Striker Nothin’ but the Dog in me

Image from TheAdvocate.com (Photographer: Scott Threlkeld)

When K asked us what our confidence levels were and score predictions a day before the Sugar Bowl, I had to think about it for a bit.  As soon as word came out that we drew Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, I was beyond excited.  We’ve said it quite a few times on Brainiacs that good knows good and ball knows ball.  I want to take that a step further and say dog knows dog.  Anyone who knows anything about me knows that there are two ways to motivate me.

1.  Tick me off.
2.  Tell me that I or my team can’t do something.

I’ve been excited about this team since last spring.  When we added Coaches Montgomery and Bedenbaugh last year, there were some videos that soonersports.com put up that had the coaches mic’d up.  I immediately liked what both were doing because they were teachers, what I liked even more was what they were teaching.  Coach Montgomery said that effort, toughness and technique are three things that don’t require any talent.  I really got behind what Monty and B were trying to instill into these young guys, because I can identify with it.  There’s a behind the scenes game that goes on in life and on every football team.  The things in my opinion outside of my faith in God that I hang my hat on are grit, toughness and an undying belief that someway, somehow, if I can turn it into a situation where the victor will be determined by who’s willing to work the hardest, then I have no doubt that I will win.  In my professional life, and throughout my time as a ball player there have people who were smarter, more talented and better than me, but I have encountered very few who were WILLING to put in the work day in, day out and really boil it down to see what they were made of.  Make no mistake about it, it’s a choice.  In proverbs it says that greater is he who conquers himself than he who conquers a city.  Being accountable to self is important, but being able to look into the eyes of your teammates and without a doubt make that promise that you gave them everything you had takes courage.  It also takes grit, toughness and you have to be willing to get hit.  You have to be willing to live with the disappointment that goes along with a broken heart if you lay it all on the line and come up short.

Getting back to our Sooners, that willingness to get hit is something that recently started coming to the surface.  The week leading up to the K-State game, quite a few people out there had written this team off.  Even though we were 8-2 and were coming off of a win against Iowa State, a few people were saying that we’d end up 8-4 and get a trip to the toilet bowl.  Next thing you know, we go to Manhattan and win, and then somehow find a way to beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater.  Right after Bell’s big pass to Saunders, there was under a minute to go, and something happened right there on that icy field in Stillwater that you don’t see very often.  Our team full of pups started believing.  Everything culminated in that moment for me when I witnessed Eric Striker and Charles Tapper take control of that game.  It wasn’t so much of what was happening during the plays as much as what they were doing between the plays.  Eric Striker was just losing his mind, and Tapper was being the guy that everyone knows that you just don’t mess with.  In that moment I realized that our team was going to be special.

So getting back to that earlier point I made about dog knows dog, I could see that dog in these guys.  I could see that Torrance Marshall Orange Bowl coin toss moment, that I haven’t seen in a long time.  I could see that Rocky Calmus attitude, that Dusty Dvoracek attitude, that Book Everage attitude. That unwritten notice that says that if you’re going to beat me…you’re going to have to beat me, because we ain’t givin you shhh.

One of the reasons we love Eric Striker so much is just because of that dirty south Florida attitude that he just exudes much like fellow Floridian Torrance Marshall.  Earlier in the week he was asked if Alabama was going to be the most physical team they’d played all year.  Just being himself he says “dunno…haven’t played em yet.”  That attitude is priceless.  His statement said so much in so few words.  Without being disrespectful he says without saying it that I don’t give a flip who you say you are, or who everyone else says you are, you’re going to have to fight me…You’re going to have to fight us.  That attitude is contagious, and it comes from the top down.  It’s more evident in Mike Stoops than any other coach we have, but Thursday night you could sense it from everyone.  Getting back to Striker, the guy goes out against Cyrus Kouandjio who before last night was considered the best left tackle and college football.  A lot of people had him penciled as a top five pick in the draft.  What does Striker do?  Comes out, dominates him and gets three sacks off of him.

There’s just an attitude that exudes from this team that we haven’t seen in a long time.  Guys were close to coming to blows with each other a few times during the game.  While you may think I’m crazy for liking that, there’s an accountability between teammates that you just can’t help but love.  Guys caring so much about doing things right that they were willing to kick their own teammates butt if they didn’t think they were focused enough.  Time after time after time last night whether it was Charles Tapper, Sterling Shepard, Jalen Saunders, Geneo Grissom, Gabe Lynn or Eric Striker, guys just weren’t backing down.  They were in Bama’s faces all night and each others.

