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Berry Tramel  


Oklahoma football: Readers respond to OU-Texas

by Berry Tramel Published: October 16, 2013

The emails are in on OU-Texas, and like always after a big OU loss — is there any other kind? — fans have questions, fans have suggestions and fans have demands. Some are ready to jump off the cliff, or throw assorted coaches over first. Let’s get to it.

Mitch: “Would you describe Heupel as a dynamic and creative play-caller who consistently keeps the defense off balance while exploiting known weaknesses?”

Yes. Yes I would. His body of work is very good. His gameplan Saturday was not good. And just so we’re clear. I don’t really entertain questions about “play-calling.” That’s a loser’s mentality. That embraces the notion that football is a game of Battleship, trying to outguess the other guy. That’s not what is going on. No one is predicting what the other team will do. Game plans are put in to take advantage of what other teams do. Mostly, Heupel’s work. Saturday, it didn’t.

Kent: “Bell’s number (on 1-to-10 scale). Tulsa 9, Notre Dame 9, TCU 6, Texas 2. I think play calling is a big issue. The talk of Clay dropping the pass, that was a tough catch and a better throw would have scored. Bell looked shaky all day with happy feet.”

I guess I’m not getting away from playcalling. OK. Let’s play along. Exactly what kind of plays did Heupel call wrong? It wasn’t his playcalling. It was his gameplan. Obviously, the quarterback run game – at least anywhere on the perimeter – was not in the gameplan. You can’t call plays that aren’t in the gameplan. You have to use what you’ve been working. It was a rotten gameplan. Not a rotten day of calling plays. The passing game was awful, but you have to pass some. As for Clay, that was Bell’s best throw of the day. Perfect pass. Gotta catch it.

Duane: “Haven’t read everything everyone has written about it, but has anyone considered maybe OU was outcoached as much as outplayed? Yes, I know that’s heresy here in SoonerLand! After halftime adjustments (we presume) OU offense still only produced one field goal in the entire second half. It didn’t look like much changed offensively, and the vast talent OU has was poorly utilized.  Were Knight and Thompson not available due to injuries?  If Knight was good enough to be named season starter, was he not good enough to replace an ineffective Bell? Very disappointing play calling for a team trying to catch up; comebacks have never been a Stoop & staff strong suit, probably because they seldom have to (and obviously were not prepared to). Maybe Bob, Bro. and Joshua were substantially outcoached by highly motivated Mack & Co. I’m thinking last Saturday Mack took his’n and beat our’n, and coulda took our’n and beat his’n, as the ole saying goes.”

Three emails. Three playcalling statements. I’m worn out. To answer the initial question, yes, people have considered that maybe OU was outcoached. I graded the coordinators a D right after the game and wrote about how Mack and Greg Robinson got the best of Stoops and staff. By the way, I gave D’s because I saw some good things – Heupel’s running gameplan was very good, and Mike Stoops’ defense played decent much of the day. Knight and Thompson were available. It appears that the Sooners are set on Bell. We’ll see if that holds.

Michael: “Last week, when I read that OU had lost Corey (Nelson) and Jordan (Phillips), I knew that OU was in for a tough game. Now both are gone for the season. Losing Aaron Colvin really hurt a lot as well, but at least he will be back. However, I thought OU had the better quarterback. OU did not have the better quarterback and the truth about the OU-Texas series is that the team with the better quarterback usually wins. Having a senior drop a touchdown pass in the end zone was very disappointing. The lack of a solid run strategy for a running quarterback was very puzzling. My old college basketball coach had a bell curve. He said 10 to 15% of the time you play great, 30 to 30% of the time you play above average, 30 to 35% of the time you play below average and 10 to 15% of the time you struggle.  OU was in the bottom 10 to 15% of the time last Saturday. This all proves one thing that you wrote. OU would miss Landry Jones.  OU would be a national contender if they had Jones this year.”

