OU notebook: Have Sooners grown from goal-line nightmare?
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Friday, November 04, 2011
11/04/11 at 6:31 AM
We have reached the one-year anniversary of Oklahoma's red zone low point. The Sooners tried repeatedly to punch in a late touchdown near the Texas A&M goal line last Nov. 6, and failed every time. With the rematch looming Saturday, OU hasn't exactly become a juggernaut.
The Sooners rank second in the Big 12 Conference and 11th nationally in red zone scoring. Of their 43 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line, however, 26 have resulted in touchdowns.
That's more of a middle-of-the-pack percentage.
Perhaps correcting last year's mistakes in College Station will spur the Sooners to better results from here on out.
"We've had goal-line struggles this year still," tight end James Hanna said. "We're that much more determined this game to get it done."
Actually, OU made real progress last week at Kansas State. The Sooners snapped the ball inside the Wildcats' 20 on five drives. All five ended in the end zone, including the first, capped by Blake Bell's 1-yard plunge.
"Blake's a very talented kid, a big kid, 6-6 or 6-5, like 260 pounds," quarterback Landry Jones said of his understudy. "When you have someone like that who can run a little bit and get some extra yards after contact, we've got to keep using that. We've got to keep putting it in his hands and letting him go downhill like that."
Reynolds' emergence continues: Jaz Reynolds' Saturday at K-State wasn't his most productive of the season - his four catches for 89 yards fell short of the five and 141 he put on Ball State - but it was certainly his most spectacular.
Reynolds made a pair of one-handed catches that folks were still talking about a few days into this week.
"I just think Jaz was really disappointed the way he played against Tech," said wide receivers coach Jay Norvell, "and he was really excited and fired up to play Saturday. I don't know if anybody had as much fun as Jaz had Saturday. And it shows.
"When you're really into the game and you're competing, it shows. There's no question he had a good time. He made some spectacular catches, and those are the types of things that we knew he was capable of."
Kenny Stills' emergence has kept defenses from focusing too much on Ryan Broyles. It seems Reynolds is doing the same for both his receiving mates.
"It makes a big difference in that you spread the field more when you have guys like Jaz," Stoops said. "It's hard to isolate on other guys."
Hunnicutt will try to hold his own: Saturday presents a tough special teams matchup for the Sooners.
Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock has made 16 of his 17 field goals. Nobody in college football has kicked more, and nobody has a higher percentage.
Second in the Big 12 Conference among kickers is OU freshman Michael Hunnicutt. He's 12-of-15 and is coming off a career-long 53-yarder at K-State.
"Michael is really doing well. I'm really pleased," Stoops said. "He's only going to get better."
OU's James Hanna stiff arms TU's Marco Nelson in Norman, OK, Sept. 3, 2011. STEPHEN PINGRY/ Tulsa World