NORMAN — Late Saturday was the time for Oklahoma's defense to be angry about how it played. Monday was the time to correct.
The Sooners defeated Missouri by 10 points, but they were left feeling unsettled by allowing 532 total yards to the Tigers.
Well, it wasn't the yardage specifically that had coordinator Brent Venables and linebacker Travis Lewis, in particular, peeved; it was the fact they knew the job had not been done well, in part due to a poor week of practice.
Florida State was an exemplary outing for the Sooners. Missouri resulted in frustration.
Here comes Ball State, with Texas on deck.
“Hopefully we'll learn from the mistakes that we made, whether it's mentally or physically or emotionally,” Venables said. “It's probably a little bit of everything. But we did not play like we're capable of playing. Certainly we didn't play for four quarters with the type of focus and purpose and attitude that we did the week before.”
As Venables noted, OU lost three key battles within last week's game. Missouri finished with more – a lot more - rushing yards, 263-162. The Tigers had more big plays, “explosive plays” in Sooners vernacular. MU also had no turnovers, to OU's two (both interceptions).
“When you lose two of those three,” Venables said, “you normally lose.” Because of that, he said the Sooners took coaching well after the game — and again Monday when it came for film review and a return to the practice field.
“We don't have a bunch of dummies around here. They know,” Venables said. “This was indicative of a bunch of guys who knew they were fortunate to win and didn't play like they're capable of playing. They've taken the accountability, and they've owned it. I have no doubt they'll move forward.”
Missouri's coaches said afterward that putting receivers in motion helped the Tigers figure out matchups against OU's man coverage. Once in those one-on-one situations, Mizzou's receivers simply beat the defender. The Tigers had pass completions of 32, 29 and 45 yards on their first three possessions, two of which ended in touchdowns to establish a 14-3 lead.
Big plays have been problematic all year for OU's defense, even though it's not as if one coverage or scheme has been suspect. It's one player on one play, but it's happening on a regular basis.
OU coach Bob Stoops continued to say Monday that Missouri should be given more credit in all this. James Franklin and Henry Josey both ran for more than 100 yards. Part of that was OU. Part of that was Franklin and Josey being talented.
“You watch them the rest of the year,” Stoops said. “They're going to put up a lot of points and yards on everybody. Give them credit, but I still think there's some things we could have done better.”
Most of the night, OU ran a dime as its base defensive scheme, going with six defensive backs to account for Missouri's use of five receivers and empty backfields. Venables said sometimes the players worked well within the scheme; sometimes they didn't.
“We said we can't let that happen again,” cornerback Demontre Hurst said. “We knew we had to pick up our energy and intensity level at practice. Today was real emotional. We picked it up a bit. Ball State's going to come in and give it their best. We can't leave the field feeling like we did last week.”
And that's coming from Hurst, who, according to Venables, was one of the best players on the field. Hurst and end Frank Alexander were several cuts above everyone else, he said.
“Frank dominated. Frank kicked butt. Frank did great, but Frank will tell you the same thing,” Venables said. “Some people played a very small part in some of the inconsistencies. Some played a bigger part. But, to a man, everybody's taking responsibility.”
It's a pride issue, on certain levels. Lewis fumed that the offense had to help out the defense, when it was probably the other way around at Florida State.
The defenders hear quite a bit of buzz about the prowess of their offensive counterparts. They crave that recognition, as well.
“I want to be known as Oklahoma having a very good defense,” Lynn said. “That's what I want to be known as. I think we've got the ability, the players and the coaches to do it.”
Ball State might receive some eye-rolling from casual fans, especially when they see the fact OU is favored by 39 points. The Cardinals, though, have the Sooners' attention.
With a new coaching staff, Venables said they look much improved. Running a no-huddle, quick-paced offense – like the Sooners and so many teams are employing these days – Ball State (3-1) put up 48 points last week against Army.
The Cardinals have scored all 17 times they've been in the red zone, including 13 touchdowns. The 100 percent efficiency is tied for first in the country.