You should remember Carl Pendleton, or at least I hope you do. He was a defensive tackle for the Sooners with loads of talent and potential but even more he possessed tremendous character. Over the course of his Sooner career he started 22 games (including the 2004 BCS Championship game) and played in a total of 38 career games. However, it was what he did off the field that will define his legacy as a Sooner. In 2007 Pendleton was named the Big 12's Male Sportsman of the Year after deciding that he would sacrifice his senior season to become the primary guardian of his then 11-year-old stepbrother, Kierstan.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Carl and talk specifically about the OU/Texas rivalry from the perspective of a man who starred in it.CC Machine: As a former defensive tackle can you analyze this defense and tell us why they're giving up so many yards?
CP: It is difficult to make a complete analysis from the outside looking in. So many people want to be critical when they are observing but all of the critics are not putting in the time or effort that the players are.
There are so many working elements are any given play to put blame on one particular area is difficult. At times the coverage is a bit out of place which results in a big gain through the air. This can also be the byproduct of a lack of pressure from the defensive front. I'm not being critical of the defense at all because I see one important element that exists with that team: EFFORT. As long as they are giving effort, the rest will be fixed by the coaches. Besides, they are 4-0 at this point.
CC Machine: How would you build a defensive game plan to take on the Longhorns this year?
CP: Personally this year I would focus primarily on taking their run game away. This year's Texas team does not have a quarterback threat that can beat them. I think if the defense puts the game in his hands, they'll win. Take away the run, Texas will lose.
CC Machine: How is the focus different the week before this game than the 11 other game weeks of the season?
CP: It is just different. There is so much to lose with that game and so much to gain. The Big XII championship (South) is almost always decided in that game. There are major recruiting implications, not to mention that fact that losing to Texas is much worse than a normal loss.
CC Machine: Talk about how unique the atmosphere is with the stadium being half and half and the state fair in the background. Do you pay attention to that at all as a player or is that just something for the fans?
CP: It's impossible to not notice. That game atmosphere is one of the best in the nation. A lot of it is for the fans, but the game is definitely for the players. A win over Texas sets a tone for the rest of the Big XII season. I've never played in a more electric game. I would even say that I enjoyed that game as a player more than bowl games.
CC Machine: Give us a few keys to a Sooner victory this Saturday.
* Offensively: Ball security, eliminate negative plays, and minimize mistakes.
* Defensively: Take away the run, make efficient tackles, and DO YOUR JOB, no one else's job.