The Norman Transcript

September 17, 2013

OU coaching staff responds to ‘targeting rule’

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma came out as clean as it could in its first brush with the NCAA’s new “targeting rule.” Safety Gabe Lynn was initially flagged for a personal foul and ejected for a hit on Tulsa running back Trey Watts in Saturday’s 51-20 victory over the Golden Hurricane.

The call was reviewed and Lynn was able to stay in the game. Stoops was diplomatic about the call Saturday. On Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference he was a little more adamant that if the ejection is overturned, so should the personal foul.

“I think some of the targeting issues, and we had one in our game, I think are the right thing to do,” he said. “My player was very aware to not target the helmet. He hit shoulder to shoulder and it was exactly how you want, and it was still a physical, violent hit done the right way. You would like to see the penalty part of that done away with when you see it was a clean hit.”

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was much less diplomatic. He believes it’s a rule that has to be altered immediately.

“The kid makes a great play and he gets yelled at because he gets flagged for a 15-yard penalty that leads to a touchdown What’s fair about that?” he said. “That doesn’t make anyone feel good. I don’t think the referees feel good either. They’re left with no choice once they call it. They don’t have an out. They’re stuck, too.”

The OU defensive coordinator believes the emphasis on defenders lowering the target on hits is going to lead to more knee injuries, especially for quarterbacks.

“Ultimately, we’re going to have to go take their knees out because you can do it in college. What they (the NCAA rules committee) is ultimately telling us is you have to go for their knees,” he said. “Because if your body hits their face mask because you go for the ball or go high, it’s gonna cause more problems with the lower extremities.”

Off-week letdown: The Sooners are going through the first off-week of the season. Bob Stoops said the team will practice through the week and the players will get the weekend off.

The practices will center on preparation for the Sept. 28 game at Notre Dame. How well OU handles the extra practice time will be up to the players.

“We think of it as the same, but there’s always that mindset that we have a bye week and let’s hurry up to get to the weekend. We don’t need to think like that,” offensive tackle Daryl Williams said.

No nerves: OU quarterback Blake Bell wasn’t the only player who made his first career start against Tulsa. Freshman cornerback Stanvon Taylor also did. Coaches liked what they saw from Taylor, who started at the right cornerback spot in place of the injured Aaron Colvin.

“Really, I just was staying positive about everything and being able to take that role,” Taylor said. My team had confidence in me. The older guys came up to me and said go out and do your thing. Coach put you out there so just do what you gotta do. I wasn’t really too nervous.”

Injury update: Colvin returned to practice Monday. OU coach Bob Stoops said safety Gabe Lynn, who missed the second half of the Tulsa game with an injury to his left leg, is expected to practice later in the week.

As far as Trevor Knight’s injured right knee, Stoops said he will be evaluated later in the week. The original prognosis for Knight was for him to be held out of one to two weeks of practice.

“It’s possible he’ll be back this week. If not, he should be back Monday next week,” the coach said.

Belldozer in play: OU hasn’t really used Blake Bell in a short-yardage run in any of its three games. That doesn’t mean it’s no longer part of OU’s offense.

“It still has its place,” Stoops said. Let’s face it, third-and-one, or third-and-goal at the one, or third-and-goal at the two, it’s still important that you score. It’s still important that you pick up the first down. So, you know, there will be a place for it.”