The last point is excellent. OU would be a national title contender if it had Landry Jones. OU did indeed get beat at the quarterback slot. I wonder if it’s true, that OU-Texas is usually won by the better quarterback. Let’s see. Throwing out games when the quarterbacks are both excellent – Colt McCoy vs. Sammy B., Vince Young vs. Jason White – let’s find the last time when the better quarterback lost. Does anyone want to make the argument that Chris Simms is better than Nate Hybl? You could probably make that argument, though I love Nate. If not 2002, then you probably have to go back to 1996, when OU beat James Brown. So I think Michael is on to something. Case McCoy clearly was better than Blake Bell on Saturday. But should we have seen that coming? McCoy has struggled at times, but he also beat Texas A&M in 2011 in one of the more emotional games in the history of that long rivalry. Bell beat Notre Dame, of course, with an excellent performance. But it’s a good question. We know who had the better quarterback coming out. Who had the better quarterback going on? It’s possible that we all underestimated Case McCoy.

 Darrell: “Why in the hell won’t Stoops let Thompson prove that he can pass and run as a true duel threat should do?”

Or maybe prove that he can’t? I don’t know. Maybe the coaches already know that he can’t. The one thing you can generally know about coaches; the best ones don’t overreact. Maybe this is a classic case of not overreacting.

Larry: “OU lacks an aerial game and our future success depends on a solid ground and pound game.   We need to commit to running the ball from the get-go to the final play, including the QB run game with any of our quarterbacks.  Once the defense floods the box with run stuffers, then the 15-20-yard passes will get the aerial game going.   Haven’t seen any of our quarterbacks be able to consistently hit deep passes.  Finally, think we saw that sending running backs (Clay) deep to make great catches isn’t a great idea.  I suspect, though, that Heupel will continue to trot out his standard game plan and predictable play-calling.”

World order is restored. We’re back on play-calling. Heupel’s play-calling isn’t predictable. First off, no one is predicting it. Not the defense, not the fans calling it predictable. It’s not a guessing game, as I’ve stated, and even if it was, Heupel is no more predictable than anyone else. I think OU DID commit to the run game. The Sooners ran the ball half the time, in a game in which they trailed by more than two touchdowns the majority of the game.

Michael: “I think you may be letting the coaches off the hook. If you do not have a straight drop back passer, you change your offense to match your talent, most particularly the talent of your quarterback. Blake looked uncomfortable all day. He was not asked to run the ball (one of his talents) once in the first half. Heupel seems to be calling plays for a Heupel-style quarterback, which Blake is not.”

This is an interesting question. Just exactly what kind of quarterback is Blake Bell? I would say he’s more like Landry Jones than Trevor Knight. He’s much more nimble than Landry, but Bell is not any kind of dancer on the outside. Going up the middle, as a, well, Belldozer, he can be effective. Remember, his good runs and scrambles this season, he hasn’t run away from people. Tacklers have bounced off him. I still would have run Bell more on the shotgun option. But he’s not that kind of quarterback. He’s more of a thrower than a runner. And the last two weeks, he hasn’t been an effective thrower.

Len: “Heupel was absolutely lost on Saturday. A couple of thoughts: 1. Bell is not a pocket passer but is pretty mobile.  They are still running the Landry Jones offense, but Jones was a pocket passer and immobile. The system has to be modified to fit the personnel.  You can’t modify the personnel. 2. Why would you ever ask Trey Millard to run sideways? 3. Two passes to running backs downfield (Millard for 29 yards and Clay drops easy one).  Why wouldn’t you try that one more time? 4. How many times did we have less than five seconds on the play clock, and all the players on offense are still looking at the sidelines?  Confusion and indecision.  Just like against Florida in the Orange Bowl. It was Texas and not OU that was uptempo. 5.  We have one legitimate big play guy, and that is Finch.  You can complain that he doesn’t practice well or whatever, but he is our only homerun guy. He has proven that over and over.  His return was amazing and kept us in the game. But he gets negligible touches.”

