John Klein: Defense aside, Sooners get the win over Baylor
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Sunday, November 11, 2012
11/11/12 at 7:28 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Defense aside, Sooners gain the win
NORMAN - Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he loved the way the Sooner defenders played against Baylor, the nation's leading offense.
"Absolutely," said Stoops. "Love it."
The same couldn't be said for OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
"It was not good enough," said Mike Stoops. "It wasn't executed good enough."
But, the result was good enough.
Oklahoma, needing to make a few stops in the second half of a tight game, finally slowed the Bears enough for OU to pull way for a 42-34 victory Saturday night at Owen Field.
"It was a tough night defensively in a lot of areas," said Mike Stoops. "We never could get a grasp of the running game."
"The way we played the pass we suffered some with the run," said Bob Stoops.
Yes, they did. The Bears ran for 252 yards and gained 424 yards. The good news is that was nearly 140 yards below Baylor's average.
"They've lit up scoreboards all over," said Bob Stoops.
And, it was much better than last year's loss at Baylor when Heisman winner Robert Griffin III threw for 476 yards.
It was a different story Saturday.
"They ran the ball more than you would like," said Bob Stoops.
Baylor averaged nearly 5 yards per run.
"We couldn't stop them inside and we couldn't stop them outside," said Mike Stoops. "Our tackling was atrocious."
The victory, upping OU to 7-2 and still on target for a BCS bowl game, did not come without some concern.
Baylor got OU's lead down to 28-26 late in the third quarter.
The Bears had momentum, an offense that was chewing up OU on the ground and the Sooners couldn't hold onto the ball (two third-quarter turnovers).
But, as he has done throughout his career, Landry Jones rescued OU with a momentum-busting drive to get a 35-26 at the end of the third quarter.
Then, Blake Bell broke loose for 55 yards on a third-and-1 to make it 42-26.
That was enough.
"I thought we responded in a good way," said OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. "We came back. It was a pivotal point in the game."
After a game of defensive worries, primarily because Baylor was able to run the ball with success, the Sooners finally put away the Bears.
Unlike a year ago, Oklahoma continues to play well on the back end of its defense. Baylor hit just two long plays. OU was solid enough to force the Bears to earn yards the old-fashioned way - running it and sustaining long drives. To their credit, the Bears did that. They had a masterful 17-play drive just before the half.
"Everything was a contest," said Bob Stoops. "Nothing was easy."
The Stoops brothers agreed that Baylor's style makes it difficult to come up with an effective defense to stop everything.
"There's a reason they lead the nation in offense," said Mike Stoops.
Oklahoma played much of the game with five, six and even seven defensive backs.
Baylor spent much of the game with five wideouts, spreading OU's defense across the field and opening up running lanes in the middle.
Baylor was good prep work for upcoming games against high-flying offenses like West Virginia and Oklahoma State. "You can learn a lot (from this game)," said Mike Stoops. "They (Bears) exposed some weaknesses in our defense."
The Sooners brought back Mike Stoops to give OU's defense a makeover, which has happened.
Oklahoma is not suffocating like it was in the early 2000s but the Sooners are better on defense.
The Sooners, who gave up chunks of big plays a year ago, are much better about limiting long plays.
When Baylor threatened to make it a game, just before the half, OU answered just like it did at Iowa State.
The Sooners turned a tight game into a comfortable lead by scoring in the final seconds of the first half at Iowa State.
They did the same thing to Baylor. The Bears scored to get within 21-17 with 32 seconds left in the half.
It took 17 seconds and two plays for OU to answer with a TD pass and push the lead back up to 28-17.
After two turnovers in the third quarter, Baylor got to within 28-26 but Jones steadied the ship and put the game away.
"Landry was great again," said Bob Stoops.
Jones, heading into the final stretch of his career, threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns.
"The wind was tough," said Bob Stoops. "Give Landry some credit. He made some great throws."
Oklahoma's Demontre Hurst watches as Terrance William of Baylor makes a reception during their football game. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World