Teams that come off a dramatic loss like Oklahoma suffered against Oregon will go one of two ways. They will either get over it and move on and continue to play well the rest of the reason, or they will go in the dumps and struggle.
The big concern all week after the screw job that OU suffered at the hands of the Ducks, the officials and replay official, was whether they would bounce back and play well against Middle Tennessee State. But more important would they bounce back for the rest of the season with Texas and the start of the Big-12 season right around the corner.
All week, head coach Bob Stoops and every single coach on the staff talked to the team about the importance of putting that game behind them and moving on. Stoops himself talked about the Oregon situation and their apology on Monday and Tuesday when he had to deal with the media. And then from that point on, he has not talked publicly about it and neither has his coaches or players.
Still, you never know how a team is going to respond in the next game. Yes, OU had good practices and they were physical workouts as well. Going into the game tackling was still a major concern on a defense ranked 97th in the country, and the play of the safeties had become a big concern among the defense. Also, play at middle linebacker had become a concern.
So the Sooner defensive coaches burned the midnight oil trying to make decisions that could benefit a defense that was struggling to put it all together. In the secondary, coach Bobby Jack Wright decided that he had more good corners than safeties and since safety is such an important position on the field that he needed to put his best defensive back at safety.
Yes, Reggie Smith was their best corner, but he is one of their best players so where ever he plays he is the best. This gave Lendy Holmes another chance to start at corner and ultimately D.J. Wolfe another chance to reclaim the boundary corner job. If we will listen to coach Wright during the week, he really tries to tell us what is going on and what is going happen on the field. He said on Wednesday that he still had confidence in D.J. and still felt he was a good football player. He also said that he had to find the best four players who could play together to form the best secondary.
The Sooners could have gone either direction against the Blue Raiders, and in the 59-0 drubbing they showed they were still going to do everything in their power to have a great season. Thy came out, played a clean game on both sides of the ball and did exactly what they should have done against a team they were supposed to dominate.
Oklahoma made them pay for coming to Norman to accept their $650,000 paycheck, which was the reason why the Blue Raiders accepted the game in the first place. Unfortunately, teams like Middle Tennessee State have to play games on the road at a major power to fund their athletic budgets. But if that major power doesn't pay attention, sometimes a team like the Blue Raiders can make them look bad. However, there was no chance of that happening against the Sooners on Saturday.
The Sooners accomplished everything they wanted to against the Blue Raiders on Saturday, except for getting Heisman Trophy candidate Adrian Peterson 200 yards. Oh, they tried as AD carried the ball 27 times, but with the Blue Raiders stacking the box and blitzing on every play the passing game was to wide open and too good to pass up.
On defense, the Sooners were aggressive and tackled much better holding the Blue Raiders to under 100 yards total offense for the game and posting their first shutout since Baylor in 2004. Five different Sooners came up with turnovers on Saturday including Zach Latimer, who picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown, Nic Harris, who also intercepted a pass, while Rufus Alexander, Lendy Holmes and Calvin Thibodeaux recovered fumbles.
Outside of the two fumbles by reserve running back Allen Patrick, it was a grand night all around for the Sooners.
"It was good to play well, really, for much of the game and for a full 60 minutes," said Stoops following the game. "I understand that we are going to see tougher competition as we go, but it is pleasing to go out and to not have penalties, to take care of the football, until the end when we got some of our backups in the game, who need to do a better job of it. To not have the breakdowns that you can have, regardless of who you are playing, was what we were shooting for. Just to keep building as a team to play as well, as we were capable of and not to worry about whom we are playing so much. For the most part we did that."
"I thought Paul (Thompson) was excellent again," Stoops continued. "The offensive line protection was good. They blitzed an awful lot and we knew that coming in. They did a great job picking it up, as well as the tight ends and fullbacks. We ran the football really well. We had to get Adrian out just because we didn't want to take a chance. I think it was obvious by the way we threw the ball they had everybody up there as they were trying to hammer Adrian. So we were able to have some big plays that way. Defensively, we tackled well and really structurally played in a better way."
"You build on all games, "said Stoops from his office Sunday. "There is a lot of good there so, absolutely, there are things that you can build and work. Regardless, we have a week that we have to push and improve, make improvement and to push for more consistency. There was a lot of consistency and good play there."
