By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
NORMAN, Okla. —
16-7 and 20-17.
Who would have thought Oklahoma would be 2-0 in the Big 12 after winning two defensive-minded games?
“Times change from year to year,’’ said OU head coach Bob Stoops following Saturday’s 20-17 squeaker over TCU. “Quarterbacks change from year to year. Defenses change from year to year. Quarterbacks graduate, that sometimes matter.’’
Mentality changes, too. The mindset Mike Stoops brought back in his second term as OU’s defensive coordinator is beginning to be seen.
“Our players are getting better,’’ Mike Stoops said. “We’re accomplishing the things we want to accomplish. We wanted to be more flexible, more diverse and put more speed on the field. That’s evident every time you watch us play. We’re going to try to continue to build on that.’’
The Sooners’ offensive numbers were misleading. OU rushed for 203 yards on 38 carries, a very solid average of 5.3 yards per carry.
However, those numbers change if you take away Brennan Clay’s 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory for the Sooners.
Stoops pointed out that the way both teams were playing defense, the game could be determined on “who was going to pop something ... fortunately, we found a way to check to it and hit it in a big way.’’
The Sooner offense, after TCU cut the lead to 20-17, was able to run out the clock in the last 2:26 with 6-foot-6, 260-pound quarterback Blake Bell having punishing first-down runs of 13 and 17 yards.
“I think we showed some character there,’’ Bob Stoops said.” The guys were in good shape and ready to finish.’’
“We knew we had to get first downs,’’ Bell said. “You have to credit our offensive line for the way they pushed their defensive line aside.’’
Bell delivered a blow on a TCU defender on the 17-yard run. He wanted to deliver a message.
“My mentality was to make sure I got a first down,’’ he said. “I had to do what I did.’’
The Sooners, with 203 yards rushing, were only the fifth team since 2009 to rush for more than 200 yards against the Horned Frogs. OU is 58-1 in the Stoops era in games it has rushed for 200 or more yards.
TCU’s defense was able to slow the OU passing game. Bell was 20 of 31 for 152 yards. The longest gain was 19 yards. Bell was sacked three times.
“I need to do a better job of staying in the pocket,’’ Bell said. “They did a great job closing the pocket and didn’t let me out as much. They had a lot of speed on defense.’’
Bob Stoops said OU’s lower-than-usual numbers were a compliment on how well TCU played. Bell said the Horned Frogs’ secondary was able to stay with the OU receivers.
The talk soon turned to the annual Red River War with Texas. OU’s seniors have the chance to be the rare class that gooes 4-0 against the Longhorns.
Defensive end Chuka Ndulue isn’t taking the Longhorns lightly, even after the news UT quarterback David Ash won’t be playing.
“Texas has tradition and pride just like us,’’ he said. “Whoever is going to be the quarterback (Case McCoy) is going to be doing a great job. Texas is Texas. You come here for games like that. You have to be ready.’’
Bob Stoops said OU was “looking forward to the challenge, like always.’’
And feeling pretty good after winning another defensive battle.
“You exit a game like this feeling really good,’’ Stoops said. “I wouldn’t say better than ever, but you feel really positive that we did win and did the things we needed to do to win.’’
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.