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OU has to resolve its secondary issues

By Travis Haney, Staff Writer, Published: November 22, 2011

“Me, as a player, I took it hard. You know they're about to score a touchdown. It's detrimental to the team. It's hard.”

Even for the positive things he's done this season, is Harris out of second chances? After mildly injuring his lower leg, he said he was healthy enough to come back in late against Baylor. But the coaches asked him to stay on the sideline.

It was reserve Sam Proctor, Harris' backup, who was beaten on the final touchdown, though Proctor was close by until the very last second.

Could Proctor, a senior, start on Senior Day against Iowa State? And what about Tony Jefferson, who had played the field safety until he was moved up into the rover spot?

“Oh, we'll see,” Stoops said Tuesday, “but I'm not much on broadcasting any of that.”

He later called Jefferson a “candidate” for safety, but said that could leave a void where Jefferson has been playing.

“Believe me, we're … I thought of that,” Stoops said of moving Jefferson. “Sometimes you can rob Peter to pay Paul. There's a price to pay.”

Venables said he's not much for making big changes, personnel or schematic, after one poor performance.

“I think human nature is to push the panic button,” Venables said. “I've been doing this long enough. Things haven't been perfect for 13 years. We've had our share of obstacles to overcome. The one thing that's been consistent is exactly that, just staying consistent.

“Correct the mistakes. Be demanding. Get your players to stay focused. And not change the course.”

Cornerback Demontre Hurst would like to see this group get mentally tougher, even if it's not making wholesale changes.

“It's not what we want on defense. It's not acceptable,” he said. “We won't accept this. We have to get after these last two games.”

And note this about Harris: He's accountable. He handled the criticism from coaches on the sideline. He tried to come back into the game after the leg injury, when some players might have sulked. And he came into the interview room after practice Monday and faced questions for nearly a half-hour.

Harris didn't get defensive, or excuse himself. He calmly explained his take on what went wrong and what has to change moving forward. One team captain and the secondary coach ducked the media Monday, but Harris didn't have a problem facing his failure, which was quite evident to everyone Saturday night.

“You don't sit here and make a bunch of excuses and you move on,” Venables said. “You learn and grow from it.

“The right thing from a maturity standpoint is to face it and address it.”