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Peterson, White court votes with stats

11/11/2004 - Oklahoma Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. -- Don't look for any larger-than-life images of Jason White on New York buildings. An Internet search for an official "Adrian Peterson for Heisman" Web site will get you nowhere. In this campaign, even the candidates aren't stumping for themselves.

So, what gives?

For all the talk around town about which of Oklahoma's two
superstars deserves college football's most prestigious individual
award, neither one is pushing for the honor except by putting up impressive numbers each Saturday.

That's just fine with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. In fact,
that's the way he thinks it should be. Each week, the No. 2 Sooners
include a few paragraphs about both White and Peterson in their
usual weekly media briefing. It's nothing overstated, and nothing
out of the ordinary.

"We've never had any billboards or anything crazy," Stoops
said. "We've always been very appropriate."

Stoops said he prefers not to create a lot of hoopla. All that's
needed is a simple comparison of the top candidates.

"I think that's the right thing to do, is make sure the
information's there and that's it," Stoops said.

The coach won't get much argument from his players. White's
quick to dismiss any chatter about his Heisman candidacy so he can
talk about his hopes of winning the Big 12 title and national
championship that got away from him last year.

He's already got one Heisman Trophy, and his name's on the water tower back home in Tuttle. Another one might be nice, but a
national title would be so much more special.

White's already said he'd probably vote for Peterson in the
Heisman balloting -- and as a past winner, he does get a vote. One
thing's for sure, he won't be checking the box for himself.

"That's not me," he says.

Not that he's unqualified. The humble sixth-year senior has
thrown for 2,130 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four
interceptions and leads Southern Cal's Matt Leinart in all three
categories (Leinart has 2,068 passing yards with 20 TDs and five
interceptions). In the past four games, including three on the
road, he's thrown 16 touchdown passes and one interception while
averaging 289 yards per game.

But White isn't using the stats as the platform for his
campaign. He says he thinks voters should look for "everything"
when they consider who should win the Heisman, and that means more
than just stats.

"You just have to watch for yourself," White said. "You can't
look at stats or anything like that. You have to watch a person
play."

That's where Oklahoma's stature comes in handy for White and Peterson. While the Sooners aren't advertising for their
candidates, they do play most of their games on national television
-- either on the networks or on cable -- so the candidates have
plenty of chances to be seen by voters.

Peterson has made his most noise against Oklahoma's biggest
rivals, which also happen to be the most attention-grabbing
matchups. After rushing for 225 yards against Texas -- more than
twice Cedric Benson's 92 yards -- he then piled up 249 against
Oklahoma State.

"I don't think there's any question a lot of people have seen
Adrian and his abilities," Stoops said. "Look what he's done in
some of our biggest games. Look what he did in the Texas game
head-to-head with Cedric Benson. And I think Cedric Benson is a
heck of a player. Believe me, he is. But so is Adrian, and
everybody has seen that."

Stoops says he feels obligated to stick up for his players if
analysts ignore how White and Peterson compare with other Heisman
candidates, but he's not going to go out of his way to campaign for
either one.

"I'm not going to be part of choosing ... between the two,"
Stoops said. "I think what's fantastic for our team and for our
offense is that they both are such great players and complement one
another. And they both as team guys have been very unselfish and
really don't care about who's getting what."