In last year's meeting with Notre Dame, the Sooners weren't bad overall on first down, averaging more than 4.6 yards on first down. But several times, the Sooners struggled on first down and often got caught in third-and-long situations.
Plays on first down figure to be important against the Fighting Irish on Saturday, and OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell wants his receivers to keep that in mind rather than trying to break the big play.
“We've got to do a good job of making efficient plays on first down, whether it's running or throwing,” Norvell said. “And in this game, it's important that you catch and you get upfield north and south and it's not fancy. It's just get upfield, get the yards you need, bang off pads and move on to the next play.”
The Sooners were just 4 of 14 on third down in last year's loss.
WILLIAMS EXPECTED BACK
Running back Damien Williams is expected to play Saturday against Notre Dame after serving a one-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Williams missed the game against Tulsa after rushing for 161 yards in the season's first two games.
Williams was OU's leading rusher against Notre Dame last season, running for 29 yards.
“He's great with the ball in his hands as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield,” Sooners co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “He's been great in protections as well. Hopefully, if he can play at a high level, that will help us.”
In Williams' absence last week, freshman Keith Ford saw increased action.
KNIGHT STAYS UPBEAT
Heupel said that Trevor Knight, who started the first two games at quarterback before being replaced by Blake Bell, has been upbeat since returning from a knee injury that knocked him out of the win against West Virginia.
“It's been awesome,” Heupel said of Knight's demeanor. “He's the same guy in the meeting room even when he was hurt. He's prepared extremely well.”
Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Wednesday night that he wasn't sure who would be the backup quarterback, Knight or Kendal Thompson, who served as the backup against Tulsa with Knight out.
“They both have been getting some two reps,” Stoops said.
SOONERS NO. 4 IN EFFICIENCY INDEX
Oklahoma is on the outside of the top 10 looking in, after a 3-0 start.
One rankings formula, though, has the Sooners in the top five.
OU is No. 4 in the Fremau Efficiency Index, which considers each drive, eliminating “garbage” drives at the end of halves and late, meaningless scores.
Teams are also given credit for playing well against good teams, win or lose, and penalized more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than rewarded for playing well against bad teams.
The Sooners have a .238 rating. Oregon is No. 1 at .313, followed by Alabama at .273 and Stanford at .248. LSU is No. 5.
The next-highest Big 12 team is Oklahoma State at No. 16. Baylor is No. 21.
Notre Dame is No. 31.
Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard, on being a Catholic going to play against Notre Dame: “No moral dilemma at all. I don't think spirituality plays the greatest role in football. It's one of those things where I think they let us play the game and whatever happens happens.”