NORMAN — After a season-opening shutout of Louisiana-Monroe, Mike Stoops remains cautiously optimistic about this year's Oklahoma defense.
“We were a little more of a react team a year ago, and now we're probably attacking more, but still, it's a controlled attack scheme,” Stoops said. “It worked for a night, and certainly we'll get a better test this weekend with West Virginia. We'll see if we can hold them under 778. Hopefully we can do better than that.”
The number — representing the total offensive yards West Virginia recorded in the Sooners' narrow victory last November — clearly still eats at Stoops. It was the most yards ever allowed by an Oklahoma defense.
But if West Virginia comes even close to repeating that performance Saturday on Owen Field, where the teams meet in their Big 12 Conference opener, the 2013 version of this game might be just as humiliating, embarrassing and baffling as last year's.
These Mountaineers aren't those Mountaineers, whose ranks included superstars Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Geno Smith.
Austin recorded 572 all-purpose yards in last November's shootout with Oklahoma, coming just six yards short of the NCAA's single-game record.
“They're a totally different team than last year,” said senior running back Roy Finch. “They had great players on the offensive side like Tavon that can go toe to toe with us on the offensive side. I just feel like this is going to be more of a defensive game.”