Monday, October 24, 2011
Sooners making changes after upset loss
By David Ubben
Oklahoma prepared for Texas Tech all week as four-touchdown favorites while its rival up north, Oklahoma State, listened to critics place it on upset alert all week heading into a road matchup against Missouri.
The Sooners, you might have heard by now, lost. Oklahoma State won by three touchdowns.
Oklahoma decided to limit its media access following the loss to just one post-practice opportunity instead of the usual three. The move is reminiscent of late last season when the Sooners closed their season with two mammoth road games against Baylor and Oklahoma State and trimmed media access to a few select players.
Did Oklahoma let the confidence of others outside the locker room get in its head? Who knows? But Texas coach Mack Brown, not speaking specifically about the Sooners, says it wouldn't be the first time that's happened to a team.
Brown's wife, Sally, likes to tell him she knows nothing about football, but she's learned at least one thing over the years.
"She says about the time someone says, 'That absolutely cannot happen,' is when it happens," Brown told reporters during the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. "Kids sit around all week and listen to the fans. They listen to the media, and when people are talking about the other team not having a chance to win -- or you start talking about a game down the road instead of the one that week -- it is a very, very dangerous thing. That's why coaches get so paranoid about games each week. All of us have been in one of those, and when you've been in one, that's enough. That'll keep your attention for the rest of them."
Oklahoma experienced that disappointment on Saturday. Oklahoma State didn't, but Mike Gundy knows a similar performance from his team could produce a similar result.
"You try to do everything you can as a coach to stress the importance of trying to play at a high level every week," Gundy said. "The example that I've used is that we're in March Madness from Sept. 1 in college football. There are not many opportunities to slip and continue to have a chance to be there at the end of the season."
Oklahoma State is one of just eight remaining undefeated teams left, including two in the Big 12. It's the highest-ranked Big 12 team, five spots above fellow undefeated Kansas State, which hosts Oklahoma this week. The challenge ahead of the Cowboys is clear: avoid the fate Oklahoma fell victim to against Texas Tech.
"We think as a coaching staff that the greatest challenge we have now is to get them to play at a high level 12 weeks in a row," Gundy said.