The Norman Transcript

November 12, 2013

OU coaching staff defends Heupel, play calling

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Many are calling on Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to take play-calling responsibilities away from Josh Heupel and give them to receivers coach Jay Norvell in light of OU’s offensive struggles.

They both have

co-offensive coordinator titles and Norvell was the offensive coordinator in previous stops at Nebraska and UCLA.

Norvell, however, defended Heupel Tuesday night and said the entire offensive staff is part of the game-planning.

“We all have a job. Coach Stoops hired us to be offensive coaches. We’ve worked together a long time. We see a lot of things eye-to-eye. We put it together — all of us as offensive coaches. We talk about situations. We also communicate on game day. That’s just part of what we’ve done. It really hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years,” he said. “I don’t see it changing much either in the future.”

Seen it before: Blake Bell is in a strange situation. He spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons as the quarterback fans wanted the Sooners to turn to every time Landry Jones struggled. Now, many are calling for him to be benched.

Bell said he learned a lot from Jones about how to handle the criticism.

“I was in the locker room and in the meetings with him. I could hear some of that stuff out there. I knew the type of player he was and what he did for the team,” Bell said. “It wasn’t that big of a deal to me because as a player you don’t listen to any of that stuff.”

No easy fixes: Coaches say a lack of consistency is OU’s biggest offensive issue. Guard Bronson Irwin, who will play in his 36th consecutive game Saturday against Iowa State, said the problems cannot be easily repaired.

“I wouldn’t say anything is easily fixable at this level. It just comes down to how you prepare and how you study tape and how you practice and how you prepare both mentally and physically,” he said.

It’s hard to do week-in and week-out. But it’s something, if you want to be successful at this level of football, you have to do.”

Dual QBs continue?: Trevor Knight had five carries against Baylor, but Heupel wouldn’t say if the redshirt freshman will see some action Saturday against Iowa State.

“Last week, that role was based on some things that we saw against Baylor … their defense scheme and how we felt like we needed to attack and maybe steal some rushing yards,” he said.

Knight is averaging 6.9 yards per carry this season. Bell is averaging 3.4.

Shepard’s status: OU hasn’t said whether wide receiver Sterling Shepard suffered a concussion against Baylor, but he did leave the game after taking a blow to the head and did not return. His status for the Iowa State game remains questionable. But Norvell talked like OU would be without him for the game.

“Shep is a really good player. He’s a very tough competitor. We love his spirit and we miss it when it’s not there. We’ll have to adjust,” he said. “We have a lot of good players that can play. The next man just has to step up. I don’t know if he’ll play this week. We still have to wait and see. If he can’t, we have to be able to adjust to that too.”

OU-Kansas State will kick off.: The Big 12 Conference announced Tuesday that Oklahoma’s Nov. 23 game at Kansas will begin at 11 a.m. The contest will be broadcast by FOX Sports 1.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

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