NORMAN — Oklahoma completely fell apart Thursday night in a 41-12 blowout shellacking at No. 6 Baylor.
The game exposed a litany of problems the Sooners face moving forward, and raised serious questions about quarterback Blake Bell, co-offensive coordinator and play caller Josh Heupel and the team's composure.
Here, we take a comprehensive look at Thursday's rout in Waco:
TOP FIVE PROBLEMS
1. Quarterbacking: Oklahoma's situation at quarterback is perhaps the most pressing, noticeable problem facing this team the rest of the season.
Junior Blake Bell took over as starter in the Sooners' third game of the season and was excellent in his first two outings. He also played well in an important home victory over Texas Tech two weeks ago, but he has also been wildly inconsistent.
Coaches clearly don't trust him to throw the ball downfield with any regularity, and he appears to be a much more timid runner than he was the last two years out of the “Belldozer” package.
OU coaches tried to use Trevor Knight as a change-of-pace quarterback against Baylor, and he had some success running the zone read, but his passing early in the season was so suspect that it seems unlikely that he'd be the answer this season.
Coach Bob Stoops said the offense's struggles against Baylor weren't Bell's fault, but his struggles have been apparent, and the fact that he's still struggling in the ninth game of the year is unsettling.
2. Health: Trey Millard, Corey Nelson and Jordan Phillips have all been lost with season-ending injuries. Then Thursday in Waco, the Sooners suffered lots of additional injuries.
Sophomore wideout Sterling Shepard was knocked out of the game with a first-quarter concussion. Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin and junior nickelback Julian Wilson both left the game late with apparent shoulder injuries.
True freshman linebacker Jordan Evans hurt his ankle, and freshman running back Keith Ford was seen on the sideline on crutches after a special-teams injury.
“It's not good,” Stoops said after the game. “We'll find out. All the guys that went off the field were hurt. We'll see how that ends up.”
3. Depth: The Sooners' deteriorating health has exposed a depth problem on defense. When Colvin went down, he was replaced by true freshman Stanvon Taylor, who was picked on lots in the fourth quarter by Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty. Oklahoma has relied on true freshmen as their second-team linebackers.
The fact that Oklahoma is playing true freshmen on defense is a nice sign for the future, but it also indicates a serious lack of older backups that coaches can rely on. That's a problem until those freshmen are more seasoned.
4. Offensive efficiency: The Sooners were flat out ineffective on offense for most of Thursday's loss. Nothing seemed to work, even when the offense was handed excellent field position in the first half.
Oklahoma's offense ran seven plays from inside Baylor's 12-yard line in the first half and managed only three points from them.
The offense's inability to stay on the field contributed significantly to the defense's struggles. Mike Stoops' unit played really well — perhaps good enough to win — but never got any time to rest, and eventually, they just got worn down by a great Baylor offense.
Oklahoma was able to drain the game clock in the fourth quarter of wins at Notre Dame and against Texas Tech, but it couldn't maintain any drives against the Bears.
5. Defensive mental busts: Sophomores Eric Striker and Charles Tapper have each played extremely well for much of this season, but both lined up offside in the first half when the defense appeared ready to make a stop.
Striker's offside came late in the second quarter, when Oklahoma had stopped Baylor deep in its own territory on a third down. The Bears got a second shot at the third-down play, took advantage of it and scored a touchdown nine plays later.