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White leads a balanced offense

10/26/2004 - Oklahoma Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. -- Jason White's numbers are down, but
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says his quarterback is better than he
was last year.

That says a lot given that White won the 2003 Heisman Trophy.

Stoops says his sixth-year quarterback is a stronger leader for
the No. 2 Sooners while remaining a major weapon for a team now
balanced with Adrian Peterson's rushing.

"Jason is the guy commanding the huddle every snap, the
cadence," Stoops said Tuesday as the Sooners prepare for their
annual showdown with No. 20 Oklahoma State.

"He's the leader of the offense, definitely," Stoops said. "I
believe he is playing overall in a better way."

White's not so sure. He faults himself and the rest of
Oklahoma's seniors for the offense's recent sputtering starts
against Texas, Kansas State and Kansas.

"I really don't compare this year to last year," White said.
"We're doing a lot of different things on offense. This year I'm
just trying to be a better leader and a better commander of the
offense."

Through seven games this year, White has thrown for 1,617 yards,
the second-most in the Big 12 but 423 yards below his output last
year at the same point in the season. His touchdowns are also down
to 17 from 22.

A big reason for that is Peterson's emergence.

The freshman has rushed for 1,023 yards, giving the Sooners
(7-0, 4-0 Big 12) the consistent running attack they lacked last
season and vaulting himself ahead of White in this year's Heisman
race.

White, who as a winner has a vote for the Heisman, said Tuesday
that he would vote for Peterson if the balloting were held now.

Oklahoma's shift on offense from focusing on White to featuring
Peterson was never more apparent than in the 12-0 win over No. 8
Texas.

Peterson rushed for 225 yards on 32 carries against the
Longhorns, providing the Sooners with virtually their only
offensive spark. White completed just 14-for-26 passes for 123
yards and two interceptions.

"At Texas, our passing game wasn't as effective," White said.
"Regardless of what it was, whether it was bad throws, bad
catches, or protection, it wasn't there and our running game was."

But White is coming off perhaps his two best games of the season
as Kansas and Kansas State keyed their defenses on stopping
Peterson -- with some success -- freeing up White to return to last
season's form.

White completed 47-of-75 passes for 645 yards and eight
touchdowns in Oklahoma's wins over the Wildcats and Jayhawks.

"The last couple of weeks, the receivers, the offensive line,
the backs and myself have stepped up to the challenge that if
you're going to try to stop the run, we're going to throw," White
said.

With White firing and Peterson spinning, racing and breaking
tackles, Oklahoma will bring a balanced offense to Stillwater
Saturday that Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1) hasn't seen in the series
in years.

"Talented receivers, a guy who can throw the football to them,
a little bit more mobile than he has been, great balance in the run
and the pass, a big strong offensive line, it's a very capable
offense," Cowboys coach Les Miles said.