OU-UCLA Locker Room Report

Bob Stoops, Chuck Long, Rhett Bomar, Kevin Wilson, Brent Venables, Bobby Jack Wright and Dusty Dvoracek recap Saturday's loss to UCLA. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

With the fans and media calling for a more wide open offense, Chuck Long and his offensive staff showcased a multiple offense that should have more than met the needs of all his critics. But in a strange irony, the Sooners 41- 24 loss to UCLA showed us exactly why Coach Long has been keeping this offensive group on the conservative side.

With the Sooners unveiling several new formations, a complete option package that will continue to grow in the future, trick plays and several new personnel groupings, the offense posted its best offensive day to date with 398 yards total offense and 24 points. Yet because of all the new formations and all the new personnel groupings, the Sooners didn't always execute fumbling the ball seven times, losing three and stopping numerous other drives by putting the ball on the ground leaving themselves many times with too many yards to make up.

"There is a reason why there are times that we as coaches try to keep things somewhat vanilla with a young football team," said Coach Long after the game. "We had a lot of new stuff in the gameplan today and just put the ball on the ground too much. They looked good in practice running it, and at times they looked good in the game running it, but we just made way to many mistakes to win the game. However, there are some things that we can build on offensively."

This was a game that left the Sooners shaking literally shaking their heads. Almost to a man Oklahoma went into the locker room and came out with a quizzed look on their faces, as if they didn't know what hit them. On one hand, the Sooners had played pretty well with the offense moving the ball and the defense holding UCLA in check for three quarters. However, on neither side of the ball could the Sooners claim that they had played a complete game. While both units could find some good things, both units could find plenty of faults as well.

"We just didn't play good enough to win," said captain and senior Dusty Dvoracek after the game. "I thought we played three good quarters on defense and then we didn't even play football in the fourth quarter. They beat us there in my opinion. They were better than us in the fourth quarter and they won."

"I don't think we were tired at all," Dvoracek continued. "We just made mistakes. When we had to make plays we didn't make any. We didn't line up right, we didn't stay poised and we made mistakes. Mistakes killed us on both sides of the ball."

Sooner fumbles gave UCLA just the breaks they were looking for leading to 17 points. The fumbles and penalties kept the offense from posting really big numbers, and more importantly a win.

"It is not fair to UCLA to say we gave it away, because they took it away and we gave it away," said OU Head Football Coach Bob Stoops following the game. "You are not going to win when your turn the ball over and put the ball on the ground like we did. That is just poor football. Penalties really hurt us as well, as we had some good returns and then they bring them back inside the 10. Then we have two turnovers that we don't get them because of penalties. They are nullified or not given to us. Those are big swings and that is a major part of the game. Until we can be responsible with the ball, it is impossible to win virtually."

Despite all the mistakes through three quarters, Oklahoma was very much in the game. In fact, Adrian Peterson's 11-yard touchdown pulled the Sooners to within three at 20-17 with 3:25 to play in the third quarter. At that point this reporter, and I think most everybody else would agree, thought the Sooners were going to pull this game out.

OU had seized the momentum and with the defense playing well, they were getting ready to take the control of the game. And then, in a blink of an eye, the defense couldn't stop UCLA.

The Bruins drove 83-yards in 13 plays to take a 27-17 lead, and then after the Sooners faild to convert on fourth down UCLA drives 45-yards in seven plays to take control of the game 34- 17.

When Oklahoma needed to play defense the most, they couldn't get the job done.

"I was happy with the defense until late," said Stoops. "That part is unacceptable. To play well for a good part of the day and then to give up a few of the plays that we did is unacceptable. I am not happy because I feel we are still better than the way we played. But we have to keep trying to build on it."

