Thursday, October 11, 2012
Oklahoma offense finding its stride
By David Ubben
Oklahoma needed a late touchdown run in Week 1 just to manage 24 points against a UTEP team that has since given up fewer points just once.
Two weeks later, the Sooners managed just 19 points at home against Kansas State, and were held without a touchdown in the first half for the first time since 2005.
Oklahoma's offense had seen better days. Then Saturday arrived, and Texas Tech awaited in Lubbock. The Sooners' defense helped win the field position battle and Landry Jones & Co. needed just 380 total yards to score 41 points, and all 41 were on the board by the end of the third quarter.
"Just overall, I think we did get in a better rhythm," coach Bob Stoops said. "We were more consistent, those kinds of things, but hey, what I keep telling everybody, we’re a little behind in that that was only our fourth game. We’ve had two off weeks in these first five weeks, so it’s been, we’re still a work in progress."
Will Oklahoma's passing game suffer in 2013 without receiver Kenny Stills in the lineup?
The Sooners played Texas Tech after having bye weeks in two of three weeks before playing Tech. That game against the Red Raiders was the first of nine games in nine weeks to close the season.
"I just felt like we were really back on the right page," receiver Kenny Stills said. "We had to get the train turned around and get going in the right direction, and I felt like Saturday just helped us show what we’re capable of, and it was by no means perfect, so we’re excited to get out there again and show what we can do."
The Sooners picked a good time to start looking like their old selves -- a team that finished fifth in total offense a year ago, and 10th with Jones at the helm in 2010's Big 12 championship season. The Sooners face Texas this week in Dallas in the Red River Rivalry.
"I just feel like all of us were on the same page. We had been struggling the past few weeks because maybe somebody didn’t pick up a protection or Landry didn’t get through all of his reads or we weren’t running the right routes," Stills said. "Finally, I felt like we were all clicking, we were all running on the same cylinders and it helped us look good and produce, offensively and defensively."
Stoops has a fair point entering last week, even though his offense underachieved through the season's first month. Oklahoma was the only team in the Big 12 that had played only three games through five weeks, and was one of only a handful of teams across the country to be off the field on two of the first five weekends of the season.
"In the end, I think just being on the field and continuing to play helps. I would like to think we’ll grow from it, continue to improve as you go through the year, and you need time on the field to do that," Stoops said. "Hopefully we can build on it."
After his slow start, Jones was passed up by most of the other Big 12 quarterbacks in passer rating. A frustrating loss at Kansas State left some (nonsensically) wondering if it was time to give Blake Bell a chance. Bell scored a pair of touchdowns in the Belldozer formation against Texas Tech after giving up a costly fumble in the loss to K-State, but there's no question about the direction of Oklahoma's offense by the men who run it.
"[Jones] knows the team has confidence in him. He knows the coaching staff has confidence in him," Stills said. "We’re not too worried about it, but we’ve got his back and we’ve had his back as much as we can and let him know that we love him and we’ve got a lot of faith in him."