When did Oklahoma morph into the bumbling, stumbling Sooners under Bob Stoops? This team only plays like a Bob Stoops coached team in spurts, and during those spurts the 2007 Sooners are still a very good football team, but during the times in almost every game this season when the Sooners revert to a mistake prone outfit, OU is an average football team.
Yes, the Texas offensive line did take control of the line of scrimmage in the third quarter. And, yes, Longhorn freshman quarterback Colt McCoy did play like a veteran in the second half. Those two factors were significant in the Longhorns' 28-10 victory over the Sooners on Saturday. However, even more significant in Oklahoma's loss in the Cotton Bowl Saturday was themselves.
OU fumbled the ball six times and recovered three, but the one's they didn't recover stopped a very real potential scoring drive or gave up a touchdown to the Longhorns. The Sooners also threw two interceptions in desperation time in the fourth quarter to finish minus-five in the all-important turnover/takeaway ratio. There isn't a team in the country that is going to win many games with a minus-five ratio in turnovers and takeaways.
On top of that, the Sooners shot themselves in the foot by getting penalized 11 times for 72 yards, with many of those false starts being on the offensive line or illegal procedure. How many times did it seem like the Sooners had momentum on an offensive drive, only to false start and do something else silly killing the drive in its tracks?
On the Sooners' second possession of the game trailing 7-0 at the Texas 22, they false started on first down and on third down senior quarterback Paul Thompson loses 13-yards on a sack, which knocked the Sooners out of field goal range.
On the Sooners' next possession, they have a first down at the UT 48-yard line and following an incomplete pass Adrian Peterson fumbles the ball away in a controversial play where it appeared that ground caused the fumble.
Then, on Oklahoma's next next possession late in the first quarter, junior tight end Joe Jon Finley is called for offensive pass interference (phantom call) nullifying a 24-yard gain and costing them 15-yards instead of a big gain and field position in Texas territory. The rattled Sooners picked up another 5-yard false start penalty and they were forced punt on 4th-and-27.
On their next possession, OU scores in three plays as AD scores on a spectacular 29-yard run to tie the game at 7-7. A big 41-yard pass to super frosh tight end Jermaine Gresham sets up the big run.
Then n their final possession of the half, they overcome a false start early in the drive on third down to eventually settle for a Garrett Hartley 35-yard field goal. On 3rd-and-2 at the Texas 15-yard line, AD trips over Thompson and loses two yards on a play that appeared to have TD or big run all over it. The Sooners lead at the half 10-to-7.
The Sooners come out flat in the second half and go three and out. On fourth down, they get a delay penalty trying to punt the ball and then only punt the ball 30-yards.
Texas scores in three plays as Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed beats junior corner D.J. Wolfe for a 33-yard touchdown top regain the lead 14-to-10.
AD receives the following kick-off near the Sooner sideline inside the 10 and gets tackled at the OU 11-yard line. AD should have let the ball go out of bounds and the Sooners would have started at their own 35-yard line instead. OU picks up another false start penalty early in the drive, but a 7-yard sack hurts more and the Sooners punt from their own 48.
Texas drives it right down the Sooners' throats to make it 21-10. A six-yard QB sneak by McCooy totally demoralizes the Sooners.
OU drives from their own 38-yard line and on second and 11 from the Texas 29 and the Sooners pick up another procedure penalty. OU looks as if they are going to overcome it on 3rd-and-13 from their 29, but sophomore wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias is popped and fumbles at the Texas 12. Texas linebacker Robert Killebrew, who the Sooners finished second on in recruiting, picks up the fumble and returns it to the Texas 40 stopping a key OU drive that would have put them right back into the game.
OU turns the ball over on a controversial pass from Thompson to Peterson that was ruled a lateral instead of a forward pass. Texas cornerback Aaron Ross picks up the football lying on the ground at the OU 3-yard line and walks into the end zone for a touchdown to give Texas a commanding 28-to-10 lead.
The Sooners can't mount a comeback at this point and in desperate times Thompson throws two interceptions.
