Four Sooners' individual turnarounds were crucial
The late-season play of Cameron Kenney, Pryce Macon, Austin Box and Jimmy Stevens were essential the Sooners reaching, and winning, the Fiesta Bowl.
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Both Macon and Box were indispensable to the defense down the stretch.
Like his first four-and-a-half years in Norman, Macon had a quiet Fiesta Bowl. But the senior defensive lineman was huge in the Big 12 Championship, with five tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles, spearheading OU's come-from-behind victory over the Huskers.
“You love that,” Stoops said. “A fifth-year guy that hung in there and made an impact.”
Box finally showed what he could do when healthy. He entered the starting lineup at middle linebacker at the beginning of OU's five-game winning streak and solidified a previously shaky run defense.
On Saturday, Box set the tone early, stuffing running back Robbie Frey behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1 to end a 55-yard drive on UConn's second possession.
“I was real fortunate with how things worked out with my back,” said Box, who finished the Fiesta Bowl with eight tackles.
“I just feel fortunate I was able to produce and contribute to this team.”
Stevens was also clutch after temporarily being supplanted by Patrick O'Hara as the field goal kicker in College Station.
Stevens nailed all four field goal tries in the six-point win over OSU. Then, he made three of four in the three-point victory over Nebraska.
“It's OK, he doesn't have a 50-yard leg,” Stoops said. “As long as you make everything from the mid- to low-40s, then you're OK.”
On Saturday, Stevens nailed both attempts, including a 41-yarder in the second quarter that put the Sooners up two scores for good.
Said Stoops: “Jimmy was awesome.”
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