EL PASO, Texas – We've seen this before, the Bob Stoops Sooners struggling against a mid-major in a season opener. So maybe OU's 24-7 survival of Texas-El Paso is no cause for panic.
But if you want to be talked onto the ledge, you could look at the Sooners' trip to this Juarez suburb this way. UTEP fans have seen this before.
The Miners, tied 7-7 at halftime, trailed mighty Stony Brook 10-3 at halftime of their 2011 opener and led powerful Arkansas-Pine Bluff 14-10 at halftime of their 2010 opener.
So either Mike Price has coached up the Miners in a big-time way or the Sooners have a long way to go.
Let's go with the latter.
"Little bit rough," Stoops admitted about a game that was 10-7 with 11 minutes left. "I'm not disappointed, I'm just not satisfied that we didn't play as well as we could play."
The Sooners might have suffered Marty Robbins' El Paso fate had UTEP not missed three makeable field goals and had Landry Jones not found two unlikely sources for touchdown passes.
The OU defense pitched a virtual shutout – UTEP's lone touchdown came on a blocked punt – but also gave up 177 rushing yards to Nathan Jeffery, who was a high school phenom in Caddo Mills, Texas, but really shouldn't be mistaken for Eric Dickerson.
The OU offense was consistently ineffective. If Texas-El Paso can do that to the Sooner offense, what can Texas do?
"Obviously got a lot to work on," said center Gabe Ikard.
Landry ran for his life a good part of the night but showed the poise you'd expect from Mr. Whitney Hand.
In the first quarter, Landry stayed patient in the pocket and let Kenny Stills — remember him? — finally break free. Landry hit him perfectly with a cross-field throw on a streak pattern, good for a 68-yard touchdown for the guy who some said couldn't fill the main-man role in the void of Ryan Broyles.
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