NEW ORLEANS —
It showed even more Thursday night.
The Sooners used the extra to prepare for the Crimson Tide wisely. They played off their tendencies — the Sooners used a huddle for the first time since 2007 — and used a barrel full of new formations.
Defensively, OU changed coverages, blitz packages and put a lot of faith in its defensive line to provide pressure.
The result was a more polished team than OU had been at any point in the regular season.
“Three weeks is a long time. It’s a full spring practice,” Stoops said. “We had a lot of time to do what we needed to do and get comfortable with it.”
That was thing about Thursday. OU, which entered the game as a 17-point underdog, dictated the pace and pressure for the final 55 minutes of the game.
It gave up a pretty easy four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to Alabama at the start of the game. But after it answered with a touchdown drive, the nerves wore off and a toe-to-toe slugfest ensued with the Sooners seemingly dictating the terms.
OU threw a volumes of new alignments at the Crimson Tide on both sides of the ball. They never seemed to get a hand on any of it. For weeks, it practiced for OU quarterback Trevor Knight — the runner. The pocket passer that arrived at the Superdome was a complete mystery. The 348 passing yards and four touchdown passes — both career highs for the redshirt freshman — show how he flustered the Crimson Tide.
Hard to believe the Sugar Bowl was just his fifth career start and just the second time in his career he took every offensive snap.
“The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you feel. The more completions you get, the more comfortable you feel,” Knight said. “And it’s all about just getting in that rhythm, hitting a few shots early, set the rhythm, the tone for the game. The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you are. Moving forward from that, you know, going into next year and everything, that’s what we’re going to ride on.”