Going into the game the defense was looking for anything positive. The Sooners were ranked an uncharacteristic 97th in total defense and were playing badly is so many areas that defensive coordinator Brent Venables said it seemed like when the defensive coaches plug one hole in the dyke that another one would spring a leak.
So, finally this season the Sooner defense has something to brag about and a good game to build on. Granted, it was against an outmanned opponent, but when you are in those situations you are supposed to dominate them and that is exactly what the defense did.
"The shutout is good against anybody," said Venables following the game. "This game was going to be about us proving that we can play. Again, it was us just being clean by lining up correct, executing blitz, executing coverage and reading the right keys, and then being physical with our tackling. We needed to be in the right gap, staying on your feet and we needed to play with a sense of purpose and focus. We shouldn't have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting every time we want to do that, but our guys were tired of not playing well."
All week, Venables talked to anyone that would listen about what it took for this defense to play up to standards. He talked about fundamentals, attitude and passion, but most of all he talked about this defensive group becoming a smarter defensive unit.
"Our defense is improving, but it has been a while since we played good defense and we were overdue," Venables continued. "Tonight was more like it. However, we need to keep things in perspective and we have a lot of work to do to continue to make improvement to, and I feel like we will. I felt like that now for a month into the season, and at times it has been good. Consistency is the biggest thing and that obviously was a point of emphasis at halftime, Hopefully, our players recognize too that with a little bit more focus and with the right emphasis during the course of the week they can improve. Just do the basics, because it is not always just how bad you want to win, it is what you do during the course of the week."
"During preparation you go through all your fundamentals," Venables continued. "That can get mundane, particularly for older guys. We felt as a staff there was a reason why the older guys weren't performing at the level they have in the past. Some of it too is that they take things for granted, like a lot of young people will. When it comes to preparation, you cannot cheat the game. It is technique, fundamentals. It is lining up and not beating yourself. It is being physical, being smart and having some awareness on the field and making adjustments, but I think you get that by better preparation during the course of the week. We had guys working on their fundamentals, working on tackling and working on execution with a little bit more urgency during the course of the week. That is my responsibility, to make sure that we are doing that. Sometime,s by not playing with the consistency that we needed to, it leads to us not playing well and we made some improvement this week doing that."
Middle Tennessee State was never a threat to move the ball against the Sooners, as they were living in the Blue Raiders' backfield all night. In fact, Rufus Alexander seemed to be in the Blue Raiders' huddle finishing with a school-record five tackles for losses.
"Iit is a great complement to have a record here at such a great school like Oklahoma," said Alexander. "There have been so many great players who have come out of here. It is an honor and a privilege. I was just playing during the game and I didn't have any idea I was close to a record or anything. But is a great honor to hold such a record."
Alexander believes that the shutout will start the defense on its way of playing back to form.
"You can call it a psychological boost or however you want to put it," Alexander said following the game. "We had to play better and we went out and did play better. We went out there and executed. In the games before that, we tried to execute the same way but just fell short. It was good to play four quarters in a great way. Defensively, it was great to go in there and get three and outs, shutting them down whenever they had momentum going their way and the offense going out there and scoring points whenever we gave them the ball. Those are the kind of games that I am used to since I have been here. When Jason White was here he would score points faster than we could give him the ball."
Not only did Alexander play great, but senior middle linebacker Zach Latimer had his best game of the season picking off one pass and taking it back into the house. Latimer dropped an interception last week on the first series against Oregon, and he took steps to make sure he wasn't going to drop another one.
"Last week was disappointing and I wasn't going to let that happen again," said Latimer following the game. "I had my other gloves on. I changed them up and put some wide receiver gloves on. I put some receiver gloves on and when that ball was thrown it stuck in there this week. I also did a couple of ball drills during practice. I wasn't going to drop a pass again. I have been able to see the routes pretty well the last couple of weeks because we are watching extra film. I am watching where the quarterback likes to go and when he looks at it just go. Don't sit there and think about it, try to jump the route. Just do it."
Latimer has been in the program forever and it seems and he knows the keys to success for the Sooners better than anybody. Sometimes it is just old fashioned hard work.
