NORMAN, Okla. — To give you another indication how lopsided and how one-sided the Sooners' 77-0 win over Texas A&M was, you just have to listen, read and think back to the postgame following the contest. The Sooners play an almost perfect game (the four touchdowns called back not withstanding) and the theme of the post game was and still centers around how the Sooners held down the score against the helpless Aggies.
Could the Sooners have even shown more mercy during the game? Did Oklahoma run up the score? Those were some of the questions that came from the stunned media that didn't know what to ask outside of ‘was that the greatest game you have ever coached in?'or 'was that the greatest game you have ever played or were perfect in the game?'
It goes without saying that the Sooners could have scored 100 points on the Aggies if they wanted. Coach Dennis Franchione is coaching the worst team that I have ever seen at Texas A&M and a team with absolutely no discernable heart or fight in them. It was unbelievable to watch a proud program like Texas A&M play their worst game in their storied history. At halftime the Aggies had given up 49 points, something that they had done only ten times in their history and it was only halftime in Norman. It was a foregone conclusion that the Sooners could name their score and that they were going to score more points on A&M than any other team in Texas A&M history.
Couple the Aggies troubles with the fact that they were playing a Sooner football team that is playing as well as any team in the Sooners' grand history. Already the question is out there on whether this is the greatest team in OU history. Of course, that can't be answered unless the Sooners win a national title, but right now the Sooners are so good that college football is having trouble finding a team to match-up with the Sooners. Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Florida State don't want any of the Sooners as they continue to lose after being presented as challengers to the Sooner greatness early this season. Southern California has been the team that has most impressed me all year, and they appear to be the team with similar talent to the Sooners, but even they stubbed their toe earlier this season against the Cal Bears.
The Aggies need to call Bob Stoops and thank him for being a generous man. The Sooners could have made the score look a lot worse if they didn't substitute liberally in the second half on both sides of the ball and call off the dogs offensively midway through the fourth quarter.
But still, you have reporters on "ESPN Sports Reporters" who question whether the Sooners ran up the score or not or treated the Aggies in a respectful fashion, and that is something that Coach Stoops just can't understand.
"I was just told about this about ten minutes ago, but I didn't see it and I don't watch the show," Stoops said from his office Sunday. "However, the reporter professed what he said by saying that he did not see the game. So, why would somebody have an opinion on something they did not see and still be respected? Anybody who saw the game knows that we did everything that we could to hold the score down."
"We take our Heisman Trophy candidate out of the game at the end of the first half," Stoops continued. "We throw three passes with our back-up quarterback early in the second half, two of them slant patterns and one of them a boot short pass. You do everything you can do to hold the score down, but what are we to do with our back-ups in there? What is more insulting? It is more insulting to take a knee late in the third quarter or what? We did everything we could to hold the score down and anybody who saw the game knows that. Let me put it this way, anybody that saw the game knew that we did everything possible to keep the score down. People can judge those type of shows and their opinions with what little they don't know."
Immediately after the game Coach Stoops went to great lengths to talk about how he felt bad about scoring 77 points in the game and that he really didn't want OU to score in the 60's, and certainly not the 70's against Texas A&M.
"You don't expect this kind of game," said Stoops in the Sooner locker room after the game. "It was a definitely a very strange situation to be in. You do the best you can to mange it and do things the right way."
Yet, Stoops and coaches also knew that nationally the score would hit some people the wrong way, no matter how noble their efforts were to keep the score in check. However, Stoops just wants accountability from all those that want to criticize his coaching staffs management of the game.
"I don't care what people that didn't see the game say," said Stoops. "I don't care anything about that. You shouldn't have an opinion on something that you did not see. I care about the people at Texas A&M. I care about the players across the way and their coaches who both work very hard. That is who I care about and respect. Those fools in the media who had opinions on something that they didn't witness are comical, actually."
When it comes to holding a score in check Coach Stoops is in a no-win situation. He wants to give his young players a chance to execute the Sooners offense and defense, so he has to let them actually play the game, yet he really doesn't want to score any more points. However, the Sooners second team has developed into a pretty good unit themselves, and they were dominating the Aggies as well.
Back-up quarterback Paul Thompson was looking every bit as good at Brad Smith and Vincent Young running through the Aggie defense for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Donta Hickson is out to prove anytime that he gets on the field that he deserves more playing time and Saturday he made a strong case by finishing as the games leading rusher with 131 yards and one touchdown. The Sooners did the Aggies a big favor by not playing star wide receiver Mark Clayton in the second half. Clayton burned the Aggies for 166 yards and three touchdowns on just six catches in the first half and then shut it down in the second half.
