"Usually a young guy comes in, he's got to go through--how to say this?--a procedure with the veterans," says Long. "Not hazing. But you've got to earn their respect. Usually it takes some time. Like, a year. Here's a guy who earned the respect of the veterans inside a month."
A few of those veterans had to prove themselves last Saturday. Sooner Nation was abuzz all week with the semi-scandalous news: Oklahoma's defense hadn't intercepted a pass in its first three games! How would it fare against a Texas Tech spread offense that had rung up 152 points in four games? On Saturday the Sooners picked off three passes, held Tech to a single touchdown (scored after the game had been decided) and looked sharp--signs that they're ready for next week's Red River Shootout against the undefeated Longhorns.
Peterson, likewise, looked good tuning up for his showdown with the team he spurned. He broke a 61-yard run on his third carry, a gain that wouldn't have been possible, AD took pains to point out, without a thunderous block from Clayton, the wide receiver. Two plays later Peterson basically ran through two defenders to score from a yard out.
After the game a television reporter asked Stoops to talk about what made Peterson so effective. The coach tried to oblige, pointing out how the freshman's toughness and good decisions belied his youth. But the reporter was not satisfied. What makes him so powerful? she asked.
"He's big, he's strong, he's fast, he's got great vision, he's got everything you look for," Stoops said. Another reporter tried to ask a question, but Stoops wasn't finished. "He's got a great attitude about work, and doing things the right way," he added.
His is a talent, in short, that surpasseth all understanding.