Oklahoma Sooners: Inside Slant (Oct. 31)

The Sooners defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 58-17 over the weekend, and here's more on that.

INSIDE SLANT

Perhaps the Sooners simply had an attitude this time

Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops is a bottom line guy.

At least verbally, he espouses football to be about winning, losing, executing, being in the right position and making plays. For him, at least out loud, it is not about being in the right frame of mind.

Or, allowing that, it is not about being the wrong frame of mind.

So when Stoops was asked if his team had a better attitude following its 58-17 victory over ninth-ranked Kansas State on Saturday, his discomfort with the question was clear.

Finally, he said, almost in exasperation, "We played better."

Well, his team certainly did, but others acknowledged it was because they brought a better attitude into the game. It paid off when Kansas State ran off 17 consecutive points to take a brief 17-14 second-quarter lead.

Sooner quarterback Landry Jones was asked what was different about the players' mindsets when adversity struck against the Wildcats vs. the previous week against Texas Tech.

"It felt differently before the game," he said. "I think we were more focused, more ready to play."

Even if defensive coordinator Brent Venables didn't talk about the Texas Tech loss directly, he certainly implied it with his postage comments.

"The psyche is so undervalued," he said. "And I think we came out with a sense of desperation."

When asked to explain that, he became more clear.

"You have to stay on edge," Venables said. "You have to respect your opponent. There's no way in heck Oklahoma's just going to show up and win."

But this time, apparently, the Sooners had taken stock in all parts of their preparation. So when they got things ironed out in the third quarter, it was an amazing display.

Oklahoma's first 22 snaps of the second half accounted for 332 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns from five players: Ryan Broyles, Jaz Reynolds, Roy Finch, Trent Ratterree and Trey Millard.

The Sooners are holding onto hope they can get back in the national title race. That would have been a lot easier had USC managed to beat Stanford late Saturday night.

Still, Oklahoma believes it can happen, even though three of its last four games are at Baylor, at home against Texas A&M and at Oklahoma State. And the other one, Iowa State, just crushed Texas Tech in Lubbock.

It should be fun to watch.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Sooner Nation went from exultant to mourning Sunday, when it was learned Bob Barry Sr., the longtime voice of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football had died. Barry first called Sooner football during the end of Bud Wilkinson's reign, his first game the 1961 season opener at Notre Dame. Before that, Barry was calling Norman High School football and basketball. In the early 1970s, when the rights for Sooner football changed, Barry became the voice of Oklahoma State football and basketball. He returned to call Sooner football and basketball in the 1990s. Last season was his last, marking 50 years in the booth of calling the two flagship schools in Oklahoma. The unchallenged nicest guy among the state's sports media contingent, he will be missed.

--The Sooners proved once again how dominant their offense can be against Kansas State, rolling up more than 600 total yards for the fourth time this season, finishing with 690. The Sooners also passed the mark against Tulsa, Ball State and Kansas, in addition to logging 592 yards against Missouri. Oklahoma entered the Kansas State game No. 4 in the nation in passing offense (379 yards per game), No. 4 in total offense (545.6 yards) and No. 7 (44.3 points) in scoring offense. All of those numbers were bettered against the Wildcats, with Oklahoma registering 520 passing yards, 690 total yards and 58 points.

--The Sooners moved to 71-14-4 all-time against Kansas State, and have won five straight games against the Wildcats, with Kansas State's last victory coming in the 2003 Big 12 championship game. That game was part of the last time Oklahoma lost back-to-back, following the conference title game loss with a defeat to LSU at the Sugar Bowl, that season's national championship game. Many feared this season's trip to Manhattan would mark two straight losses for the Sooners for the first time since.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Roy Finch became the Sooners' feature back against Kansas State after Dominique Whaley was injured on the first play of the game, a 12-yard run from Finch. Finch carried nine times for 73 yards, one of them a 31-yard run that featured breathtaking acceleration. Finch had his own injury problems during his freshman season, last year, but it would appear Oklahoma will need still more out of him going forward.

LOOKING GOOD: QB Landry Jones threw two first-half interceptions against Kansas State, but that didn't keep him from finishing a day for the ages. Against the Wildcats, he completed 35-of-47 passes for a program record 505 yards and five touchdowns. Jones already held the career completions and yardage records, but now also holds the career touchdown mark with 90, having passed Sam Bradford's 88. He's had at least three touchdown throws in six straight games.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Oklahoma kickoff unit. The Sooners' first kick went out of bounds, giving Kansas State the ball at the 40. Another was returned well past midfield, allowing Kansas State to kick a 55-yard field goal after going nowhere following the return. Further, into the wind Saturday, the Sooners were electing to kick very short in the hopes of making the return more difficult, which hardly seems like the way to go for a coaching staff with confidence in the unit. It would appear, though, that there is little confidence in the unit.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We played better today. Whether it has to do with attitude or not, it does not matter much to me. We just need to play like that every week. Last week is last week. (Texas Tech) outplayed us and out-coached us. I said that all last week. So that is in the past. Next week is a whole new deal for everybody. Every week is tough because we are going to play tough teams. We played a different team this week, and we will play a different team next week. I am just worried about winning next week." -- Coach Bob Stoops.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL


PLAYER NOTES:

--RB Dominique Whaley is believed to have broken his ankle on the first play of the Kansas State game. Coach Bob Stoops said he expected Whaley to undergo surgery very soon and that his first Sooner season, Whaley's junior season, is over. Whaley wasn't even carrying the ball on the play he was hurt. Instead he was trying to block for RB Roy Finch when his ankle was rolled over from behind. The injury puts one of the best stories in college football on hold. Whaley is a walk-on at Oklahoma, but had become the team's leading running back, carrying for 627 yards in the first six games of the season.
--WR Ryan Broyles finished the Kansas State game with 14 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown, pushing his career receiving yardage to 4,499, setting the Big 12 career receiving yardage mark along the way. Broyles, who already holds the FBS career mark for receptions, a number he's pushed to 347, is chasing the career yardage mark of Nevada's Trevor Insley, who caught passes for 5,005 yards from 1996-99. He is 508 yards behind with five games remaining.
--K Michael Hunnicutt, who missed two field goals in the Texas Tech loss, made his only try against Kansas State. He had wind behind him and likely needed it, but that still couldn't take away from his converting from 53 yards, the longest field goal by a Sooner since Garrett Hartley struck from 53 yards against Utah State in 2007. The kick was the 22nd field goal in Sooner history longer than 50 yards, but a career long for Hunnicutt, whose previous long was 44 yards.

ROSTER REPORT


--CB Jamell Fleming was a question mark heading into the Kansas State game, but after practicing Thursday and Friday, it appeared he would play. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said he was surprised that Fleming, who underwent minor arthroscopic knee surgery the Friday before the Texas Tech game, was not able to play. Venables adjusted by moving Aaron Colvin from free safety to cornerback and bringing Sam Proctor in to play free safety.
--WR DeJuan Miller and TE Trent Ratterree both scored their first touchdowns of the season against Kansas State. Miller, who has 11 catches this season, gives Landry Jones another threat alongside WRs Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds. Ratterree, a senior and former walk-on, is bound to see more time going forward as James Hanna's backup since Austin Haywood left the team with the intention of transferring.
--DT Stacey McGee wore the late Austin Box's No. 12 against Kansas State.

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