By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma’s offense kicked into high gear Saturday, but its defense had a setback, giving up a season-high point total in the 51-20 victory.
Injuries piled up in the secondary. Cornerback Aaron Colvin didn’t play due to an injury he suffered against West Virginia. Safety Gabe Lynn missed the final 2 1/2 quarters after suffering an injury on a second-quarter interception return and cornerback Stanvon Taylor, who started in place of Colvin, also suffered an injury.
“Certainly, you lose a guy like Gabe (Lynn) and Aaron (Colvin), they really hold down the fort in the secondary. It was tough, but we got some young kids, some good experience,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
OU coach Bob Stoops said he expected all three to return to practice this week as the Sooners prepare to face No. 21 Notre Dame Sept. 28 in South Bend, Ind.
The defensive coordinator believes the practices need to be better the next two weeks.
“Just kind of lethargic throughout the week, and we kind of played that way,” Mike Stoops said. “I feel like they out-executed us on third down. That part was disappointing. I thought our kids played hard, just our execution wasn’t where it’s been.”
Where was Williams: Running back Damien Williams did not play and wasn’t on the sidelines Saturday. OU coach Bob Stoops said the senior was suspended for the game for “team matters.”
Stoops said Williams will return to practice this week.
It comes down to third down: The score and the passing numbers (413 yards) display how well Blake Bell played Saturday. Another was the Sooners’ performance on third down. They converted 12 of 16. In the first two games, they converted just 12 of 24 (35 percent).
“The O-line did a great job blocking for me. We had a pretty good game plans, some third-and-longs, some third-and-shorts,” Bell said. “Like I said, we didn’t get in too many third-and-longs. Third-and-shorts are pretty manageable for us. Just getting the ball in those playmakers’ hands, you know, as you can see, Roy Finch, Durron (Neal), Jaz (Reynolds), Shep (Sterling Shepard), they did a great job. I got the ball to them, getting some yards after catch.”
OU’s defense also struggled on third down. It allowed only 5 of 29 conversions in the first two games. Tulsa picked up first downs on 7 of 15.
Ford tough: With Williams absent freshman Keith Ford pounced on the opportunity. He rushed for 46 yards on seven carries and capped the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:35 left in the game.
“He’s an explosive football player. He competes in a great way. Every single day he gets better,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “We’ve got a good stable of running backs, and we’re going to need all of those guys to go through the season. He’s a big part of that.”
Pep talk: Stoops, Heupel and receivers coach Jay Norvell had been critical of the receivers play in the first two games. There was dramatic improvement against the Golden Hurricane. The Sooners averaged 15.3 yards per completion and 10 different receivers caught passes.
“We had a talk with Coach Norvell on our play in the first two games. We realized that it wasn’t good enough so we knew that we had to come back out and show the crowd and everybody that we can be a passing offense like we’ve always been,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “We proved that today.”