The emails are in on a variety of subjects. OU-Tech. OSU-Tech. OU-Baylor. Thunder. Let’s get to it.
Chris: “Why did you have your best offensive player (Millard) playing on the kickoff team? A senior no less. Just because he’s versatile doesn’t mean he should play defense as well. Millard’s injury is on the coaches. Kickoff team? Are you kidding me?”
Nobody’s kidding anybody. Texas beat OU in 2008 because Jordan Shipley ran a kickoff back for a touchdown. What if Millard had been hurt on 3rd-and-19? Would that have made everyone feel better?
Lynn: “I believe Millard is the best player at his position that OU has had on offense since Adrian Peterson. Yes, that includes Sam Bradford. Just my opinion. Besides what the injury means for Millard individually, or OU for the rest of the season, I believe his loss just destroyed any chance OU had of beating Baylor. They had to have a ball-control power running game to beat Baylor and their prospects just took a big hit when they lost possibly their best blocker.
It doesn’t help, that’s for sure. But is Millard better than Jermaine Gresham? I doubt it. Better than Ryan Broyles? I don’t know. Better than Phil Loadholt? Better than Bradford? I mean, I love Millard as much as the next guy, but let’s not get carried away.
Isaiah: “I feel terrible for Trey Millard and the way his college career ended. It’s terrible to see another special player end their career too early to injury. Do you think Bob Stoops would rethink having his best players play on special teams? For every Ryan Broyles that is injured playing their primary position, there is a DeMarco Murray and now Trey Millard. As a football fan, I think it stings more to see a player hurt on a special teams play rather than their primary position. Reason being, special teams have the hardest and most violent collisions in the game of football and even the NFL understands this enough to modify the Pro Bowl to prevent injuries to star players in that phase of the game.
People want to limit special teams plays because of concussions. A violent hit didn’t take out Millard. A teammate rolled up on him. And while I understand the frustration of a fan, I also remember when everyone was running back kickoffs on OU. Then, we all wondered why Stoops wouldn’t send out there someone who could tackle.
Timothy: “The next few weeks are elimination rounds. All the conference leaders will be playing each other. There will be a clear conference champion by the end. That is all you could ask is to control your own future, and we will see how good OSU is by the end. We hardly ever won in Lubbock, only when we were vastly superior to Tech do we win there. We have our work cut out for us.
It should be fun in Lubbock. But how do you know we’ll have a clear conference champ? If OU beats Baylor, and Baylor beats Texas, and those teams win their other games, it’s a three-way tie that goes to the BCS. That “one true champion” nonsense the Big 12 has espoused isn’t necessarily so.
Bob: I think Tech will blow the Cowboys away. Pokes’ defense will get worn down and out. Cowboys have no pass attack and have a very persistent pattern of going three-and-out. Plus, Tech will be and is motivated. Think what this is going to look like when OSU shows up and plays like they did against WVU.”
Well, if the Cowboys play like they did in Morgantown, they’ll get beat four touchdowns in Lubbock. But maybe OSU has a trick or two up its sleeve. Maybe the running game really has emerged. OSU has played well in Lubbock in recent years.
Scott: “That was an outstandingly astute comment about the grey/white/grey uniform at the OSU press conference! It was just humorous enough to chuckle, but also brilliantly clever!”
Thanks. And I got grief about it on the radio. If you missed it, I said what could it hurt for OSU to wear its uniforms that are a lot like what Tech wore Saturday in Norman. Grey/white/grey. Maybe it has a sliver of a chance of confusing Davis Webb for a split second on some play. Traber said that was goofy. Said if a coach switches hotels after losing at a place the previous trip, he understands, but the uniform was silly. So he basically believes in superstition but won’t bite on the uniforms. He would have made a great citizen of the 17th century. Make him mayor of Salem, Mass.
Jeff: I wish the Baylor game was here already. I know Baylor is tough but tired of hearing about it already. They, like Tech, haven’t had a tough schedule and another writer mentioned how our defense gave up 388 yards to Tech but yet they don’t mention it took them 53 attempts to get it. Blake actually averaged more yards per attempt.”
