NORMAN — Through two games, one thing has shown itself capable of halting junior Kenny Stills' remarkable start to the 2012 football season.
And the brick wall in the north end zone at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium provided Florida A&M defenders with just a temporary reprieve Saturday.
Stills caught 10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown in OU's 69-13 rout of the Rattlers, building on his strong performance in last week's season opener at UTEP.
The junior gave OU's initially stagnant offense a spark on its second possession, when Stills went deep across the middle, left his feet and snagged a one-handed catch for 23 yards while sustaining a helmet-to-helmet blow. The highlight-reel grab set up OU's first touchdown.
“Not at all,” Stills said when asked if he expected this kind of two-game start to the season.
“I wish and hope, and we practice to have big games ... I never see myself playing the way I have been. I'm excited and happy, but I've got to continue to work.”
In the season opener, Stills was about the only wide receiver who seemed on the same page with quarterback Landry Jones. That wasn't particularly surprising; every other active receiver on the Sooners' roster was new to the team. Freshman Trey Metoyer said timing was a little off that night.
Although more OU wideouts did seem comfortable with Jones on Saturday, it's fairly obvious Stills is his favorite target.
Thirteen — nearly half — of Jones' 28 pass attempts against FAMU were intended for Stills; 10 were caught, one was dropped in the end zone on what would've been a 40-yard score, one was intercepted and the last incompletion meant for Stills was overthrown and sent him into the bricks.
Much of Jones' comfort with Stills, obviously, comes from the past two-plus seasons of playing together. But their early success can also be attributed to Stills' adaptation to an inside receiver role.
Last season, Jones came to rely so heavily on superstar slot Ryan Broyles that OU's pass production came to a screeching halt when he tore his ACL. Stills moved into the slot after Broyles' season-ending injury, but didn't have much success there.
This summer, though, Stills told coaches that he wanted to stay inside despite his personal preference to be an outside receiver. He knew how important the slot position is to OU's offensive success, and didn't think any of the newcomers were ready to carry that kind of burden right away.
Saturday, Stills was able to move outside some to his preferred spot when true freshman Sterling Shepard, whose skills have been compared to Broyles', entered the game and lined up inside.
It was on one of those plays, late in the first half, when Stills streaked downfield, Jones overthrew the deep ball and Stills dove after it, sliding through the Pride of Oklahoma marching band and into the brick and mortar. He briefly writhed in pain and left the contest, but returned to grab three more catches in the third quarter.
“Kenny Stills played great down the middle,” Jones said. “I forced one down the field and that was a bad play by me.”