In 2009, through 11 games, OU's offense racked up 57 penalties for 477 yards.
Flip forward to 2010: OU has been flagged only 34 times on offense for 232 yards.
That change for the better in less laundry on the field has been a major reason why the Sooners have amassed 5,173 yards of total offense thus far compared to 4,666 at this point last year.
To break it down further, that means OU is averaging 470.27 yards per game through its first 11 compared to 424.18 for that many games during the 2009 campaign.
"In particular, a year ago, you know, we were horrible," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "Penalties stopped I can't tell you how many drives and put us in the hole."
It was already a depleted offensive lineup as it was.
"Especially when you're shorthanded injury-wise and then young and inexperienced, and then, you know, you're adding 15 yards extra or, you know, holding, minus 10 or procedure, minus five," Stoops said. "You start adding all the extra yardage. You're not able to overcome it."
This time around, that clearly hasn't been the case.
"I think a lot of it [improving in that department] this year has been experience," Stoops said.
Most of the problems OU has had from time to time, whether it be red zone struggles or turnovers or just not converting on pivotal downs, have not been attributable to getting behind the chains.
"Yeah, well Coach has talked about how all the time," said OU slot receiver Ryan Broyles. "We're basically leading the league in turnovers and leading the league in the least amount of penalties, so cleaning up our game, we felt like we have the athletes to go out there and prepare and play hard, but you can't limit yourself to distractions and penalties, things like that."
Running back A HREF=//oklahoma.scout.com/a.z?s=146&p=8&c=1&nid=4837546>DeMarco Murray seconded those thoughts, stressing how vastly penalties change offensive schemes.
"It's very important [to avoid being penalized]," Murray said. "Just, you know, I think Coach Wilson can't be as aggressive as he wants if we, you know, jump offsides and get a holding call or something like that, and it's just negative plays. It's kind of like a bust for us and something that just doesn't help us out."
Clearly, there's been a focus of emphasis on that.
And if the Sooners keep it that way, they'll have a great chance to steal one on the road from the No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys when the two square off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.