Mike Finger: Ricky who? Peterson may be better than UT great
Web Posted: 10/31/2004 12:00 AM CDT

San Antonio Express-News

STILLWATER, Okla. There are times when talking to Adrian Peterson gives you the feeling a late-night talk-show host must get when he tries to coax a supermodel into discussing her looks.

The host knows she's good-looking. The audience knows she's good-looking. The supermodel knows she's good-looking. But she also knows better than to admit it.

That's the same dynamic at work these days during conversations with Peterson, the freshman Oklahoma running back whose brilliance has become so obvious, so undeniable, that all he can do is shrug his shoulders and flash a sheepish smile.

So Adrian, think you caught the attention of a few Heisman Trophy voters by running for 249 yards against Oklahoma State?

"That's for you to say," Peterson says.

So Adrian, is there any running back out there better than you?

"That's for you to say," he says.

So Adrian, through the first eight games of your collegiate career during which you've run for at least 100 yards every time and reached the 1,000-yard mark as fast as anyone in history could you have done anything better?

"That's for you to say," he says.

Well, Adrian, allow us to say it, then.

Yes, you're a Heisman candidate. If you're not the frontrunner right now or at least in the top three then a few people need to have their voting privileges revoked.

No, there's no running back out there better than you not now, and maybe not in the past decade. And that's coming from someone who saw just about every game Ricky Williams ever played at Texas.

As for whether or not you could have done anything any better over the past two months, well, that would be difficult to imagine.

There are still rushers out there with better stats than Peterson, even after he rolled the Cowboys for a career-high 249 yards on 33 carries in OU's 38-35 Bedlam victory on Saturday.

But all he's done so far is all the Sooners could have imagined asking of him. He was the biggest reason why OU bullied Oregon. He exploded on a huge stage against Texas. He overcame a stacked defensive front to help the Sooners pull away from Kansas State. And on Saturday, in a game OU looked at times like it was trying to give away, it was Peterson who kept the upset at bay.

Peterson likes to credit Jason White's passing and his offensive line's blocking, but they can only take a running back so far.

They can't help him spin out of three tackles at once, like he did at the beginning of an 80-yard TD run in the third quarter. They can't help him turn negative yardage into healthy gains, like he did all afternoon long. They can't help him cut back in traffic like no one not even Williams has done in recent memory.

And they know that even though Peterson gives them credit, they can only accept so much of it.

"Right after they score, he goes 80 yards," offensive tackle Jammal Brown said. "You can't ask for more than that."

"It's the same A.D.," White said, referring to Peterson by his "All Day" nickname. "He continues to amaze me."

White isn't the only one who's amazed. Even college football observers who have followed Big 12 schools for decades have struggled to place Peterson in his proper context.

The guys from Texas say he's a more elusive Williams. The guys in Oklahoma say he's a stronger Barry Sanders. The guys from Nebraska say he's a quicker Mike Rozier.

And Peterson? He's not too big on making comparisons. The ones who have it never do.

They prefer to just sit back, smile and act like they don't know what all the fuss is about.

Even if it's obvious to everyone in the room.