The talking heads can say whatever they want about Bama being uninspired or having deficiencies, but leading up to this game, Bama had ROLLED through the SEC.  People were shocked that Auburn beat them, and there was even one writer who said that he would vote Bama #1 even after the BCS National Championship game and regardless of the outcome.  So to see our guys perform the way they did last night speaks volumes about just how focused and well they had prepared approaching the matchup.


  • connie usa

    Good stuff!!!!

  • jesse

    He’ll yeah!!!! Getting back to the old Oklahoma sooners that I love so deeply and have missed

  • Dave Villanueva

    Yes! The Sooners of old….. sometimes not pretty, but always nasty.

  • Kim L.

    Well said!

  • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

    thanks folks. Sorry we’ve been off the grid for a couple of days.

  • Danny Webb

    Great observations! These Sooners are looking more and lifelike the team’s I grew up with in the 70′s

  • blaster1371

    You want to see a difference between the Sugar Bowl Sooners and the in-season Sooners, go watch the Texass game again. The OU pups were intimidated and unsure. Especially watch how the Texass FB kept getting in The defenses faces and how the d-line kept getting up into the OU o-lines face. Torrence Marshall’s Orange Bowl coin toss should be shown at the beginning of every practice— priceless!

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Yeah that week was tough for us. Losing JPhillips and Nelson really hurt against TX and later Baylor. Dom and Wade were still feeling their way. It was crazy to see how much they improved as the year wore on.

  • ohiosoonerdevildog

    I loved this teams attitude towards the end of the year. Its no secret by my name I spent some time in the Marine Corps. Devildog was given to the Marines at the battle of Belleau Wood. Their fighting and attitude were so fierce the Germans thought they were released from the gates of hell. This team has that same mental make up. Yeah you might have “better” players and a better record, bit guess what? You have backed us into a corner and we are coming out swinging like you have never seen. I absolutelylove that mentality. You guys are right, it has been lacking for sometime now but it seems that fire is back.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Teufel Hunden

      • ohiosoonerdevildog

        Yes sir.

  • Darrell

    I rember Larry Cochell ,when he was asked what he looked for in the athletes he recruited.he said”head,heart,talent”.In that order.

    • Sooner Ray

      That can be said as SMART, DESIRE TO WIN, and WILLING TO LEARN. Those are traits that I would take over star ratings any day.

  • Shelby is a Patriot

    Exactly. After that Ok St win, there was just something special about this team and I had no doubt we could hang with Bama. I am more excited about this team than I have ever been going into a season, and I love our players attitudes and the recruits we are picking up.

  • godman

    Very good post! I, of course, especially like the reference in Proverbs which is sooo true as it is the single most difficult thing one might accomplish in his life, in self control or self discipline! There was a very good, albeit a secular book, I read some years ago entitled “Emotional Intelligence”. His scope of vision was limited but at least he was able to break down one of the most over looked , essential elements for success in any venue which he called emotional intelligence or the ability to control one’s emotions (self) in order to focus upon the prize to do what it takes to reach that goal. One example would be in an extremely gifted athlete who never reached his potential because he lacked self discipline and the ability to manage his emotions! This, by the way is one of the obvious benefits of being a believer in that the practice of faith is one in which a person must exercise control and self discipline in all things and to put all things in proper perspective.

    I know this is a sports themed site but…there are certain basics and fundamentals which apply to all things in life to include sports. : )

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDUvqXK4DEM DCinAZ

    As bad as it may have looked to others with untrained eyes when our players were barking at each other during the Sugar Bowl, I actually started clapping and cheering because I knew what I was seeing, and I knew we were going to win at that very moment during the game.

    Those guys weren’t discombobulated nor did they have personality conflicts on the field. They were beyond amped up (the dog), they cared, and they weren’t going to tolerate anybody not knowing where they’re supposed to be, after all of the game planning they went through. They were there to win, they were going to win, and there wasn’t going to be any weak links in the chain holding them back. That’s what I saw.

  • kt-raida

    Great article and I don’t think enough emphasis was put on the fact that in the Sugar Bowl the players are in their teammates face and it continued on the sideline. At that moment I knew or defense was back I knew Mike Stoops was back I LOVED that in them.

  • Sooner Ray

    Nice write up JY, Lite the gut fires and let the dogs bark! BOOMER!

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Kick the tires and light the fires!

  • blaster1371

    It needs to carry over. So far this team has a whole different vibe than the 2011 Sooners that seemed to be imploding. 2012 team began moving int the right direction. 2013 seemed like a whole new group of players and in many positions it was. I think enough teams have had down years recently that no one intimidates anyone anymore. I hate the word “swagger” as it sounds to much like some cake eater thinking he is hard. So leave swagger to the guys who think they’re bad. Give me the team that cares not for trophies, accolades or NFL careers but just waits impatiently for the next team to line up,across them.

