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September 13, 2005NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he'll decide later this week whether suspended tailback Adrian Peterson will start Saturday against UCLA.
"We'll see. At this point, we anticipate him playing," Stoops said Tuesday. "Start or not depends on how we feel practice is going, what we feel we need to do. Depending on what further happens from here, we'll see."
Peterson, who rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns in Oklahoma's 31-15 win against Tulsa on Saturday, was suspended from practice on Monday and Tuesday after missing classes. He was allowed to participate in team meetings and other activities, but is not allowed to speak to reporters.
"In the end, they're here to go to school, and it should be our job as administrators or as coaches that if they're not, we can't put you on the field," Stoops said.
No. 21 Oklahoma announced the suspension in a statement sent to a limited number of news organizations following the Sooners' closed practice Monday night.
"I probably shouldn't have said (Monday), but everyone finds out anyway," Stoops said. ".... In fairness to him, it probably doesn't need to be me coming out and saying that. In the end, that's the situation, and it's better than all the rumors being around about it."
Peterson's suspension came nine days after the team's starting quarterback, 20-year-old Rhett Bomar, was cited for possession of alcohol by a minor.
"We're doing things discipline-wise, and everything else like we always have," Stoops said. "That doesn't mean it's right or good, and it's fair to criticize me because some teams accept it better than others and listen or are disciplined better than others."
Senior tailback Kejuan Jones, who was Oklahoma's starter before Peterson took over and has since become the backup, said he spoke with Peterson about missing class.
"That's just one of those deals. That kind of happens to everybody," Jones said. "He knows we're going to need him. He's going to play this week. I just told him to keep his head up and stay in the film room still."
After the win against Tulsa, Peterson said he was trying to become one of the team's leaders. He set an NCAA freshman record with 1,925 rushing yards and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, but that team had numerous seniors.
When asked whether Peterson had been becoming a leader, Stoops' reaction was mixed.
"He has been in the way we work. I'm going to tell you there is not a guy who goes at it harder in the weight room in the summer and on the field. You watch him, the way he plays determined," Stoops said.
"But there are other parts of what we do here as college students and on a college team that also need to be fulfilled."For more coverage of the Oklahoma Sooners, check out SoonerScoop.com.
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