Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops opened his weekly news conference Monday by praising Notre Dame, which beat his Sooners 30-13 Saturday to hand OU its second home loss this season.
“Compliments to Notre Dame, who really played an excellent football game to win it,” Stoops said. “And in the end made some key plays toward the end of the game to win. They only had one penalty and no turnovers. They played it well in being able to do things right that way.”
Stoops then repeated his thoughts made in Saturday's postgame, saying that his team was “on the wrong side of some judgment calls.
Stoops was visibly livid late Saturday's first half, when a Blake Bell touchdown run was negated by a holding call on guard Bronson Irwin. The penalty came in late, and was called by the referee from his position several yards behind the play.
“The holding call, you have a chance to score and you end up kicking a field goal,” Stoops said.
In the fourth quarter, after Notre Dame had re-taken a 7-point lead, quarterback Landry Jones' pass — intended for Jalen Saunders — was intercepted by a diving Manti Te'o, the Irish's star linebacker.
The interception was reviewed, and the call upheld. But that wasn't the only controversial aspect of the game-changing play.
Saunders was defended by linebacker Dan Fox; some have expressed an opinion that Fox was guilty of an uncalled pass interference penalty.
“You're in a one-possession game late, and whether it's interference or not, it isn't called,” Stoops said. “Whether it's intercepted or not, they rule it was intercepted.
“It's tight enough that if they rule incomplete, they probably would have stood with that judgement as well.”
Jones said that, from where he was standing on the play, he thought Fox did interfere with Saunders.
“From where I was standing, I thought it was interference,” Jones said. “But I'm not a referee. My job is not to be a referee. My job is to be a quarterback ... Yes, I did think it was interference. But that's not the way they saw it. You just have to play through it.”
WILLIAMS, JOHNSON MISS PRACTICE
Stoops announced starters Damien Williams and Lane Johnson each missed practice Monday with ankle injuries suffered against Notre Dame.
The severity of each injury wasn't specified, but Stoops said he hopes both will return to practice Wednesday.
Williams, a junior-college transfer running back from Arizona Western, has scored seven touchdowns this season and leads OU with 581 rushing yards. Within OU's first five games, he scored on runs of 65, 89 and 95 yards, the latter setting a Red River Rivalry record Oct. 13 in the Cotton Bowl.
Johnson played tight end and defensive end for Oklahoma before moving to offensive tackle last season. He started 12 games as a junior, and so far has started all seven of his senior-season games.
STOOPS ON WHALEY: ‘HE'S FINE'
Senior running back Dominique Whaley has suited up for — but hasn't appeared in — Oklahoma's last two games.
Whaley burst onto the scene last year as a walk-on, earning four starts and rushing for 627 yards and nine touchdowns before a season-ending ankle injury at Kansas State.
He started OU's first three games this season, Williams passed him on the depth chart and has earned the last four starts.
Even junior backup Brennan Clay has gotten carries in the last two games, with Whaley standing on the sideline.
“He's fine,” Stoops said when asked if Whaley's ankle was still a problem. “He's been doing well.
“I think some of the reason we've gone more with Damien is the success he's had. Dom's fine. He's practicing. He's as good as he can be.”
ISU'S KNOTT LIKELY OUT FOR SEASON
Iowa State senior linebacker Jake Knott is likely out for the season with a torn left shoulder.
Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads says Knott, the reigning Big 12 defensive player of the week and a first-team All-Big 12 pick in 2011, had surgery Monday in Chicago.
Rhoads says Knott might make it back for a potential bowl game. But the Cyclones won't know more until later in the week.
Knott injured his shoulder on Oct. 20 against Oklahoma State, but he returned and had 11 tackles and forced a fumble in Iowa State's 35-21 win on Saturday over Baylor. Rhoads says Knott was a selfless team player whose leadership will be missed.
JEFFERSON NAMED THORPE SEMIFINALIST
Oklahoma junior safety Tony Jefferson was named one of 15 semifinalists for the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's best defensive back.
The three Thorpe finalists will be announced Nov. 19.
Jefferson leads the Sooners with 59 tackles, 36 of which are solo tackles. In Oklahoma's 30-13 loss last weekend to No. 3 Notre Dame, he made a team-high 11 stops.
Jefferson was the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week Oct. 17 after registering seven tackles and an interception in Oklahoma's 63-21 rout of Texas.
The Thorpe Award winner will be announced on ESPN, at the Dec. 6 college football awards show.
The award is presented by Oklahoma City's Jim Thorpe Association.