Tuesday was the first time the Oklahoma Sooners had spoken publicly since their 24-17 win over TCU in the regular season finale Dec. 1. Not surprisingly, one player in particular got a lot of attention.
"We've got to sit around here for a month and watch ESPN, and all they talk about is 'Johnny Football' or 'Johnny Heisman' or whatever they call him now," OU defensive end David King said.
Yes, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was the primary topic of conversation Tuesday, and rightfully so. The redshirt freshman has taken the nation by storm, leading Texas A&M to a shocking 10-2 season in the Aggies' first season in the SEC, and becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
"He's phenomenal with the football and he can create so many issues," OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "He can run you ragged. I've never seen anyone improvise and create like he can.
"Anytime you lead the Southeastern Conference in yards and points in your first year, what more do you really need to say about the guy?"
The Sooners have not had much success against dual-threat quarterbacks in the past. This season, the Sooners struggled to contain Kansas State's Collin Klein, Baylor's Nick Florence, and Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf.
However, Manziel poses a different kind of threat than say, Klein, because of his speed and elusiveness.
"Collin Klein you didn't have to contain because they had specific run plays for him to go up inside and then break through a gap," OU defensive end RJ Washington said. "Johnny Manziel, he can be passing, dropping back and he's just going to take off if you let him. Collin Klein usually ran up through the B gaps. When everybody got wide, (he) ran up through the middle. Johnny Manziel will do the same thing but he likes to go outside."
Manziel poses a unique challenge no team this season has been able to completely deal with. However, the Oklahoma defense understands what it's up against and is more than ready for him.
"At the end of the day, we have to try to shut him down and get him uncomfortable, try to get him to do things he doesn't want to do," OU cornerback Demontre Hurst said. "That's pretty much everyone's main challenge. It's not rocket science. Everyone knows we want to stop him."
Not only are the Sooners fired up to face the Heisman Trophy winner, but playing a former Big 12 opponent, a team the Sooners have played the past 16 years, is incentive all of its own.
"I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge of playing Texas A&M, period," OU coach Bobby Jack Wright said. "I think they know the challenge on hand is a pretty great one because Johnny Manziel is pretty doggone good. We're excited to see what we can do in this ball game and see if we can win 11 games this year."
The Sooners have already faced two of the three Heisman finalists in Klein and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and lost to both of them. Despite Manziel being the toughest challenge of the three, Oklahoma is confident they'll be ready.
"We're 0-2 against two of them, so we're going to try to end this season on a win," King said. "With him (Manziel) being the Heisman winner, it's going to be that much more exciting to play him."
Oklahoma Football Signs Two JUCO Transfers
University of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops announced the signings of two junior college transfers to National Letters of Intent, Wednesday. Committed to play for the Sooners are punter Jed Barnett and defensive tackle Quincy Russell.
"We are pleased that Jed and Quincy have signed with the University of Oklahoma," Stoops said. "They are talented individuals who we believe can make contributions to our program on special teams and defense."