The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

September 3, 2006

Win is win for Stoops

NORMAN — OK, Oklahoma’s 24-17 victory over Alabama-Birmingham in the Sooners’ opener Saturday wasn’t the 22-point blowout oddsmakers had predicted.

The Sooners had too many turnovers (4), two of those coming inside the 20.

OU’s vaunted defense gave up too many big plays. Blazers quarterback Sam Hunt looked like the Sooner quarterback of the Wishbone era running the option, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

Then again, it sure beat OU’s opener from a year ago — a 17-10 loss to Texas Christian.

“They understand we can be better, and we have to correct mistakes but there’s a big difference (between a win and a loss),’’ OU coach Bob Stoops said. “It’s a lot more fun to be criticized when you win than it is when you lose. We felt we could play better in a lot of areas and didn’t, but we still won.

“We’re not far off. I think that’s what I’m pleased about. I thought our offensive line was physical for the most part in how they played. I thought they did a decent job as well.’’

The defense did get some stronger criticism.

Hunt, known more for being a runner than a passer, had four pass completions of 24 yards or more in the second half. UAB had taken a 17-14 lead on a 32-yard field goal by Swazye Waters with 2:29 remaining.

The Blazers had more than a 10-minute time of possession edge on the Sooners (35:14 to 24:45) and matched OU’s 14 first downs.

“We need to be better, there’s no question about that,’’ Stoops said. “Our defense has gotten a lot of attention. They have been bragged on. They weren’t nearly as good as they were billed to be.’’

The four long completions were especially frustrating to Stoops.

“We had guys on them and let them get behind them,’’ he said. “We’ve got to play better than that. It wasn’t that complicated in what they did.’’

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