OU's Kenny Stills steps up vs. Texas
DALLAS -- After slapping away a potential touchdown, Texas cornerback Carrington Byndom offered to help Kenny Stills off the ground. Instead, Stills slapped Byndom's hand away.
"I didn't want any help up," Stills said. "I probably shouldn't have done that.
"But I was more mad at myself for not making a play."
That was about the only play OU's sophomore wideout failed to make Saturday during Oklahoma's 55-17 Cotton Bowl kicking of Texas. In an utter second-quarter whitewashing of the Longhorn defense, Stills caught touchdown passes of 19 and 14 yards to help put the Sooners up 24 at half.
"Sometimes it just works out for you that way," said Stills, who finished with five catches for 51 yards.
He didn't have a reception in the second half. But he didn't need any, either.
Stills continues to reserve some of his best playmaking for the biggest stages.
The second game of the season, he corralled the game-winning touchdown reception in the fourth quarter to beat then-fifth-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee.
In 2010, he ignited OU's rally from a 17-0 deficit against Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship with a 49-yard touchdown catch.
"I think it's his hair," quarterback Landry Jones deadpanned, referring to Stills' bleach-blonde Mohawk. "No, he's grown as a receiver. He's going up and getting the ball right now and making a lot of competitive catches. When the ball is up in the air, he thinks it's his."
After the Sooners tapped out twice in the red zone in the first quarter, offensive coordinator Josh Heupel dialed up the pass play that resulted in Stills' touchdown at Florida State. Jones pump-faked the bubble screen to draw up the safety, then lofted a strike over the top to Stills in the end zone.
"You recognize his competitiveness," said coach Bob Stoops, when asked why Stills seems to always show up big for the big games. "That's one thing that sticks out."
The second score, Stills simply ripped the ball away from cornerback Adrian Phillips on a fade pass with 31 seconds left until halftime.
"He's gotten a lot stronger, and he's using his body weight pretty well," Jones said. "I'm putting those balls up for him, and he's making the plays."
Stills benefits from playing alongside one of the best receivers in the country in All-American Ryan Broyles, who also had a huge day with nine catches, 122 yards and touchdown.
"I feel like a lot of the pressure is taken off me by Ryan," Stills said. "I feel like they have to focus on him."
But Stills is making it more and more painful on defenses that leave him in single coverage while doubling Broyles.
The Longhorns gambled by bracketing coverage on Broyles and paid the price. Afterward, Texas coach Mack Brown made it clear Broyles is not OU's only great receiver.
"They're not just good, either," Brown said. "Those two receivers are great."
Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submit questions to his mailbag and look for answers every Friday.
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