Przybylo: OU's season on the brink

After 1-2 start, yep, OU's backs are against the wall with a season on the brink.

Oklahoma football had a week to do whatever it needed to in order to get ready for Big 12 conference play at TCU on Saturday.

Lament and think about what might have been? Possibly. Rest up after being physically spent vs. Houston, Ohio State? Probably. Recharged with renewed focus? Aha, that’s what we’re going to find out.

It seems like every year lately where OU has been pushed up against the wall, and all you can to wait and see how the team responds.

After a 41-12 shellacking at Baylor in 2013, the Sooners came back winning final three games and the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.

Not so kind in 2014 where a 4-0 start translated into going 4-5 in the next nine games, including losing the final two games of the season and a whopping three home games.

Then 2015 saw the good side again. Following another puzzling loss to Texas, OU ran the table and earned a spot at the college football playoff table.

So what is this year going to be?

“I think the attitude that we had on Saturday was great,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “We never stopped fighting. “Even when the game was well out of hand, we kept fighting and pushing for more yards and trying to go down and score, it’s just that we didn’t execute. 

“The attitude is fine. We’ve established that and we know what we’re capable of.  We just need to go out and do it.”

That appeared to be the theme last week in talking with the OU coaches and players. A 1-2 start perhaps a little misleading when two of the losses are to teams ranked in the top seven.

But also telling in revealing just how far the Sooners have to go to become one the legit elite national programs again.

So we know the dreams of a berth in the playoff are done for 2016, but OU has to look itself in the mirror and figure out what to fix, how to fix it and how to overcome being disappointed to being motivated once again at taking another run at a conference title.

“Guys have to grab each other and say let’s get over this, we’re close: You are never as far off as you think you are,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “After the game, you are sitting there and you are sick about it. You didn’t play your best. We didn’t coach our best.

“And then you come back and watch it and then you are even more sick because you see how close you are to doing some great things.”

A lot of the players who were integral in the 2015 resurgence are still there. Guys like Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, Jordan Evans, Steven Parker, etc., so they know what has to be done.

Knowing and executing are two different things and something OU has learned the hard way through the first three games of 2016.

OU knows it must have Mayfield settle down more in games. OU knows it must establish the run game with Mixon and Perine. OU knows it must get better pursuit of the quarterback with the defensive line and linebackers. OU knows it must have improved play from everyone in the secondary.

There’s no secret formula or any sort of trick in the bag for the Sooners to bust out. They have the talent. Now they need the preparation and the results.

“End of day, there’s still football to be played,” senior captain Jordan Evans said. “Nobody wanted this, nobody expected this. But at the same time it’s what happened. We have to live with it and buckle our chinstraps up and keep going.”

That first challenge is Saturday afternoon against the Horned Frogs.

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