***

Trailing 27-17 with 9:49 left in the game, the Sooners appeared to catch a break that would get them right back in the game. With UCLA attempting a screen pass sophomore linebacker Demarrio Pleasant, playing for injured senior Clint Ingram, read the play perfectly and stepped in front of the receiver intercepting the pass and returning it 30 yards inside the Bruins 25 yard line. However, behind him some 12-yards down the field, one of the Pac- 10 officials working the game threw a flag some several seconds after the play had moved down field calling holding on OU senior cornerback Chijioke Onyenegecha.

So instead of setting the offense up in great field at the Bruins 25, UCLA was given the ball back on a call the Sooners couldn't get a clear explanation on. When Oklahoma was told that Onyenegecha was the culprit for holding, nobody could believe it.

Not only was there confusion on the field, but in the press box. I couldn't hear the television broadcast, and neither could my partner Al Eschbach. However, another colleague ours — Dean Blevins — said that he thought they said it was on Chijioke. At that point, several other media members chimed in and said it wasn't on Chijioke, and at that time rattled off six other Sooner names.

Now, we in the media can only offer opinions on penalties and most of the time we don't see the calls. We just wait for the official to say what the call is and go with it, but in this case we were getting a chance to watch replay after replay and couldn't understand the holding call, and certainly couldn't understand how or why it was called on Onyenegecha.

So, you might understand if we are confused by the OU coaches and players? I mean, the officials explain the calls to them right? Don't they?

"I don't now what happened exactly," said a perplexed Stoops. "They told me it was on Chijioke. That is all I know."

Remember, Coach Stoops can't talk about officials or risk getting reprimanded by the Big 12 and the NCAA, but if a look is worth a thousand words, then I am telling you he thought the call was bogus.

As Chijioke was coming out of the locker room the media threw the question out in the open to him, asking him what he thought about being flagged for holding on the play.

"Are you sure they called it on me," was the first response by a startled Onyenegecha. "I don't know who the penalty could have been on. I actually tipped the ball. He was trying to cut (block) me. I tipped the ball and tackled him. I tipped the ball!"

Pleasant was another who didn't understand the call.

"I saw the ball and jumped out on it and it came right to me," said Pleasant after the game. "When I saw the flag none of the officials could tell me who was holding. There were three refs over on our sideline and none of them could give us a number."

A day later the play is called the "THE PHANTOM PENALTY" or the "THE PHANTOM CALL" I WILL LET YOU FOLKS CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO CALL IT AND REMEMBER YOU HAVE TO KEEP IT CLEAN. And after a review, we try to get an explanation.

"He (Chijioke) tipped the ball, he didn't touch the receiver. He tipped the ball," said OU Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables Sunday from his office. "He tips the ball and Demarrio intercepts it. Chijioke didn't know whether or not the receiver had it or not. Demarrio intercepts it and Chijioke is chasing the receiver, because he doesn't know if he has the ball or not. Yeah, he picked him up and threw him down, but he didn't grab him or touch him or any holding prior to the interception.

"Now the holding and everything took place after Demarrio had intercepted it and ran 10 yards. It was at that time that he picked him up and threw him down, because he didn't know whether or not the receiver had the ball. He really thought the receiver had the ball. So if anything, the ball should have been our possession and a holding penalty after the play. The flag again was dropped 10 to 15 yards into the return, because that is when Chijioke picked the guy up and threw him down."

At this point, all the Sooners can do now is fuss about it and send it to the Pac 10 office for review — like that is going to help the Sooners now.

***

Oklahoma left the field disappointed with the turnovers and penalties on offense, but also knowing that the future is bright. OU found a quarterback in Rhett Bomar that is talented, a leader and a guy who will fight to the last play. They also unveiled an offense that has some depth to it and an offense that OU has outstanding personnel to run. However, it is an offense that they has been working on for some time and Coach Stoops wasn't willing to admit that the Sooners offense had changed much.

"It is not really a new-look offense," said Stoops following the game. ‘We just executed it better. When things are working you get a chance to run things a little bit more. It was encouraging to be able to throw it like we did. I felt like Rhett started getting some rhythm and confidence in what he was doing. Some of the young receivers made some nice plays, and with that part of it I feel like we are getting somewhere and making some progress."

