Offense Shows Championship Will Power

NORMAN, Okla. — Championship teams do what the OU offense was able to accomplish last weekend at Florida State: after struggling for most of the second and third quarter, they kicked it into another gear and delivered the killer blow down the stretch.

FSU punched them in the mouth with a 56-yard touchdown to tie it at 13 with 9:32 remaining.

But that's when quarterback Landry Jones and the Sooner offense responded.

Facing a third-and-12, Jones found sick slot receiver Ryan Broyles, who had been battling bug all day, for a pivotal conversion.

One play later, Jones connected with wide receiver Kenny Stills for the 37-yard go-ahead touchdown.

The defense came up with a pick, setting the stage for perhaps the more impressive drive.

With the Seminoles well-aware that OU would run the ball up a touchdown with just 5:34 to go, the Sooners were still able to accomplish their goal: run it down FSU's throat, effectively killing the clock and getting them in field goal range to ice the game.

In fact, co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel called seven consecutive rushes by running back Dominique Whaley, and OU pushed the ball from the FSU 46 to the 14, milking 3:29 off the clock and setting up place kicker Jimmy Stevens' 31-yard field goal to make it 23-13.

A situation like that all starts with the will power of the offensive line, and they got the job done.

"Yeah, they played with a lot of attitude on that drive for sure," Jones said. "They played a lot of toughness, and that's what we need to close out games like that. Last year we struggled in that situation a little bit, but this year we definitely have toughened up, and that offensive line unit is definitely playing a lot better and playing as a unit and those guys really did a good job in run scheme all night long."

The "championship" drives are something running back Brennan Clay, who had a pair of rushes on the previous drive, including a first down, said the Sooners just couldn't come through with in 2010.

"Oh, it was big," Clay said. "Last year we couldn't do that. We noticed that with the A&M and the Missouri game. We couldn't finish in the fourth quarter. And that killed us.

So, being able to do that was a good, you know, momentum push for us and it shows us that we can actually do it if we put our minds to it and we execute the way we're supposed to. And it shows us what we can really do on the field and being able to finish a drive like that, you know, my hat's off to the O-line. They were grinding it out."

Habern agreed with Clay, adding that it was a drive a true No. 1 team comes up with.

"Yeah, I really think so," Habern said. "I mean, it's just where the offense has to answer back and know that that last drive that we had we ran the ball and got those first downs and ran down the clock, was huge. I don't think we could have done that last year."

Still, centers/guards coach James Patton critiqued it.

"Yeah, should have finished with a touchdown and Jimmy did a nice job kicking a field goal and getting three," Patton said. "But, you know, we had a couple chances to split and we got to do a little bit better there. But it was again, a great environment like that and five minutes to go, whatever it was, 5:30. They had no timeouts. We had to run it. They knew we had to run it. The guys did a good job executing it, so I'm proud of them that way...

Nevertheless, it's a challenge that the offense accepted as the No. 1 team in the nation and followed through with successfully.

"Yeah, it's huge," Habern said. "I mean, down the stretch, fourth quarter, it's a tie ball game and to answer back like that with the big time catch, big time pass by Landry was huge. And then to close the game out with a field goal and, you know, go up by two possessions was big time for us."

So, what was different this time around than the last time OU was No. 1 in a hostile atmosphere in Columbia, Mo., last year?

"The sidelines were a lot better," Jones said. "People were focused in. And I think just having more confidence in this fourth quarter than we did at Missouri. At Missouri we were kind of questioning ourselves, not really knowing how to play in that situation, kind of speeding it up and just not taking a breath and being confident that we could actually pull this off."

This time, the Sooner offense is confident and has the will power to get the job done.

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