The Norman Transcript

September 25, 2012

Players insist they’ll rebound

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma linebacker Tom Wort answered all the questions about the loss to Kansas State, but his eyes were glued to the floor. His head was hanging like most players on Monday.

“We’re all disappointed about the loss,” he said. “I think everyone knows what they have to do to get better. Time will tell if we have the maturity to rally around this. I think we have the pieces in place.”

Rallying is something the 16th-ranked Sooners (2-1, 0-1 Big 12) have to do. They have problems that need to be fixed all over the place.

The play of quarterback Landry Jones is the most widely questioned after a fumble interception of his led directly to 10 points for Kansas State in the 24-19 loss.

Much like he did Saturday night, Jones absorbed all the blame on Monday.

“I feel like, especially for myself, (I’ve) definitely been underachieving this whole year; but it’s one of those things that we played a good team in Kansas State and we made mistakes that put us into a position that we couldn’t win,” he said.

But Jones wasn’t OU’s only problem. Backup quarterback Blake Bell fumbled away a potential touchdown as well. The defense played well for three quarters, but couldn’t get the Wildcats’ offense off the field in the fourth quarter.

The waiting to see if OU can get out of its funk could be the hardest part. The Sooners don’t play again until Oct. 6 at Texas Tech. That’s a lot of time to work to get better. It’s a lot of time to sit around and stew over a loss.

How the Sooners respond may well be the story of their the season.

Last year, OU wasn’t the same team after it suffered a surprising late October loss to Texas Tech. The Sooners went 3-3 from that point and looked like a fractured team by the end of the regular season.

“The focus right now is just moving on. You can’t do anything about the game now,” fullback Trey Millard said. “You move onto the next one and start preparing to go play Texas Tech.”

Easy to say, hard to do.

OU coach Bob Stoops certainly wasn’t in a chipper mood on Monday, but he’s still confident his team can improve. The point he tried to make was removing the fumbles by his quarterbacks would likely have been enough to get a win against the Wildcats, who are now ranked No. 7.

“We had two major turnovers and you’re still in the game. You lose by five points and you played a darn good football team and we had a lot of good plays,” he said. “We played, in a lot of spots … really well against them. And so, if we can learn to take care of the football and keep building, I’m optimistic we can beat teams like that, if we’ll take care of the ball.”

While a shot was blown to prove it Saturday, the Sooners are going to have many more of them this season. That also means they’ll have many more chances to have that kicked-in-the-gut feeling they’ve had for the last two days.

It’s a feeling the players, coaches and especially fans could do without.

“They punched us in the face this weekend,” defensive end David King said. “Hopefully, the guys around here will use that as a wake-up call and rally around it, get this season back on the right track.”

John ShinnFollow me


For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.