In all, Oklahoma committed five procedures, gave up two sacks and fumbled six times (losing three). And out of 63 plays, they had 18 negative plays yet still managed to outgain the Longhorns 333-232.
"Congratulations to Texas for playing a heck of a game in the second half," said OU head football coach Bob Stoops following the game. "They did a heck of a job of protecting the football (no turnovers) and we did not. Really, a lot of times you can break games down a million ways and nothing is ever more important than that. They made the plays, or created the turnovers, and we didn't.
"We need to do some things better to win these type of games. You can't turn the ball over five times and have 11 penalties and win these kinds of games. The penalties also killed some drives. That's when we had some things going trying to overcome penalties and we weren't able to. Those, to me, were the biggest factors in the game — the turnovers and the penalties. We have a good team that will continue to get better. It is only our first Big 12 game and we have a long season still in front of us."
All game long it seemed like Oklahoma could move the ball if they didn't shoot themselves in the foot. After the opening drive, the Sooner defense settled down and stabilized the game. During the last four series for the Longhorns to end the first half, Texas could only manage five total yards.
The Sooners were able to grab a 10-7 halftime lead, but six penalties had already cost the Sooners 47 yards, plus four fumbles with one loss that the Longhorns recovered stopped an excellent offensive opportunity for the Sooners.
"There are a lot of positives in the game. There is no question about that," said Stoops Sunday from the OU Football Complex. "We have to eliminate some of the non-playing penalties that we had that have nothing to do with the play and that are before the snap. Those are the issues.
"The judgmental calls that happen on the field are going to happen and I am not going to fault my players for those kinds of issues. The ones that are procedures or lining up offsides are plays that aren't hard to do. We just have to have the discipline to do it. It is frustrating when you put yourself behind the chains because those plays are hard to overcome."
The penalties were frustrating, but not any more damaging than the turnovers and the six fumbles.
"The turnovers — you can't have," said Stoops. "To me, once you possess the football you just absolutely can not fumble it. You can't win like that when you have the ball on the ground. We have to do a better job of finishing with the football. I also thought the lack of discipline with our penalties hurt us. Two things that stopped our drives offensively were the penalties or the turnovers. We have to be able to stop those things."
"I thought we played really well outside of two possessions," Stoops continued. "The first two possessions of the third quarter took away the momentum that we had established in the first half. The large part of the football game is really good, but that part needed to be better."
One thing that all the penalties and turnovers do to a football team is stop momentum in its tracks, and cause doubt within a football team.
"To say it hurts momentum or changes your calls — it definitely does," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. "To us, as an offensive staff and what we are trying to do, we started as far back as the Holiday Bowl talking about what we are going to do offensively, and that was to be as physical as we can and we are going to be sound and play smart football. That is to me where we are at our crossroads. We start the first game with four turnovers and this game we have five turnovers and five offensive procedures.
"It is hard enough to beat an opponent, but harder to beat a good opponent like we were when we were playing Texas. You have to make sure that you are not doing things that beat yourself. No disrespect to an outstanding football team, but we definitely played a ballgame yesterday where we were playing uphill. Some of our decisions that were made in some of our performances and things that went on we just put ourselves behind the eight-ball a little more often than you want to have."
"Football is not a game of perfection and offense is not a game of perfection, but you definitely have to play smart, efficient football," Wilson continued. "We have charted every practice since two-a-days and our penalties, procedures, negative plays or drops, and we thought we had made a lot of progress. Yesterday, in that environment and playing a quality opponent, our negative plays were at an excessively high number. Higher than you would like to be at against anyone, let alone a quality team in a big rival game in a great setting.
"To me, this is where the offense always starts and that is not beating yourself, not making your job more difficult than it already is. Unfortunately, yesterday we made our situation much more difficult. Sometimes you have to give credit to their defense and how they played. Texas played good defensive against us, because they will play to the point that they will create negative plays and they will create turnovers with their play. That is definitely a part of that, but we have to take that care of our football. I say that every week. History repeats itself and if we do this again we are going to have similar outcomes. But if we take care of our football we think we still have a chance to move the ball, score points, and we have playmakers that are pretty good."
