OU sophomore Frank Shannon said he believes Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley is a better player than former Notre Dame star Manti Te'o.
“I feel like he's more physical and he's a leader out there on the defense,” Shannon said. “He doesn't just play for himself. Manti Te'o, when he got in certain situations, he just thought about himself and jumped out of his spots and got out of position sometimes on the field.
“You watch C.J. Mosley on the field, and you can tell he's a real defensive player. He reads his keys and lets the other players on the field do their jobs while he does his job.”
Mosley, a senior, won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker this season. Te'o was the 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up and is now a San Diego Chargers rookie.
SHEPARD TALKS QBS
OU wide receiver Sterling Shepard was asked about his team's quarterbacks and how they've practiced leading up to the Sugar Bowl.
“Competing like they have done all season,” Shepard said. “They both practice like they're gonna be the starter, so I don't expect anything different from them.”
Junior Blake Bell and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight have each enjoyed success this season, but have also each struggled at times. Coach Bob Stoops said he won't name a starter before the game.
Asked if it's comforting to know that both quarterbacks are capable of having success, Shepard responded, “We take so many reps in practice, you know, we have no choice but to kinda be comfortable with them.”
MOSLEY SCOUTS OU
Mosley gave a quick scouting report on the Sooner receivers and quarterbacks.
Receivers: “They have got a lot of quick guys, and they like to spread them out. They run a lot of bubble screens and slants to get them moving around the field. Our defensive backs will have to do a good job holding them up and containing the routes. They are a fast-paced team.”
Quarterbacks: “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.”
Sounds like Mosley is right on target.
GRISSOM DEFLECTS SEC TALK
Stoops made headlines last summer and again during the 2013 season when he suggested that the Southeastern Conference isn't as dominant in football as many portray it to be.
Seven straight teams from the league have won the national championship, and Auburn can make it eight straight when it faces Florida State for this season's title.
Asked if he followed Stoops' comments, junior defensive end Geneo Grissom said, “I think I'm going to stay out of that one. … I'll just say this — I will agree with Coach's statements. That's all I'm giving you on that.”
Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin, on the Sooners being an underdog: “I feel like we've had a chip on our shoulder during the whole season. A lot of people have ruled us out of a lot of games. I feel the hunger from these guys. We had a lot of hunger last year, but the difference this year is we've been finishing ball games and we've been persevering through all that adversity.”
SABAN SHOWS A SOFT SIDE
Alabama coach Nick Saban has a taskmaster reputation, but Bama people say Saban doesn't burn the midnight oil. They say he demands hard work but it is so well organized, 16-hour days aren't necessary.
And since he's been in New Orleans, Saban even has espoused family time and Christmas.
“I think it's really important,” Saban said. “Christmas is a great holiday. The holiday season is something that brings together family and the opportunity for everybody to have gratitude and appreciation for the relationships that they have and the family they have.
“It's important for the players to go home and be with their family. I also think it's important for the players to get a couples days where they can have some family time, then come back and get refocused. We really took the 24th and 25th off and most of us worked (the 26th) or worked our way here (on the 27th) so we can get back into preparation.”
HANSEN WON'T PLAY IN UNDER ARMOUR GAME
Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered midway through the season and is not expected participate in Thursday's Under Armour All-American Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Hansen, who has verbally committed to Oklahoma and is expected to enroll at the university for the spring, suffered a high ankle sprain in October and did not return the rest of the season.
Edmond Santa Fe coach Lance Manning said Hansen's ankle is just not quite ready.