The Sooners also held out fullback J.D. Runells in the second, substituted liberally in the offensive line and at tight end, and with five minutes to go substituted on defense as well. OU took at knee at the six-yard line in the fourth quarter and ran three straight dive plays into defensive line with no intention of scoring a touchdown.
So, in essence, Coach Stoops did shut down his back-up players in an effort to hold the score down, despite the fact it robs his back-up players of an opportunity to score or play all out.
"Well, what do we do? You tell me what to do, because I don't see anything else we could have done," said Stoops. "We didn't throw the ball. We were handing the ball off to our back-ups and that is all you can do. What do you tell you back-ups to just go in there and fall down? Basically, we did say that at the end the game. I am not going to tell you what I told the team exactly, but the bottom line is that we weren't going to score any more. We told our players to go in there and hit the line and that is it. I mean we kept it pretty simple on that last scoring drive."
Yet, you would have thought that the Aggies had made the goal line stand that saved the game for them after stuffing Hickson for the third straight time. The Aggies jumped up with joy and celebrated as they sprinted off the field totally oblivious to the fact that the Sooners let them tackle them inside the ten. While it was disappointing how the Aggies played on the field, it was even more disappointing their demeanor during the game.
Aggie quarterback Reggie McNeal and other players were seen laughing and visiting with fans on the Sooner sideline even as the points piled up against them. That coupled with the fact the Aggies celebrating after holding the Sooners inside the ten while already down 77-0 shows that they team was not well-coached and certainly didn't appear to have any reality to what was going on the field.
The Sooners also didn't appreciate the celebration either and were puzzled by the Aggies' attitude. The Sooners gave up scoring another touchdown in an effort to not run up the score and the Aggies want to celebrate? That makes even the most disciplined of Sooner coaches want to go ahead and score.
"Well, there is that temptation to drive it back down there again and score," said Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long. "However, Bob (Stoops) catches us and says no just let it go, but there can be that temptation. However, their players, like ours, are just young men and just 18 years old. Plus, they didn't have a lot go right for them during the game. I could easily understand that their players didn't realize that we weren't doing a whole lot to score, they are still playing hard and on fourth down, they stop us and finally they have something to celebrate. You want players to play hard every down and they were still playing hard at the end."
The Sooners first half performance was one of the best in Sooner history. The Sooners scored 49 points in the first half and punted once in the first quarter. It would be their only punt of the day, and despite facing a fourth and two from their own 38 the Sooners thought about going for it leading 14-0. The Sooners were basically unstoppable after that unless they decided not to score. White and Clayton posted incredible numbers by halftime, and if it had been back in the Switzer days they would have had their shoulder pads off and talking to the fans in the stands at the beginning of the second half. As it was, the Sooners' first half performance, on both sides of the ball, was one of the best ever.
"It was as perfect and a complete a half since I have been here," said Coach Long. "It was a great half of football. Our guys executed well, as you saw. Jason threw it well, we caught it well and we had everything we had we wanted. It was as good a half since we been here and certainly the best half this year. Our guys are having fun and they are really in sync and playing well. Our offensive line is coming off the ball well. They really came off the ball and set the tone for the day."
"I don't know how Coach (Kevin) Wilson grades them out specifically, but in my book they the offensive line graded out pretty well," Long continued. "They did a nice job and they did a good job of double teams at the point of attack and they were really working well together. It was really neat to see on film. They did a great job, just a truly great job."
In only a couple of games during the Stoops era have the Sooners started their second team QB in the second half. However, against Texas A&M the Sooner coaching staff decided late in the first half to give Paul Thompson his most playing time of the season.
"It wasn't really a tough decision, because we were talking about it before the half ended," said Long. "It just gets right down to, No. 1, you want to keep your guys healthy and not put them in harms way. And No. 2, we needed to get our backups out there and get them some snaps. We think it is a classier move to get them out, and sometimes when you keep an player in to just go for a Heisman Trophy some voters get turned off by that. So, we felt that it was necessary to get them out because that was where it was in the ballgame."
For Thompson, it was a rare opportunity to actually get into a game and actually get a chance to get into a solid groove to show what he can do.
"When I was told at halftime that I was going to start the second half I just had a great feeling coming over me, because it was going to be such a rare opportunity for me," said Thompson. "To get a chance to start a half for the top football team in the country is something that I have always dreamed of and is the reason why I work so hard every day in practice. I owe it to the team to always be ready to play and I felt that today I was able to give a good example of what I can do for the team. I think I am getting better every day at practice and I think I am getting to the point where the coaches trust that I can go out and get the job done."
