Third Quarter Warriors

NORMAN, Okla. — Intermission has seemed to serve as the Sooners' best friend in 2011.

That's because they have been dominant in the third quarter this year, outscoring their opponents by a staggering score of 118-10, with the lone touchdown coming in OU's only loss, an 11-yard touchdown pass from Seth Doege to Alex Torres.

Do the math on that, and it means the Sooners are winning the third quarter by an average margin of 13.11 to 1.11.

Assume they win by that mark in all four quarters, and OU would be blowing its opposition out approximately 52-4 on average.

So, what is the secret for why OU's so good coming out of the locker room in the second half?

"Shoot, we've just had a heightened sense of urgency possibly, played at a higher level," said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. "Is there something magical about the third quarter? No. I wish it would be that way in the first quarter, too."

But it's more than that, according to head coach Bob Stoops and some other coaches and the players.

It's about making the right moves from the drawing boards at halftime.

"You know, I think we make adjustments," said co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. "I think we understand what we want to do and we know how to adjust to things. I think it's a credit to our offensive coaches and our players."

Quarterback Landry Jones said the same thing.

"Just figuring out adjustments, Coach Hype's doing a really good job of getting us ready and kind of adjusting while the game's going," Jones said. "So, I think we're doing a pretty good job at halftime getting everything sorted out what they're kind of doing."

Stoops, who claimed he wasn't quite aware of the lopsided mark they've managed to put up against opponents in the third quarter, gives credit to both the position coaches and the players.

"Oh, I guess that is pretty good, I don't pay attention to that," Stoops said. "You know, I just keep [saying], you come out, you played well. You know, you come out and the players executed. And, you know, I give the assistant coaches credit to a degree that hopefully we're making some decent adjustments or, you know, relaying to the kids, 'Here were a couple problems in the first half. This needs to get straightened up if we're going to play better in the second half.'"

"You know, offensive guys are always [saying], 'These are the plays we want to get to here in third quarter. Be ready for them. Think about what we got to do.' So, but players ultimately are the ones making the plays, so they for whatever reason have executed well in the third quarter."

For one, it might be as simple as the efficiency inside the locker room.

Stoops said after the initial rush off the field and by the time they're ready to discuss things, they have just about 12 minutes, give or take a couple.

But the team splits up in an effective manner to get that accomplished.

"Well, the defensive staff goes right to the board with the players," Stoops said. "The offensive guys get together for a few minutes and talk through as a staff their issues and what they want to get to in the second half."

And somehow it has just worked really well this year, way better than in previous seasons.

Perhaps it even comes down to something else.

When a team has guys in the locker room like Jones, linebacker Travis Lewis and slot receiver Ryan Broyles, the experience of that certainly figures to pay dividends.

"I think we've got, you know, good maturity, good leadership in the locker room, taking the right mind set with the 0-0 ball game at half, Venables said when asked what the secret was to their success. "You like to say you're making all these just incredible adjustments, but it doesn't happen that way. That happens out on the sidelines during the game itself, but it's our guys just showing the maturity in their attitude coming back out of the locker room, willingness to come out and compete."

So, is it just playing better in the third quarter, making adjustments, veteran maturity and leadership, a combination, or is it just coincidental?

Whatever the case, if the Sooners keep it up, it'll be very tough for teams to beat them without a significant halftime advantage, something Texas Tech benefited from.

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