Offensively the Sooners moved the ball and put up 333 yards total offense against one of the best defenses in the country, but they missed so many opportunities against the Longhorns to last them the rest of the season.
"I thought, before the end of the first half, we had a lot of momentum and it would have been nice to punch that in," said coach Wilson following the game. "It would have been nice to punch that thing in for seven instead of having to go for the field goal. We didn't get that first drive in the second half going and they had a nice drive. We responded pretty well from there, but we have too many procedure penalties and we turned the ball over. You can't turn the ball over and lose the turnover ratio. When you are plus-one you are going to win 70 percent of the time. When you are plus-two it is about 85 percent. And when you get up to three it is almost a guarantee.
"We said that when we played UAB that if you turn it over four times you are going to have a hard time winning. And when you play a quality team like Texas that takes quality points off the board and puts your defense in a bad position. We gave them seven and we turned it over on the plus-50 and gave them a short field.
"We know going against our own defense that they are a great unit, but we didn't keep up our end of the deal," Wilson continued. "Not in plays and plan, but in pre-snap penalties, turnovers and in a couple of sacks. We will address our team, because we have been talking aboujt how we want to compare with the Big 12 on offense in negative plays. I think you can tell that after the first conference game we will be at the bottom of the league in negative plays, and that can get you beat.
"The first thing you have to do offensively is not beat yourself. No disrespect to a tremendous football team, but we did a lot of things today to hurt ourselves and help those cats. Again, they have a nice team. They played a heck of a second half, made some nice adjustments and they had good players and had good coaching. I am not saying we gave them the game, but we made our job more difficult than it needed to be and we definitely made it more difficult that we needed to make it."
From my perspective it wasn't a great day for Paul Thompson, but he certainly played well enough to help the Sooners win the game. PT did miss a post-route to an open Malcolm Kelly in the first half and a flag route to Gresham in the second, but for the most part he threw the ball pretty well. On the day, Thompson finished 15-for-27 for 209 yards and two interceptions, which was good enough to impress his coach.
"I thought he had an excellent day," said Stoops. "He converted 8-of-16 third downs and he converted a number of third and longs with excellent throws. The two interceptions came very late in the game when we are kind of pressing trying to make something happen late. Really, neither one of those was in a course of a game when we were still in a close position to win. So he played in a really good way."
It is well-known that Thompson has outstanding speed and many fans and media wonder why he is not running the football more, or why there is not more quarterback run game in the offense. Most of that has to do with Peterson being in the backfield and the fact that he is a better runner from the I-formation than the shotgun, where most of the QB run game comes from in today's game. But when opportunities have presented themselves where PT could run, he has decided to hand the ball to AD instead.
PT has hung in the pocket as well instead of taking off outside the pocket, and despite what is generally perceived he is doing exactly what the coaches want him to do in the pocket.
"I rarely have thought he should run instead of throw the ball," said Stoops. "I don't want to him pull it down and run when he can stick it into Manuel Johnson on a 20-yard catch on a skinny-post that looked pretty darn good a number of times."
"He wasn't bad, but he missed a couple of the deep balls," said Wilson. "He just got a little off target. We tried to take a shot or two, but this was our best third down conversion rate that we have had to date against an outstanding defense and a defense that is first in the conference. They came in averaging in the mid-20s in holding opponents in third down conversations. Paul's third down play was good. We did a nice job with our communication, as far as checking plays and huddle command and getting us in and out of the huddle.
"We are having an issue with our procedures other than our snap count, because quite honestly we didn't change our snap count at all. For guys to be jumping — it wasn't like we were trying to be cute and fancy with the count or change things to try to get the defense off guard. We just had guys up there antsy and who flinched five times."
