Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sooners Going Back to the Basics During Off Week

The good news is that OU finally played a game where you walked away feeling as if they had a game plan and the personnel to win. The bad news is that the personnel’s failure to execute properly cost them that opportunity as OU fell to 1-2 with as loss to UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

Well, what can you take from a loss like this? According to OU coach Bob Stoops the Sooners can look at this game and learn to play harder. ``To me, the biggest factor is we can play smarter than we're playing. We can play harder. Our guys wanted to play, they were prepared to play, but we have to learn to play at a higher tempo when we're playing.'' Stoops said earlier this week.

In a 17 point loss to the Bruins the Sooners had several miscues including a dropped touchdown pass by receiver Quentin Chaney. Fumbles by Lendy Holmes, Adrian Peterson and Rhett Bomar led to 17 UCLA points. There were also several missed tackles by the defense

Offensive coordinator Chuck Long said the approach at this point in the season is far different than that of his past five years at Oklahoma. Instead of brushing up the basics with veterans, coaches will be trying to teach those fundamentals to younger players.

``I would look at this week for us as like a training camp,'' Long said. ``We're back in camp.''

``With new guys or young guys, they haven't seen it before,'' Long said. ``Every snap is a new snap. There's nothing to refer back to.''
These Sooner pups have a week to grow up before they begin preparation for conference play. Kansas State comes to Norman on October 1 then the Sooners travel to Dallas to play the #2 Texas Longhorns.

Going into conference play it will be important for OU to build confidence and regain their swagger. A home win against Kansas State would go a long way towards that.

``Now, it's more building their confidence. That's where we're at,'' Stoops said. ``We have to just do our job, do it as hard as we can do it and just play smarter. If we do that alone, we've got a chance to improve. Just not making mistakes and take care of the ball.''

The biggest problem these youngsters face is taking care of the ball according to Stoops. ``To me, you look at both of those games, the turnovers are the biggest issue, and the turnovers lead to all the other problems.''

The truth is that the Sooners made miles of improvement during the UCLA game and should continue to improve each week as the young players gain experience. I wouldn’t write them off just yet. With eight games to go they still have time to turn this season into a winning one. I’m not going to be bold enough to say Big 12 Championship, but I believe a bowl game is still very much in reach.

``I want our team to know that we are not far off,'' Stoops said. ``We'll get those turnovers and we'll get those calls as we go through the year.''