OU football: Sooners have trouble getting ball to Sterling Shepard, Jalen Saunders

Through six games, OU hasn't shown much of a vertical passing game, and the inability to get the ball to Shepard and Saunders consistently is a big reason.
by Ryan Aber Published: October 13, 2013

DALLAS — Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders were supposed to be Oklahoma's playmakers at wide receiver.

But Saturday in a stunning 36-20 loss to Texas, neither were very involved.

Shepard ran an end-around for 24 yards on the Sooners' first offensive play but never caught a pass.

Saunders had three catches for just 18 yards.

Through six games, Oklahoma hasn't shown much of a vertical passing game, and the inability to get the ball to Saunders and Shepard consistently is a big reason.

“Those guys need to be involved,” co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “Those are guys that need to make plays.”

OU quarterback Blake Bell twice threw Shepard's way but on each, a diving Shepard couldn't come up with the play.

Saunders' receptions didn't lead to many yards after the catch.

Through six games last season, with Landry Jones at quarterback and Kenny Stills and Justin Brown in the featured roles at wide receiver while Saunders and Shepard played in the slot, the Sooners had 21 pass plays of 20 or more yards.

So far this season, Oklahoma has just 12 passing plays that long, and half of them came in the win over Tulsa.

The Sooners had none against TCU and two against the Longhorns. The first went to Trey Millard for 29 yards early in the third when the game was still in doubt. The second was a 47-yard pass to Lacoltan Bester with the Sooners down 16 midway through the fourth.

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by Ryan Aber
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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