By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
MORGANTOWN, W.V. — The statistics sheet was just below Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, but he fought the temptation to look down. He knew how inept his unit played in Saturday night’s 50-49 victory over West Virginia. Seeing the final numbers would only add another lash on a night the Sooners took a lot of them.
“Do I have to look at the them?” he said. “I don’t want to see them.”
If he ever glimpsed down, he was going to see the Sooners gave up 778 yards of total offense — the most in the school’s history. His eyes were going to pick up that West Virginia’s Tavon Austin rushed for 344 yards and averaged 16.4 yards per carry. He would see the Sooners allowed six touchdowns drives that were more than 75 yards.
Stoops was going to see that the Sooners improved to 8-2 and 6-1 in the Big 12 and did it in spite of their defense.
“Tough night in a lot of ways,” he said. “Very disappointed in our containment of the football and our ability to tackle in space and come up with a play virtually the whole second half. The second half was a fiasco.”
It was in every sense. The Mountaineers (5-5, 2-5 Big 12) only punted three times all night, and none of them were in the second half.
In seven second-half possessions, OU gave up five touchdowns, forced a turnover on downs late in the third quarter and managed to bat down a Hail Mary pass from West Virginia that was two yards short of the end zone on the final play. The rest was like watching a train wreck at full speed over and over again.
But OU’s defense cannot simply remove the memory of what happened Saturday night. The 14th-ranked Sooners face No. 22 Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The personnel is different, but the Cowboys and Mountaineers run virtually identical offenses. Receivers spread from sideline to sideline with a quarterback who can find them, a running back that can find creases and a really good offense.
What will OU do to match up with this in Bedlam? It was evident the plan against West Virginia wasn’t good enough.
The only wrinkle the Mountaineers threw at the Sooners was using Austin at running back instead of wide receiver. That one wrinkle hit the Sooners like a tsunami. They continually put seven defensive backs on the field, and Austin was deep into the secondary before any one laid a hand on him.
“Obviously, we weren’t ready for it,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said. “It did really mess us up in what we were doing and how we needed to play. It’s something we’ll have to dissect (Sunday) and see what our answers could be to make improvement.”
They better be good because OU is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. The Mountaineers have the ninth best offense in college football. The Cowboys have the third.
“Something has to change. We have to come in on Monday with a new attitude,” OU defensive end David King said. “We’re happy that we won. I won’t take that away. But defensive-wise, it’s embarrassing. It’s poor. It’s not how we want to be remembered, especially with next week being the last game for a bunch of seniors.
“We have to come Monday with a whole new attitude about everything. You take the coaching, and you know they’re going to get us pretty harsh. It was embarrassing. I thank the offense for saving our butts today.”
If OU doesn’t get some serious issues corrected by Saturday, the embarrassment will continue. The winning, however, won’t.
John ShinnFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org
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