Stoops: Sooners will overcome Peterson's injury

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 10:04 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops feels bad for Adrian Peterson after an injury that could end his season. For the rest of the team, it's time to move on.

The 20th-ranked Sooners (4-2, 1-1 Big 12) lost Peterson, the 2004 Heisman runner-up, to a broken collarbone Saturday in a 34-9 win against Iowa State. The injury occurred at the end of a 53-yard touchdown run that capped a 183-yard day in his first game played in front of his father in years.

``The way he's worked, for him to have it come to a stop that way, it's just crushing for him personally. And I say that personally,'' Stoops said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. ``For us, that is not the case.

``We all feel for him personally and he means a great deal to everybody. But as a team, we're anxious to see what we're able to do.''

The Sooners will plug backups Allen Patrick and Jacob Gutierrez into their lineup for Peterson, the nation's second-leading rusher, for this Saturday's game against Colorado (1-6, 1-2).

``We feel strongly that we'll be able to overcome the loss of Adrian, adapt to it and still continue to move the football well, continue to play good solid defense _ we have to _ and continue to be good on special teams,'' Stoops said. ``Nothing, we feel, has changed for us.''

Peterson attended the Sooners' practice on Monday night, taking part in meetings and then getting treatment while his teammates worked out on the field. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said he has asked his star tailback to stay involved, keep up with his schoolwork and take care of his body. The Sooners have said it's possible Peterson could return for a bowl game.

``I know Adrian, I believe, as well as anybody. He's going to do what he wants to do,'' Stoops said. ``He's a strong-willed guy. He's always followed his heart and what he wants, and he should. He's already expressed to (running backs) coach (Cale) Gundy and our trainers and a few other people that he absolutely plans to play as soon as he can play again.

``I'm not going to say that that's definitive. I want to sit and talk with him once he's had some time to really reflect on it, but I doubt that will change.''

The news of Peterson's injury came shortly after the game was over. He was injured with about 6 1/2 minutes left, but the fracture wasn't confirmed until X-rays were taken. That took some steam out of Oklahoma's postgame celebration.

``That was a heartbreaker because I know the type of person he is and I know he wants to compete. You see it out on the field every Saturday. He competes hard every play,'' safety Darien Williams said. ``It was just hard for us to hear that.''

Stoops said he thinks Peterson's injury has overshadowed strong performances by other players, including Williams _ who had an interception and became the first defensive back with two sacks in a game since Roy Williams in the 2002 Cotton Bowl.

Overall, he believes his offensive line, tight ends, receivers and quarterback are playing better than they were when Peterson sprained his ankle last season. Oklahoma went 3-1 during that stretch.

``I would say that I do like the potential we have and the way we're starting to play,'' Stoops said. ``I still don't feel we've played nearly as clean or smart as we should.''

``The other day we had some mental breakdowns, a dropped catch or two, that have nothing to do with the other team and have everything to do with us. We have to push our guys to really take a greater focus in those areas, take it to heart and play in a smarter way. If we do, we'll be fine.''