NORMAN — Halftime adjustments? It's a coaching staff seeking solutions to areas where they are vulnerable.
“You always cover the bad at halftime,” said Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Whatever the Sooners are doing is working during that 20-minute period the band is marching and fans visit restrooms and concession stands.
OU has outscored opponents 118-10 in the third quarter.
The past two weeks, the third quarter has been a knockout punch.
The Sooners outscored K-State 21-0 in the third quarter, and dominated Texas A&M 28-0.
“You come out and you play well,” said coach Bob Stoops. “The players executed. I give the assistant coaches credit to a degree. Hopefully we're making some decent adjustments. ... But players ultimately are the ones making the plays. For whatever reason, they've executed well in the third quarter.”
Stoops shed some light as to what happens during the break.
Of the 20 minutes, about 12 are donated toward making adjustments. The other eight minutes go toward getting situated inside the meeting rooms, and then returning to the field for brief stretching exercises.
Once inside the locker room, Venables and his staff head straight to the chalkboard to begin working on adjustments. Josh Heupel, Jay Norvell and the offensive staff confer with one another before presenting the second-half game plan.
Each game is different.
Venables had few mistakes to correct last week. The only first-half blemish was a 79-yard Ryan Tannehill-to-Ryan Swopes touchdown pass. A scrambling quarterback bought extra time and a savvy receiver improvised after the original play broke down.
“You're just coaching guys to be disciplined,” Venables said. “Quarterbacks are going to scramble. Guys are going to work to try and get open.”
But overall, the season-long third-quarter dominance “shows the maturity of our guys, the mindset, their willingness to listen and lock in,” Venables said.
Besides dominating the scoreboard, the Sooners have outgained opponents by 636 yards in the third quarter.
“It's important that when things aren't going the way you want them to that you don't overreact and make the proper adjustments and play harder,” Norvell said. “You have to give other teams credit. They want to win. They're competing hard. You have to do some things better.”
The only third-quarter TD against the Sooners all season was the costly Texas Tech touchdown that put the Sooners in a 31-7 hole in their only loss.
Even in that game, coaches made adjustments. After the Red Raiders' third-quarter touchdown, coaches moved Aaron Colvin from safety to cornerback after Gabe Lynn struggled at times filling in for injured Jamell Fleming.
The Colvin adjustment slowed down Tech's offense, but it was too little, too late.
And that touchdown was the rare exception, the only time an opponent all season has reached the end zone in the third quarter.
“We just make adjustments. That's all it is,” Fleming said. “(Coach Venables) gets on the board and tells us what we did bad and we fix it. Plus, we get settled into the game and get a feel for what the other team is doing, how fast people are, what they're good at. That's basically it.”
The turning point
A breakdown of how the Sooners have dominated the third quarter this season:
Florida St., 0-3
Ball St., 21-0
Texas Tech, 10-7
Kansas St., 21-0
Texas A&M, 28-0