However, I didn't expect the Sooners to commit 13 penalties, have a defensive touchdown called back because of a penalty, have the same defensive lineman line up three times off-sides along the defensive line, have the worst tackling day of the Stoops era, for the Sooners to play with their fourth and fifth corners on defense, for Terrance Simms to be reinjured again, commit two penalties back-to-back that forced Tim Duncan to miss a 35-yard field goal, the starting quarterback even had a holding call for goodness sakes, for the previously perfect Duncan to go one for three in field goal tries, for the unmistakable Jeff Ferguson to drop a snap and take a loss on a punt, and finally to play the most undisciplined game of the Stoops era.
Who were those guys? Were they the real Sooners? Even during Stoops first year, when they lost it was never because they were undisciplined or didn't execute the game plan. Sure, maybe they were outmanned, but they didn't beat themselves.
First, we need to give North Texas credit. I didn't have a whole lot of respect for the Mean Green coming in, expect for stud middle linebacker Brad Kassell, but they had a solid game plan, had a couple of running backs that can get it done and they played with a tremendous amount of heart.
"North Texas outplayed us in a lot of the parts of the football game," said OU Head Coach Bob Stoops following the game. "I want to start off complementing them, but as far as we are concerned it is hard to think of all the problems we had to try to work through the entire game. First, our penalties, and when you combine the penalties of the two teams (23) that is probably a record. Obviously, we are not nearly disciplined or good enough to play by the rules and that is something that we are going to have to work hard on. We continue to fumble the ball. We had four or five scoring opportunities tonight starting inside the 50-yard line when our offense takes possession. Then we either fumble it, or take a penalty and get ourselves in extreme long yardage, which ends up killing the drive."
"Turnovers continue to be a problem," Stoops continued. "We give up the early screen that gets around us one pass after a turnover. Outside of that, we did some good things on defense, but we still allowed North Texas to control the ball a little bit and run on us on occasion. So, complement them, but realize that we can be a little bit better by correcting busted alignments and breakdowns on our parts."
OUCH! Is there any part of the game that he was happy with? Remember OU did win the game 37-10 and that in itself is the positive of the Sooners effort.
"At this point we just are not very good," said perplexed Stoops.
"Everybody has been talking about our team, saying that we can do this, or do that and right now we are a long way from that. Hopefully this week we can make some corrections and maybe this week our players will concentrate and work a little bit harder. Maybe us as coaches, I will take the blame, do a little better job of getting them ready and we will see what we can come out and do next week."
"The last time I felt this way was after a loss," said Stoops. "The good thing is that I am very cognicent of the fact that we feel this way after a win, and that has to be a good sign for where our program is headed. I was shocked by our play tonight. I didn't do a very good job coaching and obviously, we need to do a better job coaching, playing, practicing and everything that we do this week. We are going to try too, I promise you."
I can't for the life of me explain why people are getting on quarterback Nate Hybl. Okay, he threw one bad ball that eventually led to the Mean Green touchdown. I realize that his two interceptions that have basically led to scores this season. However, the rest of the night Hybl was outstanding completing 28-of-40 passes for 350 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. I would take those numbers any night and I believe the coaching staff would too.
The offensive struggles against North Texas can't all be laid on the shoulders of Hybl, especially when he throws for 350 yards.
"On a positive side, Nate did some very good things," said Coach Stoops. "He threw the ball very well and outside of a foolish interception that may not have been all his fault, he threw the ball well and operated within our offense very well."
This time in the post game press conference Hybl was confident and sure of himself. He will be the first to tell you that his game wasn't perfect, but when he throw's for 350 yards, completes over half his passes and throws a couple of touchdowns, he knows that is a pretty good night under center.
Nate Hybl completed 28-of-40 passes for 350 yards Saturday against North Texas.
"We were still bad on third down conversions (4 of 12) and bad in the red zone,' said Hybl. "We accepted the ball in great field position several times and couldn't capitalize. We were so good at that last year and that is something that we have to get back. We had a lot of yardage tonight, but we could finish drives. Our defense put us in some pretty good spots and Curtis (Fagan) did a good job returning punts, but we have got to be able to finish drives. That is really all I can say. We work on red zone work repeatedly in practice. We need to keep working on it."
The Sooners played most of the game without one of their starting corners. In fact, at one point the Sooners were playing with their fourth and fifth corners in the game. Antonio Perkins and Andre Woolfolk both could have played in the game. In fact, Woolfolk started both ways. However, he has been bothered with a minor knee problem and the Sooner coaching staff decided to rest him after the first quarter. Perkins is dinged up as well with sore legs. Free safety Brandon Everage is battling through an ankle injury and Terrance Simms is trying to play with a torn ACL
The Sooners gambled Saturday that Simms could play on the knee and decided not to start Everage. It became apparent early that Simms wasn't 100 percent so Everage came into the game for the Sooners late in the first quarter. Simms went back to playing in the nickel and amazingly hurts the same knee late in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, all the guys are dinged up a little bit and we were hoping to hold them out with hopes that they would heal up and get ready for the rest of the season," said Stoops. "Terrance reinjured his knee and we thought he would be able to play with it the way it was, a lot of people do. He did for a while, but just caught it in a funny way and it gives out on him. I feel bad for him. That is just the way it goes. You have to play with what you've got."
Redshirt freshman Jarvis Smith received his most extensive playing time as a Sooner, playing three-quarters. The reviews were mixed, because he gave up a big touchdown pass early in the second quarter, but played pretty well the rest of the way.