Decent points. Baylor indeed is untested. But unlike Tech, Baylor has been clubbing people. That’s the difference.
Bill: “If the Sooners don’t get four TD drives between six and 10 minutes long, the Baylor game will be another USC championship game disaster. How can the defense stop Seastrunk when they let Dreamis Smith go 80 BEFORE the losses of Nelson and Phillips?”
Hey. Dreamius Smith’s run in the West Virginia is the least of OU’s problems. Look at it this way. K-State controlled the ball and held Baylor to 35 points. That’s what OU has to do. Hold Baylor to 28, 31, 35, try to win 31-28, or 38-35. Something like that. I think it’s possible. OU can run the ball and control the clock. But if the Sooners don’t do that, if Baylor gets, say, 12 possessions, the Bears likely will reach the 40s. Then you’re asking Blake Bell do an awful lot.
BIG 12 FOOTBALL
Brad: “Do you think if Oliver Luck becomes the AD at Texas, it secures the Big 12′s long term outlook? It seems like he would be averse to moving Texas to another conference, thereby leaving his old friends at West Virginia in the cold.”
I think the Big 12 is locked up until 2025 no matter who does what. There is no instability in the Big 12. And Texas is the last school that will want to leave. I don’t think Luck’s job status has anything to do with it.
Larry: “Overrated Texas Tech? Since we were slated to finish seventh, I’d say we’re underrated. If we finish higher than predicted this season, that’ll be the 13th time out of 17 seasons that Tech has exceeded media expectations. If we manage to get by O-State this weekend, KSU over Tech will be the sexy upset special the following Saturday. Tech is underrated. Tech is always underrated. Still have the third-best conference record overall (since the formation of the Big 12), yet most folks in the media just can’t wrap their minds around Texas Tech finishing in the upper half of the conference. I suspect if in the unlikely event we were ever to return 22 starters from an undefeated national championship season, we’d be picked no better than fifth, maybe fourth, the following season. Used to bug me. Now it’s just kinda funny, like watching some fat guy slip on the ice and fall on his butt.”
Kansas State 23, Tech 20.
Don: “Keep your eye on Kansas State. Here’s what the Wildcats have done so far. 1) Lost to North Dakota State. The Bison have won two consecutive FCS national titles, are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 this year and have beaten BCS teams four consecutive years (Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State and K-State). FCS champions have the advantage of four post-season games, which means that playing one early is giving them the advantage of two spring practices rather than one. No embarrassment to have lost to North Dakota State. 2) Played Texas closer than did OU. Beat West Virginia by more than did OU. 3) Played Baylor almost to the wire before losing. 4) Lost narrowly to preseason Big 12 favorite OSU, a game they could have easily won. 5) Kansas State could be playing OU for a bowl bid-in Manhattan. This is a team that has been described as horrible by some radio jocks. Three consecutive tough road games, and Oklahoma could be looking at an 8-4 season.”
Great point. That game in Manhattan absolutely will not be easy. Of course, if the Sooners lose to Baylor, we’re just talking the difference between the Alamo and the Holiday Bowl.
Mike: “As I was watching LaColtan Bester make that run and making people miss, it seems like to me he would make a good punt and kickoff return man.
Not a bad idea. But who knows if he can catch a punt. That’s an acquired talent. And as far as kickoff returns, the Sooners have Roy Finch.
Ted: “Please give me one LOGICAL reason we (OU) do not use the BellDozer in 3rd-and-1 and 3rd-and-2 or on the goal line. It can’t be the opponents all prepare for it. They prepared last year and knew it was coming, and couldn’t handle it. It can’t be ‘we don’t want Blake to get hurt.’ He runs it all the time anyway. Maybe it’s ‘Oh, I forgot how successful it was last year.’”
I don’t know what the thinking is. But I can tell you two things. 1. OU still uses the Belldozer some; 2. The ‘Dozer was increasingly ineffective late last year. It’s not as successful as it was in its early days.”
