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Sugar Bowl: Sooners, Crimson Tide talk quarterback strategies

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NEW ORLEANS – While kickoff to the Sugar Bowl is just days away, the Sooners and the Crimson Tide have already made it past their first test; the media.

One big question focused on the dual quarterback situation at OU, compared to the leadership of A.J. McCarron at Alabama.

A starting quarterback for the Sooners hasn’t been named just yet, so Alabama says it is  prepared for both players to take the field.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, “I think that we have a lot of respect for both of their quarterbacks and what their capabilities are. I think both guys are people who will run their offense very efficiently and effectively. Both are dual threats in terms of their ability to run the ball and run the option and pull the ball on the dive and challenge you on the perimeter, as well as be able to throw the ball in the play action game or on third down when they drop back. I don’t think there is a whole lot of difference in what they do, but I think their skill sets are different in terms of one guy being a big, physical runner and the other not as big, but very athletic. I think our players have to be very aware of the two styles those guys have.

C.B. Mosley, a linebacker at Alabama, said, “They have one that is more of a passing quarterback – he is tall and a bigger guy.  The other is more of an athletic quarterback and if we contain him on the pass, he can still get out and scramble.  We have to do a good job there both for the linebackers and defensive backs.”

OU head coach Bob Stoops said, “Well we intend to be unsettled about quarterback all the way up until the game. I wouldn’t say it’s unsettled I would say that it’s purposeful. And let’s face it, both those guys in different situations have really done well so we have to have both of them ready to go.”

While a lot of the focus is on OU’s quarterback situation, there are still questions about whether A.J. McCarron will take the field for the Senior Bowl.

He said, “I will wait until after the bowl game to decide.”

However, OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops says his defense is hoping to make that decision a difficult one.

“He compares more to probably guys we’ve had at Oklahoma, the Jason Whites, the prototypical throwers, that play behind traditional sets,” he said. “They’re a little bit like Notre Dame in some of the things they do, Texas and what they do.  But he’s more comparable to the guys we had at Oklahoma.  I guess that’s probably why we recruited him.”

Eric Striker, OU linebacker, said, “How do you stop him? Play sound defense, it’s not just one guy you have to stop. He’s really sound, they have a really sound offense, but, all around, we have to play good defense.”

Aaron Colvin, OU defensive back, said, “He [AJ McCarron] is a smart quarterback. He’s a really focused player and he knows what he is doing all the time. McCarron gets the ball out to his receivers, and the receivers can really catch. We will definitely have to be on our P’s and Q’s, but we have prepared, and we’re ready for them.”

Colvin says that after being injured earlier this year, he believes he will be ready to play in the Sugar Bowl.

The Sooners will take on Alabama on Thursday, Jan. 2 in New Orleans.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The game will be televised on ESPN.