks coach Chuck Long discussed the situation after the scrimmage Wednesday night, then met again Thursday morning before talking with Stoops.

``Right now Nate has just kind of been feeling a little more comfortable at the position and things are going just a little bit smoother for him than they are for Jason,'' Mangino said.

``We've got the utmost confidence in Jason. If something happened to Nate or whatever the circumstances could be, we're comfortable with Jason, too.''

Hybl and White have each been in the system the past two years. Hybl won the No. 2 job last season, then practiced with the first-team offense during spring workouts.

The two have shared time with the first team during two-a-day workouts, although Mangino said before those practices began that Hybl's status as the backup last season gave him a slight edge.

In the three preseason scrimmages, Hybl completed 70 percent of his passes, for 550 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. White completed 65 percent, for 434 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Stoops had said after the final scrimmage that the starter will have earned the job.

``All our players earn it every day we practice,'' he said. ``Every time we scrimmage, if someone plays better than another guy, then he deserves an opportunity to play.

``So though maybe it would have been easier on everybody to name a guy before last spring, I don't believe that's been our method. Our method has been about earning your way, regardless of what position you're at.''