Don: “On using Roy Finch. Does Quinton Griffon come to mind?”
It’s a good question. Griffin is close to the same size but not anywhere near the same kind of runner. Much shiftier, not nearly as quick, probably tougher inside. But both could be world-class at the limbo.
Ron: “Do you think that with Bester’s ability to run and pass, that they would ever use him as a Wildcat for a changeup if we aren’t moving the ball?”
Interesting question. Which reminds me. Whatever happened to the Wildcat? No one really uses it in the NFL anymore, so far as I know. I know of no one in college that uses it. It was a passing fad. I doubt the Sooners resort to it.
Mike: “I know writers would like everyone to believe coaches finally get what writers (and fans) spew after poor performances about the problems and solutions to those performances. And I know this game isn’t rocket science. But occasionally you guys miss the most salient points which you did this morning. OU didn’t have any epiphany about trusting Blake Bell. They tried to trust him against Texas, and he didn’t reward that trust with good results. The difference was the performance of the offensive line. Blake Bell was hardly touched in the game against Tech. The offensive line showed they would protect a guy who is MUCH more effective when not pressured than when he is. Blake Bell is the same quarterback he has been all year. He’s not very good when the walls around him get a little tight, and he’s pretty decent if no one is within three or four arms’ length. The coaches were no smarter and no dumber than they have been in every other game this year.”
Yes. And Tiger Woods was the same golfer when he shot 18-under at Augusta as he was two months later when he shot six-over at Congressional in the U.S. Open. And the OU gameplan was the same against Tech as it was against Texas. And OU trusted Bell just as much in the first quarter, when he not once passed except on an extreme passing down, as in the rest of the game, when he threw in virtually every situation. Tremendous insight, Mike. Maybe OU’s line is why the coaches started trusting Bell. But Heupel and Co. didn’t trust Bell until the second quarter against Tech.
Sandra: “Today’s column on the coaches trusting Blake Bell is a really good one. I just don’t understand why we couldn’t have had a similar game plan and outcome against the Longhorns in Dallas, but then I’m not football smart and don’t pretend to be. I’m just a 60-year-old school librarian and OU fan who wonders why. Why we’re eight games into the season and just now turning our quarterback loose and calling plays to his strengths. Why we haven’t seen much-hyped Quincy Russell, and are coaches going to waste his whole junior year? Why has Cortez Johnson gone missing? Sad to lose Trey Millard. Who is going to step up for him? Can Rip or maybe one of the tight ends like Green try to fill his shoes?”
Lots of questions. Let’s get right to the answers. 1. The Texas game plan stunk. Probably the worst of Josh Heupel’s career. 2. I think OU turned Bell loose before Saturday. He was very good against Notre Dame. 3. What if Quincy Russell just isn’t all that good. Don’t pay attention to hype. 4. Looks to me like Zack Sanchez just beat out Cortez Johnson. 5. Nobody’s going to fill Trey Millard’s shoes. Green and Ripkowski will try.
Jay: “I have never been enamored by Blake Bell and seen him as no more than a serviceable QB. Like many fans, I have wondered why they stayed with him through stretches of mediocrity and less with a few splashes of borderline excellence. Until Saturday, when I saw what I was looking for. Not the arm of his predecessors, but enough accuracy and timing to open up the running game in a big way. It reminded me of the Yogi Berra quote, ‘Pitching is 90% mental … the other half is physical.’ Playing QB is much like pitching and an indecisive, intimidated player will never be successful. Perhaps something clicked on Saturday with Blake. Perhaps going forward he will exhibit the passing ability that led to his recruitment in the beginning; certainly not Bradford or Jones, but more than adequate to produce a balanced attack.”
Bell’s an interesting case. He’s quarterbacked six games. Three excellent games. Three mediocre games. Nothing really in between. That’s a good question. What happens to OU when Bell is in between? Gets you beat at Baylor, I’d say.