Bomar not only threw the ball well, but showed great running ability actually rushing for 69 yards. But officially, he finishdwith only 28 due to 41 yards in losses due to sacks and botched plays.

"We said all along that Rhett can run with it," said Stoops. "He has good legs, but I don't want to see him taking some of the hits that he took. He needs to get down and not get greedy with what he is going after, but he has the ability to run the football. Everybody has known that and he made some nice plays that way today."

"I was running read stuff and a lot of option stuff today," said Bomar following the game. "They are going to take out Adrian most of the time and that is going to open stuff up for me. I was able to take advantage of that today. I took some hits, but everybody takes hits on a football field. I was never hurt seriously in the game, but I need to be more intelligent in the future when I take those hits. I have to play football and sometimes taking hits is unavoidable."

***

For Bomar, the day was full of highs and lows. For part of it he was leading an offense that was clicking and moving the ball down field, as for the first time as a Sooner quarterback he was able to get the passing game going.

Bomar still didn't throw a touchdown pass, but his passing ability put the Sooners in a position to score as he finished 20-of- 29 for 241 yards.

On the other hand, Bomar was usually front-and-center when the offense made mistakes. He touches the ball on every snap and against UCLA sometimes he was able to grab it, fall on it and pitch it, but he still touched it on every snap. And when he did, there were more good things happening than bad.

"We made our fair share of mistakes, but I think we grew as on offense today," said Bomar following the game. "Even though we lost. and that is disappointing, we improved over the previous two weeks. I think we are making progress and we are going to be alright."

One of the biggest turning points in the game came when UCLA safety Dennis Kelly nailed Bomar forcing a fumble that led to a Spencer Havner's UCLA touchdown.

"Everybody saw what happened on that play, I don't need to go into it," said Bomar. "No matter what happens, I need to hang onto the football. I thought I played better than I did last week. I thought I grew a lot today. I learned a lot more and I feel more comfortable out there."

While Coach Stoops fell short of calling it a new offense, there is no question that the new wrinkles has it jumping a little bit.

"We had some new wrinkles today, but all the stuff we had worked fine," said Bomar. "We did move the ball in spurts, but at times couldn't get the ball in the end zone. I think we will be better. We had a couple of drives today where we moved it down field. We had that long one before half. I wanted to get it in the end zone on that one, but we got a field goal out of it. We had some long ones, and that is progress. We have to look at that positively, because we have to gain something positive out of this. We had our share of turnovers, but I think we will take a lot out of this tame that are positive."

The maturation process of a quarterback sometimes comes slowly, sometimes quickly. I think with Bomar, it is coming quickly. Oh, it is going to grow all year, but as the year progresses Bomar will make less and less mistakes. There is no question that Bomar showed his great potential in this game and in the future he will play better and better.

***

Coach Long never listens to his critics, but I always feel he is trying to teach them a thing for two about football. He kept telling us that as the season progress that we would see a lot more offense, and against the Bruins we certainly did.

"We had a good plan going in. Itwas a plan against this defense," said Long following the game. "We wanted to work the ball around offensively, and I thought we had some growth today. I really did. Rhett played his butt off today and for a young guy in his second start he did some good things. There are some things we still need to work on, but ultimately it comes down to having young guys who haven't been out there who have to learn they have to protect that football. They have to hold onto the ball. I thought the way Rhett carried himself, his poise, his competitiveness and the way he led us today, I thought he played very well."

We have heard about the option stuff all summer and many were wondering when we were going to see it. OU showed a little bit in the opening loss to TCU, but against UCLA the Sooners didn't hid anything back.

"We worked it in camp and drew it out from camp," said Long. "There are a lot of things in camp that you shelve for future opponents, and we brought it out today. We worked hard on it this week and I thought we had some growth. We wish we could have won the football game, but we showed some growth today offensively.

