Two big questions from OU fans after the Notre Dame game. Why not more uptempo, and why not abandon the running game, which largely was ineffective, in favor of the passing game, which at times was effective.
The two questions are not unrelated.
OU’s uptempo offense had some nice moments, early in the game and again early in the third quarter. But the Sooners scaled it back in the middle of drives.
And Bob Stoops said receiver fatigue was a major reason why. He pointed out that the receiver run 50 yards or more on some plays – running their routes, then sprinting back to the line of scrimmage. Do that three or four times in a row, and receivers are gassed.
“If you sub for them, everything stops,” Stoops said. “If you don’t, they’re running 50 yards each play. There’s only so much that you can do.”
OK, so why was the OU uptempo offense under Sam Bradford so more effective?
Well, here’s a reason. The Sooners with Bradford could run the ball better than the Landry Jones Sooners. Blocking for Sammy B. was Phil Loadholt, Duke Robinson and Jon Cooper. Even with Landry, the Sooner running game looks good when used three or four straight plays.
So OU could extend the uptempo by running more. Four or five straight pass plays puts the uptempo near the end of its string.
The Sooners ran the tailbacks (including Trey Millard) 17 times, for 44 yards. That’s not good.
But Stoops said OU probably have run the ball more, not less.
“You do need to run the ball,” Stoops said. “Probably in hindsight should have run it more. It sets up the play action pass. We threw for 360 or 70 yards, and that doesn’t happen if there is no (threat of) running game.”
Stoops said Notre Dame’s defense is designed to stop the run. But the Irish also dropped its secondary deep, which meant the Sooners were given the short passing game.
That’s how OU threw for 364 yards. But the short passing game generally doesn’t produce big plays, and it also creates more opportunity for mistakes. So a short passing game has to be supplemented.
“They were sinking so much, they weren’t really giving us an opportunity to go downfield,” Landry said. “Regardless of what happens, we’ve got to figure out a way to score touchdowns.”