Josh Heupel entered the homestretch of the season a beleaguered offensive coordinator. Heupel enters the bowl season coming off a masterful two games.
The Sooners beat Kansas State 41-31 with a running game supreme, 301 yards. Then OU beat OSU 33-24 through ingenuity and enterprise. The Sooners scored just one offensive touchdown, but Heupel’s gameplan allowed OU to move the ball and shorten the game. And that gameplan included a variety of new tricks.
* The twist of putting Jalen Saunders or Sterling Shepard in motion, then having them reverse and be the pitchback on the end of a quarterback option. Two of those plays netted these results:
1. Trevor Knight kept the ball and gained 13 yards.
2. Saunders took an option pitch and went 12 yards on 4th-and-1, giving OU a first down at the OSU 32-yard line. That set up a field goal that tied the game 10-10 in the second quarter.
* A double reverse that keyed a huge drive. Saunders dashed 37 yards on the double reverse, to the OSU 7-yard line, setting up the fake field goal that tied the game 17-17 with 2:35 left.
* Using three quarterbacks, including the insertion of Blake Bell for a total offensive identity switch in the fourth quarter.
All in all, it was an excellent day for Heupel.
“We stayed with Kendal to start the second half because for two weeks, a big part of our gameplan was obviously the zone read and option, and we felt like Kendal would operate in it a little better than Blake would,” Bob Stoops said. “But they were just bringing everybody in the box, and we knew we had to get out of that. Blake went in and did a great job.”
An OU offense that had completed just seven of 19 passes through three quarters suddenly reverted to its Blake Bell/Landry Jones format. Basically, the Sooners kicked to the curb more than half their gameplan. Yet Heupel made it work. OU had 155 total yards and nine first downs in the fourth quarter, on just three possessions.
Bell in the fourth quarter completed eight of 13 passes, and the Sooners didn’t compromise their commitment to control the clock. OU ran 23 plays in the fourth quarter, to just 15 for OSU. The Sooners controlled the clock for 9:59 of the fourth quarter.
OSU has shown that its offense is very effective in desperate times – Kansas State, OU – but Bell’s final TD drive left the Cowboys with just 19 seconds left on the clock.
It was a solid gameplan for Heupel, and a superb switch on the fly. Bedlam 2013 was one of Heupel’s finest hours as a coach.