The Norman Transcript

OU Sports

September 22, 2013

Flexibility on offense, improvement on defense has Sooners unbeaten

NORMAN — Record-wise, Oklahoma is right where it wants to be. It had the weekend off after getting in some extra preparation for next Saturday’s meeting with No. 22 Notre Dame.

But how much have the 14th-ranked Sooners really displayed in victories over Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa?

Well, they have displayed a willingness to run the ball that’s been absent for the last two years. OU has run 242 plays and kept it on the ground 62.4 percent of the time. Needing to run clock in the fourth quarter helped push the running stats up. But the Sooners are averaging 5.4 yards per carry as well.

Clearly, this was an offseason emphasis that has paid dividends.

And it stood up even when Blake Bell became the starting quarterback against Tulsa Sept. 14. OU may have rushed for a season-low 194 yards in that game, but it still averaged 4.4 yards per carry.

The move to Bell invigorated the passing game against Tulsa. Bell’s 413-yard, four-touchdown performance adding a missing ingredient from the first two games.

“We have the potential to do anything — run, pass, whatever,” offensive tackle Daryl Williams said. “I don’t think we’ve reached our potential yet. It’s really not surprising to me, or anybody on the offense or the team, what we did on Saturday, or last week or a couple weeks ago, with rushing and with passing.”

Defensively, it’s hard to raise any serious issues with how OU has played in the first three games. The defense has faced 41 drives and given up three touchdowns, one field goal, forced six turnovers and, perhaps most impressively, forced 22 punts.

A strong case has been made that the Sooners are a much better defensive team because — outside of 75-yard touchdown run given up against West Virginia — they’ve allowed few long plays.

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