The Norman Transcript

September 3, 2013

It’s only one game, but it paints a good picture

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Inevitably, Bob Stops wants to remind us that it is only one game.

He did it late Saturday night when he chose not to call his defense’s first shutout in 35 games “dramatic,” and he did it again Monday at his weekly press conference, unwilling to get ahead of matters at hand.

It makes perfect sense. 

Geno Smith and Tavon Austin may be long gone, but it’s still the same program, West Virginia, coming into Norman on Saturday that rolled up 778 yards of total offense a year ago in Morgantown. And, in many ways, that Sooner victory was a greater sign of program slippage than losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame suffered earlier in the season.

Really, the it’s-only-one-game should be heartily endorsed.

Also, it only goes so far.

Because one game can only mean so much, sure, but set against other season openers — like last year’s 24-7 victory at UTEP, 2010’s underwhelming 31-24 decision over Utah State, 2009’s 14-13 Jerry’s World loss to BYU, 2006’s 24-17 win over Alabama-Birmingham; 2005’s 17-10 loss to TCU and even 2004’s 40-24 victory over Bowling Green, when the Falcons’ 24 points were more than everybody but Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Southern Cal scored against the Sooners that season — well, Saturday’s beatdown of Louisiana-Monroe looks pretty good.

For a moment, let us count some of the ways: 300 yards rushing, a quarterback who improved throughout the game, the shutout nobody saw coming and Mike Stoops calling it a “perfect day” for a defensive coach.

Though Bob Stoops may not agree with all of that, he had to agree one good game can be pretty meaningful.

“You start off in a good position so the players know the work we’ve done and attention to detail has paid off,” he said, before launching into the kinds of things he might tell his players.

“Here are the things we can do better that we do every day in practice. Let’s change it and improve it,” he said. “There’s a lot that can be cleaner and better in our eyes. Let’s get it done this week.”

The point is, how much better is it to deliver that approach in the video room and on the practice field when everybody believes they’re on the right track?

That was Saturday’s gift.

You sure didn’t have that last season, when only Damian Williams, and only against a tired Miner defense, truly impressed.

You didn’t have it two years earlier, when the defense let Utah State right back in the game; or the year before that, when the offensive line couldn’t protect Sam Bradford and could hardly go three snaps without a false start.

It’s only one game, but how much better is it to approach the second week of the season from a position of strength rather from a position of pulling your hair out wondering what the heck is going on with the sky clearly falling?

When Stoops was done Monday, maybe because they’re just not ready to bring Trevor Knight into the room, it was Aaron Colvin’s turn.

Earlier, Stoops had called him “on par” with any cornerback who came before, which probably means Andre Woolfolk and, holy cow, Derrick Strait, too.

“One game does not define us,” Colvin said.

No, probably not, though it would be nice if it could, and isn’t that the difference after 60 minutes of football and a 34-0 victory over the Warhawks?

Everything there was to get out of the opener, the Sooners got. For a change, OU’s beginning the season ahead of the game.

It’s only one game?

It is no small thing.

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning