Dean's Blog: Flushes and Shanks The Day After Long Day In Big D - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Dean's Blog: Flushes and Shanks The Day After Long Day In Big D

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DALLAS -

-After hashing and re-hashing -- more than I’d like to admit -- in terms of the on-the-field issues that were central to OU’s stunning upset loss, it came down to this: You are only as good as your weakest link. And the Sooner offensive line is remarkably below the OU standard. And with no personnel moves available to make a significant upgrade, the realistic ceiling for improvement is not a much higher. Hard to play-call around the issue. It would help if Perine and Mixon improved blitz pickup and if QB Mayfield got rid of the ball more rather than taking sacks or scrambling his brains off for minimal gains and maximum pounding. I’m not being disrespectful of young guys trying hard, but facts are facts. You can trace it throughout history: teams essentially play as well on offense as their line allows. 

-OU is exponentially better in ‘up-tempo’ mode. But OC Riley can’t call much ‘tempo’ without moving the chains. And you don’t move the chains with sacks, loss yardage plays and excessive penalties.

-Yesterday was not my shiniest in terms of my teams ballin,’ but the Dukies buried our Army pushing my Pick of the Week record to a still-unblemished 6-0. For the record, I had Texas covering the line but OSU losing at Morgantown.

-The Big 12 is an improved conference – some really nice teams. But just one really good squad, which hails from Waco.

-Texas game plan: Get lead. Dominate LOS. Don’t pass and run clock. Destroy OU OL allowing pressure to QB in turn allowing tight coverage. Don’t know if it’s accurate, but one press brethren reported Mayfield threw just two passes at least 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.

-Mayfield leads Power 5 QBs hitting 65 percent of his downfield throws. Texas improved his odds of winning exponentially by harassing or sacking Mayfield so much Riley declined many downfield calls. As you may know, I’m a big Lincoln guy. However, it wasn’t his best day and he’s gotta pick it up for the stretch run. If Mayfield isn’t going to have drop-back time to get it downfield, OC must attack via moving pocket, rolls, sprints, boots, etc. Don’t just snap it and stand in a pocket that's collapsing faster than a touchdown lead in Waco. The last guy who did that is calling plays somewhere in Utah. And he was a good guy with big connections.

-Creative: the wife just told me some genius just started a website FireBobStoops. Folks, Bob Stoops is the only guy who would ever fire Bob Stoops. And I’m not going through it again. A good man and good coach who needs more good players. OU’s major problem is simple. A drop-off in recruiting has left too many players who wouldn’t suit up in Tuscaloosa or Columbus. There are good new, young coaches with a big-time QB who leads, multiple difference-makers-- who can’t make a difference without better line play. Also, the best young kicker/punter combo I’ve seen since humming along with John Prine in the seventies.

-Texas was able to run it 58 times to only 12 passes because they played with the lead all day – that’s the quote from Bob Stoops today when we discussed the issues.

-OU’s go to AD Miller – yes, AD Miler gets the ball his way on a go route on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Only two passes from Baker Mayfield traveled more than 15 scrimmage yards.

-OU goes slip, drop, sack on its first possession. Sign of things to come.

-Holding call on Sanchez was big with 9:38 in 1st quarter (said he held onto receivers’ hip) which Sanchez intercepted. But the penalty leads to a Texas TD then the Alex Ross fumble on the kickoff followed. Hello 14-0, welcome to the game, Oklahoma.

-If there was a question whether OU began the game playing with the edge they must play with to win games in this decade, all you need to do is watch the four missed tackles on Texas’ first touchdown. That’s as bad as I’ve seen it in the Stoops Era. Presumably good players seemingly looking to avoid contact. Ouch.

-OU only had the ball for 10 possessions, punting on seven and not creating nearly enough explosive plays to beat a good team – which is what Texas was on Saturday.  There is much less wiggle room for mistakes when you only have 10 possessions.

-You can’t give young talent with a gifted quarterback/playmaker and good coaching (yes, I said Charlie Strong and most of his staff are good coaches) a 14-0 lead.

-Stoops told me/you during the taping of tonight’s Sooner Football Playback that he expects Jack LB Devonte Bond to play against KSU. By the way, he told me having Bond might have helped a tad but that PJ Lindley played well and it would not have changed the outcome.

-I saw Frank Shannon at the top of the tunnel on the way to the dressing room. Shall we say … Frank was not in a great mood. He’s gotta be the best inside LB who doesn’t play a scrimmage snap in college football. Not a criticism of coaching, just a fact. Evans and Alexander are playing too well to sit. But couldn’t they be spelled occasionally?

-Multiple sources tell me preseason All-America kickoff return man Alex Ross was … shall we say …. also not exactly enthused on the OU sideline during the game. I have no sympathy for him if that’s true. No one could’ve been more disappointed than me and a few others I know in OU history to not be on the field on a more regular basis at times in our careers. But as a scholarship athlete, it is your obligation to be 100 percent supportive of your teammates. It can be hard. Very hard. But it’s what you sign up for. To be on the University of Oklahoma TEAM. And by the way, Ross has been very disappointing when he’s gotten on the field to return kicks. His returns don’t resemble those of an incredible 2014. The effort doesn’t appear to many observers to be the same. He was a big, strong, speeding bullet last season, ricocheting off would-be tacklers getting north and south as fast as any returner I’d seen. There’s now more uncertainty, less speed and less enthusiasm to win contact battles with kick cover teams. Ball too loose; too lackadaisical. His first quarter fumble was both unforced and significant.  Texas quickly scored to make it 14-0, bad enough. But to lose by the seven points that were scored off his fumble make it doubly worse.

-The pass yards are great. But in big games, give me the team that can run it and wins the turnover battle. Texas ran it for 313 to OU’s 67. OU had just one turnover, but it was one more than the Bevo-less Horns.

-It is unfathomable that OU has both Perine and Mixon and averaged just 1.8 yards per carry.

-Baker Mayfield’s completed passes last week against WVU averaged 23 yards per play compared to just 10.6 Saturday.

-The only thing as baffling defensively Saturday as the four missed tackles on Texas’ first TD was sticking with five DBs almost exclusively, despite Texas not being interested in the forward pass. And knowing Texas would not pass on the final possession, OU could not get the ball back as Texas ran out the final 3:33 with eight runs.

-The 81-yard late third quarter run, that was perhaps the biggest play in a game with limited big plays, saw OU’s defense be fundamentally unsound at the worst time. Sam backer Striker got too wide on the Texas spring draw. He got fooled, was afraid of a Heard keeper, and has got to say underneath. Then right safety Hatari Byrd cut off left safety Steven Parker taking both of them out of the play. Then Jordan Thomas misses a tackle.  And 81 yards later, former OU commit D’Onta Foreman is stopped at the OU 10. That brought “Texas Fight” chants as the quarter ended, leading to the game-defining TD. Multiple mistakes. I don’t see the Alabama’s making multiple mistakes like that on multiple plays. If it’s one guy it’s one thing. But there were four mistakes on the killer play, just as there was on the awful attempted tackles on Texas’ first TD.

-Enough. Time to move on. OU is just a 4-point favorite now in Manhattan where I expect it to be a dogfight. I’m taking OU because the Sooners have played well there under Stoops. And you can bet this team will come out with an edge; an edge they sorely missed in what will go down as one of the most disappointing OU losses in this series. 

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