OU continues turning the page

The caravan made its annual stop in Tulsa where things are completely different heading into this OU football season.

Tulsa, Okla. – The Sooners Caravan is always an event for Oklahoma fans to feel good about the state of the athletic program.

Emcee Toby Rowland enjoyed running down the list of accomplishments for each sport that was significantly less for the football team than normal Thursday night in Tulsa.

National and individual championships for men’s gymnastics were in stark contrast to simply saying OU made a bowl game for the 16th consecutive season.

When you’re 8-5 and finished unranked, you look to quickly move onto the next season. And Bob Stoops has done that, thanks in large part to the hiring of first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

“He’s been great,” Stoops said. “He’s a guy that had great experience at a young age. Coming up through this system where they have a lot of really great discipline and how they move the ball and what they want to do. There’s a lot of regiment in what they do.

“It’s really rubbed off on the players and coaches and with what we are doing. I really feel great with where we are at, the development of our offense through the spring.”

It’s not surprising for Stoops to back his hire, but it has been an eventful couple of weeks for OU regarding some highly touted offensive recruits.

Former five-star running back Keith Ford, who would have been a junior this season, left the program and has declared his intention to transfer to Texas A&M.

Wednesday afternoon was another big domino as Justice Hansen, a redshirt freshman who was also ranked in the Scout 300, announced his intention to transfer.

It’s understandable there will be some hiccups with the change in offensive styles, but Stoops was quick to point out once again how six of the top 13 offenses from last season utilized an “Air Raid” system of some sort and of course was the style of offense that led to OU’s 2000 national championship.

The Sooners were 8-5 but many have pointed out who a play here or a play there and OU easily could have been looking at another 10-win season. And fixing the little things is a point of emphasis for 2015.

“You’ve got to make things differently,” Stoops said. “In the end, we’ve had a few games that we lost. You have to defend one big play better. You have to kick an easy kick, whether it be a field goal or extra point. You can’t have a catastrophic turnover and give up points.

“All those things go together. If any of those things are a little bit different in a few games, we have an opportunity to win two-three more games. We have to coach a little better. The players have to make better plays with those opportunities.”

The caravan will return to Tulsa next year just as it always does. The hope is that with Riley in play, there will be more accomplishments than just a 17th straight season of making a bowl game.

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