QB White’s efforts cover dreaded jinx

Sunday, October 19, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:47 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

NORMAN, Okla. – It seems nothing can stop Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. The fabled Sports Illustrated cover jinx didn’t faze him.

White continued to make his case for the Heisman Trophy in the No. 1 Sooners’ 34-13 victory against No. 24 Missouri on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

He threw for 278 yards on 20-of-34 passing. And this was an off-game for White.

“I knew he was a great quarterback,” Missouri defensive back Shirdonya Mitchell said. “He’s not up for the Heisman for nothing. He stepped back in the pocket, read the defense and hit his open receivers. He just made plays for his team.”

White didn’t waste any time getting started. He threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, thwarting Missouri’s attempt to stay in the game. The biggest blow came after Missouri went three-and-out with the score tied at 10. On the first play of Oklahoma’s next possession, White laid a pass between receiver Mark Clayton and Missouri free safety Nino Williams II. Clayton came down with it for a 39-yard touchdown, and everything started to unravel for Missouri.

White’s pass wasn’t perfect, but he put it where Clayton could catch it, and Clayton did the rest.

“He’s caught just about everything that has been thrown to him,” White said. “Sometimes the ball isn’t perfect and he comes up with the grab.”

On Oklahoma’s first possession, White completed 3-of-4 passes for 39 yards, helping the Sooners score on their first possession – a feat they have done in all seven games.

White wasn’t perfect, throwing a few ill-advised passes that were nearly intercepted, but he was close enough. Every time the Tigers tried to cheat up to defend against Oklahoma’s potent running game, White burned them.

The Oklahoma receivers helped White’s cause, too. His favorite target, Clayton, caught eight passes for 110 yards, including the touchdown on which he outjumped Williams, and several highlight-reel grabs in traffic.

Oklahoma receiver Jejuan Rankins helped pad White’s stats, making four Missouri defenders miss on a 30-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-6. Rankins caught the ball over the middle and cut back across the field, juking and outrunning the Tigers defense down the left sideline.

Even in the midst of another Sooners win, one of the biggest cheers from the record crowd of 83,327 came when a video montage of some of White’s best touchdown passes was played on the stadium big-screen followed by a picture of the Heisman Trophy.

“He’s real good,” Williams said. “He threw into coverage a couple of times, but besides that. … He’s good at looking you off, and he’s a Heisman candidate for a reason.”

Mitchell said Oklahoma’s offense is the best he has seen, and White is the ringleader.

“They’ve got a real good offensive team,” Mitchell said. “They spread you out and hit you with those little pitches and slants. They did a good job, and I give them credit.”

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