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Berry Tramel  


Oklahoma football: More from fans

by Berry Tramel Published: January 11, 2013

I blogged earlier in the week about emails I’ve received from fans. You can read one in particular here that was insightful, plus the gamut of dozens of fans here. But I pulled out three from readers who made a variety of points. None of them said “fire the coach!” But they all made interesting observations about the Sooners or asked interesting questions. I thought I would share them:

Don: Musings on the OU-A & M game.

1.  Manziel was clearly the best player on the field.

2.  Landry Jones did not play badly.

3.  Jones cannot operate outside the pocket, while it is evident that Manziel operates better outside the pocket than inside.

4. Had A&M remained in the Big 12, they would be Big 12 champs and playing Alabama in the Big Bowl.

5.  Had A&M remained in the Big 12, OU would have been playing Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl.

6. OU’s defense isn’t any good.  Their secondary can’t cover deep.  The team overall doesn’t tackle well.  This was evident in several games, starting with UTEP and continuing throughout the season.

7.  Mike Stoops is going to be a continuing problem for us.

8.  Brent Venables landed on his feet.

9.  Given our defensive problems, Tony Jefferson had better come out this year rather than face more of the same next year.

10.  Given questions at QB for next year, Kenny Sills ought to consider coming out this year.

11.  When OU trotted out the ”Belldozer Package” on 2nd and 1, I had an overwhelming sense of foreboding.

12.  My foreboding proved to be justified.

13.  Bob has disrespected his QB all year and at times broken the continuity of his own offense.

14.  Bob throttled down on his last possession and refused to compete any further.

15.  OU’s beatdown places them on the threshold of irrelevancy in the national picture.

16.  UT may be approaching irrelevancy in its own state.

My responses:

1. No freakin’ kidding.

2. I thought Landry played extremely well in the first half, then the entire offense went into the witness protection program in the second half. I mean, literally. Can someone remember one single play, good or bad, from OU’s offense in the second half?

3. Landry actually has gotten much better outside the pocket. OU’s only TD came on Landry scrambling.

4. Maybe. A&M would have hosted OU and KSU, its two chief rivals. Would have had to play in Austin and Stillwater. But there’s a good chance the Aggies would have been Big 12 champs, if they could have produced this team in the Big 12.

5. That would have been better than playing A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

6. No doubt about it. It was a rough year for the OU defense. But the Sooner D did play well against K-State and Texas.

7. I don’t know why anyone has to be pessimistic about Mike Stoops. He’s proven to be a good defensive coach. No reason why he can’t get the Sooners going again. I was not a big fan of removing Brent Venables, but I’m not one to jump off the Mike Stoops bandwagon, either.

8. Sure. Clemson’s a good job. But Venables and Clemson had drawn A&M in a bowl game, his resume’ would be a little less stellar.

9. Actually, 2013 will be a good year to play Big 12 defense. Not much quarterback talent returning.

10. Stills signed with OU three years ago intent on playing three years and no more.

11. Me, too.

12. I just got less and less confident with the Belldozer.

13. I don’t think Stoops disrespected Landry. The Belldozer was born out of necessity. OU was not moving the ball in short-yardage situations. And the ‘Dozer worked great until recently.

14. The last possession doesn’t mean beans about anything.

15. OU’s no more or less irrelevant than it was before the game. It takes one game to make a team nationally relevant. Beat Notre Dame next September, and the Sooners’ stock is back soaring.

16. That’s probably bad news for the Big 12, if so. The Big 12 needs Texas to be stout for reputation stake, and OU needs Texas to be stout for motivation stake.


OK, now let’s move on to Johnny: “As this frustrating season has mercifully come to an end at OU, I would be interested in your thoughts on the following:

1. OU’s defense was not totally responsible for the loss in the Cotton Bowl — part of the blame falls directly at the feet of the OU offense and its inability to move the ball consistently and to score when the opportunity afforded itself. However, the team this year has a history of being ineffective against competent defenses – witness KSU, ND and A&M. It even struggled against UTEP, TCU and Baylor. It doesn’t matter that the team scored over 500 points during the year – the overwhelming majority of it came against bad teams, and they scored a total of just 45 points against the three good defenses they faced.

2. Speaking of defense, just because OU has an intermittently potent offense, why can’t they still have a solid defense? Witness Alabama, LSU, A&M, even Oregon.

3. Why did OU abandon using the tight end as an offensive weapon in September? I think James Hanna caught more passes in Dallas this year as a backup tight end than all the varsity tight ends did at OU this year combined.

4. Why do they continually call flat passes behind the line of scrimmage? They only work if a defender misses a tackle, which seldom happens. They lose yardage as often as they gain. And that pass begs to turn into a pick-6.

5. After four years Landry still has happy feet, is not a good clock manager, does not exhibit grit out there and does not appear to be able to function on all cylinders under pressure. He always has the deer-in-the headlights look about him, and when he scrambles bad things usually happen. From what I read, Landry is a top-notch young man whom anyone would love to have as a son. However, unless he gets more fire in his belly I don’t see him being a starting NFL QB.

