The Norman Transcript

October 2, 2013

Heupel hoping to ignite Sooners’ offense

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma heads back into Big 12 Conference play after a huge victory over Notre Dame, but offensive coordinator Josh Heupel sees plenty of offensive issues. First is OU only scoring 10 touchdowns in red zone trips this season.

One reason seems to be the short-yardage package quarterback Blake Bell used in the previous two seasons has been ineffective. He was stopped short of first downs three times against Notre Dame.

Is it a matter of OU losing interest in using its starting quarterback to lower his shoulder to pick up first downs?

“We’re going to pick our points where we run the guy and how much we want to use him,” Heupel said.

Bell is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but his most effective runs have been on draws and scrambles. He admitted Tuesday he probably wouldn’t be an effective quarterback if he was smashing into defensive linemen every time OU faced third-and-1.

“You can’t go out there and run the ball, run the ball and do it all the time. There’s a happy medium,” he said. “As a quarterback you’ve got to do a little bit of both.”

Another reason Bell has struggled as a short-yardage runner is defenses seemed to start catching up to it in the middle of last season and spend time preparing for it every time OU plays.

Nonetheless, Wednesday is the day OU practices goal line offense. It’s expected to be intense.

“We have to better in short yardage. Fortunately, it hasn’t come back and bit us and forced us to lose a game,” center Gabe Ikard said. “If we cannot convert in short yardage we will lose a game. Tomorrow we know we have to get after it.”

Where’s Metoyer?: Sophomore wide receiver Trey Metoyer only has five catches for 11 yards this season and did not catch a pass against Notre Dame. Receivers coach Jay Norvell hinted Tuesday that Metoyer won’t be a part of the offense until he solves some personal issues.

“It’s been the same thing from the start. It’s not an easy thing to play college football. There’s a lot of responsibilities, there’s a lot of things day in and day out and you have to accomplish. It’s more than just running a deep ball. He’s just got to be more consistent,” Norvell said. “He’s going through some things right now. He’s trying to get his hands around it. And so we just wish him the best as he works his way through that.”

Big crowd: There were more than 80,000 in attendance at last Saturday’s OU-Notre Dame game. Blake Bell said a good amount of them were members of his family.

“I think I had like 17 or 20 of them all staying at a house. They rented a house and you look up in the stands and you see all of them there,” he said. “That’s just great support flying all the way to South Bend to watch you play. That’s great.”

Sooners at No. 8 in BCS projection: The first official BCS standings won’t be released until Oct. 13, but current projections have Oklahoma at No. 8 through the first five weeks of the season, according to bcsguru.com

But it is important note the blessing/curse for the Sooners this season. They along with Ohio State are the only teams in the top 10 that do not have at least one more current top 10-opponent on the schedule. That makes winning all the remaining games, seemingly, easier. That’s the blessing.

But there’s a downside to that for the Sooners. Their schedule only includes three opponents — No. 20, Texas Tech, No. 17 Baylor and No. 22 Oklahoma State — that are in the top 43.

Size concern: Through four games, the changes defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has implemented seem to be a success. OU is currently No. 6 in the country in scoring defense.

But what happened in the Notre Dame game set off some alarm bells. Notre Dame’s offensive success came when it put two tight ends on the field.

“We hadn’t seen that, and our offense doesn’t run much of it, either,” he said. “There were some things that we learned technique-wise and schematics, what we need to improve on. As coaches we’re always looking at the things that need to change and improve and we put our players in some tough situations.”

OU has shifted to a 3-3-5 alignment this season to better matchup against the spread offenses in the Big 12. It’ll see a typical version when it faces TCU at 6 p.m. Saturday at Owen Field.

It will also be the choice when the Sooners face Texas Tech Oct. 26, Baylor Nov. 7 and Oklahoma State Dec. 7.

But it’s the other three games where there could be some changes. Stoops hinted Monday when it faces offenses that use a tight end, OU could revert back to four defensive linemen.

“We’re trying to adjust and adapt to bigger sets as well. If we can’t, then we have to go to four-down line to bigger sets as well,” he said.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com