OU's third-down struggles at an end?

Sooners move past offensive failures, still have defensive miscues

As the famous Bob Dylan song goes, ‘They times, they are a changin’.

For Oklahoma, the times are changing, and it’s a good thing. The Sooners’ third-down woes – both offensively and defensively – appear to be at an end.

It was just three weeks ago that the Sooners’ hit rock bottom on third down. The Sooners were just 1-of-11, and Texas converted seven of 18 times.

With the past two weeks, those numbers are in the past. Even if things haven’t been perfect.

“It’s just a couple of missed assignments here and there,” running back Samaje Perine said. “We’re going to get that ironed out this week and we’re going to play our best this weekend against Baylor.”

Against Kansas State, Oklahoma converted 63 percent of the time, and against Iowa State, the Sooners went 6-for-12. It was the two best showings that Oklahoma had put together on offense this season.

“Our guys have responded throughout the year in a positive way when things haven’t gone right,” co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “I expect them to carry over the success they had last week, continue to build on it and have a great game on Saturday.” The conversion rate against Iowa State can be chalked up to the quality of the opponent, but the effort against Kansas State isn’t the same. The two combined prove that Oklahoma just might have changed its ways.

One game against Kansas State is a fluke. Doing it again against Iowa State – despite the talent gap – shows that it wasn’t an aberration. “We did a really good job of keeping the ball on third down and stopping them on third day – our defense getting off the field and us staying on the field,” Perine said. “It was great win for us. That momentum boost is going to help us tremendously going into Baylor.”

The defense didn’t have nearly the success that Oklahoma’s offense saw. The Sooners posted their best third-down defense rate of the season. Not surprising based on the quality of opponent.

Oklahoma still allowed four conversions on third down of seven or more yards. The Sooners might have solved the problem of executing on offense, but the failures on defense have persisted. Most often, they’ve been perpetuated by small individual mistakes – a blown coverage, a missed tackle or a bad penalty.

“You’re not going to be perfect all the time, you’re going to get beat once in a while, but to step and block the correct people should not be that difficult when you’ve worked it in practice,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “That’s when I say certain things are on us that we can be better and that was an example of it. . . . We’ll hopefully correct that mistake when we go out to practice.”


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