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October 27, 2013

Unit becoming less and less special

NORMAN — Oklahoma will move in the polls and BCS standings today, but its special teams play continued to decline Saturday.

The Sooners had a trio of bad special teams plays in the 38-30 victory over Texas Tech. The first contributed to OU’s slow offensive start. The last two were essential part of the Red Raiders’ rally from a two-touchdown deficit in the third quarter.

Michael Hunnicutt’s 53-yard field goal attempt on OU’s opening series was blocked by Texas Tech defensive lineman Kerry Hyder.

Midway through the third quarter, Tanner Jacobson returned a punt 32 yards when Jordan Davis — Texas Tech’s punt returner — faked like the punt was going out of bounds. OU’s punt coverage team bought the fake in every way imaginable. Kyle Marrs ended up making a touchdown-saving tackle. However, the return did ignite a field-goal drive.

The final special teams blunder came on the ensuing kick. Tech got OU off guard with an on-side kick, which the Red Raiders recovered.

Three plays later, Texas Tech had a 24-21 lead.

“We were poor again in awareness to some of their special teams plays. We’ve got to be more alert and be in better position there,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.

It was the fourth straight game a special teams bust has led to OU giving up a touchdown. Against TCU, the failure to field a pooch kick set up a touchdown. Against Texas, OU allowed a 95-yard punt return. Last week against Kansas, OU had a punt blocked that set up a touchdown.

Injuries: The injury to Trey Millard was a crippling one for Oklahoma. As head coach Bob Stoops pointed out after the game Millard marks the second senior team captain OU has lost for the season. Linebacker Corey Nelson suffered a season-ending pectoral injury Oct. 5.

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