By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — No matter how it’s cut, Oklahoma won on Saturday. The 42-34 victory over Baylor is in the record books for good.
However, anyone involved with the Sooners’ defense wasn’t in a good mood early Saturday night. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops led the chorus of frustration.
“We could never get a grasp on the run game,” he said. “Didn’t have a good enough plan. Didn’t tackle good enough. Didn’t execute good enough. We got out-executed pretty badly in the run game and that’s something we need to evaluate as a staff, and certainly, what we were trying to do, it’s a hard preparation.”
The Sooners held Baylor to a very respectable 424 yards. Nevertheless, Baylor rushed for 252 yards on Saturday and all four of their touchdowns were on the ground.
OU head coach Bob Stoops admitted on Saturday the Sooners decided it was more important to take away the Bears’ passing game and was willing to live with the consequences of the Bears running the ball.
There were times when OU played with seven defensive backs and left a 20-yard gap in the middle of the gap between the defensive line and the safeties.
What irked Mike Stoops was the lack of any game-changing plays by his unit.
“You’ve gotta get some turnovers against these guys; that kept them in the game,” he said. “We couldn’t get a deflection ... something. You’ve gotta make a play at some point.”
The victory over the Bears was the first of three straight games against three of the Big 12’s best offenses. Next up is a meeting with West Virginia (5-4, 2-4), which is averaging 40.0 points and 480.2 yards per game.
Turnovers have been the Achilles’ heel of the no-huddle spread offense. The Sooners managed to slow Baylor without getting any. Trying to slow the Mountaineers or Oklahoma State, which OU faces in the home finale on Nov. 24, without an interception or a fumble isn’t advisable.
“It goes to us,” safety Tony Jefferson said after the Baylor game. “We didn’t cause any turnovers, and that ties into the score. We gave up some third downs and some big plays and we can’t do that. Our main thing is that we have to get some turnovers. That’s three games in a row where we’ve only gotten one turnover.”
In truth, it’s three games and only one turnover. The last one was an interception late in the fourth quarter in the victory over Iowa State.
The Sooners had some chances on Saturday. Defensive backs Demontre Hurst, Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson all got at least a hand on balls. OU wasn’t able to grab any of them before they got to the ground.
Perhaps, it will change when the Sooners face the Mountaineers. There’s no doubt getting turnovers will be emphasized this week.
However, so will figuring out a way to halt a spread offense without giving up huge yards on the ground.
“I think you can learn a lot. They exposed weaknesses in our defense. We’ve got to address them. All the teams we play can do all the things they do. You open up Pandora’s box, and that’s what it is,” Mike Stoops said. “Hopefully, we’ll learn and try to be in better position next week.”
John ShinnFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org
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