NEW ORLEANS – Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made the first statement that raised eyebrows the night the AllState Sugar Bowl was announced.
In talking about the matchup against third-ranked Alabama, Stoops didn’t mince his words and said flat out he believes Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron is the best player in the nation. Asked about it again, and he didn’t back down.
OU co-offensive coordinator gave his own version of that comment Monday morning when talking about another top Crimson Tide player, linebacker C.J. Mosley, the winner of the Butkus Award as nation’s top linebacker.
“He’s a fabulous, fabulous player,” Norvell said. “I had a chance to coach in the NFL and played against Ray Lewis, and he’s similar in his ability to communicate. His sense, his football senses, the way he sees the field and gets everybody lined up.”
If McCarron is the heart of the Alabama offense, then the same can be said about Mosley with the Tide’s defense.
After electing to come back for his senior season when some thought he would look toward the NFL, Mosley has left an indelible mark on the program with another outstanding season.
Mosley is far and away the team’s leading tackler with 102 stops, 41 more than the next closest player. He leads the team with nine tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits.
“He’s probably one of the most explosive guys we’ve seen on tape, very talented, always in the right spot and very physical,” senior center Gabe Ikard said. “He’s going to be a first-round guy so he’s one of those players where you always have to know where he’s at, and you’ve got to account for him. You have to match his physicality because he’s an extremely physical player.”
The goal, obviously, for Mosley was to come back and help Alabama win its third consecutive BCS national championship. One bizarre, legendary final play against Auburn kept that from happening.
The question is whether or not that will affect the way the Tide played Thursday night. Alabama had a major letdown against Utah in the Sugar Bowl in the past.
It’s tough to bounce back, but it’s necessary. Mosley won’t get a chance for a third ring in a row, but he doesn’t plan on going out with back-to-back losses, either.
“I guess it’s a good thing that I haven’t really thought about it,” said Mosley about it being his final game. “I’ve been going out like I have been all year so I just want to finish strong. For us seniors, we just want to finish strong. We’ve had a great run and left a great legacy here so it would be a shame if we didn’t finish it off winning a game like this in the Sugar Bowl.”