"I think it comes from everybody having a great week of practice," said Latimer. "Coming from that great week of practice it carried over to tonight. If we can keep doing that I think we can keep performing at a high level. The scout team is going to give us the same look that our opponent is going to give us, so if you are all over it out there then you are going to be all over it when it is time to play. It should, by now, be second nature when you see it. If you are slow on it at practice and you don't get it, then that is how it is going to carry over. When we are on top of it out there it carries over like it did today."
Tackling has been a major problem for Latimer and many of his teammates on defense, but that improved a great deal against the Blue Raiders.
"I didn't get that many opportunities, but when I was there I did a lot better tonight," said Latimer. "It is something that I needed to work on to make sure I club my arms and make sure I get them down."
Despite not playing well early, and with sophomore Curtis Lofton showing signs of being a quality middle linebacker, Venables sticks with Latimer in the middle because he knows he is still developing at the position.
"He is still not an older player when you consider how much he has played," said Venables. "The spring hurt him (shoulder surgery), but again I am an optimist and I am hoping that is why he maybe didn't start out as strong as I would have liked for him. This was one game and a good week of practice. Hopefully, this will be the start of good play from him in the future. I saw him play well enough last year that I expect to see that all the time this year."
Overall, it was a good day for the linebackers.
"They played really good," said Venables. "I thought that Rufus, Zach, Nic (Harris), Curtis (Lofton) and Lewis (Baker) all came in and they all did some really good things. I thought Rufus made a bunch of plays on their side of the line of scrimmage, which is always a good indicator of a guy really being on top of his game. Both Zach and Rufus tackled better and gave better coverage. Nic was solid again and the other two guys came in and played pretty well."
Nic? Is Nic a linebacker? Each week coach Venables gets asked this question and so does secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright. What is the skinny?
"The safety lines up deep and the linebacker lines up outside," said Venables. "So he is an outside linebacker, but you can call him a safety if you want. I don't really care. He sits in my meetings and he is close to the box most of the time, if he is not in it. He plays the exact same position that Clint (Ingram) played, Eric Bassey has played and that Roy Williams played. You can call him a nickel, you can call him a safety, or you can him a linebacker, it really doesn't matter to me."
What does matter is that Harris is getting better on each and every snap and is becoming a playmaker on defense.
"Nic really hasn't played very much, but he is getting better," Venables continued. "He started a couple of games last year at safety, but he really didn't play a whole lot outside of special teams. He will continue to improve and get better in his awareness. You look at his growth on those back-to-back plays in the second half prior to his interception. The first one he should have been on the quick stop route, but Marcus came up and made the tackle for five. He should have been there before Marcus.
"When he looked over immediately he was told he has to push quicker, and he instantly did it. Now not all players will get it and they will still be off. It takes some reps, because they are rep guys and Nic is a guy who has good understanding and he gets it. Obviously, he felt it right away and he felt it at the snap. He knew it was the sprint and he stepped underneath it, so it was good. I think you will see that he will still make some mistakes, but I think you will see as well that from the beginning of the year to the end of the year he will be a much better player."
You can expect the Sooners to get some more fundamental work on defense next week.
"The game is pretty simple. You would like to think that some guys who have played a while are going to play with good fundamentals and technique," said Venables. "Maybe you take some things for granted in that regard. In years past, with some older guys, we have been able to get more recognition. We didn't totally neglect our fundamentals, because we do go over them every day. At the same time, going back to some more of the basics helped because those are the things that we were sharp at."
It has been talked about all week, but playing defense for the Sooners takes some talent and some fundamentals.
"A lot of defense is just that," said Stoops. "It is fundamentals. It is your technique and staying square at the line of scrimmage. If you are a flat player, then not running off and then being able to close if somebody catches it short, then close off the flat. It is just basic, fundamental principles with leverage tackling with your hips and feet. Sometimes what you are doing scheme-wise is overrated.
"It gets down to those fundamentals and I have felt that we were close in these other games, but we haven't been nearly consistent enough. We have showed at times we can do it, but not all the time. So it was good to play that way. And I am still confident that we can get better and improve and that is what we have to do this week."
OUInsider.com broke the story on Friday that Reggie Smith was moving back to safety. Considering Smith was playing some of the best cornerback in the country and was clearly the best cornerback on the team, the move was puzzling to many. However, Smith is the Sooners' best defensive back period and quality depth at cornerback allowed OU the luxury to move Smith to a major position of need.