Excellent email. Totally excellent. I don’t agree with all the points. But they are well-made. Here goes my answers. 1. Bell is mobile compared to Landry, but Bell is not all that mobile. 2. I agree. I loved the three-back set and the sweeps (which clearly were open because Texas stacked the middle to plug up Bell), but I’d love them more with Millard leading the way and one of the other tailbacks carrying the ball. 3. Great question. Just off the top of my head, I think those were the only two passes downfield to back. The play to Millard out of the three-back set was great. Of course, for that play to work so splendidly, Texas’ defense has to cooperate. It’s possible OU didn’t see that alignment much. But still. 4. Best point all day. OU’s confusion and indecision at the line of scrimmage pointed to the great day by Greg Robinson. He had OU completely flummoxed. Game MVP was Greg Robinson. 5. I don’t buy it on Finch. I think OU’s best home run threats are Saunders and Shepard and Williams. Damien Williams has shown he can go the distance on multiple occasions. I think OU is using Finch about right. Specific plays, on rare occasions.

Dick: “After watching the debacle in the Cotton Bowl, I felt compelled to write to someone for the first time. I have kept up with OU football since the middle 40s. I graduated from OU in January 1951 and have seen the ups and downs of Sooner football over all that time.  This year’s team has finally been exposed and is in danger of losing four more games if they don`t make some drastic changes soon. The Sooners have had a lot of success in recent years with a high powered passing offense because they had two great passers, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones. The problem now is that they are trying to run the same offense with two quarterbacks that can`t pass. You can discount Tulsa, a mediocre team where most of OU passing yardage was ‘run after catch.’ They need a system to fit their current personnel. So what should they do? A. Convert Blake Bell to a tight end the same as they did with Lane Johnson. B. Design a running/option offence with either Knight or Thompson as quarterback (most big plays occur on the perimeter, and you don`t win games by running into the center of the line over and over again). C. Have a serious talk with the offensive coordinator about his play calling. It`s true that the defense needs some work also, but if the Sooner offense had more success the opponent would have less time with the ball.”

Just as a point of logic, OU is running the wrong offense, but the playcalling stinks, too. How is Heupel supposed to call a game when he’s in the wrong offense? But I digress. I have to admit, I have no idea everyone’s infatuation with tight end. Can Blake Bell block? Can Blake Bell catch?  Seems to me Bell is way more valuable as a backup quarterback than as a part-time tight end. As far as some kind of option offense, that’s what OU started the year with. And it didn’t work.

Brian: “In my opinion, if we’re going to throw to Saunders more, he needs to get his hands up and not let the guy behind him intercept the ball. I don’t appreciate his lack of effort on that play that could’ve gone a different direction had he tried for the ball. I saw it again last night and he let that ball pass him over. Stoops blamed Bell. I disagreed, that ball was Saunders for the taking!”

It looked to me like Saunders was ready to leap for the ball, saw how high it was and thought, I can’t get to that. That must be somebody else’s. I’ve never seen a receiver who didn’t want to catch a ball.

Jim: “When I look at the Bob Stoops era at OU, I see a slow decline in to a comfortable mediocrity. He came, he turned it around, he got his national title and he’s comfortable with that. No one can question his number of wins, but he’s in a very weak conference; let’s ask about his post season successes. He coaches one of the storied programs in college football, he has someone to call the plays and he makes all the money he needs; he’s content with that. The preseason rankings are no longer even in the top tier before the inevitable collapse, the talent doesn’t come to Norman anymore. But hey, everyone is happy with a carnival atmosphere at home games, cheap entertainment for the masses.”

I don’t understand this general feeling that Stoops has grown fat and sassy. That he’s somehow content with the current state of things. I don’t think he’s content at all. He’s fired four coaches in the last two off-seasons. I think losing eats at him. OU has not slipped into mediocrity; it has slipped, but not into mediocrity. The Big 12 is weak in 2013, but the idea that Stoops has feasted on a weak conference is just silly. The Big 12 was ferocious for years.

Royse: “You alluded to a basic fact — the one thing EVERY excellent football has in common is an excellent quarterback.  Oklahoma sadly lacks that this year.”

That’s generally true, but still no excuse. The coaches’ charge is to find out what Blake Bell (or Trevor Knight, or Kendal Thompson) CAN do, and put them in position to succeed.

