Oklahoma Sooners experience, change in mentality has led to success late in games

OU finding the right plays to pull out narrow victories.

Late in games last season, Oklahoma was almost destined to fail.

There was no Baker MayfieldSterling Shepard combination in the fourth quarter and overtime. Steven Parker's fingertips would have been just too short.

Mayfield definitely wouldn’t have had a chance to find fullback Dimitri Flowers for a game-winning touchdown in the final minutes on the road in a top-10 matchup, either.

Fourth quarters last year were filled with turnovers, missed tackles and missed opportunities. That’s why this team is different.

“This team, everybody is on the same page. Everybody bought in,” Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker said. “Everybody understands what it takes, the discipline and the focus on and off the field and how important it is. The little things are important.”

It’s a change from last year, and Striker set out to change the culture early in the season. He said that it was about changing the people within the locker room and getting rid of the mentality that “everything was a little bit of about me” surrounding the team – not with Striker.

“That’s one thing that we wanted to change,” Striker said. “I think that is what helped us be in the position where we are now. Everybody is giving up for the greater good of the team.”

The results have changed, too. Late games are turning in Oklahoma’s favor. Some it was also the experience Oklahoma gained in late games. But now, the Sooners also believe they can win.

“Those guys are used to those situations and not panicking as much,” Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper said. “It was like, we’ve got to settle in and we’ve got to think about how we’re going to make this big play. We need to focus on our key. Nobody panics in those situations.”

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