One of the guys that Thompson impressed the most was White, who is probably Thompson's biggest fan.
"There are really a lot of great players on this team that are up for individual awards, who hide the fact that we have a number of great second team players who could start for most teams," said White after the game. "Paul did a great job tonight and showed that he brings a running dimension to the game that I or anybody else or our team don't have at quarterback. It was the way he managed the huddle and the game that impressed me, and has every time he has played. I have great confidence in Paul and feel if he ever had to go win a game for us that he could do so such as well as I can."
Jason White, who put up Heisman-type numbers and could have broke several single game records if he has just played a series or two in the second half, still insist that his individual awards are not what concerns him at this time.
"Everybody on our team it seems is up for some kind of individual award, but none of us ever talk about it," said White. "That is because we are so focused on just playing well as a team and winning games as a team. Our real rewards will come at the end of the year if we take care of business and win all of our games and walk way with the national championship. I know I have said this a million times, but I really mean that is all I care about right now."
White has been great all year, but never as good as he was in the first half against Texas A&M.
"We started off sharp and we got several great completions early that always gives us great confidence, especially to the receivers," said White. "It really boosts my confidence to start off with a completion. Even if they are short gains it always is a confidence builder. Plays like that always get us going and lead to other completions."
White has been a longtime Sooner fan and he says it is mind boggling to him that people are comparing his current Sooners with the great Sooner teams of the past.
"We are different in that we are throwing the ball a lot more. To be honest, it is very flattering that people would even put us on the same field as some of the National Championship teams of the past. It is just great to be compared to those teams."
OU's Kenny Mossman is one of the best Sports Information Directors in the country and he is very creative in promoting White or any other Sooner for an individual award. Since White only played in the first half on Saturday, Mossman made sure that this e-mail was sent to every voter for the Heisman Trophy and Davie O'Brien award. Below is a copy of the email Mossman sent to Heisman voters.
Jason White played only the first half of Oklahoma's game vs. Texas A&M on Saturday ...
He was 16-of-18 for 263 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. White completed his first 14 passes in a row, which when combined with completing his last two in the previous game gave him 16 straight completions. That's a school record, bettering the old mark of 12 set by current OU running backs coach Cale Gundy in 1991. He completed 12 straight.
Here's are White's statistics for the season ...
32 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
Pass efficiency rating is 176.59, which ranks No. 1 nationally.
It should be noted that White has been pulled from games with more than six minutes left some seven times this season.
White wasn't the only Sooner to have a mind boggling day for the Sooners, as junior wide receiver Mark Clayton was equally impressive. For his efforts, Clayton has now set records for touchdown receptions (12), career touchdowns (20) and a single-season record of eight catches for 40 or more yards.
For a single season, Clayton surpassed the great Eddie Hinton with 57 catches for 1,047 yards, passing Hinton's 1968 record of 1,034 yards on 64 catches. But for Clayton, it is just a matter of keeping on keeping on.
"It is just a matter of focus for me and executing the game plan," said Clayton after the game. "Our coaches come up with great game plans each week and if we just go out and do what we are told then good things happen for us. I just concentrate on staying focused and reading the defense, and if I get open then I know that Jason will hit me with a perfect pass."
Clayton has become the go-to receiver the Sooners have so often lacked in past years, but even he admits that he still benefits from all the tremendous talent the Sooners send out on pass routes.
"We have so many good receivers that go out on each pass route that teams have to make a decision," said Clayton. "They can either double team me and leave another great wide receiver open for us in man coverage, which they can't win. Or they can go to zone coverage and then we will pick them apart, but at least they might have a better chance of having more people in the area."
Clayton continues to grab the nation's attention as well. Before the season started Clayton wasn't on any of the All-American lists, but after 10 games Clayton is now being talked about as one of the nation's best and earning All-American honors would not be a shock to the Sooner coaches.
"I certainly think Mark is an All-American. If there is a better wide receiver in the country I would like to see who that is right now," said Long. "When you look at it in terms of his all-around game there is nobody better than Mark. You should see the way he blocked yesterday after watching tape. He had 14 personal knockdowns and two on one play. Here is a guy who is not only doing it with his hands, but he is blocking as good as anybody on the field right now. There is nobody better in the country in yards-after-the-catch. There are some good receivers out there that can make the grab, can do great things when the ball is in the air and is coming down to him, but as far as making plays after the catch, who equals Mark? There is no better player than him. He is averaging 19-yards per catch and that is unbelievable."