    • ToatsMcGoats

      Damn. I just busted off a hundy in push ups because you got me so amped! Seriously, I feel the same way about this team. It’s nice to see that the “me-me” attitude is finally gone from the locker room and that guys are actually interested in slappin’ the taste outta the opponent’s mouth. Swagger can suck it. Leave it for the guys who think pretty uniforms are what’s most important (like my 10 yr. old sister in law who picks her teams because of how “pretty” their uni’s are). I was sick of it as soon as it started.

    • Sooner Ray

      Damn Blaster, got Toats grounding and pounding the floor and me banging my head on the fireplace sayin’ bring it on suckers!. HAHA! I don’t care if these kids call it swagger, attitude, or team spirit as long as they keep it up. I like what I saw at the end of the season and I like what I see in this recruiting class. If these kids can get the locker room atmosphere that some of the past kick a$$ teams have had, good times are comin’ my friends!

  • Jerry Reid

    Ok so I’m a truck driver and I check this site out everyday. For the past couple days I’ve been disappointed cause I haven’t seen many new blogs. Well I was out driving and my Facebook popped up and said you had this story up. I got so excited I had to find nearest truck stop so I could read it. Is that sad or am I just a big fan. None the less thanks for feeding my brain and making me late to the oil well site. Lol

    • Sooner Ray

      It’s always slow after season, you’re just a big fan like the rest of us so keep truckin’ and stay tuned for more!

      • Jerry Reid

        Ya I know man I was just playing around but ya loved this years dog defense and looking forward to what Bob and Mike have in store next season.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Sorry bout that man. K’s been travelling, so it’s hard to keep up with everything sometimes. We’re modifying stuff, so we shouldn’t have the hiccups moving forward.

      • Jerry Reid

        Cool, waiting on your trench warfare for Bama game JY.

        • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

          Got some things figured out, so I’ll be putting up the rest here pretty soon. Keep the rubber side down hoss.

  • CoachStauder

    It will be interesting if this past season’s seniors leave a legacy that the new leaders will continue to follow. It’s a lot harder to develop the toughness and attitude necessary to compete every saturday when there are higher expectations. Playing as a top 10 team and likely a favorite in every game this coming season will be a far different world than what these Sooners were in this season. We were a dog 4 times I believe and a 2 td+ dog in two of those games. Fortunately we won 3 of those 4. Will be interesting if our guys can stay as hungry as front runners. I believe they can, but it’s not a forgone conclusion as we saw in 2010.

    • Sooner Ray

      Yeah Coach, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the way some of our teams have played when they were clearly the favorite. These coaches or players seem to get an extra step when told they are dogs. I hope, as you, that they can have that hunger all season regardless the favor or dog prediction.

  • Cory Reedy

    Great Article JY. You hit the nail on the head. I live just north of Austin, TX and the only game I made it to this year was the Baylor game. A good friend of mine is a HUGE LSU fan and he wanted to experience an OU game as well, so him and his wife joined me and my wife for the game. We had NO life that night. NONE. My buddy kept bringing up the fact that there seemed to be no accountability….on the sidelines, on the field, nowhere. Like the Sooners didn’t even want to be in Waco (but the again, who could blame them). I was embarrassed and I knew we didn’t give Baylor our best punch. BUT, something must have happened after that game. Something must have clicked. Something must have been said in the locker room after that blowout loss. I have to admit, I was one of the fans thinking we would get beat by K-State and OSU after that showing.

  • Super Keith

    I’m glad I’m not alone in spotting the South Florida attitude. There isn’t anything else like it (that’s not a knock on any other are of our great country), and we’ve missed it for a while. Keep an eye on Ahmad Thomas, he has a similar attitude, and I think it’ll show up on the field soon. Love this team and the building blocks in place.

  • Won

    You had me @ Everage…. BOOMER!

  • AlexOU

    1st or 2nd Bama drive, Striker forced a scrambling McCarron out of bounds, little pull on shoulder on way out. PO’d McCarron & he came back & got in Stikers face. Striker smiled, as if to say I don’t care what u think, you’re gonna feel me today.
    McCarron was respectfully patting Striker on helmet by end of game, respectfully. This is a QB who has accomplished & seen everything.
    Showing respect speaks volumes about Striker. McCarron had an eye on him the rest of night, feeling pressure.

  • Waldo

    Wow. Didn’t expect my first post on this site to be about rap music, but I’m wondering if the title of this song is at all inspired by Digital Underground. While I’m at it, let me tell you that I love what you guys are doing. I’m not sure how you support the site, but I’d be happy to throw a bone to the “dogs” that make this happen.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Thanks! Had to go with a little George Clinton on the title!