NORMAN — Exiting the Texas game, Oklahoma's defense appeared to be a turnover-creating machine.
The Sooners forced five Longhorns turnovers in the 55-17 win in Dallas. The indelible image is of OU cornerback Jamell Fleming ripping the ball away from UT's Mike Davis and returning it half the field for the final score.
Fleming put his hand to his forehead, to demonstrate the OU “Sharks” were attacking.
Things have changed, for whatever reason. In an uneven victory against Kansas and last week's upset loss to Texas Tech, Oklahoma had no takeaways. The Sooners had five giveaways in those games.
“It's what we've always done, try to strip the ball and get to it,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Again, there isn't any magic to it. It's the other team, too. They're always a part of it.”
Even the would-be turnovers are getting foiled, seems like. Safety Javon Harris picked off a Jordan Webb pass in the Kansas game — but it was overturned because Corey Nelson was penalized for lining up offside. Harris had an interception against Texas taken away, too, because of an incorrect call by officials.
“It does seem like it's gone that way,” Harris said last week, “but it'll turn around. We've just got to have patience and we'll start getting those balls again.”
RED ZONE CONVERSIONS REMAIN CONCERN FOR OU
Oklahoma went 3 of 4 in its red-zone trips in the loss to Texas Tech. The missed conversion — Michael Hunnicutt's late missed field goal — was glaring.
But the Sooners also failed to score a touchdown in the third quarter when they had second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The second-down play, with Trey Millard in at tailback, was blown up because of faulty blocking on the right side of the line. The Sooners settled for a short Hunnicutt kick, leaving points on the field. OU has 15 touchdowns in 24 goal-to-go situations.
“A time or two we scored, late in the game,” Stoops said. “At other times, no, I didn't think we were very good.”
STOOPS NOTICES MURRAY'S BIG DAY
DeMarco Murray ran for a franchise-record 253 yards in Dallas' win Sunday against Sam Bradford's St. Louis Rams.
Stoops smiled when asked about the former Sooner's big day for the Cowboys.
“Loved it. Couldn't happen to a better guy,” Stoops said. “Not unexpected from us, either.”
With starter Felix Jones still dealing with an ankle injury, Murray is again expected to get the bulk of the carries this week against Philadelphia.
COACHING 101: TO SCREAM OR NOT TO SCREAM
Some presume coaches respond to a loss by screaming at their players until they don't make the same errors. That does happen sometimes, maybe, but it's not necessarily the lone coaching philosophy.
“We've got to correct and coach,” said Jay Norvell, OU's receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator. “Yelling at them and belittling them doesn't make them play better.”
And the coaches don't remove themselves from blame, either, he added.
“They made some mistakes, but we did, too, as coaches,” he said. “We have to take some accountability for what happened Saturday.”