White stays healthy as Sooners roll to win

Updated: August 31, 2003, 6:50 PM ET

NORMAN, Okla. -- Jason White's arm looked good; he threw three touchdown passes. His legs looked even better; he scrambled away from pressure with ease.

Most importantly, he stayed healthy.

The Oklahoma quarterback, starting only his fifth game in a career marred by knee injuries, showed flashes of the multipurpose threat he once was as the No. 1 Sooners beat North Texas 37-3 on Saturday night.

"Jason gained confidence with every throw," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "He looked like his old self out there, creating some plays."

It's been a long road back to the field for White, who was the starter last fall until he blew out his knee in the Sooners' second game against Alabama. That was his second knee injury in two years, with both injuries coming on plays on which he wasn't even hit.

After recovering from surgery and enduring an offseason competition against three other quarterbacks, White was again named the starter. Still, he remained the biggest question mark on the nation's top-ranked team.

"I couldn't imagine what he's going through the past year just waiting for this game," offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. "You just want to get to that first game so badly."

White looked comfortable from the opening whistle.

He completed nine of his first 11 passes for 135 yards and two scores, including a beautiful 64-yarder to receiver Brandon Jones. White would've had another touchdown pass had tailback Renaldo Works not dropped a sure score as he streaked toward the end zone.

In little more than three quarters of work, White finished 23-of-35 for 248 yards. His lone interception came on his final throw of the game.

But what really excited his teammates was how he popped up off the ground after taking his first shot of the game.

"After the first hit, we had to see if he was going to get up," guard JamaalBrown said. "When he did, I said, 'Let's roll."

While White excelled, the running game stalled.

North Texas, two-time defending Sun Belt champs, wasn't exactly a pushover with 5-foot-10, 315-pound Brandon Kennedy clogging up things along the defensive line. The Sooners ran for just 105 yards at 3.3 yards a carry.

"That was poor, very poor," Stoops said. "It's not at all what we're capable of. ... They whipped us up front more than a few times."

Oklahoma's defense lived up to all its preseason hype, which is saying a lot considering all the expectations placed upon the unit -- four players were selected to a preseason watch list for the nation's top defender.

The Sooners limited North Texas to 50 yards through three quarters before the Mean Green's only scoring drive, which began against the second-stringers. Midway through the second quarter, North Texas had more penalty yards (29) than offensive yards (18) and didn't cross midfield until just before halftime.

"It's fun going out and hitting someone you really don't care too much about," said cornerback Derrick Strait, one of the preseason award nominees. "We might be faster, but it's more that guys know where to be."

That can't be good news for Alabama. The Crimson Tide is next up for the swifter Sooners on Saturday.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index