NORMAN, Okla., Nov. 25 - Jason White is undefeated as the starting quarterback for top-ranked Oklahoma. His coach is trying to extend that winning streak to the ballot box.
InsertArt(2079490)BOB STOOPS SPENT much of his news conference Tuesday stumping for White’s Heisman Trophy campaign and several other Sooners in contention for postseason awards.
Oklahoma (12-0, 8-0 Big 12) doesn’t play again until Dec. 6 in the Big 12 title game against No. 14 Kansas State, and ballots for the Heisman are due in by Dec. 10. That leaves Stoops with one game and more than two weeks to implore voters to take another look at his quarterback.
He attacked the task with an intensity he usually reserves for the sidelines.
“People are so used to seeing (White) rack up such huge numbers and touchdowns and being successful,” Stoops said. “It becomes popular to talk about the other teams and the BCS controversy.
“You can not ignore his numbers, his production, the way he’s directing our offense.”
White, who’s missed much of the past two seasons because of knee injuries, leads the nation in passing efficiency and is second in touchdown passes (40) even though he’s missed 78 minutes and 50 seconds of game time because of the Sooners’ blowouts.
It’s been a remarkable season for a guy who wasn’t named the starter until this summer and was thought to be the biggest question mark on a team renowned for its dominant defense.
Thing is, White needs people like Stoops to take up his candidacy for him. The soft-spoken quarterback mostly talks in polite cliches and, as he does on the field, distributes the credit for this season’s success to those around him.
“That goes to the best college football player,” White said. “I know that without my teammates, I ain’t anything. If I was playing somewhere else, I probably wouldn’t be standing here.”
If he keeps repeating that line, White might join former quarterback Josh Heupel as Oklahoma’s second Heisman runner-up in four years.
The Sooners have loads of talent on offense, something that critics use to blunt White’s candidacy against others like Pittsburgh receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Michigan running back Chris Perry.
White’s most reliable weapons are receivers Mark Clayton, who has 1,289 yards receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, and Brandon Jones and Jejuan Rankins, who have combined for 74 receptions and 14 TDs.
Add them to an offense with running backs like Kejuan Jones and Renaldo Works, who’ve combined for 1,497 yards and 18 TDs, and an offensive line that Stoops has called the best in his five years in Norman.
With help like that, it’s easy to see why White is regarded as simply a good quarterback surrounded by great offensive teammates.
“Nobody was picking our guys to be All-American or All-Big 12 (at the beginning of the season),” he said, his voice rising. “The biggest difference is that Jason White is the quarterback. You can’t help but look at his production.”
Stoops even went on a three-minute riff about the timing of the award ceremonies, noting that Heupel might have won the 2000 Heisman if the vote was taken after Oklahoma defeated Florida State and its Heisman Trophy quarterback Chris Weinke in the Orange Bowl.
“Too bad they wouldn’t have waited until after the national championship game,” Stoops said. “I’ve already turned in some ballots for some teams ... why is everybody in such a rush to get these teams out?”
Losing, even in the Heisman race, apparently won’t go down easy for Stoops this season.
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