"I was proud the way Rhett and some of the guys really battled. They battled the whole game and never quit. In practice, you practice and talk about ball security, but you have to get into a game to learn it. That is where we are at right now. We are trying to learn all these things. Like I said, I thought we got better and I thought our kids competed well."

While the Sooners never ran this much option before, they never anticipated the turnover problems with the offense, especially with the center snap.

"The thing about last week is that we never put the ball on the ground in practice," said Long Sunday form his office. "What was tough was that we put it on the ground during the game. I do have a solution to it and there is something that I have got to keep working him (Rhett) with. He is not been used to being under center, because he was in the shot-gun his whole high school career.

"The best part of our run game is underneath center, so he has to keep working at it. Again, last week we had made some strides. And in fact, we didn't put it on the ground at all during practice. It is something that you get out in practice and you do. You work on it before and after practice. We do it in the locker room when we are on the road."

"I think all last year we had one running back fumble the ball, and yet yesterday we saw one with Adrian," Long continued. "We have always been very good at protecting the football, and I think will get back to that."

Of course, Peterson had his moments on Saturday. Totally frustrated by his lack of success rushing the football (23-53-1 TD), at one point Peterson tried to pitch the ball back to Bomar on a running play. And then on the pitch out, he fumbled the ball and ended up swatting it out of bounds. Not a normal day's work for the nation's top running back.

"That is not something that we wanted to happen," said Long. "He was trapped back there and he couldn't make a play out of there. At times you just have to take a negative play. You are not going to hit a home run on every play. You just have to take your one-yard gain or your zero yard gain. Just cram it up in there and hopefully get one and move onto the next play. That is something that he will learn, and don't forget that Adrian is still learning. He is such a home run hitter and those guys have that home run mentality. He wants to hit one a lot, just about on every play. There are times where the defense won on that play, you better just take your one and go onto the next play.

As the Sooners made mistake after mistake trying to execute the new wrinkles in the offense, in many ways Coach Long could have screamed out "I told you so." As many fans whaled at Long's conservative gameplan, he kept telling us he was keeping it somewhat conservative because of the youth on Saturday. Against UCLA, Long finally bit the bullet and ran a bunch of new offense, and while Oklahoma gained more yards they also turned it over and made costly mistakes.

"Our offense is a lot better when it is wide open. We have been a team that would formation you, motion you, personnel you, and spread them out and bring them back in," said Long. "We would go from tight sets to open sets. Those are things that we have done and we had to taper that, because we do some a lot of youth in our offense. However, what we did yesterday allowed us to score more points, but there is that fine line on how much you can go with them. Then you have to scale back and put it out there again for them. You have to have a pretty good idea what they can handle, and I think we do. At the same time, you ask can we branch a little forward and move on to this plateau? And that is what I think we did yesterday."

"It worked most of the time, but other times the ball was on the ground, which we didn't like," said Long. "Overall, I thought we had some growth and Rhett played well. He really played his butt off and made some plays. He is really a great competitor and that was a really good sign coming out of that game. That is a big positive coming out of that game. What you can do in a game, especially with a young quarterback, comes down to how much they can handle. Is he at Jason White's point yet? No, he needs room to grow and people need to give him room to grow, as well as all the other young guys we have in there."

***

Needless to say, it wasn't a good day for the offensive line yesterday. OU run game coordinator and offensive line coach Kevin Wilson's decision to move Davin Joseph back at left tackle and senior Kelvin Chaisson at left guard, worked with mixed results. The option game that the Sooners used yesterday is what Coach Wilson is known for the most in college football, and while they had some success the ever-candid Wilson said the offensive line really dropped the ball.

"I think some of those wrinkles helped us, but the bottom line is when we needed to or had to run the ball, we weren't able to," said Wilson. "We didn't play well inside up front. I didn't think Duke (Robinson) had a good week at practice, and on top of that I was worried about how he would play on the road. So, I played Davin at tackle and I think I need to get him back inside. Duke did some things that concerned me and had me a little paranoid where he was for this game, but I am going to have to live with his learning curve because I have an issue that I haven't been able to solve without Davin in there."

