Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops talks to the media. Jerry Laizure / The Transcript

The small things always add up. When something goes wrong, the root cause can usually be traced back to some minute detail that was overlooked.

No. 4 Oklahoma believes it was the small things that caused it to go from a national championship contender to a three-loss team last season. It’s the small things that will define success or failure this season.

“We know we can win the Big 12 championship. We know we can win the national championship,” punter Tress Way said Monday at OU’s media luncheon. “In order to do that, you have to win every game. In order to do that, you have to be great every practice. In order to be great every practice, you have to be detailed and precise in everything you do.”

The Sooners, who open the season 9:30 p.m. Saturday at UTEP, haven’t talked much about championships over the last month.

Nothing has changed. Winning them is still the ticket to a successful season. But it’s a matter of the prizes at the end of the season remaining on the back burner until they’re actually obtainable.

There’s a belief that losing focus starting with trying to aim at something way off in the distance. OU learned the lesson last season. A team cannot win a championship in September or October. All it can do is prepare for the things it will take to win games and hope those goals are obtainable at the end of the season.

OU started out 6-0 last season, but its attention to detail slipped as the season wore on. Keeping the trend heading upward is something Way and fellow captains defensive lineman David King, center Gabe Ikard, fullback Trey Millard and quarterback Landry Jones have locked onto as their mission.

“This year, we’ve just got to take it one day at a time, focus on each day instead of the end of the year,” King said. “Focus on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, then play on Saturday. Do it like that. We’ll be ready. We’re excited.”

It’s not a radical concept by any stretch. It’s simply a matter of building a routine and sticking with it. Last season, OU was a team that played great at times but offset it with lethargic performances at critical times. The hope is zeroing in on the small daily details will create the consistency OU’s lacked.

Team meetings now conclude with players breaking into small groups to discuss the day’s plan. The point is to make sure everyone is on the same page and no detail has been overlooked.

“I think it gives the overall perspective of how it’s supposed to go,” Way said. “It’s not supposed to be a roller coaster. It’s supposed to be constant high energy and high competitiveness. I just think that’s easy for everyone to learn.”

The test will be taken over 14 parts over the next four months. The tests are the only things that matter.

OU coach Bob Stoops will only give out grades on Saturdays.

“I haven’t seen it yet. We haven’t played,” he said on Monday.” I feel good about it. I started that way saying I felt they’ve done a really good job through camp and showing up through practice and meetings. Everybody wants to know — we haven’t played.”

John Shinn 366-3536


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