NORMAN — Tony Jefferson's mind wandered in the second quarter. Three interceptions on three straight possessions could have been four in four.
Four picks — a season's worth of interceptions for even a great player — could have been Jefferson's in barely six minutes of game clock Saturday night against Ball State.
Keith Wenning's pass bounced off receiver Torieal Gibson — don't ask why Wenning at that point would throw a pass within two zip codes of the OU safety — and Jefferson had his hands on the ball.
But he was thinking touchdown.
“My eyes, my mind was stuck on getting six,” Jefferson said. “But my hands … I don't know, man. I dropped it. Should have had it. My mind was thinking end zone. I knew if I got the ball, I'm scoring.”
By the third quarter, Jefferson's mind wandered again. Bob Stoops still had Jefferson patrolling Owen Field, despite a massive lead that eventually would become a 62-6 Sooner victory, but Jefferson already was thinking Cotton Bowl, and Dallas, and the atmosphere like no other.
Tony Jefferson was thinking Texas.
“OK,” Jefferson said to himself, “now it's time to move on.”
I'd say so. October is no time for a scrimmage. No offense to Ball State, but this one had all the relevance of a spring game. The overmatched Cardinals provided nothing of what the Longhorns will present next Saturday.
And the Sooners know it.
“Our guys are very aware that as we move forward, there's going to be a lot bigger challenges out there,” Stoops said. “I sense in the locker room, there isn't anyone jumping up and down. Already, there's a lot of anticipation for next week.”
Texas always has OU's attention, but the Longhorns' 37-14 rout at Iowa State punctuates just how improved the ‘Horns are over their 2010 debacle of a season.
Speaking of improvement, the Sooners painted the Ball State waltz as tonic for their shaky defensive performance against Missouri from a week ago.
“Definitely a confidence-builder,” said Jefferson said. “We played really hard. Had a chip on our shoulder.”