"I was just disappointed because a couple of those schemes worked maybe because we caught them off guard every once in a while," said Wilson. "We had better leverage with the quarterback run game inside. We need to play a heck of a lot better inside and across the front to run the ball. We did not."

It was a long day for freshman Branndon Braxton. Braxton had his moments where he dominated the man in front of him, but he also had his moments where he looked out of place and overwhelmed. "At the beginning of the third quarter we have a sweep to the right and his guy is outside. He is tippy toe-ing like he doesn't know it is sweep right and his guy beats him and we lose four or five," said Wilson. "For the lack of a better word, we look like a bonehead offense on a play that we should look pretty good. We have some growing pains for those guys, but I like them.

"I was concerned with Duke, but I need to live with him a lot more outside and kick Davin back into the mix inside. I think (Chris) Chester is doing some good things at center, even though he did have a fumbled snap that hurt. I don't know about the second one, but the first one cost us a drive in the first half was on him."

"We will keep tweaking things up front with the schemes, but the bottom line is that we need to keep getting tougher," Wilson continued. "We are not where we ought to be, and that is disappointing. Rhett is a shot-gun guy and Chester is a former tight end. That is why I started (Chris) Bush at center at the beginning of the year and I felt better about the snap, but Chester is just a better blocker.

"We did 550 post practice snaps last week and now we need to do get to 5,000 this week to clean it up. We can't waste plays and leave the football on the field. We will keep growing as an offense, but we need to play much harder, much more physical inside for us as an offensive line to have a chance to have a good year. I am not giving up on those guys, but I am going to have to play with those young tackles and get Davin back inside.

Wilson indicates that Joseph will start for Chaisson against Kansas State, with Robinson and Braxton starting at tackles. He says that Chris Messner will still get some reps at tackle, and may get some on passing downs. Chester will stay at center with Bush at right guard. Wilson also said that he is going to get J.D. Quinn back into the mix and that Jon Cooper has been cleared to practice and will get into the mix as well.

The Sooners ran the option game pretty well, but if they block better inside then the option game will work even better.

"Sometimes it isn't there, because I don't think we are blocking very well," said Wilson. "All of that stuff is window dressing and it all looks good, but it all starts when you are blocking up front. All of you have to do, if we are not going to block that inside, is hold that defensive end at home and he will never get out there. It all still starts up front no matter how we window dress it or how many guys they put in the box or whether the quarterbacks is running, reading or optioning. We still have to block people. The two games that I didn't play Davin inside, we didn't run the ball at all. So, I am going to put him back inside and we will go from there."

***

At wide receiver, Malcom Kelly earned his first start as a Sooner opposite Travis Wilson. It is not surprising that Kelly has cracked the starting line-up. If he had been healthy in training camp, he would have won a starting job or been no worse than the third receiver coming out of camp. Now that he is healthy he is beginning to make his move along with fellow freshmen Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson.

"Malcom had a great week of practice and he is beginning to put it all together," said OU wide receiver coach Darrell Wyatt after the game. "Before he got hurt in training camp, Malcolm was having a great camp. Now that he is healthy again, it is no surprise that he is beginning to come. Physically, he has everything that it takes to be a great receiver and he has earned the right to be in there.

"Juaquin is another very physical receiver that has played well enough in camp that he deserves a chance to make plays. He caught two passes yesterday (2-38) and he will get opportunities to make more. He picked up a big first-down for us in our last scoring drive. You will see Manuel Johnson in there as well."

"Travis had a very good game on Saturday," Wyatt continued. "He hit the reverse early and made a good run, and he had a very good game as a receiver. He was our main receiver tonight, as he will be all season. With seven catches and a 103-yard day, I think he showed the nation why he is one of the best receivers in the country."

