Saturday marks the only bye week of the season for the OU football team, so here’s a few news and notes on the Sooners as they take advantage of some much needed rest.
Sooner fans should be optimistic about secondary
Last week against Tulsa, the Sooners encountered some problems in their defensive backfield. Oklahoma was without starting cornerback Jordan Thomas, who was suddenly suspended from game action.
"He let the team down," Stoops said about Thomas after the game. "I'm not going to go into it, but that hurt us. That hurt us bad. He's a guy that when you're the first guy, you get 70 percent of the reps during the week, you're ready to play and then Friday you're not doing what you need to and we've got a young guy in there that's only had 35 or 30 percent of the reps, it's unfair to him. It's unfair to the team. It's unfair to everybody. He let us down."
True freshman P.J. Mbanasor filled in for Thomas, and the corner got targeted a ton throughout the game and struggled to defend a bigger receiver in Tulsa’s Joshua Atkinson. Stoops reiterated that he still has confidence in the young frosh.
“He got thrown into a bad, tough situation with the number of snaps you’re given in practice, to know you’ve got to play the whole game, just to keep your head up and your confidence, and keep working your technique and practicing,” Stoops said. “He’s a talented young man that’ll just learn from it, I believe. He’s a smart guy too, that’ll learn from it, get better from it.”
I believe these kinks in the secondary will be fixed, especially since Stoops announced on Monday that Thomas will remain on the team. Tulsa has one of the top offenses in the country, so Mbanasor shouldn’t hang his head too much. Even with Thomas back, it’s no guarantee that Stoops will immediately insert him back into the starting lineup. Therefore, it’s a good thing for a young guy like Mbanasor to learn early on in the season before conference play begins.
Stoops prefers later kickoffs
There are some of us out there that enjoy early kickoffs on Saturdays, but Coach Stoops is definitely not one of those people. After it was announced the OU home game against West Virginia on October 3, would start at 11 a.m., Stoops let it be known he wasn’t thrilled.
“I do have a problem with it,” Stoops said. “I'm sure our administration does and fans do. We'll express that to the league. Hopefully, everyone can have a fair amount of early and late kicks and mix it up a little better.”
Fans and businesses have made it clear they prefer the late start times, and Stoops along with athletic director Joe Castiglione have let it be known they’re concerned with the early kickoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if the Big 12 office will take note of OU’s complaints.
Baxter rewarded a scholarship
OU receiver Jarvis Baxter received great news this week when Coach Stoops announced on Tuesday that the junior has earned a scholarship. The former walk-on transferred from Trinity Valley Community College in Florida, and has made an immediate and surprising impact for the Sooners.
With seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, it appears Baxter will be a big part of OU’s game plan moving forward. Not only can he contribute through the air, but Baxter’s effort as a blocker will keep him on the field for the long haul.
Speaking of walk-ons, the McAlester News-Capital reported earlier this week that tight end Dalton Wood plans to rejoin the Sooners in January after quitting the team early in the summer. The McAlester High product signed with OU in February, but will have to earn his spot as a walk-on this time around.