The Art of Striking First

For the Sooners, the equation is really very simple.

Score first.

Since 2005, OU has got on the scoreboard before opponents 50 times, going 43-7 in those contests.

And three of those seven losses when scoring first occurred last year, in games against Brigham Young, Miami and Texas, all of which came down to pivotal plays in the fourth quarter.

Overall, the Sooners were 8-3 last year in those games.

In 2005, OU was 7-1.

A year later, the Sooners won all eight of which they scored first.

In 2007, OU was 6-2.

But perhaps the most remarkable of all in the past few years is the 2008 team, which scored first in all but one of its games--the National Championship Game against Florida was the only one where an opponent got on the board first--and went 12-1 in those.

So, it's certainly something that's been stressed in the locker room.

"Yeah, that's [critical]," said tight end Trent Ratterree. "I mean, it's really important...Yeah, that's something that you really want to do in every game."

Freshman wide receiver Kenny Stills has only participated in a couple of games but knows the importance of it as well.

"Yeah, you know, that's just coming out with a little bit of fire," Stills said.

It's something the Sooners have accomplished in each of their first two games against Utah State and Florida State.

In each contest, the visitors won the coin toss, deferring to the Sooners, who took their opening possession to the end zone.

Quarterback Landry Jones hit slot receiver Ryan Broyles for 12-yard touchdown to finish off a 6-play, 69-yard drive against USU in the opener.

And last game Jones came out firing, and running back DeMarco Murray capped off the game's first possession, a 14-play, 80-yard drive, with a 1-yard touchdown run.

So, it's definitely pivotal.

"You know, we feel like we always talk about if we have the ball first and score first that that's a good sign for us," Stills said. "And, you know, we can continue to roll on that. You never want to go out there and have a quick three-and-out, so, you know, it's just one of the things that always we continue to talk about in our offense, just going out there and scoring on our first drive and kind of setting the tone."

It's mainly about getting confidence offensively and putting doubt in a defense.

"In any football game, that first drive's one of the most important drives because you want to come out and, you know, break, you know, just break down the opponent," Ratterree said. "You want to come out, take it down the field and score and, you know, as quick or as [efficiently] as you can."

Odds are, if OU scores first against Air Force, the result will be similar.

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