"If you look at our pool of best players the guys who were out there last night were our best secondary players," said Venables. "We are trying to find a way to put them on the field and our options at safety doesn't give us an opportunity to get our best players on the field. That was determined after three games of evaluations, again, as apposed to potential. Sometimes you don't find out certain things until you get into those game situations. That was the main thing. For him having the whole year of experience of playing strong safety, obviously made the decision a little bit easier too."
"Lendy (Holmes) was off the first couple of snaps, but D.J. Wolfe came off and played well," Venables continued. "Overall, they played solid. Those guys that play for you at corner have to have short memories. They have to forget they were fired and forget those bad plays. They have to be tough mentally, as much as anything.
"They are going to complete some balls on you and they are going to get behind you every once in a while, but it can't be consistently. Cornerback is like any other position, but their's is more magnified obviously because of the plays they are giving up usually are more yards. Like all positions, if you are not getting it done somebody else is going to be given an opportunity to get it done."
Marcus Walker played well at the field corner and seemed to solidify his status there. Walker was on top of all of his coverage responsibilities and was physical in the run game. If Walker can stay healthy, then the Sooners have one of the best field corners in the Big 12 Conference.
One thing is for certain, the Sooner defensive coaches are looking for people they can count on in the secondary.
"We were looking for a little more consistency in that position," said Stoops. "Reggie played it last year and by the end of the year was doing really well with it. We just felt the value of having him in there would give us a boost. So we will see where it goes. He played really well in there and the other guys did a nice job at coner."
On Monday and Tuesday, Smith talked to the media about playing corner. And that is all that he talked about, so he was as surprised as anybody when he was asked to move back to safety.
"Coach Wright just approached me and told me that they were going to move me back to safety," said Smith. "I was just like, OK. They told me they were going to make the move because Marcus and Lendy had been doing such a great job and they thought it would help the team better. "I was a little disappointed and surprised, but not really," said Smith. "I just want to help out as much as I can and if everything works out I get to move back sometime. I will just make the best of playing safety and do what I can to help make the team better."
Ever since Smith has been at OU there has been talk of him playing corner, but even when he moved to corner he sounded as if he liked playing safety better. But now that he has been moved back to safety, it sounds like Smith has taken to playing corner.
"When I first came in I did like playing safety more because that is all I ever played," said Smith. "Once I got out to corner I figured out how easy it is to play and how I can make plays, I started to like playing that more."
Smith also came up big in the return game returning a punt 61-yards for a touchdown.
"I just knew if I caught the ball and had a little bit of space that I would be able to make something happen," said Smith. "I just figured it would be a good week this week, because they didn't have as much speed as I thought we had. I just have to take it for what it is. Some plays are going to happen and some aren't, you just have to be alright with that and keep rolling."
The Sooners also had a great offensive day finishing with 462 yards total offense — 190 yards rushing and 272 yards passing. It was another super day for Paul Thompson, who finished with 257 yards passing on 13-of-18 attempts with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"Paul is playing well. His play against some of these previous opponents has been kind of easy," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson Sunday from the OU Football Complex. "The total commitment of the alignment and structure to get people up there and stop Adrian has left a lot of those guys out there with one-on-one plays. All that is working together and he is getting reasonable protection.
"I think they charged us yesterday with a sack when our running back went the wrong way on a running play and we took a five-yard lose. So I think that is four games and four sacks. I think we have a sack on the tight end, a sack on the tailback and two on the line, so that is pretty good for a four-game stretch. We worked really hard in preseason to try to get our passing game up to speed, because we felt we were going to have opportunities to throw the ball well.
"We know we have a great running back and we know that everybody's commitment to stop the run was going to be there. To be a balanced offense, we had to be good in the throwing game."
Thompson hopes the big game is just another step toward great things in the future.
"This game gives us a big boost in confidence for the game that we have coming up in a couple of weeks," said Thompson. "That game coming up is real big. This was a good stepping-stone for us getting us where we want to get as an offense. We are still not where we want to be, but this was a big step in where we want to go."
The Sooner defense created five turnovers and they were turning the ball over so fast that it seemed like the offensive was always on the field.
