- David Ubben, College Football
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Big 12 realignment forced Oklahoma to cancel its nonconference date against TCU -- only because the Frogs would host Oklahoma in December as Big 12 members.
The Sooners replaced that game with a seemingly harmless -- albeit awkward -- game on the road at UTEP that was postponed until a 10:30 p.m. ET kick because of heat.
Oklahoma's trip to the desert wasn't far from disaster. Even with the 24-7 win over the Miners, Oklahoma grabbed a spot as one of the nation's most disappointing teams on the season's opening weekend.
"Some of it is experience and time on the field. Some of these guys, that’s the first time (freshman receiver) Trey Metoyer's been in a live game," coach Bob Stoops said. "Guys will look and learn the more they play. That’s part of it, and just do a better job all of us, whether it’s on the field coaching or paying attention on the field."
Metoyer was a standout since enrolling in the spring, but was held without a catch in the first half. He finished with four catches for 21 yards.
The Sooners tied the Miners, 5-7 a year ago, 7-7 at halftime and carried just a 10-7 lead into the game's final quarter.
"Everytime someone has a close game, everybody says, 'Oh, they overlooked them.' No, that’s not the case. That’s not the case at all," Stoops said. "Sometimes you’re just not as sharp as you need to be. And maybe sometime the other team's a little better than most people think they are."
Quarterback Landry Jones completed just 21 of 36 passes for 222 yards and went without a turnover, but his completion percentage (58.3) was worse than every Big 12 quarterback but Kansas' Dayne Crist on the season's first weekend. Jones' mobility looked much improved, but he needed that mobility more often than most figured against a defensive line that should have been overmatched by the Sooners' size.
"We (ran) the ball overall over 5 yards a carry, so that’s good, but then there’s other instances where we’re just not as efficient as we ought to be," Stoops said. "A few times the protection breaks down and a guy is open, other times the protection’s there and we don’t have somebody open, so we just have to bring it together a little more."
Oklahoma's got plenty to work on after the close call against the Miners, but despite the offensive struggles -- Oklahoma ranked fifth nationally in total offense, UTEP ranked 104th nationally in total defense -- Stoops saw the bright side of the struggles, too.
"Everybody was positive and we came out in the second half and played better. I think there’s some things we can take from it. We’ve got a lot to correct here this week," Stoops said, adding his team left El Paso completely healthy, too. "Maybe you wouldn’t have seen that against somebody down in a different division or (FCS) and maybe that doesn’t show up. We understand you progress through the year and that’s what we’re after."
6hMax Olson and Jake Trotter