NORMAN – In the wake of the Week 3 loss to Ohio State, a loss that showed just how far Oklahoma might be behind the rest of the nation’s football superpowers, quarterback Baker Mayfield took the blame and put the onus on himself to see Oklahoma restored.
He channeled his inner Tim Tebow, telling the gathered media that he vowed to work harder than “anybody coach Stoops has ever seen.” To some extent, he needed to live up to that vow, having been sub-par through two non-conference losses compared to his Heisman Trophy contender season from just one year ago.
In the last two weeks, Mayfield has talked of increased responsibility, taking on more of a leadership role, working with receivers one-on-one more extensively to develop even more of a relationship and trying to focus on the basics – like getting the ball out of his hands quicker and making the easier decision, instead of trying for the game-changing play when it’s not there.
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley used the word angry to describe his frustration level. Mayfield felt exactly the same.
But that has been two weeks of words.
Against the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday afternoon, it’s time for Mayfield to start to prove that he can be better as Oklahoma turns its focus to the Big 12 Conference Championship.
“Right now, it’s about cutting it loose and playing,” Mayfield said. “I know what I’m doing when I step out there. I might just be overthinking it a little bit so I’m just going to cut it loose and play.”
TCU is allowing just more than 250 passing yards per game and ranks in the bottom third of the nation in that category. Its 26.3 points allowed per game is in the bottom half of the nation. A program that is routinely known for its defense is a surprisingly great opportunity for Mayfield to make good on all of those promises.
Mayfield’s accuracy (53.1 percent) against Ohio State was the fourth-worst performance of his career. Oddly enough, TCU is responsible for two of the three games in which his numbers were worse than his performance against the Buckeyes.
“One big thing I’ve always prided myself on was accuracy,” Mayfield said. “… That’s why it’s disappointing for me because normally I can turn it on when the lights come on. That’s why I’m pretty frustrated with myself because I haven’t been playing the way I should.”
Riley doesn’t think Mayfield let the team down. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops doesn’t think that Mayfield is “trying too hard.”
“He can’t overthink this deal,” Riley said. “He knows how to play well. He knows how to play at a high level, and he’s done a lot of really good things this year. He’s just agonizingly close on the other stuff. Again, very much like we are as a group. He’s like all of us. We’re disappointed but we’re extremely hungry to get over the hump.”null