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How Oklahoma got outfoxed at West Virginia

COMMENTARY — Many of OU's defensive struggles against the Mountaineers were a product of a poor scheme, not poor tackling.
by Berry Tramel Published: November 20, 2012

“A few teams have had some luck with tackling. Keeps the other team from scoring so often.”

— Sam the Lion, “The Last Picture Show”

NORMAN – Bob Stoops estimates that his Sooners missed 20 tackles Saturday night in West Virginia. Maybe so.

But hardly any of them came when Tavon Austin had the ball. The Sooners weren't close enough to Austin to miss a tackle.

The West Virginia Flash rushed for 344 yards on 21 carries. Austin would have had more yardage had he not tuckered out at times and just ran out of bounds.

Austin's historic night was not a tackling issue. It was a schematic issue. The Sooners got outfoxed.

Which is a little disconcerting for the Sooners considering the same offense comes to town Saturday in OSU orange, albeit with players a little less evasive than a certain Mountaineer.

“We got run over pretty good,” said Mike Stoops, who is not accustomed to losing the headset battle. “That was a perfect storm. Just didn't have any answers.”

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen moved his stunning flanker to tailback, and OU was not prepared. Austin consistently was in open space from the moment he took the handoff deep in the backfield.

Mike Stoops said if he had known Austin would be at tailback, no way would the Sooners have game-planned with a no-linebacker defense. Hopefully the seven-defensive back set, burned on the ground now two straight weeks, has seen its last days in crimson.

“That didn't work so good the other night,” Mike Stoops said.

“Very frustrating, very disappointing. But that's football in this league. Give West Virginia a lot of credit. I thought they were very creative. We just gotta play things a little differently.”

You think? Bob Stoops says defensive gameplanning is like offensive gameplanning. Hard to scrap what you've worked on all week.

OU tried to adjust Saturday night, bring a safety into a virtual linebacker slot, but that didn't work. Austin just ran by anyone and everyone.

“They had the right plan and caught us off guard and we just didn't make any good adjustments,” Mike Stoops said. “Hopefully not an every week occurrence.

“We did some structural (changes) … and played them so poorly, so many mistakes happened, I wouldn't want to cover them all.”

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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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