Ripkowski an answer for OU in short yardage

OU has had short yardage trouble throughout the season but might have found an answer by using Aaron Ripkowski more.

It only took until the 10th game of his senior season, but it finally happened for Oklahoma fullback Aaron Ripkowski, who was given his first carry.

The numbers weren’t astounding, but all four of his carries resulted in either a first down or a touchdown. Efficiency at its finest and spot where OU hasn’t always had its finest hour.

“He’s exceptional,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “That position, again, is sort of unheralded, but he’s done so good blocking and he’s so physical in how he does it. And then he had a couple of touchdowns, too. He does a good job in those short yardage situations as well.”

The problem on the defensive side of the ball has been attributed to the scheme in the secondary and the communication. The problem offensively has been short yardage situations.

OU has been in this spot before with Blake Bell being the answer in 2011 when the BellDozer was first introduced. It’s the final games of his OU career, but Ripkowski might be the answer for OU in these final contests.

Facing situations of either third or fourth down-and-two or less, OU was a perfect 6 of 6 last week with Ripkowski going 3 of 3 in the conversion department.

Here is a look at how OU has succeeded and failed in some of these pressure situations.

First four games’ success

OU fared well in the first four games. The Sooners were 9-of-10 in this department. OU was 4-of-4 against Louisiana Tech, didn’t face one against Tulsa and 1-of-2 vs. Tennessee before closing out 4 of 4 at West Virginia.

Highlight: Morgantown was a great time for OU’s short yardage situation. It saw the BellDozer return for a brief appearance, and it saw OU’s first touchdown in the situation. The Sooners faced third-and-goal at the 2, and Samaje Perine took it in for the score.

Next five games’ failures

But as the competition got tougher, OU was unable to get those pivotal yards. The Sooners went just 12 for 24 in these same situations.

OU was 5-of-9 against TCU, had no attempts against Texas, 3-of-5 against Kansas State, 3-of-6 against Iowa State and 1-of-4 against Baylor.

Lowlight: Tie here. Painful memories for OU fans to relive but against TCU and Kansas State, the Sooners were unable to come through in the clutch. Perine was stopped on back-to-back tries late in the fourth quarter against the Horned Frogs. Perine was stoned again on a third down run late in the fourth quarter against the Wildcats. OU lost those games by a combined five points.

Rip and the rebirth

You figured OU would have success on the ground against the Red Raiders, but there was no way to really tell based on how inconsistent OU’s season has been.

The Sooners delivered, with even Cody Thomas getting into the act on one of the short yardage situations.

Highlight: Ripkowski in his first carry had a third-and-one and was able to pick up the first down. He would later add his first career rushing touchdown in the second half.

Through 10 games, OU is 27-of-40 in these situations, which comes out to 68 percent. Twenty-six of the conversions have been on the ground with four rushing touchdowns and two interceptions.

Ripkowski has been a force for the Sooners as a blocker, but it will be interesting to see if he gets his hands on it just a few more times in the final two regular season games.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories