OU's Ikard says Sooners outplayed on front lines in losses
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
10/30/12 at 4:58 AM
NORMAN - Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard pointed to a common denominator in losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame this season.
"The key to those games has been the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball," said Ikard, a team captain and senior center. "K-State and Notre Dame outplayed us."
The Sooners are trying to regroup following last weekend's 30-13 defeat to the Fighting Irish. Unbeaten Notre Dame's ability to control the line led to Oklahoma's fifth home loss in the past 14 seasons.
Ikard said Notre Dame joined Kansas State among the most physical teams that he has played against.
"The most physical team on the field usually wins," Ikard said before Monday's news conference with head coach Bob Stoops. "One of the mainstays of the game is the most physical team usually, if not always, is gonna win the football game."
Ikard was asked how physical Oklahoma is this season.
"We're very physical, but we throw it around a lot, so we have to be physical in pass pro as well," Ikard said. "It just comes with the offense we run. We spread it out.
"I'm not gonna say we don't have the schemes to be physical. We were put in situations to run the football and we didn't execute well on Saturday."
OU ended with just 15 yards on the ground, the program's lowest total since 2009.
The longest run was Damien Williams' 7-yard gain in the third quarter. OU didn't have a 10-yard run for the first time this season after totaling 19 in three games before the Notre Dame contest.
Stoops reiterated that OU should have tried to establish the run a bit more. The Sooners had 24 run plays compared to 52 pass attempts.
"You do need to run the football," Stoops said. "Probably in hindsight we should have run it a little more. In the end it sets up play-action passes that we were very successful at and got a lot of yards. The (total) yardage (against Notre Dame) was equal without the one snap we blew early in the game.
"Other than that, we threw for (364 yards), and that doesn't happen if there is no running game."
Saturday's physical nature took a toll on a pair of starters.
Stoops said Williams and offensive tackle Lane Johnson sustained ankle injuries. The coach added that he's hopeful both will return to practice Wednesday.
If unavailable, the Sooners face depth issues at both positions.
Williams is the team's leading rusher with 581 yards. His backup has been Brennan Clay in recent weeks.
Last year's starter, Dominique Whaley, didn't play against Kansas or Notre Dame. He only has seven carries over the past four games.
Stoops said Whaley is healthy and the coaches had opted to give Williams more playing time.
Johnson is backed up by sophomore Tyrus Thompson.
Stoops remains optimistic for the final five regular-season games.
"We still have a lot of games to go and each week is fighting to be better. This team has been great to coach," Stoops said. "Their attitude and everything about them, we haven't had at this point the issues that we had a year ago. But we'll see. We're only a little over halfway through it."
At Iowa State
11 a.m. Saturday
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: Ikard: Irish were more physical in OU loss
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OU's Trey Millard tries to go over Notre Dame defenders on Saturday. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World