"Yeah, that was real big," said Thompson. "I am not sure how many turnovers we got, but it seemed like every time I went to get a drink I had to put my helmet on and go back out there. We just had a lot of big plays offensively and defensively, and with the special teams getting involved, we always had good field position which was big.
"We practiced the slants and the post reads all week. Sometimes those reads are difficult, but given the space that I had the first one to 'Wick' (Juaquin Iglesias) and also to Pooh (Adron Tennell), that slant and the post were wide open and I just took my steps and threw it out there."
Thompson is becoming a big play quarterback and the type of signal-caller who loves it when a team wants to blitz him.
"They were going to commit everybody to the run game," said Wilson. "They had everybody in a blitzing alignment and we should have thrown more, and could have thrown more. We felt like the way the game was going we were going to win and we were going to win kind of big. We wanted Adrian to get his yards for the image of quote stats. At the same time, we probably should have thrown it 20 more times than we did and we left some offense out there.
"However, we don't want to be embarrassing or threatening, but they were going to commit to stop the run which every team is. Paul is doing a nice job for the most part with where he is going with the football. I thought early he forced one throw, one of the few that he has done this year, but there are going to be a lot of one-on-one shots available for the rest of the year."
Malcolm is playing well, we are getting the tight ends more involved and our protection is getting better," Wilson continued. "We want to try to be as balanced as we can, but we felt all along that we could be a good passing team. Paul has played well and we have been saying all along that we think he can play better and that he has not played his best, but he is gaining on it."
Maybe the best thing about Saturday's game, offensively for the Sooners, was that they got a chance to play a bunch of young players and nobody got hurt.
"We were hoping that we could inspire them at practice so we would be able to get them to get going," said Kevin Wilson. "Hopefully, this game experience where Trent Williams is playing, Chase Beeler played the whole way in there, Jermaine (Gresham) got to play a lot more, Brandon Caleb did as well and so did Pooh Tennell.
"Hopefully, now that they have played a little bit more they will have better practices, because we are going to need them at Texas and for the long run. It was nice for those guys to have some success. There is a lot of talent in that freshmen and sophomore class and we have to keep these guys coming in the right way."
"We thought Beeler would play a lot this year and it was nice to get Trent and those guys going," Wilson continued. "That gave us the ability to get (Branndon) Braxton to left tackle and give 'Mess' (Chris Messner) some snaps in there at center. (Jon) Cooper could have gone, but we felt it was wise to hold him and Matt Clapp out. Hopefully, those two guys will be full-go at practice next week."
Going into the season, depth in the offensive line was a major concern and it still is, but at least the Sooners are developing some young players who can be outstanding players in the future.
"They played well," said Wilson. "We thought that Chase did a good job in there at center going the whole way. He did miss some blocks and got in there a little high or what not, but he didn't have any significant errors and his snaps were all clean.
"Trent Williams came in and played really well. We like him, and he gave us a chance to work Braxton in there and left tackle. Trent played right tackle. He is different than Braxton and Duke, he is kinda like those other really good linemen that we have had. He is kind of a big, thick guy with a strong anchor. But he has reasonably quick feet and he is pretty athletic. He can move around. He played a lot in the first half and it was good to get him going.
"We were able to get Cory Brandon going. I think we are going to need him down the stretch. He is a young guy that by playing this year is going to help him in future years as he matures. It was great to get all three of those guys going."
"Jermaine Gresham played more than he had played," Wilson continued. "I think he would tell you that he can block better, but he did some good things and we need to continue to bring him along. I think in the first three games we might have played Joe Jon (Finley) too much. He didn't block as well in the previous two games and I think he got a little gassed. It would be nice to continue his development.
"Those two freshmen receivers did some good things too. There are six freshmen that are playing out there. They are all pretty good and we need them to play well. We just felt after the Oregon game those guys needed to practice better and we challenged them and asked them to do so. We thought as we go through conference play that those guys were going to have to be contributors, have a significant role and not just be a back-up. But be a guy who we can get something out of. I thought all of those guys did well and I thought the three young linemen did well for young guys."
The big development in the offensive line centers on the decision to not redshirt Brandon. Coach Wilson said early in camp that when it was all said and done that Brandon would probably be the best player among the freshmen offensive linemen, but that as a freshman he would redshirt so that he could starting working on getting bigger and stronger.
