Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com: “Why is Adrian Peterson more effective in the second half?”

Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com: “Why is Adrian Peterson more effective in the second half?”

In the first half this season, Peterson has rushed for 164 yards. In the second half, he has run for 351, or 68 percent of his total of 515 yards.
It’s a pattern that he has established over the course of his two-plus seasons with the Sooners. In the first half, he has rushed for 1,322 yards. In the second half, he has rushed for 2,226 yards, or 62.7 percent of his total of 3,548 yards.

The longer the game goes, the longer Peterson goes. The Oklahoma junior tailback’s numbers are startling.

Adrian Peterson has gained 68 percent of his yards this season after halftime.

It’s especially remarkable given that Oklahoma has won six games in Peterson’s career by at least 24 points, which means less time for him in the fourth quarter.

The reason, Oklahoma center Jon Cooper said, is simple.

“He’s in better shape than everybody else,” Cooper said. “When other guys are tired, he’s still going 110 percent.”

Peterson is 6-foot-2, 218 pounds and runs a sub-4.4 40. His motor can go a long time between oil changes. It’s funny, isn’t it, how the most talented guys are also the hardest workers. Cooper said that when he gets in his stance and looks across the line, he sees the results of Peterson’s labors.

“The defensive linemen and the linebackers look at him standing straight up,” Cooper said. “Those guys are breathing hard and sweaty. They don’t look like they want any part of him. He’s going hard all the time. He’s the same way in practice. It can be the last play in practice. He’s finishing in the end zone.”

The offensive linemen and receivers see Peterson work hard and they work hard. It may be subliminal. It may be contagious. It may simply be learning by repetition, over and over.

“Watching him break tackles and do stuff nobody else can do, you think, ‘If I block my guy a little more, he [Peterson] is going to take a regular zone play the distance,'” Cooper said. “Coach [Kevin] Wilson [the Sooners’ offensive coordinator] said it’s like breaking rock with a hammer. You’re not going to break it with the first strike. Anybody can tackle him once. By the last time, there’s no way. He’s going to break them down.”