"Paul played well. He had two interceptions at the end of the game, but it was an 18-point game," Wilson continued. "I think he would like to have those throws back, but I don't think they were the negatives that our procedures or fumbles were. I don't think his play hurt our chances to win that football game. His third down play was pretty good. He missed a couple of shots on first and second down play-action, which you are going to do, but he wasn't bad I thought."
Always the team leader, Thompson says the Sooners still have a lot to play for.
"This was the first game of the Big 12 season and we still have a lot to play for," said Thompson following the game. "We have set goals and we can still accomplish all those goals, but they start next week with Iowa State. We need to win the rest of our games and then see where we are at.
"This is definitely a setback, but we need to keep working and improve on the things that we need to improve on. We can still win the Big 12 Championship and we still have bowl games to play for. Plus, we still have Oklahoma to play for and that means something to all of us. We have a lot of football left to play and we are going to do our best to win every game remaining on our schedule."
It wasn't a great day for super receiver Malcolm Kelly. With the Longhorns paying attention to his every move, the Longview, Texas native ocaught only two passes for 31 yards.
"Sometimes they were playing a safety over me or at least playing cover two man with the safety more to my side," said Kelly. "A lot of times we had one-on-one and they just had a good plan and they executed it. Both teams came in with a great plan against each other and they just executed it better than we did.
"We beat ourselves today. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot and you can't turn the ball over like we did that many times against a team like Texas. Heck, you can't do that against any team and think you are going to come out with a win. The tables didn't turn right for us today I guess.?
With Kelly struggling to find open spaces, Thompson did what any good quarterback would do and that is find alternatives. Sophomore Manuel Johnson had a breakout game with four catches for 55 yards, and Iglesias added five catches for 69 yards.
"Manuel had a real good game for us," said Stoops. "He is back at full speed and he had a really good game for us yesterday. It is good to get him back in there playing more and getting back up to speed. He is a good player. It was obvious they were paying a little more attention to Malcolm, but nothing special.
"Paul did a great job of finding Manuel and some other guys. We just don't have to throw the ball to Malcolm. I think it was obvious that throwing the ball to some of the tight end formations, the passes that Manuel caught and the passes that Juaquin (Iglesias) caught, that at times depending on formation is who we are emphasizing or who we feel we have the best shot at.
"They didn't put in any new coverages just to stop Malcolm. They just played what they always do, but we emphasized some other guys. It is fair to say too that on some of our deeper shots they were in good coverage. To assume that they put something in special to cover Malcolm, I didn't see that. He made the one big catch down the middle.
Another receiver who appears to be coming of age is freshman tight end Jermaine Greshman, who was used in the game plan to get deep against the Longhorn secondary catching one pass for 41 yards setting up the Sooners first touchdown.
"Jermaine is going to be a big factor for us in the future on any king of pass pattern and in the blocking game as well," said Stoops. "He is a really powerful, physical guy too. The more he understands his leverage and how to get position on his blocks, he has a chance to be a complete and all-around tight end. He is a good blocker now, but he is only going to get better. He is a good blocker now because of the strength that he has been able to already build with Schmidty within his body. He is only going to get better the more he understands about it."
Five procedure penalties kept the Sooners' offense behind the eight ball most of the game. Different members of the offensive front have been guilty most of the season, but guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker have been responsible more than the others. Both are tremendous drive blockers who lead the team in pancake blocks, but does talent always override mental mistakes?
"That is something that we will have to consider and see," said Stoops. "We have to have the discipline to stay in there. We, as coaches ,will make that determination. If we determine that a player isn't going to do it then we may have to make some changes. I am not sitting here today and saying we are at all, but they need to take note of it and they need to be more focused on it and get it done. You can call it focus or whatever you want to call it, but they are all excuses to me and all I know is that it doesn't need to happen."
The Sooners have been working on mental mistakes within the offense since training camp, but the fact that they have now played five games and they are still making them just, it means they have to go back to the well and keep working.