David: “I was struck by the fact that FSU is a 22-point favorite over Miami despite the fact that Miami is rated No. 7. I do not recall ever seeing such a large spread between two top 10 teams before. Can you? I would be willing to bet that Oklahoma will not be a 22-point dog to Baylor next Thursday. Makes me think the pollsters may be over rating Miami.”
No doubt about it. I made an off-hand remark last week that Texas Tech might be the most overrated top 10 team of the BCS. But that was unfair. Tech wasn’t even the most underrated top 10 team of the week.
Jim: “Hate to agree with Lou Holtz (I think he said this late Saturday?), but why shouldn’t Alabama’s quarterback be considered for the Heisman? OK, he has a great offensive line, capable running game, tremendous coach and stout defense, but the QB seems to be the steady glue why ‘Bama problem will win another national championship. I realize other quarterbacks are putting up huge numbers, probably playing longer, but am I totally wrong? The late Steve Davis for OU won national championships in ’74 and ’75 (and their best team of the decade probably was ’73), but I doubt he was even ever considered?”
Yes. You’re wrong. A.J. McCarron is an excellent quarterback and keeps Bama humming. But is he a better football player than Johnny Manziel? Does he impact a game more than Marcus Mariota? I think we know the answer.
Caleb: “Not sure if you are seeing Xavier Henry’s game. It’s not a coincidence he is this successful. Every single player that averaged at least 15+ points in preseason has at least become a solid role player for that team. This is a huge miss by Sam Presti. He’s the slasher that we needed. I’ve seen his game (at Putnam City). I really don’t know how we can miss such a talent. Especially at a minimum contract.”
The Thunder doesn’t need a slasher. It’s got plenty of slashers. The Thunder needs a dead-eye long-range shooter. Which Henry hasn’t proven to be. At least not yet. With that said, I think it’s great that he’s got off to the great start with the Lakers. It was cool Tuesday night when Henry and Blake Griffin were on the court together, and the TNT announcer – I forget who it was – mentioned it was a couple of Oklahoma City boys.
Joel: “I’m going to assume that the umpires got the obstruction call correct in World Series Game 3. If that’s the case, then I think MLB needs to change the rule somehow. Having a rules violation result in a run, especially a game-winning run, just doesn’t feel right. No other sport, no matter how egregious the foul, award points. In football, interference in the end zone gets you the ball on the 1-yard line. In soccer, you have to make a penalty kick. In basketball, you have to make your free throws. I understand why obstruction needs to be illegal, but they need to consider the punishment based on circumstances. Maybe you can give home plate except in the last inning, maybe you don’t give home plate but give a team an extra out, maybe you eject the player who obstructs and the offending team plays the rest of the game with eight players, etc. But you just can’t give a run, especially in a situation like Game 3, where it looked like the run wouldn’t have scored even without obstruction. MLB is fortunate that the Red Sox won Game 4. Takes away some of the ‘controversy’.”
The rule is fantastic and implementation of the rule is absolutely right. You don’t ever see this rule much because it’s not needed. People don’t do it. They don’t obstruct. In basketball, people foul all the time. In football, people break the rules all the time. In baseball, you just play, and rarely does something egregious happen. When it does, there’s no debate. The runner gets an extra base. Baseball has an order to it that is exemplary. Just because it’s the last inning or the winning run, shouldn’t matter. And by the way, in football, if a player who is not in the game jumps from the sidelines and makes a tackle, the ballcarrier is awarded a touchdown.”
Kelly: “Did you know that as of today, the Dallas Cowboys are a perfect 132-132 since 1997 (Switzer’s last year)? My Dad and I had Cowboy season tickets from 1992 until 2006, and we would have kept them when they moved to Arlington, but we figured out before then that under the current ownership/leadership, they were in a death spiral that they couldn’t recover from at that point. Kind of sad, but now it is almost as fun watching them lose as it is to watch them win.”
Interesting story. In some places (Green Bay, Washington, etc.) fans wouldn’t dream of giving up their tickets. But in Dallas, despite all the Cowboy hype, ticket sales are not assured. I find that fascinating.