Bomar was also able to connect with the Sooner tight ends on Saturday, throwing to Joe Jon Finley three times for 41- yards, and to Bubba Moses twice for 33 yards. Both Finley and Moses converted key third downs in the game with their receiving ability.

***

The Sooners also will make a a change in the return game. Lendy Holmes started the game as the punt returner, but midway through the first quarter he tried to field a punt that was going out of bounds and that he also had to run a long way for. Holmes tried catch the punt while on a dead sprint toward the sideline, but muffed it. UCLA recovered it at the Oklahoma 19-yard line, and they converted it into their first touchdown one play later.

"Lendy is a good punt returner, but as I have told you many times experience is a virtue back there," said Wyatt. "Being a punt returner is the most difficult position in football. Until you have tried to do that job with 85,000 people all staring and screaming at you and with 11 guys coming down to knock your head off, you really don't have any idea how tough it is.

"Lendy is only a freshman. He has never caught punts in front of a big crowd before and just made a mistake, but you can't make mistakes in that position because they will kill you. Jejuan (Rankins) is still bothered by that ankle, but we knew that he would catch the punts and actually he had a very good return on one. We have two weeks to look at some things. We will see who we can come up with, who we have confidence in — that will first catch the ball and second be able to return the ball."

Expect Rankins to be in that mix, as in two weeks he is expected to be fully healthy. That fact will also help the receiver corps. Freshman Reggie Smith looked very good at kick returns, returning four kicks for 97 yards with a long of 43. Smith is also a candidate as the punt returner, but he struggled early fielding the ball and that set him back a little. He has improved a great deal in recent weeks and may be close to getting another opportunity to field punts. Also, don't be surprised if in a year or two you don't see Smith playing a little wide receiver doubling with his strong safety duties for the Sooners.

***

Defensively, the Sooners played well for three quarters, but gave up three touchdowns to the Bruins in the fourth quarter.

"It was the fourth quarter that wasn't good. We held them to just 50 yards and they hadn't scored in the third," said Venables Sunday from his office. "They started that 13-play drive where we couldn't get off the field, and it just comes down to making a play. It is third-and-13 and we have a busted assignment. We had exactly what we wanted and we just busted an assignment and let them prolong the drive. They end up putting it in. They are a good team too. I don't want to take anything away from them, but our guys were playing hard. Again, it just takes one guy not to do his deal and that is what happened."

"The turnover that they negated was incredible," Venables continued. "That didn't decide the game, but that was tough to overcome. Following the 13-play drive, don't think that it wasn't frustrating. You play good for two or three plays and then somebody would be out of position. We weren't good enough to finish down the stretch. That is discouraging and frustrating because in a game like that, you felt like you had a chance to win going into the fourth quarter and then we couldn't seal the deal."

Throughout the week the Sooner coaches hoped that senior linebacker Clint Ingram would be able to play against UCLA. His injured hamstring seemed to improve each day and whether he would play or not would be a game-time decision. Ingram suited up for warm-ups, but still didn't feel 100 percent, which gave Pleasant the start.

"He did do some things that were really good and he on some others he showed that he had never started a game before," said Venables. "He wasn't alone, but there were some things where we needed to be a lot better at. That comes with experience and he can't be zeroed in on just one thing. I was proud of his effort, but he can be better."

Pleasant led the Sooners in tackles with 10 (nine solo).

***

In the secondary, it was a reversal of roles from the previous two games. In the first two games the Sooner corners played lights out and the safeties struggled. However, against UCLA the safeties stepped up and played pretty well, but the corners struggled. In fact, starting corners D.J. Wolfe and Chijioke Onyenegecha struggled so bad that they were replaced by Marcus Walker and Eric Bassey at times during the game.

"D.J. and Chijioke just weren't tackling," said secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright on Sunday from his office. "D.J. had been playing great, but must have been affected by the crowd or something because he missed several tackles in the game. He would play the ball right and then miss the tackle giving up another 15 yards.