Charles: “Stunned.  Not since KSU blasted OU 35-7 have I been so stunned. Just like all the sportswriters, I thought OU would handle Texas easily.  I guess if we would have read the signs we would have known better.  Players outplayed, coaches SEVERELY outcoached.  I though your review Sunday was spot on.  Especially the D for the coordinators, you may have been generous.  Sooners fans might want to be careful what they wish for, Mack and his staff beat the pants off Bob and his staff.”

You know, there were signs. OU’s offensive futility against West Virginia and TCU, foremost.

 Tom: “As someone that loves the more traditional offense that includes both running and passing, I totally agree there has to be production in the passing game.  I am old fashioned enough to even think a good tight end can be a good weapon at the collegiate level.  I sure saw one used very effectively in a pro game yesterday. It takes obviously a line to protect (not impressive on Saturday), receivers that can catch (not impressive on Saturday) and a QB that can pass (also not impressive on Saturday). My question is how in the world are we there?   Was their some type of a schizophrenic type of recruiting going on?  I do not think it is accidental that none of the quarterbacks were true passers.  Although I will say coming out of high school in Wichita, Bell was known as a good passer he was certainly not an elite passer. I just find it almost irresponsible recruiting that one of the elite football programs in all of college sports since World War II did recruit a passing quarterback unless they were going to throw out the old offense.  When you have a Heisman winner, an all-time record holder for passing statistics, a winning record and a national championship in this decade, why is there not a passing quarterback on the roster?  Either they were not recruiting to that strength or unable to achieve the results necessary.  Really we have not had a prime time NFL receiver that begins to compare even with the ones OSU has put out the last few years. Normally I would think perhaps a change of quarterback, but when I look at the alternatives, I think that could actually be a step back.  Hopefully Bell will return to the Notre Dame form for the rest of the year and we can achieve one of those elite quarterbacks. I do hope the changes in the staff Stoops made pay big time dividends in recruiting this signing period.  Obviously the old staff was not up to the OU standards of recruiting and it sure as heck shows.”

Lot of meat on this bone, so here’s where I’ll start. I thought OU’s line play was solid. Especially offensively. OU moved the ball on the ground. And while there were some pass protection issues, some of the sacks were because the receivers were covered. The Sooners have just ended up without a consistent passer. So it’s hard to get anything going from there.

Bob: “I am not a Trevor Knight fan, but he only showed he couldn’t pass in the first two games. Reportedly, he is a fantastic passer in practice. I saw Blake Bell’s first pass in the KansasState game (I believe) three years ago and it was horrible. Platooning QBs may not be desirable to Stoops or the team, but as far as I am concerned, OU doesn’t have a franchise QB and any change that may get them a W is better than sticking with a known quantity who is not yet a franchise level QB. Stoops and Heupel don’t owe Blake Bell position security based on his 24 rushing TDs in his Belldozer role or his historical victory at Notre Dame. Bottom Line: Had the Sooners started the game in the Cotton Bowl with the same intensity and desire they started the game at Notre Dame, we would not be having this conversation because we would have beat Texas or played them a lot closer. I don’t blame Bell or Knight for not having the team ready to play. I do blame Stoops & Heupel for not pulling out all the stops to try to earn a victory.”

I don’t think intensity had anything to do with it. Texas could throw and OU couldn’t. That was the difference in the game. The Sooners were ready to play. I have no doubts about that. Just couldn’t get any offense going, and it eventually wore down OU. But the notion of platooning QBs is intriguing. I don’t know why OU couldn’t try that. I think replacing Bell right now could lead to team chemistry issues related to instability. But platooning them? That shouldn’t hurt.

Another Bob: “Sitting in that stadium was painful, but I have to tell you the Texas fans were very nice during and after the game. I’ve been going to this game since 1966 and I’ve seen some fans that I wanted to kill. I went walking around the fair after the game and not one fan made a comment around us. Hat’s off to Texas fans which I’ve known to hate over the years.”

Now there’s some encouraging news. Let’s all get along.