"We have been talking about that and how do we handle correcting the mistakes," said Wilson. "Every day, for all the preseason and for every game, we chart the negative plays and what we call self-inflicted wounds. We want them out of our football team and we address that on an every day basis. We have had reinforcements with practice habits where there has been some extra work with things that we do. We thought we had made some nice strides in the way that we had played the last couple of weeks.
"We told our offensive line yesterday to just play like us, nothing more and nothing extra. Our guys have been doing very well, but if our guys continue to shoot ourselves in the foot then it will repeat itself. And quite honestly, these players who are getting coached on getting things corrected but can't get it corrected, then maybe you have to start looking at another guy. You can't continually jump offsides or put the football on the ground or have the negatives. We are going to try to get it fixed in a very positive way."
"We have some outstanding players who have been doing well and we didn't put them in positions where they were thinking a whole lot," Wilson continued. "I didn't think a whole lot of their mistakes were from a lot of over-coaching where they had a lot of adjustments to learn where our kids couldn't play fast. Texas has a fast defense and you can't play against them not playing fast. It is disappointing to have made as many mistakes as we have made. Our plan was to come up with the game plan where they could be successful and could play fast in this game, and it was disappointing to have so many negative plays.
"I think we had 63 plays as an offense against Texas and in 15 to 18 of those plays were negatives. Our goal is to keep that at 10 percent, where 1 out of 10 plays is a negative. We have done studies and if you keep that thingin single digits, you are going to win football games. But if you get that in double digits, you are in trouble. So that is disappointing, but we need to continue to work to get that corrected and we need our guys to buy in as we coach it to get it corrected. If not, we are going to have this outcome again if we don't learn from these mistakes.
When the Sooners weren't making mental mistakes, they did a fairly good job of moving the football against a pretty talented defense.
"Credit to those guys as they did a good job of playing solid, sound football," said Wilson. "Their adjustments were to keep things in front of them. They tackled really well. Our last four drives ended in turnovers. The fumble by Juaquin, the screen pass that was termed a lateral and then Paul's last two passes were picks. I think our offense has been heading in the right direction. I like the way that Adrian is helping these young guys go as sophomores and freshman in the offensive line. Those guys are doing great and to me they are not young any more.
"They are a youthful crowd who is practicing well, but to play championship-level football on offense the first thing you have to do is not beat yourself. We have said that since two-a-days. We need to stop beating ourselves and if we can, we will have a great year. And we need to get back to that because we are not going to win championships if you play that type of football.
"Our goal here is to play championship football, and to me it starts with us as coaches to get our kids to understand the basic fundamentals of playing smart football. And apparently we are not getting through to those guys, which evident by their performance yesterday. Credit Texas with being a heck of a team and they will expose those mistakes."
To say that Texas took advantage of the few plays that were there for them is an understatement. The Longhorns were held to just 232 yards total offense, but managed to put 21 points on the board and average 4.6 yards per play.
"We covered well and we did get pressure to him (McCoy)," said Stoops. "He only threw the ball 18 times, but we miss a sack on the first touchdown, so that was an instance where we needed to be better. We had a blitz on that and we let him escape us and he ends up converting a third and 10 where we have a chance to sack him and we let him avoid us.
"The coverage was good for a good part of the game. Our run defense was good outside of those two drives at the beginning of the second half, where we weren't as good as we had been through the second quarter and in some other parts of the game. We allowed a few to go for 15 or 10 and gave them some field position. Again, the coverage was good outside of the one play, but you can't have the one play."
For the second straight game, the Oklahoma defense was better and for the most part played sound, fundamental football. However, the Sooners didn't force a turnover against the Longhorns and they didn't create a lot of plays on defense.
"I thought overall our guys played hard, but again we have to find away for our guys to make plays," said Venables in the postgame. "We gave up the cheap score on the fade and we just have to make more plays. They are a good, quality team and the margin of error is not much. We went one snap in man (D.J Wolfe) and they got behind us and made a really nice throw and catch on it. Just the play before that, Nic steps in front of an out-route to pick it off and their receiver comes back and the quarterback puts it in a great place, and the receiver makes a nice play on the football. We were just off, not y much, but enough to not win the game."
