CB Franks: Sooners will corral Tebow, Gators

Updated: January 5, 2009, 1:10 PM ET
By Chris Low | ESPN.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Oklahoma's defenders have had enough of all the questions about the Big 12's shaky defensive numbers this season.

They've also apparently had enough of the Tim Tebow talk.

Oklahoma sophomore cornerback Dominique Franks said during interviews with the media Sunday morning at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa that Tebow would have been no better than the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12 this season.

[+] EnlargeDominique Franks
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesOklahoma's Dominique Franks said stepping up to the task this season of defending Big 12 quarterbacks was no easy chore.
"If you look at the three best quarterbacks in the country, they came from the Big 12," said Franks, referring to Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Texas' Colt McCoy and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell.

"The three best receivers in the country came from the Big 12. The three best tight ends came from the Big 12. So we've faced some great offenses, and a lot of people don't understand that other conferences don't have what we face."

Franks didn't stop there, either. He said the Heisman voters got it right this year in selecting Bradford for the coveted award, no doubt spicing up the prelude to Thursday's FedEx BCS National Championship Game.

"With us being in Florida and playing against Florida, everybody's going to think Tebow should have won the Heisman," Franks said. "But the right person won the Heisman, and we're going to go out there and show everybody the reason why he won it."

The Sooners are ranked 63rd nationally in total defense and 98th in pass defense. Franks and his defensive teammates grew increasingly agitated Sunday as the questions persisted about Oklahoma's defense not being able to hold up against Tebow and the Florida offense.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops attempted Sunday to play down Franks' comments, blaming the media for making his pronouncements such a big story.

"You guys lead young guys into a lot of questions," Stoops said.

Stoops also said he thinks Tebow's leadership and athletic abilities make him one of the nation's best players.

"We know he's a great player," Stoops said. "We have great respect for him. There's not a lot of Heisman Trophy players running around. That speaks for himself. He's an exceptional guy and we know that."

Franks said the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 were more difficult to prepare for than Tebow, who's passed for 22 touchdowns, rushed for 10 touchdowns and thrown just two interceptions during the Gators' nine-game winning streak.

"Going into a game and knowing a quarterback's going to throw the ball 40 times a game versus coming into a game and knowing he's probably only going to throw it about 15 or 20. ... It makes it a lot harder to prepare for those [Big 12] guys," Franks said.

Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy added, "[Tebow] really knows what he's doing, but I think we're prepared enough that we'll know what they're
doing as well as they know it."

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said he didn't agree with all of Franks' comments.

"I don't know, maybe it's just a young guy who doesn't know any better," Venables said. "He doesn't watch enough tape. I really mean that. But I think he's going to bat for a lot of guys who he has a lot of respect for."

Venables said that some of Franks' comments might have been sparked by disparaging comments about Big 12 defenses this season.

"Obviously, any time anybody doubts you if you have any competitive fire or competitive nature, you get fired up and excited for that. It gets you to perk up and sit up a little bit straighter in your chair," Venables said. "But still, being mad doesn't make you play better. It's still a process.

"This week is no different than the Big 12 championship or UT-Chattanooga. I believe that whole-heartedly. There's a process you have to invest in. And if you do, usually good things will happen."

Franks said he likes the fact that nobody respects the defenses of the Big 12.

Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes said on Saturday it seemed they put most of the best athletes in the Big 12 on offense and that the defenses looked a step slow.

"We've heard it all year," Franks said. "Like I said, this is going to be our chance to prove everybody wrong."

The Sooners' second-team All-Big 12 cornerback also said he was unconcerned about giving Tebow any extra motivation. Historically, Tebow has played some of his best games after being called out by opposing players.

"No, he said he wanted to face a Big 12 defense," countered Franks, who had four interceptions this season. "It's been great listening to all the comments they've been making. On January 8, we're going to see. Everybody is saying our defense is suspect in the back end. Hopefully, he'll throw me the ball a couple of times, and I can get my hands on it."

Chris Low covers SEC football for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com's Tim Griffin was used in this report.

Chris Low | email

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