Bob again: “Josh Heupel has dropped the ball several times in his short career as coordinator. I don’t want him to leave because he is a very good coach, but he is not a play caller. He’s not bad when we lead, but in crunch time he seems not to be able to keep a step ahead. It’s not an easy job by no means, but I think and have always thought that he was promoted too soon. I’m not sure we have a established coordinator to take his place, and (Jay) Norvell is way too valuable to let go. Tough situation, but Josh needs to take a look in the mirror and say what can I do better.”

Heupel is not good in crunch time? Like at West Virginia? Like Bedlam? Come-from-behind wins, both. Heck, his playcalling was good against TCU, in a game in which the Sooners were not very productive offensively and in a tight fit. You might have a point that Heupel was promoted too soon, but his body of work is mostly excellent.

Robert: “Blake is way too slow, and he seems to have gotten into a pass-over-the-head thing. His passing was terrible Saturday.  He is not a deep passer and his mind just can’t pull the trigger when the opportunity is there. Trevor has good wheels but is a worse passer than Bell. I personally think that Cody Thomas, the redshirt, will be a good quarterback. but who knows ‘til he plays? OU could win the rest of their games or lose another three. Not a come from behind team this year. I do think this though. The coaches are way too stubborn about changing QBs. I think with the heat on Saturday. a few series of running from side to side might have helped tire the defense a little. Three and outs on OU does not tire the apposing team down.”

Let’s see. The OU coaching staff is too stubborn to change quarterbacks, because they haven’t made a switch in what? Four games? Does anyone remember that this staff changed QBs in mid-game, and then made it permanent? And Cody Thomas? This is the eternal story of quarterbacking. Dog the guy that’s in, hail the guy who’s never played.

Chad: “Why did we only see Keith Ford six times on Saturday when it seemed as though he was performing better than our other backs? It sure looked like he was hitting the hole north south and with speed. Why have Keith Ford blocking for Millard…would it not make more sense to have the fullback block for the running back? Would you say Bob has a history of sticking to his guns, occasionally to the determent of the team? I wonder how much second guessing is happening behind closed doors. When Trevor Knight could not complete a pass everyone clamored for Bell. Not because Blake was a guarantee but because there was an unknown quantity about him. (Could he pass better than Knight?) Now we know after several games Bell can throw slightly better than Knight did, but we also know Bell cannot run the read option without looking like he is running on a sandy beach in the surf. Why, against Texas when everyone in the stadium knew OU could not pass, would a coach not want to toss in a fast quarterback when Texas has a recent history of struggling against such a threat?”

I like Keith Ford. But every tailback was effective. Clay, Williams, even Millard. I agree, I wouldn’t run Millard on a sweep. But if anyone’s asking me, I want more carries for Damien Williams. I think coaches were surprised at how poorly Bell played. I think they would have gone to Knight, at least for a package, if they had known Bell would struggle all game long like that. I believe they still have hope for Bell.

Joel: “It sure looked like Texas was at least as talented, if not more talented, than OU Saturday.  I know a lot has been said about the dearth of talent in Austin.  Does this game change that perception OR say something about the talent level in Norman OR both? I thought the game turned on the two big pass plays for Texas (and the dropped TD pass for OU) and the third down conversions.  The plays that would normally lead to an upset (special teams, turnovers) were remarkably equal.”

I think the talent is fairly even. OU’s had more talent the last couple of years, made even moreso by the big gulf at quarterback. But it’s pretty even right now. A few big pass plays here and there made the difference.

Matt: “I watched the KSU-Baylor game and the Ole Miss-TAMU games.  Both KSU and Ole Miss used multiple quarterbacks, I thought successfully, depending on the game situation.  OU does not have a definite No. 1 guy. No Jones or Bradford type player.  Why not try the multiple QB system and see what happens?  I think all three quarterbacks could live with that. Bell should be OK with it because of how he was used with Jones. Bell just looks more happy when he is running over people.”

I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Remember the old line about how if you’ve got two quarterbacks, you don’t have any quarterbacks? Well, what if it’s true in this case? I would stick with Bell, but I think I would implement Knight (or Thompson) into the equation as well.

