The Norman Transcript

October 28, 2012

Sooners’ leading rusher has to leave game

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — There could be lasting damage to Oklahoma’s 30-13 loss to Notre Dame Saturday night at Owen Field. Late in the fourth quarter, running back Damien Williams left the field with a leg injury.

Williams, who was held to 29 yards on 13 carries, entered the game with a team-best 552 rushing yards and was averaging 7.5 yards per carry.

The rest of OU’s running backs — Trey Millard and Brennan Clay — combined for four carries 15 yards against the Fighting Irish.

Saunders’ night: Jalen Saunders tied the OU school record with 15 receptions, matching the total Ryan Broyles had against Iowa State in 2010.

Saunders’ 181 receiving yards were the eighth-highest total in program history.

“I’m not a person to sit on my accolades, stats or anything,” Saunders said. “I love winning; that’s why I play football. I like playing with other people, I just like winning. It just hurts to lose a game like this.”

Saunders played in just his third career game at OU. The NCAA granted the junior transfer from Fresno State eligibility three days before OU’s game against Texas.

Third-down difference: The ability to convert third downs was the difference in the game. Notre Dame was 7-for-15. The Sooners were 4-for-14.

“That ultimately has a big impact on the outcome of the game,” OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “There are not many times that you’re going to win when you’re four of 14 on third down. You’ve got to find a way to do better.”

On the defensive side: “There were some tight third-down receptions that they caught and just made the first down,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “They out-jumped us or out-fought us for the ball here or there.”

Mystery snap: OU’s opening drive stalled because center Gabe Ikard snapped the ball when quarterback Landry Jones was still calling an audible and was actually standing on the left side of the offensive line.

“We changed the play and there was miscommunication between myself and Landry,” Ikard said. “I snapped it when I normally snap it, and nothing good came from that. That was a big drive for our team. On that first drive, we were really rolling, and it’s unfortunate that it happened.”

What was more perplexing was Jones was still trying to change the play when there was one second left on the play clock.

Ikard said that didn’t have an impact on when he snapped the ball.

First half hit: The Sooners had a chance to take the lead late in the first half, but a holding call on guard Bronson Irwin wiped a potential 4-yard touchdown run by Blake Bell off the scoreboard.

“We had it in the end zone, and again, it’s a judgment call, they call holding,” Stoops said. “Those are frustrating situations, but that’s the way it is. We didn’t get the calls.”

Jones moves all-time passing list: Jones threw for 356 yards and now has 14,387 for his career. The total passed Hawaii’s Colt Brennan for sixth in NCAA history.

Jones’s 35 completions also moved him past Texas’ Colt McCoy for third in Big 12 Conference history.

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