6. The offensive line is pitiful at run blocking. They do pretty well at pass blocking, but they are inept at run blocking. They can’t even block for Bell now. True, Peterson and DeMarco Murray got their yards, but it was more due to their talent than the stellar line blocking. Oregon, Alabama and Texas A&M seemed to be able to block for both passes and runs. Is it ineffective blocking schemes or coaching? Why doesn’t OU hire a better O-line coach?

7. Why does Bell set up only 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage for his runs? Why doesn’t he set up 6 or 7 yards back so he can see more and may actually be able to make a decision as to where to run. Setting up too close to the line of scrimmage reduces considerably one’s ability to improvise. Except for one play he got stuffed every time he tried to run tonight.

8. It is true that Landry won more games as a starter and passed for more yards than any QB in OU history. However, I think he has also lost more games than any other OU QB. He started at least 20 games more than Steve Davis and Sam Bradford. A good portion of Landry’s legacy is due primarily to his being injury-free and being able to start 50-plus games, rather than to QB skills.

9. I think Stoops is too nice a guy. He is extraordinarily loyal to certain players and certain assistants. Most of his assistants have had a previous personal history with him (Long, Heupel, etc.), so that might explain it with the coaches. I don’t like Nick Saban, but I do have to admire his willingness to make changes when needed.

10. I just hope Stoops will pick next year’s QB based on merit rather than seniority. He did that with Sam Bradford when Sam was viewed as a third-teamer, and it worked out great.

11. In the final analysis, wins and losses at the level of football where OU competes is due to quality of players and/or quality of coaching. All these years we have been told that OU gets the best players, and they must have the best coaches because none ever leave involuntarily. So why can’t they win the big one any more against a good opponent (OSU in 2010 and OSU, Texas and WV this year don’t count as good teams – dramatic wins against porous defenses)? Players or coaches or both?

12. The “whack-a-mole” method of play calling gives me gas. The defense almost always shifts after the late call comes from the sideline, so the effort and the time are usually wasted, and we usually get the snap off with :01 left on the play clock. Seems counterproductive to me.

OK, Johnny, here you go:

1. Right on.

2. No reason, other than the Big 12 is an offensively-potent league.

3. OU doesn’t really have a good tight end. The key is making sure Millard is on the field. He’s a virtual tight end, if you need one.

4. Actually, the sideway passes worked really well, even against A&M. Defenses can take them away just with alignment, and A&M eventually did.

5. I think you’re 100 percent wrong. I thought Landry played well in the first half. And clock manager? Two epic comebacks, engineered against the clock, were the highlight of this season. West Virginia and OSU. I don’t know if Landy will be an NFL starter, but he was the least of OU’s problems.

6. I thought OU’s O-line was solid. The run blocking was not great but was OK. Offensive line is not OU’s problem.

7. The Belldozer has run its course. Blake Bell is not an improviser. Johnny Manziel is an improviser. The deeper you line up, the more time you give the defense to swarm.

8. I agree and I don’t know anybody who doesn’t agree, except for the part of no QB skills. Landry was a very skilled quarterback. In fact, I might argue that in the end, he proved to be OU’s best player.

9. You could be right.

10. Stoops only one time has picked the wrong QB (Paul Thompson over Bomar). Stoops knows what he’s doing with QB selection.

11. OU has won more than its share of big games. The other programs are trying to win, too. Taking a small sampling to try to prove that the program is in trouble can lead to poor decisions.

12. I don’t like it either, but I think it’s more aesthetics. OU’s system of playcalling has been successful.

And finally, Albert chimed in with his list:

“1. Worst performance by an OU team since the USC national championship game.

2. Stoops is overrated and overpaid.

3. Landry Jones is a good quarterback but he is not a championship caliber quarterback (reminds me of Jason White).

4. When you do not have a defense you can’t win championships.

5.  His defensive personnel (especially defensive line/linebackers) might be the worst since the late 80’s and early 90’.

6. He should not have hired his brother as defensive coordinator and his linebacker coach should be fired.

7. Josh Heupel just can’t figure out what offense he wants to install and that gets our offense in trouble.

8. I would run Trey Millard 25 times a game.  What a waste of a great player.

9. I really do not see the Sooners contending in the near future.  It might come down to OU needs a change at the helm!

Here are my responses:

1. I blogged about this earlier in the week. But at least in the Cotton Bowl, the Sooners were in the game at halftime.

2. Every college football coach is overpaid. That’s a non-point. Maybe he’s overrated, though I’d be hard-pressed to know who’s rating him all that high.

3. I thought Landry played really well vs. A&M. He was the least of OU’s problems. Jason White was an outstanding quarterback. Excellent in every way. To suggest otherwise is downright silly.

4. Obviously.

5. Maybe.

6. You say OU has bad linebackers, so fire the linebacker coach. I think a better solution is strip all the coaches naked and make them walk through the streets in shame.

7. The evidence on this statement is zero. Heupel messed up the KSU game (not playing Millard), but otherwise, there hasn’t been any mystery about what kind of offense OU is running or wants to run.

8. I agree that Millard is under-used.

9. You might be right. You almost might be foolishly wrong. But this is indisputable. It’s much less likely that OU would improve with a new coach and much more likely that OU would slip with a new coach.


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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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