Sean: “In one game Stoops did the following: 1.  Saved Mack’s job; 2. Turned Texas’ season around; 3. Put Texas in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 championship; 3.  Most likely lost key recruits. This one loss will hurt more than just this year, and yet Coach Stoops will continue to coach for years to come. This loss should along with all of his  big losses should be looked at like a dripping faucet. You can ignore it for a while, but it will not fix itself. A dripping faucet will eventually need to be linked to a broken part. Fix that part, you fix the drip. It is time to link Stoops to big losses. We cannot continue to ignore this dripping faucet. It will not fix itself. Fix the coach (or at least his offensive coordinator). You fix the drip. Like a dripping faucet, the big losses are becoming increasingly irritating.” 

For crying out loud. Can we get this guy an Oscar? A little overdramatic, aren’t we? Dripping faucet? Fix the part? Stoops has changed offenses and changed assistant coaches. He’s not on cruise control. And for the record, Stoops did not save Mack’s job and did not affect recruiting much. Probably did save Texas’ season.

Paul: “When does Bob Stoops come under fire? As in real fire, not the stuff of social media, but the stuff of Joe C. and David Boren? When do we stop paying $4M+ annually for a continuation of ‘good but not great’ seasons? When do we stop giving 10-year contract extensions and annual increases for a staff that continues to make a grade of B to B-? And how is it that Bob seems to ‘dismiss and ignore’ each and every one of you guys in the media when you begin to ask even moderately challenging questions? Seems like he’s a bully and he’s got all of you guys ‘more or less’ afraid of him. And sadly, you guys seem to let him get away with that approach. There’s a part of me that admires Bob for his ability to control the message, and another part of me that detests his callousness and distaste for the media and the average fan.”

As far as administration fire, I think we’re a long way from that. But I would stop giving extensions and raises so willy-nilly. I don’t know why that would be such a big deal. Maybe you’ve got a point on the media. I try to ask questions in ways that I think will get a decent answer. Nothing good comes from a question that has no chance of soliciting a good answer. But maybe a more confrontational approach would work.

Johnny: “Even though OU has a stable of quality running backs, they cannot be counted on to get a yard or two when needed.  Our rushing stats look reasonable, but many of the yards have come on single long runs rather than a steady diet of 4, 6, and 8-yard runs like our running backs of old would reel off with dependable regularity.  My question is this. Is the OU O-line just not very good at run blocking?  They seem to block adequately when we pass, but our running backs are always in heavy traffic on their rushes.”

With all due respect, what are you talking about? OU’s run game against Texas was the exact opposite of what you described. OU piled up solid running stats against Texas without a single long run. OU in short-yardage situations was good. OU faced only two third-and-shorts on Saturday. Ran once and made it, passed once and didn’t. The OU O-line had some protection issues, but the run-blocking was solid.

Gene: “Why not more downfield throws when the defense was clearly not respecting it?  If we can’t open up the offense with Blake, why not try Thompson? Why do we continue to rotate tailbacks when Millard and Ford are CLEARLY our best?”

OU skipped the downfield throws because Bell was horribly inaccurate. And I say Damien Williams is OU’s best runner, while others could point out that Brennan Clay is OU’s most productive runner this year. So there you go.

Dave: “Not being able to throw downfield is a death sentence against any decent team, but even more disheartening is the fact that the defense was a complete joke.  Giving up eight of 10 third down plays that UT needed at least five yards is ridiculous.  This is more of the same from this regime’s defense over the last 6-8 years.  I don’t know the stats, but I do know that I have seen dozens and dozens of third and longs given up during this time.  OU is soft and has been for quite a while.  It seems like they think opponents are going to roll over for them simply because ‘There is only one Oklahoma.’ I have to think that comes from the top and it is disheartening.  They have lost at least as many games they had no business losing as winning toss up games or games where they are the underdog over this time.”

