The Norman Transcript

Breaking News

Sports

December 26, 2013

Sooner special teams have been special

NORMAN — Before the season began, Oklahoma made a commitment to improve its running game. The goal was to take pressure off its defense, shorten games and limit the defense’s exposure.

There was another essential ingredient to OU becoming a better team. The Sooners’ special teams had to play at a very high level.

The emphasis on the running game somewhat limits the offense’s big-play potential. Field position becomes more important.

Look back at the Sooners’ 33-24 victory over Oklahoma State Dec. 7. The Sooners won that game with their offense on the field for just one touchdown — with less than a minute to play.

Special teams was responsible for two of the other three with a punt return from Jalen Saunders and a fake-field-goal pass from holder Grant Bothun to kicker Michael Hunnicutt.

“There were a lot of things that went on in the football game that you can be very proud of. The guys played hard,” special teams coordinator Jay Boulware said. “I’m pleased, not to the extent that I’m saying everything went perfect, but there were a lot of things that went our way that day.”

Those same things need to happen when the 11th-ranked Sooners (10-2) face No. 3 Alabama (11-1) Jan. 2 at the Sugar Bowl.

Bringing in Boulware as special teams coordinator prior to this season has been a boon.

The Sooners have won games because of their special teams play this season. Michael Hunnicutt has turned into one of the best kickers in the nation. Saunders has averaged 63.6 punt return yards over the last two games, scored two touchdowns and set up a 3-yard touchdown drive with a return.

It hasn’t been by fluke. The Sooners have heavily emphasized special teams this season. Saunders said special teams film study rivals the video work he does at the receiver spot.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • _Y_R3186 Sooners succumb to Longhorns in run-rule shutout

    Oklahoma had its chances. The Sooners put eight runners on base Friday night against Texas, several times with no outs. And stranded every one of them....

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • OU draws even in rout of West Virginia

    As Oklahoma’s players jogged back to the dugout following the top of the first inning against West Virginia, no one appeared overly excited. It was the classic case of masking the emotions....

    April 19, 2014

  • North’s Barrett on track for great stuff

    It was after the guy working the PA at John Jacobs Field Friday afternoon understood The Norman Transcript was in the house when he began singing the praises of Norman North’s Ben Barrett....

    April 19, 2014

  • Pistons Thunder Basketball Thunder set to take on unlikely rival in Memphis

    It’s become an unlikely rivalry. There is no reason for Oklahoma City and Memphis to have an ongoing feud, except that they do and the numbers seem to bear it out....

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sooners advance to Super Six

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU advanced to the Super Six of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships....

    April 19, 2014

  • Woodard powers through

    For most of Friday afternoon, Norman North’s Haley Woodard, the day after notching a goal and an assist against Edmond Santa Fe, was lying down and feeling  sick under the North track and field team’s canopy at John Jacobs Field....

    April 19, 2014

  • Can the Heat flip the switch?

    MIAMI — LeBron James was walking down the hallway that the Miami Heat call “Championship Alley” a few minutes after last season’s NBA Finals, when he decided the time was right to send a message. It wasn’t for his fans....

    April 19, 2014

  • No April, May or June Madness in NBA

    AP National Writer ATLANTA — If the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks were in any other sport, they might have a glimmer of hope for winning a championship. The NBA? No way....

    April 19, 2014

  • Warriors and Clippers take mutual dislike into playoff series

    LOS ANGELES — As much as the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors don’t like each other, they’re a lot alike in some ways....

    April 19, 2014

  • OU V Texas Casey sparks Sooners at the plate against Longhorns

    Oklahoma put runners in scoring position all night, but midway through Thursday’s series opener against Texas, the Sooners couldn’t do much with them. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, they had stranded a handful of runners, including ...

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook