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Birdine: Leinart isn't Heisman quality

NORMAN, Okla. -- If Oklahoma defensive end Larry Birdine got
a Heisman vote, it wouldn't have gone to Southern California
quarterback Matt Leinart.

Birdine made that known Tuesday in a series of statements that
showed he wasn't all that impressed with the offense the No. 1
Trojans will bring into the Orange Bowl against the Sooners on Jan.
4.

"I feel like they're, I'd say, a one-and-a-half man team,"
Birdine said. "I want to respect them just because I have to play
them, but then I watch them on tape and everything, and I realize
that they're an average team."

Birdine repeatedly praised Reggie Bush, the Trojans'
All-American all-purpose player who returns punts and lines up as a
tailback and wide receiver for Southern Cal, but he had little
positive to say about Bush's teammates on offense.

"Besides Reggie Bush, he's a great athlete, he's a fast back,
he makes plays or whatever, but nobody else stands out to me,"
Birdine said. "Matt Leinart, he's the Heisman Trophy winner, but
he hasn't been driving them -- or he hasn't been winning games. Up
'til the last four or five games, Reggie Bush has been their
difference-maker.

"We feel like if we take Reggie out of the game, we're gonna
win."

Birdine said he didn't think Leinart should have won the Heisman
Trophy, and he wasn't just cheerleading for teammates Adrian
Peterson and Jason White, who finished second and third in the
voting.

"If anybody should have won it from USC, it should have been
Reggie Bush," Birdine said. "I don't think that he was the best
quarterback. [Utah quarterback] Alex Smith, he was better than Matt
Leinart. I don't think Matt Leinart should have won."

Birdine later added: "He's definitely overrated. Like I said,
he's a good quarterback, but he's not a Heisman-winning
quarterback."

Birdine said he realized he could be providing USC with
bulletin-board material and said his opinions didn't necessarily
reflect the mind-set of the team.

"I don't know if that's the mood in the locker room," Birdine
said. "I ask some guys and they say, 'they're good.' I haven't
seen them on defense, but if our offense don't turn the ball over
and their offense can't score, then I believe we're going to win
the game."

"From a defensive perspective, I haven't seen anything that
just stood out besides Reggie Bush."

Earlier, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had far different comments
about the Sooners' opponent. He called tailback LenDale White a
"great, great player" and said the Trojans receivers were "very
good; I'm going to say that about every position on their team that
we go to."

Asked about Leinart's positives and negatives, Stoops said the
Trojans quarterback was "very wise and smart the way he plays and
the way he's coached. He makes very few poor decisions. He's a
great decision maker. He has a great arm, he's very accurate. He's
got the poise you look for in the pocket.

"The criticism: he's not a great option guy. He's got
everything you look for and he's a guy we recruited hard."

Birdine also judged that Oklahoma played more difficult
competition in the Big 12 Conference than Southern California had
faced in the Pacific 10, but most of his comments were directed
toward the Trojans' offense.

"We're not going to just say we've got to stop Reggie and let
everybody else run free, but definitely if you take Reggie Bush out
of the game, you're chances for winning are that much greater just
because if you think about it they give him the ball running, they
give him the ball on reverses, they give him the ball on passes,"
Birdine said.

"Besides him, the only guy they throw the ball to is (Dwayne)
Jarrett. If you take you take him out of the game, their options
are obsolete."