Well, things always seem to change in training camp and the Sooners are also changing their philosophy when it comes to redshirting freshmen in the offensive line.
"We are under the opinion that when they play and they are young guys, it will help them have better off-seasons," said Wilson. "It will help them a year from now be better no matter what. Whether they are going to get into the rotation and play a lot this year remains to be seen. There is not a crystal ball that you can predict things, but he has done better. A guy like that, who is basically your eighth or ninth linemen on your two-deep, he is going to have to play potentially down the road. And you would hate for that to be in game nine. So let's go ahead and get him out there when you can.
The bottom line is I think one of the key reasons why we have had some attrition on the offensive line the last couple of years, when we had Jammal (Brown), Davin (Joseph), Vince (Carter) and Wes (Sims) were playing so much, was the young guys didn't play. I think when those guys get out there and play they appreciate that more because they have had some fun. When you are never playing in a game, and then you are practicing and working hard in the off-season, sometimes it get to the point when you are not having fun."
"We just felt as much as anything that it would eventually help us, but really help him through the off-season and next year," Wilson continued. "He will be a better player next year, but will he play a bunch this year? Who knows. Every time we can get him in there it is going to help his future and help his growth and get him to be where we need him to be in year's to come. That was the main reason as much as anything. We can always redshirt him his sophomore year like we did with Paul if we feel that is best for him.
"I don't know, with the depth that we have in the offensive line, that we will ever have that luxury to get that year back. However, you might have an unfortunate situation like we had last year when we had injuries in the internal position, then he could get an opportunity to play sooner than you think he might. We just feel, in many cases, when those freshmen play in year one they are a lot better in year two and three, and that is when we are going to need Cory to be a major contributor.
"We did feel from the first day at camp that Trent Williams and Chase Beeler would be ready to play as freshmen, and that they would be very capable of playing well. We thought that they could truly get into the mix. Cory is slightly below that because he is a little bit leaner and not as strong. But now that he has played he will also get some plays down the stretch."
Is Malcolm Kelly a star yet? Once again the Longview, Texas sophomore proved that he is one of the best wide receivers in the Big 12 Conference and in the country by hauling in five passes for 164 yards. And Kelly set a record for receiving yardage in a quarter when he burned the Blue Raiders' secondary 134-yards on three first quarter catches.
"I just feel like every time they call a play, as long as we execute, that is really what the big thing is," said Kelly. "Coach Wilson called the plays and we executed them. When they call that deep pass, I get a little more pep in my step and get a little smile on my face or whatever. My job is to just come out and make plays and we got it going early tonight."
Kelly said after a rough week at practice, he felt the offense would come out and play well.
"Some people were still worried about the Oregon game or what not, but we just had to come in and play," said Kelly following the game. "When we put it all together that is what you saw tonight. We all put it together. The defense came together. I just think we are going to have to take that and build on it. In two weeks, we have the big game and that game determines a whole lot every year. We are going to be focusing on that game."
Kelly gives Thompson a big, talented target to throw. And Thompson is taking advantage of that at a 17.9 per catch average.
"Paul is getting better with each snap and each throw, and I have always had confidence in him," said Kelly. "From the beginning, when everybody was down on our quarterback situation, I was saying that we are still the team that we were before all that quarterback stuff happened. That is how much confidence I have in Paul and that is exactly what we are trying to show everybody.
"Paul is just a great athlete. People are beginning to see that he can throw the deep ball and also put the ball on the money no matter what route he is throwing. Paul is reading stuff out and is thinking his way through games. The more he plays, the more his experience brings a little more to his game."
But for the second straight game, Kelly's size 13 shoes cost him as he stepped out of bounds costing him a touchdown.
"The sidelines just don't like me," said a smiling Kelly. "That is what that is. The whole time I was running I was never looking at the sideline. I was looking back at the DB because I kind of had to slow down for the ball, so I kind of didn't know where the DB was. I was thinking score and I didn't want the DB to tackle me is. I know man, it is sick or something. I am going to have to work on some tightrope drills or something. Don't worry, I will get it straight."
