|| Actions Speak Louder
The talk of the college football season has centered around Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, or Johnny Football as he's come to be known.
As the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy, Manziel has been a favorite topic for the media while interviewing OU players. The Sooners have been asked all the questions, some multiple times, but they're using all the Manziel material as motivation for Friday's game.
"It's very motivating," senior defensive lineman David King said. "It's a big stage; all eyes are going to be on him. We want to come out and play our best game as a collective unit on Friday.
"Everyone is hearing about him. Friday night, it will set the tone for a lot of things, but we'll be ready to play and we accept the challenge."
Manziel set the SEC record for total offense with 4,600 yards and accounted for 43 touchdowns. With his ability to run and pass, he will put all position groups to the test.
"It's good for our defense," junior safety Tony Jefferson said. "We get to play against a Heisman Trophy winner and the number one offense in the SEC. We have a lot to prove."
With all that said, the Sooners players wouldn't be entirely upset if they didn't get any more questions about the freshman phenom.
"It definitely is kind of getting at us somewhat, always hearing about Johnny Manziel," junior cornerback Aaron Colvin remarked. "But he is a great player. When you're a great player, that's what happens. We've dealt with it before.
"We've seen a lot of great players in the Big 12 and a lot of great quarterbacks. He's just another one on the list."
|| The Other Guys
Johnny Manziel is the household name that generates most of the talk surrounding Texas A&M
football, but their are certainly guys around him that have contributed to his success, including leading wide receivers Mike Evans and Ryan Swope. While those names might not be as familiar to Sooner fans, the OU secondary is well aware of who they are.
"Those are two go-to guys for them," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "They're very consistent, good hands. They understand their positions on the field very well. They understand the space in the middle of the field, Swope does and Evans out on the perimeter. (Evans) uses his big frame to create separation. He's a difficult matchup because of the size and his body type. They're very consistent players for them."
The Sooners have faced many stellar wideouts in 2012, but maybe not as potent of a duo as Evans and Swope present. Evans, a freshman, stands tall at 6-5 and leads the Aggies with 75 catches for 1,022 yards and five touchdowns. Swope is right behind with 64 receptions for 809 yards and seven scores.
"They're right up there at the top of the list," Colvin said, comparing the tandem to others OU has faced. "(Mike) Evans is a big body. He likes to use his body to catch the ball. We've seen them before, but maybe not to his extent. They have some speed guys like Swope. They're kind of everywhere. We just have to be ready as a secondary."
|| Time to Prepare
It's been exactly one month since the Sooners last played a football game, beating TCU on Dec. 1 to clinch a share of the Big 12 title. While OU is eager for Friday's highly-anticipated AT&T Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M, the time in between is pivotal
for a defense preparing to face one of the most explosive offenses in the entire country.
"I think it gives us time to work on everything they do," junior linebacker Tom Wort said. "Texas A&M does a lot of different things and I think that helps us out having that extra time to work on everything they do. I think that helps us out on defense."
The complexity of A&M's offense makes it beneficial for the Sooners to go over specifics that they might not normally have time to cover during a usual game week.
"It's huge because we get to schematically see what they like to do and really break down their film and what not," Colvin said. "We're just out there trying to dissect the little things that they do. That's what that extra time does for a defense or does for any team. We're taking that to our advantage and Mike Stoops is doing a great job of that."
Junior LB Tom Wort
"I'm kind of tired of the talk (about Johnny Manziel) as I'm sure he is. I just kind of want to get down to the game. Everyone is excited. It's going to be a great matchup, but I'm almost kind of done talking about it. I just want to get down to work."
Junior CB Aaron Colvin
"I can remember at every other bowl game freshman and sophomore year, getting that bowl win is something big. The seniors definitely cherish that and you want to send them out the right way. No matter who leaves or what happens, leaving without a win is definitely big because it builds onto next year as well. Guys are more motivated in the spring and summer to accomplish more."
Junior DB Tony Jefferson
"I was talking the other day with some of my teammates. We have to start off hot. I feel like when we start off hot, we just keep things rolling and it affects the other team when we play ball efficiently like that. It's hard for teams to keep up with us."
Senior DE David King
“That is the worst part. You sit around and you’re watching all the other bowl games happen, you say, “Man, I wish our bowl game was today.” However, I understand that we have to wait for a reason and when the time comes we will be ready to play.”
Coach Mike Stoops
“He doesn’t try to be anybody he is not. He plays to his strengths extremely well and to whom he is as a football player. He uses his gifts to help them win and that is what any great quarterback or player does. He knows exactly what he can and can’t do. His ability to extend and create plays, there’s not a defense created to defend against that.”
Sr. DT Jamarkus McFarland
"It's top notch. You get treated outside of this and go home to the great hotel. Everything is top notch. The name of this bowl is kind of overlooked, but I'm loving it. Every day we've been here has been a joy and you can't beat this stadium."
Senior DE R.J. Washington
"He just makes plays, period, whether it's with his legs or his arm. It's almost like he can do it all. He's playing with a lot of confidence and why not? He won the Heisman as a freshman and he deserved it. He's a confident guy who is good at everything he does. It's going to be a good challenge and we're excited for it."
RS Fr. LB Frank Shannon
"We're just expecting to make big plays and go out and compete against Texas A&M. It's going to be a good game and we're looking forward to it."
Our digital media tandem is following the Oklahoma Sooners every step of the way throughout the Cotton Bowl trip, be it practice or one of the great events. Follow the action in real time via our bowl coverage blog, which is updated constantly with content:
Sooner Cotton Bowl Coverage
Support the Sooners by using the #BeatTAMU hashtag in your tweets and Instagram posts. One of your posts might appear on SoonerSports.com. Don't forget to use our usual #Sooners hashtag:
#BeatTAMU on Twitter
#Sooners on Twitter
TUESDAY WITH THE MEDIA
Select Oklahoma defensive players and Mike Stoops met with media on Tuesday morning. Check out our media coverage below:
DB Aaron Colvin (Media)
DB Tony Jefferson (Media)
DE David King (Media)
LB Tom Wort (Media)
Coach Mike Stoops (Media)
Cotton Bowl Media Availability
Oklahoma held its third on-site practice at Cowboys Stadium on Tuesday. Check out photos:
Stadium Practice 3 (56 Pics)