Antonio Perkins has had to endure a season on the sidelines ever since he went down with a severe knee sprain suffered late in the Red River Shootout. Perkins absence was felt in games against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. But since his return, the Sooner defense has given up very few busted plays in the secondary. Perkins sat down and spoke with members of the media this week about playing in another Big 12 Championship game, redemption and a chance to chase the punt return record now that he’s healthy.
Q: Who would you vote for in the Heisman race between White and Peterson?
Antonio Perkins: I feel like both players are worthy. Both players are great players. Adrian has come in and done a lot of things people thought he wasn’t going to do. Jason, it’s hard to out-vote him. He bounced back from all those injuries and had two great seasons back to back. I don’t know who to vote for. I don’t know who to tell you guys to vote for. Both are worthy but as long as it’s an Oklahoma player, I’d be fine with it.
Q: How much would a Big 12 Championship win mean to you after last season?
Perkins: It’s all we thought about during the offseason. When the workouts got tough we had motivation because we did all the working out last summer and we didn’t have any rings to show for our work. It’s pretty bad. We want it pretty bad. We just want to get out there and compete.
Q: Do you take a different mindset into the game this time around knowing how it turned out last year?
Perkins: Yeah. We’ve got to get out there from the jump. Last year the band kind of pushed us off the field when we were still warming up and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the day. The team did us the same.
Q: So what happens if the band comes out on the field this year?
Perkins: I’m just gonna have to run through them this time. They’ll have to get out the way.
Q: After what happened to Colorado in the offseason and the way they started out this year, are you surprised to see them here?
Perkins: I’m not surprised. I thought it would be Colorado or Kansas State, one of those two. I knew one of those would be a great team in the end. In the north they seem to start off bad and then finish good. That’s always been the case with Colorado. They always had a strong finish. We’re trying to finish strong too.
Q: Are they dangerous because they come into this game with nothing to lose?
Perkins: We have nothing to lose to so you really can’t say that. Both teams are coming in here like they have nothing to lose. We’re both 0-0 and fighting for a BCS bid. Colorado has always been a team that competes well with us. Throughout the years we’ve always had tough games with them.
Q: What are your impressions of their offense?
Perkins: Their offense is pretty tough. They have physical lineman, they have a great running back and great receivers and a quarterback that’s capable of making big plays happen any time.
Q: What do you remember about the Colorado game last year?
Perkins: It came down to a fourth quarter play for us. That tells you what type of game it’s going to be this year. They’re going to come out and they know they had a chance to win that game last year. We took advantage so we expect them to come out fired up and trying to take it away from us this year.
Q: You weren’t a part of the OSU or Texas A&M games. But it seems like the defense can’t really live down some of the things that happened in those games. Do you think a good effort against a name team like Colorado would change some minds about how good this defense really is?
Perkins: We really don’t care whether we play a running game or passing team. We feel like our defense is gelling now. We feel like we’re going to have a great performance Saturday. We’re prepared well and we’re ready to go.
Q: Are you 100 percent healthy?
Perkins: We’ll find out Saturday.
Q: How do you feel?
Perkins: I feel great. I feel really good actually.
Q: Getting back the punt return duties, that would seem to signal you are pretty close to being back to full strength doesn’t it?
Perkins: Yeah. I feel good. I played last week and I had the brace on me. I got a return then and I felt great last week. I feel like I look kind of wimpy out there with all that tape on my knee and those braces on my knee. I’m trying to without that and trying to have fun this week.
Q: What kind of progress do you think Marcus Walker has made at the other corner and what type of player do you think he’s going to be?
Perkins: Coming into the summer I worked out with him a lot and tried to teach him everything I knew. I knew he was going to be a great player during his career here but I didn’t know he would be playing like this so early. I thought he would redshirt this year and have a stellar career from then on. But he’s having a great season and I’m kind of glad he had the opportunity to play.
Q: Do you feel like a mentor to him?
Perkins: Yeah, he comes and looks to me for all the answers. I don’t have all the answers. I know some things, but I don’t know it all.
Q: When you were sitting out you didn’t have a chance to break the NCAA record for punt returns. That had to be kind of tough wasn’t it? What would that mean to get a punt return for a touchdown in the Big 12 Championship game and break the record at the same time?
Perkins: I always want a chance in a championship game. It’s a great honor to share with Wes Welker. I’m from Oklahoma, he’s from Oklahoma and that’s a great accomplishment for both of us. If I break it, I break it and if not, life goes on.
Q: Is that one of the harder things being hurt though because that record has just been sitting there and you haven’t had your shot to go after it?
Perkins: I wasn’t really thinking about that. I was itching to get back so I could play defense. I wasn’t really worried about punt returns. Mark Clayton was doing a great job and I tried to sit myself out as long as I could and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Q: Do you feel like it was an advantage having an extra week off?
Perkins: I think it is a little bit. But we still didn’t know who our opponent was so the advantage was probably equalized a little bit.