"I was real nervous when I realized that I was going to play almost the whole game," said Smith. "I thought I would play some this game, but I didn't think I would play this much. I just let the receiver behind me on the touchdown catch and I just got beat. I have covered that pattern a million times and just froze for a second. The rest of the game I played much better, but as a DB you can't get beat one play a game, because you won't be a very good corner. I learned so much this game and the next time I get a chance I will feel much better about myself."
We can give Smith a little bit of a break in that he was supposed to have help from the safety, but if he wants to be a good cornerback he will have to learn to not let any receiver get position on him, especially inside.
Quentin Morgan also saw action at cornerback in the second half. Morgan is blessed with blazing speed and recovered well enough on one deep sideline route to get his hands on a ball. That may always be a problem for Morgan, because he was moved to corner from wide receiver, because he doesn't catch the ball very well. He didn't catch that one either.
Roy Williams had a monster game with 15 tackles, two interceptions, and one returned for a touchdown only to be called back for a flag.
"I really don't know what happened and I really don't care," said Williams. "Hey, we all made mistakes today, including myself. The play was behind me, so I can't tell you who made it or what happened. All I know is that it was called back and it was another scoring opportunity lost tonight."
However, if any play exemplifies the Sooners frustration on this night it's the interception return by Williams.
"That was the play that topped it off for me on the whole day," said Stoops. "He is clear down the sideline and nobody is going to catch him and we push a guy in the back 30-yards behind him. A guy that is a lineman, probably weighs 300 pounds and has no chance of getting to him. That's just the lack of discipline that we have and are playing with at this point. It is unfortunate that here is Roy who gets a great play to get into the end zone and gets it called back. Roy had a couple of interceptions and he should have had another one. He continues to make a lot of great players, tackles for losses and continues to come up with a lot of exceptional plays in the secondary."
On offense, the good news is that Hybl is learning to go through his progressions and he is now throwing to more and more receivers every game.
Hybl completed passes to nine different receivers Saturday, the most yet this season.
"Nate is playing better, because he is calming down in the pocket and beginning to see more things," said Sooner tight end coach and 12-year NFL veteran Jonathan Hayes. "Many times this is the last skill to come to a quarterback. It's not easy to sit in that pocket and feel comfortable enough to look at four to five options on every play. Some quarterbacks never grasp it and never get past the second option. Nate is past the second option and is now looking at his fourth and fifth and because a lot more receivers will make catches. He will continue to get better with every start and our offense will become harder to defend with each one of his starts."
Hybl was finally able to spring senior Josh Norman and get him going for the season. Norman finished with six catches for 120 yards and one 57-yard touchdown catch.
"We always like to run our quick screens and it is something that we always practice on," said Norman. "We were hoping this week that we could get that play to be a dominant play in our offense package. The other ten guys on the field did a great job. Nate did a great job getting me the ball in time and the other guys did a good job getting out there and setting up some good blocks.
Quentin Griffin had another big day for the Sooners. 'Q' rushed for 71 yards on 15 carries and caught 10 passes for another 111 yards.
"'Q' just takes so much pressure off the rest of our offense that I really have trouble putting it into words," said Hybl. "He is so valuable to us, running and catching the ball. Plus he is a tremendous blocker and a great leader with the effort he gives on each and every snap. I would hate to see where we would be without him."
Well, the alternative isn't bad. Sophomore Renaldo Works broke off a cross country 72-yard run for a score late in the first quarter and finished as the games leading rusher with 79 yards on four carries. However, Works had mixed emotions about his efforts, because he also lost a fumble inside the five costing the Sooners a sure score.
"My offensive line did such a good job that my long touchdown run was nothing more than a sprint," said Works following the Sooner win.
"As long as I could outrun them then I was going to score, because my offensive line gave me so much room to run. However, I don't know what to think about my night, because on my fumble I was spinning and not running low and left the ball out from my body. It was an easy play for them, because the ball was away from body and it was easy to knock out of my hands. That play kind of put a damper on my whole night."
It was a game of mixed emotions for true freshman sensation Tommie Harris. On one hand Harris recorded his first sack, but on the other he was the defensive lineman that was called three times for lining up offside and he is lining up over the nose. Harris was also the player called for blocking in the back on Williams interception return
One thing about Brandon Everage is that he is very honest about his play and doesn't sugarcoat things.
"I didn't tackle very well at all and I have no excuse for it," said Everage. "I need to do a better job of putting games together. I had a real good game against Air Force and then don't play well here. I am not going to blame things on my ankle either. It's fine and didn't hurt my performance at all."
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Will Peoples got out of the doghouse and made his first appearance for the Sooners this season. He played on the kickoff coverage unit and saw some action at receiver. He even played ahead of freshman phenom Brandon Jones, but Jones did see action at receiver in the fourth quarter.
Finally, it seemed that it was a stadium wide atmosphere to take North Texas lightly. It was a late arriving crowd to the stadium and they didn't have their usual enthusiasm. I talked to several business people around campus and all said that business was down and the crowd seemed subdued.
The onslaught of bugs didn't help the atmosphere either. Throw in the rain and it was one of those games that people won't be talking about for long.
However, despite all the negative we can come up with the Sooners won 37-10 to go to improve to 3-0 on the year and they have won 16 games straight, which is the longest winning streak in the nation.