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Oklahoma football: Sooners overcome special teams' mistakes — this time

Unless punt and field goal units improve, wins will be tough to come by each week.
By Stephanie Kuzydym Published: September 2, 2012

EL PASO, Texas — Tress Way's head was down as he watched the football drop toward his foot.

Then UTEP's Richard Spencer fell on the ball.

OU's Chuka Ndulue had missed a block, and Spencer slipped through, blocking Way's attempted punt.

Remember how coach Bob Stoops kept saying this preseason that it wasn't all about quarterback Landry Jones, that it was the 10 guys around him? Well, aforementioned play Saturday night wasn't Tress Way's fault. It was the 10 guys around him — specifically three players assigned to protect Way from harm: senior David King, junior Trey Millard and Ndulue.

Instead of the Sooners' first punt of the 2012 season sailing toward the other end zone, they found themselves chasing UTEP's Nathan Jeffery after he scooped up the ball and took it 24 yards for a touchdown.

Who says OU need a special teams coach? Stoops took care of the problem five plays later, when Way was about to punt again.

For Stoops, King is Mr. Reliable on defense. Millard is Mr. Do It All. And then, and this should come as no surprise, there's Gabe Ikard — Mr. Go-To, You-Tell-Me-And-I'll-Do-It, Coach.

Just like Stoops counted on Ikard to step up anytime former center Ben Habern suffered an injury, he turned to Ikard after the missed tackle on the first punt.

Part of Ikard's role the last two years was to block on the punt, but also to communicate with his line what they would be seeing on the field. On Saturday night, as Ikard put it, when the boss man says to do something, you better do it.

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