“I felt we had a good week of practice. I don’t have any complaints there,” he said. “But I think in a competitive arena, there is a very fine edge between what somebody’s listening to and what their mindset is when you have to go compete. I’m not going to say we were, but at the end of the day, they played a lot better than we did.”
Big three on defense: Linebackers Frank Shannon (16), Alexander (19) and defensive end Chuka Ndulue (15) were credited with a combined 50 tackles. All three set career highs with their efforts.
Where did they go? Receivers Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard were non-factors Saturday. Saunders finished with three catches for 18 yards. The only time Shepard touched the ball was on OU’s opening play where he picked up 24 yards on a reverse.
“Those guys need to be involved,” Heupel said. “Those are two guys that can make plays. We tried to get Sterling involved from the get-go with the reverse to him. We’ve got to find ways to get them the ball.”
Third-down woes: OU’s defense struggled on third down, but so did its offense. The Sooners converted just 2 of 13.
“It goes back to third downs. You can’t go 2 for 13 on third downs and expect to win. Part of the reason we were 2 for 13 was we were in third and long a lot,” Heupel said.
But the problem didn’t crop up Saturday. It was a problem the last three games. Counting today, last week against TCU and the Sept. 28 game against Notre Dame, the Sooners have converted just 10 of their last 40 third-down attempts.
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