NORMAN — During pre-game warm-ups wide receiver Kenny Stills raced downfield on a go route. He turned to discover the pass was knocked down as if a giant hand swatted it from the sky.
“Once the ball got up there it was kind of floating,” Stills said. “There wasn't much reason to put the ball in the air today.”
Oklahoma adjusted its offense to the weather Saturday afternoon in a 26-6 win over Iowa State.
Facing 35 mph north winds, gusts up to 45 mph, OU relied more on its ground attack.
The Sooners pounded out 253 rushing yards. Technically, it was a 288-yard rushing day since a bad snap on a punt resulted in a 35-yard loss.
And it was a group effort.
Sophomore Roy Finch, who became OU's starter when Dominique Whaley suffered a season ending ankle injury, ran for 85 yards on 15 carries.
Freshman Brandon Williams, who continues to show promise when given opportunities, averaged 7.3 yards per carry, rushing for 80 yards.
“It's good to have those two types of backs and be able to run the ball like that,” said center Ben Habern. “One of our main focuses all week was running the ball. With the weather the way it was, that became even more important. That wind can do crazy things when the ball is in the air.”
Wide receiver Trey Franks contributed 88 rushing yards on two reverse plays, averaging 44.0 yards per carry.
And backup quarterback Blake Bell, directing the Belldozer “wildcat” package, chipped in 14 rushing yards and two more touchdowns.
“Each game is different, but running the football sets up a lot of opportunities,” said coach Bob Stoops. “Hopefully we will continue to play that way and have some bigger and better runs the way we've been doing it.”
OU compiled 509 total yards. What was missing was long pass plays.
How much of that can be attributed to cold, windy conditions? How much could be attributed to no Ryan Broyles, no Jaz Reynolds?
“I think it was the weather,” said wide receiver Kenny Stills. “That's why we went more with underneath routes.”
Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said quarterback Landry Jones handled the adverse conditions better than he expected.
“It was tough out there,” Heupel said. “Landry really got us going in the second quarter when we were going into the wind. We opened up with a skinny throw and he drives it (to Dejuan Miller). He really got us going on that entire drive... When he's going well, we typically are going well, too. ”
Jones completed a season-low 14 passes to wide receivers. Part of that was due to the Sooners playing without Broyles, out with a season-ending knee injury, and Reynolds, suspended for violation of team rules.
“It's kind of the way it's been all year,” Heupel said. “We've had guys in and out. Kenny missed a few games early in the year. Guys get dinged up.
“It was really good to see Dejuan Miller step up and play the way think he's capable of playing. It could be similar to last year with Cam Kenney, a senior, finished strong down the stretch.”
Miller led the Sooners with seven catches for 86 yards. Stills had five catches for 70 yards. Freshman Kameel Jackson hauled in two receptions but also had a pass glance off his hands for an interception.
“Today, we were more short passing game, move the chains,” Miller said. “We really didn't take that many shots down the field. The winds were really bad. The wind was swirling. Coach (Heupel) had to adjust his play calling. The short passing game (and running game) worked well for us.”