Fast start crucial for OU

One way OU can help its cause against undefeated Texas Tech is to come out strong early. Bad starts have plagued OU the last few weeks.

The stage is set for Oklahoma this weekend. OU coach Bob Stoops has raised the stakes by once again challenging the fans to bring the intensity.

The last time was in 2008, coincidentally, also against Texas Tech and resulted in a 65-21 victory for the Sooners against the second-ranked Red Raiders.

Texas Tech comes in this weekend at No. 10 in the initial BCS standings, marking one of the few times OU is the lower ranked team in a battle in Norman.

If Stoops wants the OU faithful to jump around and go crazy, it's going to have to be up to the Sooners to provide some of that excitement.

"You come out and you go three-and-out and you wonder what happened," senior center Gabe Ikard said. "We just need to be more efficient in the run game. We need to give Coach (Josh) Heupel more trust in us and the offensive line.

"When it comes down to it, it's about confidence and executing well, but there have been one or two guys that are off and you don't have good plays."

OU received a spark from its defense against Notre Dame that led to 14 quick points. But the first quarter has not been kind to the Sooners. It's the only quarter where the Sooners have been outscored.

Opponents are edging out OU 38-33 in the first quarter. The Sooners are bouncing back in the second quarter with an 82-19 edge, but the Sooners cannot afford to dig themselves into another early hole this weekend.

"We just need to come out swinging quicker," quarterback Blake Bell said. "Obviously Texas Tech has a good defense, and we need to come out and get on top quick. I think it's just knowing our job and executing."

With each game, it seems like it's something that's making OU fail to execute the way it needs to in the first quarter. Against Texas it was Brennan Clay who dropped a touchdown pass on the first drive. Last week running back Keith Ford lost a fumble as OU was driving into the red zone.

Conversely, Tech has been able to start fast early. The Red Raiders are outscoring their opponents 68-27 in the first 15 minutes. Tech's defense has played well in all four quarters, but the 27 points is the least amount it has given up in a quarter.

"It's not like we're not capable of moving the ball or that the defenses are doing something to us," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "We're hurting ourselves. We're forgetting motions on the first drives or during key second down plays and next thing we know, we're in a third-and-15 instead of a third-and-two.

"It's self-inflicted wounds and things that we have to handle. At the end of the day, we have to do a better job of starting fast."

But it can't just be about the offense. In the last two games the OU defense hasn't gotten off to the right foot, either. If the Sooners are going to give Tech its first loss of the season, the first quarter is going to go a long way toward telling the story.


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