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OU notebook: Sooners offense closes door when it matters

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Modified: September 19, 2010 at 9:45 am •  Published: September 18, 2010

After scoring on 80- and 65-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown drives to trim a 27-10 deficit to 27-24, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, owning all three of his timeouts, chose to kick deep with 3:39 to play.

The Falcons never got the ball back.

"When you're young as a child, and you knew Christmas is coming and you ask for the one toy they say they will get you for Christmas, that's what it felt like," said Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson. "If there was one thing I wanted it was to get the ball back, just for the opportunity. But it is what it is."

On OU's close-the-door final drive DeMarco Murray ran six times.

"We also did that against Utah State," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. "We're a little more tested than we were year ago. We're a little tougher... DeMarco was impressive in the second half. His body language, he was a different back. That was good running in the second half."

The only pass on the drive was Landry Jones connecting with Kenny Stills on third down to move the chains, allowing the Sooners to run out the clock.

"I'm really proud of the offensive line," Jones said. "We could've just let off and let Tress (Way) come out and punt the ball. But they really buckled down and starting moving guys off the ball."


Linebacker Travis Lewis said he was proud Florida State had only 212 yards of offense when the starters left the field last week.

Air Force compiled twice that (458).

"I'll take a mulligan," Lewis said. "With their unique offense we'll never see that offense again in my time playing here."

Air Force, which leads the nation in rushing, ran for 351 yards.

"It's not like other teams can watch that and say, 'Oh we're going to put up 300 yards rushing Oklahoma,'" Lewis said. "It doesn't happen like that. This is a team where players have never seen an offense like that. You only have a week to prepare so it's tough."


OU inserted three new offensive line starters. Jarvis Jones started at left tackle, Gabe Ikard at left guard and Brian Lepak at right guard. Three weeks into the season it appears center Ben Habern and right tackle Eric Mensik are the only two entrenched starters.

Former starters — tackle Donald Stephenson and guards Stephen Good and Tyler Evans — played the second series and alternated throughout the game. Stephenson bruised his tailbone last week but played.

"Maybe some of the first-team guys aren't separating themselves or maybe the second-team is doing well. You can look at it both ways," Wilson said. "But the more guys we can keep involved the better. It brings better energy in practice.

"But we've got to play better. We got some hits on (Jones) and didn't run as good as we need to."

Habern has graded out the highest among the O-linemen but had his second bad snap. This one was costly. Habern's errant snap out of the shotgun resulted in an 18-yard loss late in the first half, squashing a shot at a field goal.


Air Force fullback Jared Tew rushed for 93 yards on 21 carries, a 4.4 average that helped the Falcons consistently move the chains. Like most option fullbacks, Tew had success up the middle against OU's interior defense.

"They were just blocking it different sometimes," Lewis said. "They schemed us. In the second half they were running it a different way. When we played it we played it great and stoned it but we didn't stone it enough."

Said safety Jonathan Nelson: "They get a hat on a hat. That's their whole objective. You have to get off a block to stop their offense. It's not like a lot of other offenses where one (defender) is free and their guy has to make that one guy miss."


OU's special teams in the third quarter produced a huge edge in field position, a key variable in the Sooners turning a 10-10 tie to a 27-10 lead.

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