Lowly Jayhawks up next for Sooners after Texas defeat
Oklahoma must forget about the loss to Texas and take another road trip to Kansas, a team that is playing better than expected.
“They’re a team that played a heck of a game just last week at TCU,” said OU coach Bob Stoops. “It was a very tight game. Their defense forced five turnovers. We continue just to try and improve. That’s what we’re going to do all week is try to correct some of the mistakes we feel we could have been better at last week.”
Kansas is 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12 with losses to Texas Tech and TCU. The Horned Frogs beat the Jayhawks 27-17 Saturday in Fort Worth. In 2012, the Sooners beat Kansas 52-7 in Norman.
Last week, Texas won the battle of “third downs.”
“Offensively, we were poor on third downs,” Stoops said. “A lot of it because we have too many long-yardage third downs, and defensively where we’ve been really good on third downs, they executed their third downs in a better way than we defended.”
Would the poor performance in the passing game by quarterback Blake Bell prompt a switch back to Trevor Knight (who was the starter until he got injured) or sophomore Kendal Thompson?
“We’ll see, but that’s not something we’re looking to do,” Stoops said.
The Sooners actually averaged 5.8 yards per rush against Texas if you take away the Bell’s sacks.
“The running backs did really well, so that part of our game was solid,” Stoops said. “The passing game was really poor. We didn’t get open or complete. We dropped our first third down for a touchdown. It wasn’t precise enough. You’ve got to be able to make those kinds of plays. We overthrew it at times, and sometimes they defended better and we weren’t able to get open. All of it together wasn’t good enough. The turnovers, especially the one for the touchdown was crucial.
“Defensively, we allowed them to rush the ball 60 times. When you’re playing from a lead, like we have done in the past, they were able to continuously rush it and hand the ball off 60 times.
“For the most part, the difference in the game was two big pass plays. There was a third-and-long pass play that we were close to getting to them and he throws a great ball on the wheel route, and they got us on another pass later in the game just off a double move on the corner. Those were the big issues in the game.
“We’ve been solid on special teams and then we give up. They did a good job making us miss them and they made an 85-yard touchdown. That return was poor on our part because we had guys in position to make the play. They made the plays we didn’t.”
Stoops thinks Bell is capable of hitting long passes to loosen up defenses.
“We haven’t had a lot of success with it,” Stoops said. “Whether it’s with guys getting open or overthrowing it, but it’s something we have to continue to work at. I believe that Blake (Bell) throws a good deep ball. We’ve got to get more of them out there and hopefully find more space with them.”
Bell is a good runner but he is more of a power runner than an elusive speed back.
“Blake is different than the other guys,” Stoops said. “The other guys are faster, quicker and can avoid things and operate better. In the end is it fair to say we need a little more? Probably. But how much more is probably not as much as Trevor (Knight) or Kendal (Thompson) because of their different running abilities.”
Bell seemed nervous in the pocket against the Longhorns.
“It’s a little of everything,” Stoops said of Bell’s problems. “…at times he’s holding the ball too long which leads to sacks. Another time or two on the blitz, our receiver wasn’t ready for the hot read. A guy comes and Blake (Bell) knows he’s hot and the receiver isn’t ready. Precision like that, it’s just one guy or another. Another time we got beat in the guard decision on a pass rush right off the bat, so the protection did break down in that case. It’s one thing or another and it adds up.”
An inability to throw deep allows the defense to tighten up on the run.
True freshman running back Keith Ford got some opportunities against Texas.
“We need to keep trying to get Keith (Ford) more snaps,” Stoops said. “He’s a really good football player. The caution for us is that he fumbled. Luckily, he was close to out of bounds and the ball got out, but he’s got to show that he’s going to take care of the football.”
Another problem against Texas was injuries. Both starting linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips will have season-ending surgery.
“Jordan Phillips has had a chronic back issue,” Stoops said. “It isn’t one specific injury; it’s just been something that’s bothered him for the last couple of years that just isn’t improving like they want it to.”
Dominque Alexander filled in for Nelson and had 19 tackles against Texas.
“He’s a young guy in there that’s really doing well,” Stoop said. “Early on he was out of position on a third down, and on an early run a time or two, but he’s going to keep getting better. Frank (Shannon) is the same way. They’re playing really hard and doing well. A time or two they missed where the needed to be. They got a little wide on a blocking scheme and need to stay a little tighter, but those are some things we’ve got to keep getting better at.”
With the national championship out of the picture, the Sooners’ focus will be on the Big 12 race.
“I’ve talked to our guys about playing this week against Kansas,” Stoops said. “Everybody wants to project the end of year and we’ve been doing it for the last couple of weeks and you can’t do it. All we can do is be as prepared as we can be and as good as we can be for Kansas and that’s it. And then take it the following week.”
A lot of teams were upset Saturday, including OU, Stanford, Georgia and Michigan.
“For everybody across the country, it’s a tough year,” Stoops said. “As you go through all these games and you see that there’s so much parity around it, you see people win and lose. Anyone can beat you, you can beat about anybody, and it’s always that way.”
Against Texas, the Sooners converted just two of 13 third-down attempts while Texas was 13-of-20 on third-down conversions.
The 147 yards of penalties racked up by Oklahoma was its sixth highest total ever and most ever against Texas. The previous high versus Texas was 13 penalties for 127 yards in a 63-14 win in 2000. OU had three players with 10 or more tackles for the first time since a 27-24 win vs. Air Force in 2010.