"I put Marcus and Eric in there and both were playing pretty well, but both of them got hurt. So, they had to come out of the game and D.J. and Chijioke played a little better, but not by much. Reggie (Smith) played very well in his first start. He was on top of things, tackled well and played a very good game."

Walker's shoulder popped out again and this is apparently going to be a continuing problem all season. At this point, they are going to try to get him through the season but they are not sure if he will make it. Bassey was coughing up blood on the Sooner sideline and he thought that he had busted some ribs. However, an x-ray didn't reveal any serious damage.

***

The loss dropped the Sooners to 1- 2 on the year, and they are now unranked in the top 25 for the first time since 1999.

"On offense, what we have to do is become responsible for the ball first," said Stoops on Sunday from his office. "Second, we have to eliminate the negative plays — not just penalties — but some of the lost yardage plays that we are getting whether they are bad snaps or just runs that we get hit in the back, or somebody goes the wrong way. Whatever we have to do to solve it, we need to do it together and eliminate those bad plays. We get behind the chains too often. It was encouraging to see us throw the ball, especially in the hurry-up offense of the two minute drill. Those parts were good."

"Defensively, we were really good until the last drive in defending the run. And coverage-wise I thought we were poor," Stoops continued. "It wasn't just in the secondary, but linebackers as well. Coverage and just some fundamental responsibilities were there. Tackling needed to be better, closing in our zones needed to be better and limiting yardage needed to be better. There were times we had them second and 20 and they dump it to the back for a two-yard gain or five yards and on second and 20, but we come up and miss a tackle and he gets 20. Simple things just hurt it. We are covering the tight end in wing and we are in man coverage, but we don't watch him stand up and run down the field. That doesn't get any simpler. We just need the discipline to play smarter and to play responsibility football. We need to be accountable for what we do."

"Those are issues that I see," Stoops continued. "I thought the kicking game was really pretty good. Our punting was good, but I was disappointed that Garrett (Hartley) didn't make that field goal. It was a field goal that he should make. If he does, it changes things. Kick-off coverage was good as we kept them inside the 20 every time. Cody (Freeby) averaged 40 yards (45.6) on four or five kicks, which is good. Our coverage on those kicks were good.

"We had some good kick returns, but we have the official's opinion that we are blocking in the back and we have to bring it back to within the 10-yard line. Those kinds of plays hurt. Then the two turnovers that we don't get are blatant. They are right out there for everybody to see and they take them both away. They are hard to overcome when you look at it. One in the first half gives us the ball inside the 30 for opportunity for points, and then on the interception we are going to have the ball inside the 20. They bring it back and give them 15 yards on a holding call that isn't there."

***

The OU corners were playing way off the UCLA receivers, and that turnd out to be the Sooner game plan against UCLA. But what the coaches didn't plan on was a disappointing tackling effort.

"To me the bigger factor is the missed tackles," said Stoops. "I would like to knock every ball down, but we are not going to do that. At times, they had too much cushin and at other times they didn't, but we would miss the tackle and gave up too many yards. At times, rolled up on them then sunk back and they dumped it off and the guy breaks a tackle and gets 20 yards. We have to play better."

***

The Sooners will not play next weekend, but depending on how they practice they may not get the weekend off. Coach Stoops said they may practice on Saturday, but he also indicated that his coaches would go out and watch some high school games this weekend. So if the team wants the weekend off, they better get after it in practice and better execute in practice.

Is the week off coming at a time with the Sooners 1-2 on the year come at a good time?

"I guess it is good for us that we have a week off so that we can work on more stuff and keep getting better," said Bomar. "We, as a team, need to recover physically and use this week wisely then come back strong and get ready for Big 12 play, which is what is most important to us anyway. We played alright today, but it is good to get a little break at this time and get our minds right for Big 12 play because in reality that is all that really matters."

You can bet the Sooners are going to work on ball control. OU has put the ball on the ground 17 different times through three games and have lost nine fumbles. OUCH.


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