State Sports

October 25, 2010

Mistakes prove Sooners promise better than their presence

Associated Press —

By Clay Horning, CNHI


James Franklin, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound true freshman quarterback on the Tiger roster, lined up in the shotgun rather than Blaine Gabbert for one snap. Franklin took it, faked a handoff and headed toward the end zone.

He appeared stopped by Oklahoma’s defense a stride or two short of the goal line, but he never went down. Eventually, Missouri’s offensive line pushed him through the Sooner defense and into the end zone.

This is how Kirk Herbstreit, calling the game with Brent Musberger, described what happened: “In a play that almost illustrates the whole game …”

Herbstreit was close.

If only Sooner quarterback Landry Jones could have managed to throw the ball to a Missouri defender on the very same play, he would have been even more right.

Because it was a funny thing, watching the Sooners lose to the Tigers 36-27, throwing away their No. 1 spot in the BCS standings along the way.

Watching Roy Finch run and Kenny Stills catch passes and Trey Millard run and catch passes, and hearing any number of other Sooner freshmen have their name called, you couldn’t help but think about the future promise of Bob Stoops’ OU football program.

Yet for maybe the first time that really mattered, it became clear how far the future, that kind of future, remains from the moment.

When it finally arrives is hard to know.

OU still has huge road games at Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma State, and if you don’t think all three are in play, you’re crazy.

Once again, the Sooners appeared lost away from Owen Field, so much of the time and so much like last season.

Might that future arrive in time for unblemished success the rest of the regular season? The Sooners can still reach the Big 12 championship game, quite possibly face a rematch with the Tigers, or maybe for a final go-round with Nebraska, which plays host to Missouri six days from today.

It’s possible.

But to get there and win, OU will have to be so much better than it was Saturday night.

Missouri went up and down the field, Gabbert never faced any pass rush to speak of and, most troubling of all, Jones was so clearly not Gabbert’s equal in a game he had to, first and foremost, not make terrible mistakes.

His biggest offense may have been his first interception, after the Sooners had already tied the game 7-7, when they appeared ready to take control of the game, having already driven to the Missouri 12 late in the first quarter.

What looked like a screen pass by design, instead was a throw right to Aldon Smith, who brought it back 58 yards, setting up the go-ahead touchdown for the Tigers.

Jones’ second pick couldn’t have come at a worse time, right after Missouri had taken back the lead, right after OU had finally taken its first lead, when Zaviar Gooden picked him off on the first play of a drive that began at the Sooner 22.

Yet maybe most troubling of all, his worst throw came on OU’s next drive, facing third-and-6 from the Sooner 25. Jones looked right at Stills and threw it to him despite his being well-covered.

What the replay showed, though nobody mentioned it on the broadcast, was Brad Madison, a defensive end who’d dropped into coverage, should have intercepted that pass, too, and Madison wasn’t even the guy covering Stills.

The defense must be better. The pass rush must arrive. Simply getting pushed around by an opponent cannot be the order of the day, and giving up a touchdown on the opening kick can’t happen again.

Fix all of that and the Sooners might win out, reach a BCS bowl and make the rest of the season almost as exciting as the season they appeared to have in front of them Saturday morning.

Just as long as their quarterback doesn’t sabotage it with more bad decisions.

OU has a long way to go.

Text Only
State Sports
  • Chicks run-rule Pauls Valley


    While the road game at Weatherford was canceled Friday, it didn't stop the Fightin Chicks from playing baseball. 

    March 13, 2011

  • Chicks will remember the Titans

    January 6, 2011

  • 1-3 ou stoops-bw.jpg Sooners dominated, delayed putting away Fiesta Bowl

    January 3, 2011 1 Photo


    December 23, 2010

  • No. 9 Sooners try to end Fiesta Bowl funk

    December 22, 2010

  • Int.jpg Cowboys upset in dramatic finish

    STILLWATER  — Bedlam lived up to its name Saturday night as the Oklahoma Sooners edged out the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 47-41.
    Like so many games in the storied rivalry, the lower seed pulled off the upset in dramatic fashion.

    November 29, 2010 1 Photo

  • Durant scores 24 as Thunder beat Rockets

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Coach Scott Brooks struck a chord to get the Oklahoma City Thunder playing better together on offense.
    He told his players that all they had to do to earn a day off was get 20 assists against the Houston Rockets.
    The plan worked so well that Kevin Durant and some of the Thunder's other starters started their time off a little early.

    November 19, 2010

  • No. 12 Cowboys' Young eager for return to KU

    STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's surprising rise to Big 12 championship contender has a common thread with a similar run by Kansas three seasons ago: defensive coordinator Bill Young.
    Young was a part of Mark Mangino's staff when the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl in 2007, the school's first trip to a BCS bowl.

    November 16, 2010

  • Highly-touted recruit signs with Oklahoma State

    STILLWATER (AP) — Highly rated high school forward LeBryan Nash has signed a letter of intent to play for Oklahoma State next season.

    November 12, 2010

  • Durant, Westbrook lead Thunder over Blazers in OT

    PORTLAND, Ore. — After two straight losses — one to Utah at home and another to the Los Angeles Clippers the night before — the Oklahoma City Thunder weren't going to give up against the Portland Trail Blazers.
    Shaking off their fatigue, the Thunder overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to beat the Blazers 107-106 in overtime on Thursday night.
    Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each had 28 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
    "We needed it a lot," said Durant. "It's kind of like a monkey off our back once the buzzer ended it. It's a good win for us."

    November 8, 2010