The Sooner offense was so great that you almost forget that the OU defense had another one of those games that will go down as one of the best in the Stoops era. The Aggies picked up only three first downs and had only 54 yards total offense against the Sooners.
The Sooner defensive coaches didn't send the reserves in until five minutes were left in the third quarter, which is actually earlier than in most lopsided games for the Sooners.
"We got our reserves in with about five minutes left in the third quarter. I think the two's took the last series of the third quarter," said Co-Defensive Coordinator and secondary coach Mike Stoops. "It is just that those guys like to play (first team), and when you get up by that much you can't take them out. Those guys don't have many games left and who knows how much they will play in the future. I think midway through, or late in the third quarter, is fine. Players like to play and they have earned that right. They don't have many games left here at the stadium and they deserve to play considering all the hard work they have put in and all the success they have had."
Early in the year the Sooner backups gave up yardage and points at such an alarming rate that the first team would have to go back into the game to get things back in order. But Saturday against Texas A&M, you couldn't tell much difference between the first and second unit.
"There is no question that our backups are playing better. It is amazing what a kid can do when his number is called and he has to go in during an important time in the game," said Mike Stoops. "It is amazing how well a backup can play when he is getting the majority of the reps and getting the preparation needed to play. Gayron Allen is a perfect example of that. The two's during the week gets half the snaps that the one's get, so when a guy like Gayron gets first team reps he just becomes a better player. Eric Bassey did that for us earlier in the year when he started for Derrick. He prepared all week and played a great game for us."
"It also makes a big difference for them who the players are surrounding them," Mike Stoops continued. "Those guys around Gayron, Wayne (Chambers) and Eric (Bassey) are very good and when you put a new guy in the middle of them that new player can play very well. It is a great feeling for a backup to know that he is surrounded by a number of great players and if he will just taking care of his responsibility that those other ten players will help him out a great deal."
The Sooners' offensive line played its best game of the year. It didn't matter if they were run blocking or pass blocking, the Sooners offensive line dominated the action.
"I think we had a good plan as far as getting to the premature a little bit and J.D.(Runnels) and the tight ends did a great job of helping us secure the outside a little bit," said Run Game Coordinator and offensive line coach Kevin Wilson. "Our sweep plays worked well and then we were able to spread them out and that opened up the inside for us. Then Paul (Thompson) came in and was running pretty good. I think it was our best performance because we had our best week of practice. We came out of the OSU game with a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. Our Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practices were the best we have had all year. Texas week, Okie State week, you name it, this past week was our best. I am just proud of our kids for working hard and getting better. As young as we are I just hope that we just keep keeping on and getting better."
Wilson is very close with all of his offensive linemen, even those scout team offensive linemen who got considerable playing time Saturday.
"It was fun, but it was kind of difficult too because we didn't want to send an offense out there and go three-and-out and three-and-out and look sloppy," said Wilson. "At the same time you didn't want the score to get out of hand, so a bunch of kids got to play that don't normally get to play. Those kids work very hard in practice all year and when they get to go out there and get some playing time. John Flynn and David Walker and those guys deserve an opportunity to play because of the effort they give us in practice, and that is why they are here to help get his football team ready to play.
Jammal Brown is playing at an All-American level and he enjoyed the skills guys playing up at such a high level that those backups got some major PT.
"It is obvious that Jason White and Mark Clayton have a special relationship and that those two are playing on a very high level right now," said Brown. "All of our skill guys were playing so well that I was happy that Chris (Messner), David (Walker) and John (Flynnn) and guys like that got some major playing time. They work incredibly hard during practice and many times have to learn our gameplan and then work on the scout team as well. I can't tell you how much I admire those players. They got into the game and there was no drop-off for us. Our second o-line played very well."
I have to wonder what Baylor thought as they saw the OU/Texas A&M score climb out of site. Earlier this year the Aggies whipped the Bears 73-10, and now the Bears must come to Norman this weekend to face the Sooners.
We have said many times that this is the best pass rushing team of the Stoops era and now they are the best in Sooner history. The Sooners came up with four sacks against Texas A&M, giving them 44 for the year, which broke the old mark of 41.
Congratulations also go out to Trey DiCarlo, who continues to push for the Lou Groza award. DiCarlo had 12 kick-offs and four were touchbacks. Texas A&M's best field position after a kick-off was the 35 yard line, and that was after a Sooner personal foul penalty.
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