"For a good part of the game, I thought our guys competed hard and had good positioning and defended well," Venables continued. "However, they didn't do it enough. They kept us off-balance on the second drive of the second half and I thought they had a nice play call on third and goal. As coaches, this is our responsibility to get our players to play at a high level all the time.
"If they can sense that there has been improvement made with the things that we have emphasized, whether it is at the beginning of camp or the last couple of weeks in particular, they will have success. It will be easier for them to buy into it and have some credibility with what we are asking them to do. As hard as we have practiced and worked, they will have seen that they have made some progress in some real critical areas which we have talked about. Now you talk about needing to be more consistent at real critical times in a tight ballgame."
The Sooners got burned for two touchdown passes in the game, as Jordan Shipley caught a 7-yard pass in the end zone over Nic Harris, and Limas Sweed beat D.J. Wolfe for a 33-yard pass both in the third quarter.
"On the throw to Jordan Shipley, Nic Harris is going to step in front of it and bat it down and was in great position, but he felt that Shipley made a great play on the football to come back," said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables following the game. "He really took it away from him and they execute a play later they throw a well thrown ball in the end zone. We thought D.J. Wolfe had really pretty good position and you would like to see him come up with it or knock it down, but they created some space on him as well. That is going to happen as part of the game."
"For the most part, D.J. has good coverage on that play," Venables continued. "He needs to stay on top of him more, but that is a stupid call on my part. I need to help him out more on a play like that. That is more my fault than anything."
However, in both cases Harris and Wolfe could have made big plays to keep the Longhorns from scoring. But instead they don't recat to it and the Horns get six. It is continued plays like this that keeps the Sooner defensive coaches pushing for better play.
"We can play a lot better," said Venables from the OU Football Complex on Sunday. "There were a lot of good plays, but we can play better. It is coming up with plays. It is the first third down of the game when we have a pressure called and we are going to sack them. And if we sack them or just keep containment on their quarterback, they don't get their first touchdown on that drive. It is just stuff like that that we still need to be better at. The flat-route prior to the touchdown, we have to improve on our technique and have a little bit better awareness sooner than what we did. Even though we are close, we have to make those plays. They did and we didn't."
Sooner defensive end C.J. Ah You had a super game finishing with a team-leading eight tackles. Senior Calvin Thibodeaux also played an outstanding game. At middle linebacker, senior Zach Latimer continued to show signs of improvement, but he may soon be sharing time at the position.
"Zach played solid and he played really hard," said Venables. "I wanted to get Curtis (Lofton) in the game, but just didn't. I need to get him in the game for some meaningful reps, but that is not indicative of how Zach is playing. Zach, the last couple of weeks, has been pretty solid. But Curtis has to and he has earned the right to get out there and see what he can do when it is live bullets."
Senior Larry Birdine has been around OU long enough to know the way that the 2006 Sooners are playing is not how they have won championships in the past.
"The penalties and turnovers were momentum stoppers, and we had too many of those today," Birdine said following the game. "Every turnover we had led to points for them. And as a defense, we didn't have their (offense) back. We pride ourselves on ball security here at Oklahoma and we weren't able to do that today.
"On defense, we seem to be a step slow right now for some reason and we are not creating turnovers. Each player on our team needs to look at himself and ask if he is doing all that he can do to make sure we win games. Monday we need to get back at practice and continue to try to become the type of defense we need to be to win games at OU."
The Sooners made too many mistakes to win, but they didn't get any breaks either. Sophomore tight end Joe Jon Finley was called for offensive pass interference in the first half that nullified a 24-yard gain. On the play, Finley is a blocker and checked a blitzing linebacker at the line of scrimmage before releasing as a pass receiver.
This play has been run by the Sooners a million times and by football teams all over the country. It is a standard play in football, yet for some reason on this play the official just looked at Finley as a pass receiver and not first as a blocker. I mean, he is a tight end for goodness sakes. But on this play, the official said he was just a receiver and pushed off.
