College Football

Sooner Rather Than Later

I wanted to wait before writing this story to ensure the world was still turning and the sky, in fact, had not fallen. It was a tough night in Norman Oklahoma as the Sooners took their second “L” of the season in a 45-24 dismantling. The silver bullets were men among boys as they assaulted the OU defense to the tune of 152 passing yards and 291 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. There are, as always, a list of positives and negatives to take from a game. The main thing to take from this one though is that the Buckeyes offense rolled and made plays when they needed to and their basic defense, basically slapped us into reality.

Let’s start out with the glaring obvious case of nepotism and why it can’t succeed in college football. I had a conversation with my brother last night where he asked, “If you were the head coach and I was the defensive coordinator, would you fire me?” It’s a hard question to answer and a position you should try to avoid putting yourself in. It’s easy to hire family to work for you but it’s hard to fire them when they may deserve a pink slip. Mike Stoops is an above average defensive coordinator but has found himself in a bad situation. He is a mastermind of a 4-3 defensive scheme that inspires physical tackling and disguised blitz packages. Naturally, OU is running a 3-4 scheme, lackluster tackling and because they play in a heavy offensive-minded conference, he is forced to be predictable with his blitzing and soft with his play calling. He would excel as a defensive coordinator in the SEC, ACC or Big 10 where he can be physical and not have to worry about defending 80-90 plays per game but that’s not where he is…My response to my brother was yes. Not because I don’t love my brother or recognize that Thanksgiving will be awkward, but because it’s the best for both of our careers. Bob Stoops will have to sit down and consider all his options. Not only was there a talent gap which points towards recruiting, but there were poor fundamentals, miscommunication, poor tackling and missed assignments, all of which have to point towards coaching. They are fixable issues, but the Stoops brothers are looking at an uphill battle to try and fix these problems.

The issues with the offense started when Freshman Cody Ford went down early in the game with a broken leg. Ford had secured his starting position early in the spring which shows just how good he was. The Sooners were moving the ball well on offense up to this point and when Cody went down, so did the offense. Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley did what he could to stretch the Buckeye defense from sideline-to-sideline but the athleticism was just too much. Still, in times like this, you look forward to a leader stepping up for your group and Baker Mayfield is the leader of the offense, shouldering the majority of the blame. “I’m going to work harder than anybody in this program,” Mayfield said after the game. “Work harder than anybody coach Stoops has ever seen. I’m going to push and we’re going to win a big 12 title.”

 It’s the mindset we all need to adopt during this bye week. The sky isn’t falling and the season still has promise. The Sooners have to regroup and make adjustments before conference play and although this was the hardest out of conference schedule in the nation and proved to be so, we will earn some recognition for scheduling and still have a shot at a successful season.

The Sooners have time to heal some important injuries like defensive tackle Matt Romar who was out with a concussion and star safety Steven Parker who went down with a shoulder injury. We improved offensively to the tune of 177 rushing yards and 226 passing yards but the team will have to work hard to develop a red zone identity so drives don’t continue to stall. Most of all we will have time to look in the mirror and decide what kind of team we want to be this season. Winning cures a lot of wounds and it certainly stops the darts from the fan base but as a team, leaders have to show up and the team has to show out. See you on Oct. 1.

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