NORMAN – Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops refuses to call it revenge, but he does acknowledge the Sooners have to atone this week for what happened a year ago at Missouri.
“We got embarrassed the way we played, the way they beat us,” he said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “We want to play better.”
The Sooners led 21-20 going to the fourth quarter when the Tigers and quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who went on to be a first-round NFL draft pick, sparked to life for 16 points in a six-minute span of the final period.
“They played better than us,” Stoops said. “They were tougher than us. They outrushed us. They coached better than us. Whatever you want to say. It has nothing to do with revenge.”
Coming off an emotional and physical win at then-No. 5 Florida State, the Sooners (2-0) are ranked No. 1 – just as they were a year ago going into that game in Columbia. Missouri is 2-1, having lost two weeks ago in overtime at Arizona State.
“There's a lot of respect there,” Stoops said. “We've got to do our work during the week to have a chance to win.”
If OU needed any additional motivation, it seems to have received some from Mizzou receiver Jerrell Jackson.
“I don't know what makes them tough,” he told reporters Monday. “There ain't nothing tough about them to me. Just watching film, I'm just going to attack them like I attack every other opponent.”
Jackson did have nine catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in last year's game. But OU is 73-2 in home games since Stoops' arrival in 1999. Jackson is a senior co-captain for the Tigers.
“Someone made himself bait with those comments,” Sooners linebacker Travis Lewis said on Twitter. “Should (have) just shut his mouth.”
Stoops said he is unsure if Lewis will play this week, although Lewis said Monday that he plans to play. The senior is dealing with a broken toe that has not correctly healed. He played the entirety of Saturday's game at FSU, admitting the left foot is causing him pain.
Stoops called Lewis one of the defensive players of the game of the 23-13 victory in Tallahassee, along with linebacker Tom Wort, defensive end Frank Alexander and safety Javon Harris.
Harris had two key interceptions. He was named Monday the Big 12's defensive player of the week. Tuesday, he was named the Bronko Nagurski Award's national defensive player of the week.
The other highlights from Stoops' news conference:
* No doghouse for Finch: The coach insisted running back Roy Finch is not in any sort of doghouse and that he would play in the coming weeks. Finch, the team's second-leading rusher last season, did not get a catch or carry last week against FSU.
Stoops said Brennan Clay and Dominique Whaley have passed Finch. He said Finch has not regressed.
“We feel these guys are doing it better right,” Stoops said.
* Stevens escapes tirade free: Stoops said he didn't say anything to kicker Jimmy Stevens after his late 31-yard field goal just sneaked over the cross bar. “I didn't want to change the outcome,” he said.
Stoops compared the kick to one of his drives on the golf course: Low, but down the middle.
* Missed blocks, assignments led to FGs: Stoops was not overly concerned with his goal-line offense, even though the Sooners twice had to settle for field goals despite being inside the FSU 5-yard line.
He said being able to run, generally, gives him comfort about the offense near the end zone.
“It needs to get better,” he said. “We missed some blocks. We missed some assignments a couple of times. We fouled it up. It needs to get better. But do I think it's better than a year ago? Yeah, by a long shot. Are we there yet? It's the second game. No way. I think it'll get better.”