Peterson also had a frustrating day. Right before the end of the first half, the Sooners drove from their own 19 to the Texas 15 where they faced a 3rd-and-2. With :58 seconds left on the clock, Thompson handed the ball to AD going over left tackle and just when the hole seemed to be opening he slipped and fell for a 3-yard loss.
"Actually, I tripped over PT on the handoff," Peterson said following the game. "Man, that play was there. I think I would have scored. I tripped over his foot and I couldn't keep my footing. That is a shame really, because that play was wide open. But we can't get it back now. That wasn't the game because we went into the locker room with a 10-7 lead. They came out and beat us in the second half and that was where the game was won."
Peterson was also cited for a fumble in the first quarter, with the Sooners driving at the UT 48, on a play where it looked like the ground caused the fumble.
"I felt I was down," said AD. "I had my arm out a little bit and my hand with the ball hit the ground first. I know I was down before the ball came out. That is what I told the official, but he didn't see it that way."
Then, of course, you have the pass that was called a lateral where Texas corner Aaron Ross scooped up the ball and walked into the end zone.
"There wasn't any question in my mind that play was a forward pass. That is why I didn't chase the ball at first," said Peterson. "I was disappointed that we didn't complete the pass. I wasn't thinking anything about it being a lateral or anything, and then all of a sudden their guy is picking up the ball and running into the end zone and the refs is saying it is a touchdown. I don't really know what happened on that play."
And Peterson was as frustrated as anybody over the Sooners' mental mistakes offensively.
"It was very frustrating to go out there and move the ball, and even make some big plays, and then get a penalty," he said. "That would push us back 10 yards and then not taking care of the football on top of that broke our momentum all day. This was a very frustrating game for the offense."
The Sooners have already had a year they would like to forget. They get ripped off at Oregon and they blew numerous opportunities to beat their arch-rival only to stub their toe enough to keep them from playing their best. Throw in a few more bad calls from the officials and the Sooners find themselves 3-2 on the year and almost out of the top 25 and as low as No. 23 in the country.
However, Oklahoma's season is not lost.
"It is really simple," said Stoops. "We have played one conference game and that is it. We have a big part of the season here in front of us and they are all Big 12 games. To us, what matters more than anything is the Big 12 Conference. We are going to take them one at a time, just like we have at this point. We are going to keep trying to get better and try and improve as we go through the year."
What about the fact that OU lost to their arch-rival? Does that take any extra mental care?
"No, I don't think so," said Stoops. "They all understand they are in it for the long haul. We have a long season. We just didn't work this whole time to just be in a position to play Texas. Though it was an important game, we understand that they all are when we get into league play. We understand what the schedule is and our guys, again, are excited about that. They are excited about the whole year, not just about one game."
Finally, we get this take from Longhorn senior safety Michael Griffin on what it is like playing against Adrian Peterson.
"I am glad it is over," said Griffin. "Adrian is a great back and I have so much respect for him. I wish him the best of luck. I know he is going to have a great future ahead of him. I think he can only hurt himself, but if he keeps his head on right and keeps playing like he can, in my opinion, he is going to be the first back taken in the draft.
"I missed a tackle in the backfield that could have eliminated his touchdown, but he is a great player and he is tough to tackle. In the second half, we managed to hit, wrap and run and we were able to keep him in check. We were lucky in that Adrian never really got going against us and I am glad this game is over so he can go run all over somebody else."
The Sooners came out of the Texas game healthy. Game time for Iowa State has been set for 11:30 AM.
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OU recruiting report: DefenseEvaluating some of the top performances from OU's commits on defense.
Sooners Illustrated11:41 AM
OU unfiltered: Joe MixonIn his first interview of the season, it's OU running back Joe Mixon.
Sooners Illustrated8:50 AM
OU recruiting report: OffenseA review of the offensive performances of OU's commits so far this season.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 11:24 AM
Thomas, Walker making big impressionsPart II as reflect back on the best performances seen LIVE so far this season on recruiting trail.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 10:01 AM