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Oklahoma football: Three suggestions for Bob Stoops

COMMENTARY — For the Oklahoma Sooners football program, this is no time for panic. It is, however, time for change. Here's three Bob Stoops needs to make this offseason.
by Berry Tramel Modified: December 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm •  Published: December 10, 2011

The team in crimson started the season No. 1, took that ranking into October, suffered a stunning loss, eventually lost two more games, including an epic collapse against its archrival, which was having a historic season. Then the Crimsons won a bowl game to finish 10-3.

Not Oklahoma 2011. Alabama 2010.

The Crimson Tide, preparing for a Big Bowl showdown with LSU, had much the same season a year ago as the Sooners are having now. Which is one more reason why Bob Stoops says it's not panic time.

“To act like it's totally bleak, I don't think that's being fair,” Stoops said a few days after OSU administered a 44-10 Bedlam blowout. “Everything's overly dramatic.

“The bottom line for me, the roof hasn't fallen in by a long shot. But I'm very aware it's not my expectations, either. I want to be champion.”

The Sooners won the Big 12 a year ago, but they've lost to five fellow conference schools in the last two seasons, and none of them Texas.

OSU, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Missouri.

Bedlam was the worst, and not because it crowned the Cowboys kings.

Bedlam 2011 was like the USC Orange Bowl. A total blowout. This de facto Big 12 title game looked like those championship games matching OU and Texas against Colorado in 2004-05. One-sided and over early.

Which absolutely raises questions about what's going on in Norman. Yes, there were injuries; who knew Jamell Fleming's or Ryan Broyles' real value until they went down? Yes, there were bad breaks, like the ricochet at Baylor that wiped out OU's last lead.

But still, something seems amiss. The Sooners seem in a funk. They played fantastic in some big games — Florida State, Texas, Kansas State, Texas A&M — and poorly in others.

Stoops declined comment on any possible staff changes — “That isn't something I'd ever discuss whatsoever,” Stoops said — but I've got three suggestions for Stoops independent of hirings and firings.

1. Get more involved with the offensive staff.

I know everyone is fixated on defense. But the offense was the biggest problem in Bedlam. And Stoops' postgame comments were most telling, when he admitted he didn't understand why the Sooners didn't run the ball more at game's outset.

“I'm not the play-caller,” Stoops said this week. “It's hard to interrupt a play-caller. In the end, I felt, yeah, we should have had more opportunity to run the football.”

Seems strange that Stoops wouldn't know what Josh Heupel had planned for the first quarter. I know Stoops spends a lot of time with the defensive staff, since he helps coach the secondary, but shouldn't the head coach be aware that his offensive coordinator plans to basically ignore the run?

“I'm in and out of meetings, more with the defense,” Stoops said. “I've always watched the offensive tape. There's always points to make, if there's something I like or don't like.”

Make the points more emphatically.

2. Put the special back in the special teams.

OU's kicking game has been mediocre at best for several years. Michael Hunnicut appears to have emerged as a solid kicker, but the return and coverage units have not been up to the Sooner standards of the early 2000s.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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