Oklahoma senior wide receiver Jalen Saunders has demonstrated impressive ability on punt returns, including an 81-yard touchdown in last year's Bedlam win.
So far this year, teams have punted to the Sooners 40 times, but Saunders has only managed 10 returns. He's averaging more than 10 yards per return, but has had to call for fair catches on most of his opportunities.
“Some people sacrifice a little distance for a little more hang time and don't allow you to return it,” said OU coach Bob Stoops.
“The ones he's had chances with he's done pretty well.”
Asked if there's anything schematically OU can do to combat those opponents' strategies, Stoops said: “No. Unless I can get in their meetings and ask them to kick it low and far.”
STOOPS FINE WITH RICE
Stoops said he's an “equal opportunist,” and has no problem with Condoleezza Rice's appointment to the new College Football Playoff selection committee.
“Hey, look, listen … she's obviously a very experienced individual in all ways,” Stoops said of the former secretary of state. “I'm not going to sit here and oppose anybody.”
In the past, Stoops has criticized the idea of a playoff committee, saying that there's no way to separate individuals from their allegiances and biases. Rice is currently a professor at Stanford.
Asked if he was still concerned about those allegiances, Stoops said no.
“I'm not going to be concerned about it because it doesn't matter,” Stoops said. “I think you guys are all able to formulate your own opinions and express them yourself. In the end, I'll go with whatever they say we've got to go with.”
Stoops reiterated, though, his belief that strength of schedule should play a large role in determining the four playoff teams.
“Obviously I'm in favor of that when you look at who we've played through the years, nonconference and when you look at our schedule moving forward,” Stoops said. “I'm hopeful that will be a strong component in rankings and the decisions.
“Two of the last three years we've been at Florida State and Notre Dame. Surely we hope that's a factor otherwise there's no reason to do that. Otherwise why put yourself at risk of having a hard game, on the road especially?”
Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell, on dealing with outside criticism:
“I'm just playing a game. I don't listen to that. We're in here as a team, and we're gonna push to win ballgames. All I can do is get in the film room and learn from my mistakes and get better.”