The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

October 6, 2012

Tech challenge for OU

LUBBOCK, Texas — —  Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones recalls well his last trip to Lubbock, the most recent of the Sooners’ three straight losses at Texas Tech.

“I remember it wasn’t too fun,” he said. “We had cool uniforms and we looked good, but just didn’t play very good.”

He and his Sooners teammates, who wore all white uniforms and helmets in the 41-17 loss in 2009, could have another tough matchup in West Texas today. They will face a Texas Tech offense averaging 547 yards per game and a surprisingly stingy defense that’s allowing just 167, best in the nation.

The Sooners (2-1, 0-1) are coming off a bye week after losing 24-19 to then-No. 15 Kansas State.

History is on their side: under coach Bob Stoops, Oklahoma has never lost back-to-back Big 12 games and is 18-0 after a regular-season loss going back to 2004.

The Sooners have additional incentive. Besides the three-game skid in Lubbock, they would love to avenge a 41-38 loss to Texas Tech last season that ended their 39-game home winning streak in Norman.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, in his first year back with his brother after being fired at Arizona after eight seasons, said Texas Tech’s offense will be a big test.

“We’re going to need all 11 guys to play well and play fast and be in the right spots,” Mike Stoops said. “If you’re not, you’re going to get exposed.”

The game will be a measuring stick for Texas Tech, which so far has beaten lesser opponents. After Oklahoma, the Red Raiders (4-0, 1-0) host No. 8 West Virginia, play at No. 15 TCU and No. 7 Kansas State, and come home against No. 11 Texas.

Unlike past years, Texas Tech’s offense isn’t all about the pass. Yes, quarterback Seth Doege is averaging 297 yards a game and has 15 touchdowns and 1,189 yards, but running backs Kenny Williams, Eric Stephens and SaDale Foster have a combined four TDs and 753 yards on 122 carries.

Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville knows there will be games, and this may be one of them, where the defense will give up touchdowns and the offense will need to make some big plays.

“We’ll have to turn that switch on during the game and say, ‘We have to open it up more. We have to get the ball deep.  Score on two or three plays instead of trying to get a 10-play drive,”’ he said.  

Last year, Doege shredded OU’s defense in the first half, throwing three of his four touchdowns before the break. He finished with 441 yards.

Stopping the run is paramount “because everything is set up off of the run,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “The times we’ve played them the best, we’ve defended the run the best. The times we haven’t, the running game has hurt us as much as anything.”

Jones took the blame for the loss at Kansas State after fumbling inside his own 5-yard line to give the Wildcats a defensive touchdown and throwing an interception on another drive. After the loss, Bob Stoops said Jones at times tried to make too much happen.

“The worst thing a quarterback can do is press and try and force the issue, as opposed to letting it come to you, going through your reads and take what they give you and be smart about it,” Stoops said. “As much as anything, that’s what we want him to do.”

Red Raiders defensive back Cornelius Douglas, who had two interceptions in last week’s 24-13 win at Iowa State, said Jones is impressive.

“He’s got a great arm, so whether he’s playing off or on, he’s still going to get the ball where he wants to get it,” Douglas said.

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