NORMAN — After the season opener, wide receiver Kenny Stills confessed learning the speed of the college game was an adjustment.
But after three games, the San Diego area true freshman is showing why some believe he could develop into the Sooners' No. 2 receiver after he produced the biggest play of the season to secure a 27-24 win over Air Force.
Stills missed six practices during fall camp because of injuries, causing his timing with quarterback Landry Jones to be off in the opener against Utah State. It improved some against Florida State.
Against Air Force, Stills and Jones were more in sync.
"It definitely takes a little time to get used to the speed," Stills said. "We go pretty fast in practice but there's nothing like being in the game itself, especially when Landry is getting pressure and getting hit."
With less than three minutes to play on Saturday, OU faced third-and-3. If the Sooners didn't convert they would be forced to punt, giving an Air Force offense that had scored touchdowns its two previous possessions a chance to win.
With the Falcons double-teaming Ryan Broyles, Stills took a couple of steps forward then cut hard left past the first-down marker. Wide open, Stills grabbed Jones' pass, ran another five yards and fell to the ground to prevent risking a turnover.
"We showed that to the team Monday that for a freshman that was a very smart play," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. "For a young guy, that was a very bright move, very instinctive... That was a great play, not just the catch but the way he finished it off."
With Broyles expected to receive double coverage much of the season, Stills is one of the top candidates to give the Sooners a big-play weapon other than Broyles and DeMarco Murray.
Stills had the spring, summer and parts of fall camp to work with Jones but discovered game speed, especially timing routes, is essential.
"Most of the time it was my fault," Stills said. "I feel kind of bad because Landry took some blame for that. I knew I had to pick up my speed and get on the same page as him. It's just little things, coming out of the break fast and continuing to come down to the ball."