This one strikes me as a little entitled. OU has slipped from its lofty perch but hasn’t fallen that far. OU’s defense against Texas was not a joke. Third downs were a problem, but the Sooners weren’t awful. Mike Stoops blitzed too much. That’s as far as it goes.

Dallas: “‘They just outplayed us and outcoached us.’ I’ve always been told that the first step to fixing a problem is to first recognize and admit to its existence. If true, and if Bob Stoops really thinks he has a coaching problem, the big question centers around what he intends to do about it. My money says his ego, stubbornness and virtual lifetime contract will keep him from doing anything — but I’d love to be wrong about that.”

Think about this email for a minute. Let’s all assume that Stoops’ staff indeed was outcoached Saturday. I think that’s true. So that’s a given. What should a coach do about it? Fire coaches? Switch responsibilities? Swap personnel? Exactly what kind of sackcloth and ashes are required when a coach is outcoached. Especially with a coach as solid as Stoops has been. I’m serious. What do you want him to do? He’s going to do what he should do. Stoops should analyze the gameplan, see where it went wrong, critique why it went wrong and why it was implemented in the first place. Then make sure it doesn’t happen again. But the fundamental premise of the email is, Bob Stoops should never be outcoached. Maybe you can make the argument that a coach who is paid $4.5 million should never be outcoached. I think that’s silly, but you can make the argument. Except he was outcoached by someone making $5 million, so that’s blown to bits, too. When OU loses a football game, people want hides tanned and heads rolled. But that’s not the way to maintain an elite program.

Mike: “It could be argued, and would undoubtedly be confirmed, that this is the most overrated OU team in history.  A few thoughts: 1.  Soft as soft can be.  Texas has already been classified as soft as a baby’s butt.  Where does that put OU? 2.  Can you imagine being outcoached by Mack Brown?  Bob Stoops has managed it. 3.  It’s always entertaining watching Mike Stoops act like an idiot on the sidelines or in the pressbox.  Now we have a double.  Bob and Mike arguing on the sidelines.  What’s the argument?  Who’s the most stupid or who’s the most arrogant?  It’s a draw in both categories. 4.  The development of Bell as a QB over the past few years in the program is remarkable.  He’s the only player in NCAA history you could make an argument for sending to a junior college after completing two years of Division 1 eligibility.  I can’t think of one, not one, wishbone QB under Barry Switzer that even came close to throwing the ball as bad this guy.  Speaks volumes for position development in this program.  Does anyone coach anymore or do they just recruit and make smart ass remarks? I was once an OU fan, but there’s really nothing there to get excited about.  They don’t hit anybody.   Who wants to watch a college flag football team?”

First off, I could name five OU football teams that were ranked WAY higher than these Sooners and finished with a so-so season. Wait, make that 10. Several were coached by Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson. So it’s not even close to the most overrated team in OU history. To answer the points, 1) OU wasn’t soft on Saturday. They got out-finessed, if anything; 2) Mack Brown and Greg Robinson are good coaches; they’ve had their days in the sun; 3) The Stoops brothers have been arguing for years. They were yelling at each other when they were winning big, when they teammates at Iowa, when they were growing up in Youngstown. Nothing’s changed; 4) Blake Bell passes better than EVERY wishbone quarterback in OU history. I refuse to give in to hyperbole.

Sean: “If you guys don’t jump all over Heupel this week I’m going to be disappointed. How does BYU tear up this defense? How did Iowa State play ‘em with a chance to win even with a bad call at the end? This offense is ridiculous. Predictable is being far too kind. The blueprint to beating Texas was laid out in their first few games. Apparently no one from OU bothered to watch. There’s no excuse for having the offense look so unprepared that you can’t game plan around the opposing team loading the box. If the answer isn’t throwing it (because your QB can’t) then the next best bet was Knight.”

That predictable line is off base – Texas wasn’t guessing – but the rest of it is fairly accurate. It was a poor gameplan. You know what it might be. Heupel might have been suckered in like the rest of us. Thinking Texas was so bad, just about anything would work. That’s certainly what I thought.

