Saturday, December 3, 2011
Oklahoma offense sputters in loss
By Brandon Chatmon
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Trailing by double digits, Oklahoma had just pierced the Oklahoma State red zone, poised to cut the lead to one score.
Seconds later, the Sooners trailed by three possessions.
The ability of one play to alter the outcome of a game was never more apparent than during OU's 44-10 loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night.
A missed blitz protection by Roy Finch that led to a Landry Jones fumble and subsequent 59-yard fumble return by OSU defensive end Jamie Blatnick completely changed the momentum of the game as Oklahoma was driving to cut into OSU's 10-0 lead late in the second quarter.
OSU running back Joseph Randle scored on a 1-yard run on the next play as the Cowboys took a 17-0 lead.
The Sooners never recovered.
"It's 10-0, we're hanging in there, we're moving the ball," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "We bust the protection, and Landry, trying to make something happen, fumbles the football, and touchdown."
Said OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell: "That did not help our momentum at all."
The Cowboys outscored Oklahoma 24-3 in the next 10 minutes of game action, which included the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third quarter.
"Offensive football is 11 guys working as one," guard Gabe Ikard said. "One guy has a missed assignment, and bad things happen."
The play was an example of the Sooners' struggles on offense throughout the night. OU was held to three points until 2:25 left in the game and finished with 358 yards -- averaging 4.3 yards per play -- along with five turnovers.
"You turn the ball over, it will beat you ... every time," Ikard said. "We put some drives together and every time, it went awry."
Mental mistakes, poor execution and a lack of playmaking ability killed the Sooners from the opening snap. Running backs missed blocks, receivers dropped passes, Jones misfired and offensive linemen missed assignments as OU's offense sputtered.
"We didn't help ourselves," Norvell said. "When we started to gain some momentum we would turn it over. [It was] very disappointing in a game like this."
The Sooners turned to Jones to shoulder the load against OSU, as he passed the ball 50 times in 83 offensive snaps. Instead, he shouldered the blame.
|Oklahoma's Landry Jones threw for 250 yards against Oklahoma State, but had two interceptions and two fumbles.|
"You can't put it on anyone but me tonight," said Jones who threw two interceptions and had two fumbles that led directly to OSU touchdowns. "I singlehandedly lost this game for us. I had the ball in my hands, and coach put the ball in my hands to win the game.
"And I lost it for us."
While Jones deserves his share of the blame for Oklahoma's lack of offense, it's fair to say the Sooners offense never was the same after losing All-America receiver Ryan Broyles to a torn ACL in early November. The consistency of Broyles was sorely missed as OU dropped two of three games to finish the season.
"You're team is going to change when you lose the best receiver in the country," Ikard said.
With Broyles, Jones hit 55.2 percent of his passes of 10 yards of longer, with 19 touchdowns and six interceptions. Without Broyles, Jones hit 47.5 percent of his passes of 10 yards or longer, with no touchdowns and five interceptions.
The Sooners were looking for Kenny Stills, DeJuan Miller, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks to play well in their final three games. Each receiver had his moments, but none of them was as consistent as Broyles, and none of them stepped up when it mattered most against the Cowboys.
"One of the great things Ryan Broyles did, he was dependable," Norvell said. "You could count on him every week, and we didn't get that type of performance in the last month of the season."
|Kenny Stills and the Oklahoma receivers struggled against the physical Cowboys secondary.|
Brandon Chatmon covers University of Oklahoma sports and recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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