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Sooners need strong defense; Seminoles will be ready

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001


Former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, now an ESPN college football analyst and co-host of College GameDay, spoke to Times staff writer Sharon Ginn about today's Orange Bowl.

* * *

I don't know if it's justified for Florida State to be such a heavy favorite, but I think it makes some sense, only because of the way the Seminoles ended the season. They really put it to Florida and looked like a superior team. The Gators were the closest thing to matching them, and they blew (UF) out.

I think it's going to be a little bit sloppy early, at least for Oklahoma. The Sooners are playing in a game they've dreamed about their entire lives. It wouldn't shock me if they were pressing a little bit. The Seminoles are maybe not going to get so caught up in all of that; for Bobby Bowden, of course, this is like a regular-season game. This is on the schedule at the beginning of the year, so they know how to handle it.

It's not surprising that Bob Stoops turned Oklahoma around. It's surprising he's been able to turn it around in two years. I think it says a lot about what he brought in as a staff. If GQ was going to do a picture of the ideal college football staff, they would take a picture of the Oklahoma staff. They look good in their attire, they look like they've just run 5 miles. They're young, energetic, the kids love them. This is not a fluke. This team is going to be around for a long time.

Stoops brought over Jerry Schmidt, the former strength and conditioning coach at Florida. He introduced the team to a work ethic in the off-season that these guys knew nothing about, things these guys never dreamed of doing. I'm talking about the conditioning of the players, getting yourself mentally and physically ready to play.

The loss of Florida State receiver Snoop Minnis to academic ineligibility might be a key to this game. Outside of just being his team's best receiver, Snoop represents an attitude on the Florida State offense: abrasive, cocky. They go into these games with the crowds going crazy, waving their arms in the air: "Let's go have some fun." Snoop is the engineer. You take him out of the mix, and I want to know who's going to be the ringleader with that attitude.

And offensive coordinator Mark Richt taking the Georgia job; I'm not saying he's not going to prepare for this game, but you can only do so much. Let's say the Georgia job were not there, he's going to have much more time to get the offense ready.

For Oklahoma to win this game it will have to be with defense. Man to man, Florida State has such a good team. The Sooners need breaks, they need things to go their way. Oklahoma can put those four receivers in, and this Florida State secondary is just as athletic. I don't think the Sooners will have to come up with a ton of big plays. They'll have to run the ball, run screens, mix things up to be able to win this game.

Chris Weinke just has to play his game. I don't think because he's won the Heisman Trophy he'll feel any pressure. He's going to go out and take what the defense gives him. I don't think Florida State even remembers it won last year. That's the thing about the Seminoles; the bigger the spotlight, the better they play. They love people to doubt them, and that's when their athletes are at their best.

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