Keith: “I’m no football expert, but I am completely baffled by the OU offense.  It seems to me that there is no plan, no flow and no consistency.  From one series to another or even from one play to the next, you never know who is going to be in the backfield.  How can anyone get a feel for the game?  I know that we have three senior running backs, but Keith Ford looks better than any of them to me.  Also, it is obvious to me that OU no longer has a prolific offense.  When Texas had 23 points, I knew we were in trouble.  This offense cannot score 50-60 points any more.  Blake cannot throw the deep ball.  I kept thinking we would see Trevor Knight, if only for a little change of pace, but it never happened. I still think the defense is better this year, but they missed Jordan and Nelson up the middle, and Texas exploited it.  By the way, where was Quincy Russell?  Anyway, I don’t think the defense lost this game.  They played decent.”

I would say there are no holes in the theory that this offense is not the 50-point machine of Sam Bradford or even Landry Jones last November. But the last thing anyone ought to be criticizing is the tailback rotation. The run game is the one thing that worked really well against the ‘Horns.

Jason: “You could see this coming down I-35; at least those of us not in the central Oklahoma echo chamber could. That’s two embarrassing beat-downs in seven games. Not to mention all the other times Big Time Blob has walked down a stadium ramp and forgot to bring with him a team ready to play. God help them at Baylor. (Here’s a prediction:  He won’t.) But it’s fun to watch the reaction of UT fans who realize Big Game Blob just saved the job of a coach they desperately want gone.”

I guess I’ll never understand the vitriol towards Stoops. Maybe he’s not the golden boy he once was. But around the country, he’s on anyone’s list of the top 7-8 coaches in the nation. Did he have a rough Cotton Bowl, last Saturday and last January? Did he have a rough last half of 2011? Yes. But he’s been a great coach for a long time and as recently as two weeks ago, led the Sooners to a monumental victory that had everyone in Soonerville thrilled. And now he’s Big Game Blob.

Gary: “I thought your grades were fair, I have not seen a defensive line get pushed back four to five yards when Texas ran straight up the middle on them. Hopefully these new coaches can get some physical studs out of California like they are trying to recruit.”

Isn’t it funny how people can view a game so differently? OU’s defensive line wasn’t great Saturday, but the offensive deficiencies clearly were the problem Saturday, and Texas hurt OU most with third-down passes. The Sooner D-line stood up OK.

Ed: “It appears to me, sir, that Mr. Mack Brown may not have saved his job today, but he saved his dignity.”

Well said.

Robert: “It is safe to say that Bob Stoops has dragged OU’s football program into relative mediocrity, never beating higher ranked opponents and suffering embarrassing losses to underdogs, usually in a high profile arena.  This time it was Texas.  Our 14-point favorite OU entered the game with no apparent game plan, an O-line that couldn’t give Blake Bell enough time to find a receiver or to run block with any consistency.  The play calling by Josh Heupel was atrocious.  Once again, as in 2001, 2002 and 2003 with Mike Stoops as the defensive coordinator, OU had no pass defense in the middle and poor defense on the sidelines.  His “chaos” defense barely got the job done against TCU and did not get the job done against underdog Texas. Perhaps Bob Stoops is a good coach, not a great coach.  Bob Stoops is certainly no Barry Switzer or Bud Wilkinson.  Sure, he’ll pass Barry Switzer in total wins; but only because there are more games in a season now than in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  Mike…….well that’s nepotism for you.  You don’t always get what you pay for. Coaches should operate on a loss-based pay system.  For instance, assume Bob Stoops starts out the season with $5 million. If he wins ALL games. He is only guaranteed $1 million. Each loss reduces the $5 million.”

This is a great email, because of the mentality. OU is not allowed to lose. Just can’t have it. If OU loses, then Mike Stoops’ defense is not only declared bogus, but his defenses of 2001, 2002 and 2003 are invalid as well. When we know full well that OU’s 2001 defense was maybe the second-best defense in school history and the 2003 defense was superb as well. Stoops isn’t a great coach like Switzer or Wilkinson, even though the former had not just a lull but a three-year lull, and the latter ended his career with one good team in his last four seasons. Memories are short. So is patience.


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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