The great thing about Kelly becoming a star and Jermaine Gresham scoring his first touchdown is the fact that they headline a very talented group of young players who have a chance to be grat over the next couple of years.
"Malcolm is a young guy with a lot of talent, who quite honestly will continue to get better," said Wilson. "To me, it is set up pretty easy. If we will complement our run with our pass game, those guys are going to have the opportunity because of the commitment to stop Adrian and to come in and stop the run. I truly feel an untold story is that you have four sophomores up there, you have a bunch of sophomores at receiver, you have a converted receiver back at quarterback and that guy (AD) is running the ball is pretty good. At the same time, because the run has a chance to be so effective and every team respects Adrian so much, the pass game complements so easy. As long as we can keep the protection and keep it sound there, is some money to be made in the passing game every week. Hopefully, we will keep building on that."
"Jermaine told me after the game that he didn't play real well," Wilson continued. "I said, "Yeah, well that is good because everybody is excited that you caught a touchdown pass. Now let's makes sure you realize that one play is nice, but let's continue to be better without the ball in your blocking. I made a comment the other day, because he is a little overwhelmed as a lot of the freshmen are with the multiple looks and the multiple things that we do, but we have to kind of play through that. You worry about guys making mistakes, but sometimes you just have to take it on the chin, cut it lose and let those cats go."
Finally, it was another great day for Adrian Peterson. AD finished with 128 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns despite only played one series in the second half rushing for 53 yards on just four carries.
"We just came out and made a couple of adjustments that allowed us to get some big runs, especially in the second half," said Peterson following the game. "It was unfortunate that I got only one series in the second half, but I understand why that was the case.
"They were overloading us on one side most of the game, and a couple of times they came up the middle. We were pretty good at reading it and going to the other side or going around it. We just kept running right at them and kept pounding them. We came out and made some big plays in the second half."
Peterson says the positive results came after a great week of practice.
"It feels real good and shows that we got after it this week and got prepared," said AD. "We prepared like we wanted to come out and dominate, and we did. We came in focused and we knew that Middle Tennessee would come in ready to play. We knew this wasn't going to be a week off. If you want to be the best team you have to prove it every week. We just came out and we executed."
Peterson was taken out of the game after one series in the second half when he finally got over the 100-yard rushing mark, but it took some urging for the head ball coach for AD to finally agree to come out of the game.
"The reason why he wants to play is not selfishly, but because he is such a competitor," said Stoops. "He has worked all week and he just loves to play. Once you reason with him, and the reason to reason with a guy like that is because he works to hard and is so competitive in the way he fights for you, that you want him to understand and have a good attitude about it. And he does, especially once he lets his emotions get away from it. He realizes the situation and he knows it is the right thing."
Peterson, like most of the Sooners, are already thinking ahead to the Red River Battle two weeks ahead in Big D.
"It is going to be a long two weeks with Texas coming off," said Peterson. "The week off comes in handy so all of us can get totally healthy. Many of us are banged up a little in someway, so this will give us a chance to get healthy, get fresh and get ready to be strong in the fourth quarter."
The Sooners came out of the game with no serious injuries. Fullback Matt Clapp is expected to return to practice this week and he will be ready to go against Texas.
Oklahoma will take Monday off before returning to practice for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If things go well at practice this week, the players will get Friday and Saturday off and the Sooner coaches will hit the road recruiting Thursday through Saturday.
By the way, if you see Allen Patrick eating in a restaurant with a football tucked under his arm, don't be alarmed. You know he will have to sleep with a football for the next two weeks after his two fumbles on Saturday?
OU-Middle Tennessee Locker Room Report
Sooners Illustrated Top Stories
OU gives Tyreece Lott something to considerSo what did TCU commit Tyreece Lott say about his OU visit? Where do the Sooners stand?
Sooners Illustrated11:30 AM
Sooners Illustrated Chat - Jan. 22, 2017Now 10 days away from signing day. Come along and talk all things Sooners.
Sooners Illustrated8:48 AM
SoonerSquad17 profile: Creed HumphreyEleven members of SoonerSquad17 have arrived in Norman. Time to get to know the newest Sooners.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 6:35 PM
Sooner Intel: Thibodeaux still making movesIntel returns with a look at the weekend coming up for OU.
Sooners IllustratedFriday at 3:04 PM