Quarterback adds stability to OU football

Monday, December 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Josh Heupel doesn't complain and he doesn't make excuses. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said his Oklahoma quarterback is very tough. And he's brought stability back to the quarterback position at Oklahoma. Heupel tends to answer modestly when asked about his season as the Oklahoma Sooners' record-setting quarterback. "Just trying to win games," he said. The junior college transfer from Aberdeen, S.D. has done that.

Oklahoma (7-4) has its first winning season since Cale Gundy played for the Sooners in 1993. Heupel has started all 11 games for OU this season. And if Heupel suits up against Ole Miss Friday night in the Independence Bowl -- a given barring some unforeseen development --he'll be the first Oklahoma quarterback to start all season since Cale Gundy did it 1993. "You see him get up all the time. You see him competing," Stoops told the Tulsa World.

Heupel has broken most school passing records for a game and a season. He's also broken Big 12 records for passing attempts (500),completions (310), passing yardage (3,460), touchdowns (30) and total offense (3,362). But now he has a chance to break more records, including Gundy's records in the 1991 Gator Bowl. "I suppose someday I'll look back and appreciate them," Heupel said. "When I have kids it would be nice to show them. I just won't tell them that OU was an option school and didn't throw it much."

Heupel's work ethic has set examples for other players, notably Oklahoma's younger quarterbacks. "Our young quarterbacks watch him every day," Stoops said. "They see him checking plays at practice. He's a guy who understands the game. As quarterback, probably the best attribute you can have is knowing what the best plays are and getting into them to give yourself the best chance to succeed." Heupel also sets an example by how he studies films and makes reads. "He gives you an idea of how much time you have to spend to be a good quarterback, which he developed to be, and how to keep the team up and be a leader," said freshman quarterback Jason White.

Offensive coordinator Mark Mangino said Heupel has worked harder "than any player that I've had at this level." Mangino, Stoops and Heupel said they don't expect any problems arising from the transition of offensive oversight from former offensive coordinator Mike Leach -- now head coach at Texas Tech --to Mangino.