The Norman Transcript

September 8, 2013

Sooner defense demands accountability everywhere else

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Now would be a good time for Oklahoma to get its head on straight. Really straight. Straight as an arrow. Straight as … well, anything that’s really straight.

It’s a time, in the name of winning, to have little sympathy for anything or anybody.

Beyond going to class and remaining on course to earn your degree and maybe some other things that are nice but that will never be written about because nobody cares when 85,000 are watching on Saturday, victory, after all, remains the entire object of this college football thing.

Maybe that means Blake Bell starts against Tulsa, just in time to create the kind of confidence required to face down Football Jesus and beat down Notre Dame. Or maybe it means Trevor Knight’s back behind center for the Golden Hurricane for the same reason.

Just make the best football decision. Really, just make all of your choices in the name of making the best football decision.

Because after Saturday night’s 16-7 victory over West Virginia, the Sooners are 2-0, and while they probably don’t deserve to move up in the polls, they well might, and still, more importantly, they’re playing enough defense to win every game, so maybe egos should be left at the door in a quest to maximize what could become an out-of-nowhere, who-saw-it-coming crazy amazing season.

Like, maybe, when it’s third-and-1, you go with something that always works, that used to be called the Belldozer.

As the second-quarter began, OU faced first-and-goal from the 1. Damien Williams rushed for no gain, then Knight found Trey Millard for a 1-yard touchdown pass. But what if it hadn’t worked?

Is there one good reason not to bring Bell into the game to get that touchdown on first down other than protecting Knight’s confidence?

Can’t think of one.

Why not make it a football decision rather than a protect-the-fragile-psyche-of-your-quarterback decision.

No harm, no foul?

Still got the points?

Well, not during the first half’s final drive, when OU faced third-and-1 at the 3, with 18 seconds remaining, time enough to go to the Belldozer, get a first down and stop the clock. Or, had it failed — even though it never fails — time to spike the ball and bring in the field goal unit.

Instead, Knight dropped back in the pocket like he was Sam Bradford or something.

In the third quarter, Brennan Clay ran wild for 89 yards on five carries. The first was OU’s first play from scrimmage of the second half for a yard. The next four were for the rest, two each on the two drives Knight stopped with his horrible decision-making.

The Sooners had two more drives in the third quarter, both three-and-outs. In neither of them did the game’s hottest running back receive a carry.

There are times to spread it around, but not when Clay’s on fire.

What gives?

And, yeah, it’s worth mentioning, for a guy Bob Stoops again said earlier in the week would receive opportunities, not merely the chance to facilitate others, maybe Trey Millard should have more than five touches after two games.

You can even make a case that Josh Heupel and Stoops were way too slow with Knight’s hook, that the quarterback’s last chance should have been the interception he threw facing second-and-12 at the Mountaineer 27 with 8:24 to play.

The stars of the young season are Mike Stoops and his defense. The last time OU gave up seven points or less in a two-game span was 2009 in back-to-back shutouts over Idaho State and Tulsa. The last time it happened before that was 2004 when Baylor and Colorado combined to score three.

It’s a stunner, but this defense is for real. It would be a crying shame to give a game away in the name of soothed egos or even a pregame plan to spread it around because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Sooner defense demands ruthlessness in all other phases. 

No excuses.

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning

cfhorning@normantranscript.com