The Norman Transcript

October 14, 2013

Sooner coaching staff not ready to reshuffle QB spot

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — There were many questions coming out of Oklahoma’s 36-20 loss to Texas Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The biggest one was who will the Sooners’ starting quarterback be when it faces Kansas Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan.

It appears the job still belongs to Blake Bell. He never did get benched, despite a ghastly 12-for-26 for 133 yards effort, which included two interceptions, but lacked a touchdown pass, against Texas.

“Come back to work and grind it out on Monday,” OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said when asked what Bell has to do to improve. “There are some fundamental things he’s got to be better at. Hopefully that will allow him to execute better.

There’s no magic pill to correct it. You just go back to work.”

But Bell’s performance nearly mirrored what Trevor Knight did in his final start against West Virginia. He was 10-for-20 for 119 yards with two interceptions when he was benched at the start of the fourth quarter in that game.

“He’s definitely still growing,” OU fullback Trey Millard said of Bell. “He’s had a lot of success, too. But you can’t put a win or a loss on a quarterback like this. It’s a team game and our offense didn’t execute well.”

Sooners plunge in the polls: OU dropped six spots to No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25 following the loss to Texas. The Sooners are No. 18 in the USA Today coaches poll, too, falling eight spots.

OU is one of four Big 12 Conference teams currently ranked. Baylor moved up to No. 12 in both polls, which is its highest ranking since 1991. Texas Tech is No. 16 in the AP poll and 15th in the USA Today poll. Oklahoma State is No. 21 in the AP poll and No. 17 in USA Today.

Too many holes: OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was most disappointed with the run defense Saturday. The Longhorns rushed for 255 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry.

Stoops didn’t know where the problem was the scheme or the execution of it following the game.

“It’s hard to say. We’ve got to evaluate kind of what we did,” he said. “Again, I just thought they owned the line of scrimmage. They were more physical than we were at the point of attack and anytime that happens, they’re going to have success running the football and really that led to our demise pretty much the whole day. Didn’t feel like we ever had control of the run game.”

Doesn’t matter: Defensive end Chuka Ndulue finished with 15 tackles, matching the highest tackle total by an OU defensive lineman in 23 years.

Didn’t mean much to Ndulue, who made his first start of the season Saturday, after the game.

“It’s a team game, that is how I feel,” he said. “This isn’t golf or whatever, this is football. If the team doesn’t do well, it doesn’t matter how many tackles or whatever. So no it doesn’t ease the pain.”

Fourth time was not the charm: Center Gabe Ikard, cornerback Aaron Colvin and fullback Trey Millard all started their fourth and final game in the Red River Rivalry. They ended their careers with a 3-1 mark in the series.

“Overall, every player on this team is disappointed. It’s obviously not the way you want to play in such a big game,” Ikard said. “Our whole thing this week was to give them our best shot and there’s no way we did that today. We made way too many mistakes, gave them points. It was very uncharacteristic for us.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com