Sooners, Cowboys prepare for Bedlam
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 5:12 AM
Related Story: OU Football Notebook: Proud coach
NORMAN - After what happened at West Virginia Saturday night, history will be kind to the Mountaineers' Tavon Austin. His 572 all-purpose yards fell six shy of an NCAA record.
It will be kind to Stedman Bailey. His 13 catches for 205 yards and four touchdowns complemented Austin's 334 rushing yards dynamically.
History will be damning to the Oklahoma defense. Before Saturday, the most yards OU had ever surrendered in a single game was 616.
West Virginia went for 778, including 458 on the ground.
This just seven days after Baylor had, in the words of OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, "opened up Pandora's box" with 252 rushing yards.
"Hopefully we'll learn," Stoops said then, "and try to be in better position next week."
So what happened?
"They had a great plan and we didn't make great adjustments," Stoops said. "I'm disappointed in myself. I'm no martyr, believe me. We just have to come up with better stuff. It starts with us a staff."
Credit West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen for doing what Mike and Bob Stoops did not - adjusting. Desperate to spark his circling-the-drain team, Holgorsen put his best player behind quarterback Geno Smith, not wide of him, and fed him the ball to see how much damage he could inflict.
He probably figured that would be a lot, if Mike Stoops stuck to the seven-defensive-back package that Baylor exploited for its rushing output the previous Saturday. Sure enough, the seven DBs were prominent again in Morgantown.
Stoops stuck one of them, Julian Wilson, in the heart of his defense as a sort of middle linebacker several times. Not an ideal place for a guy listed at 191 pounds. Stoops kept true linebacker Frank Shannon on the field in his six-DB package.
But that did little to solve a basic problem - Austin zipping across the line of scrimmage, mostly at the expense of the soft right side of OU's defensive front; meeting little resistance at the second level, where linebackers normally are; and then making the third level, the secondary, look bad trying to tackle him in open space.
Austin singlehandedly kept West Virginia within striking distance for 2 1/2 quarters. Then Bailey turned the tables on Aaron Colvin, the OU cornerback who had gotten the better of him to that point, and started making big catches for long yardage.
The Sooners fell behind before pulling out a late victory behind the right arm of their quarterback.
"Landry (Jones) bailed us out," Mike Stoops said.
He'll have to again Saturday in Bedlam, unless OU figures some things out.
"Oklahoma State could do the same thing," Stoops bemoaned. "They have a big, physical running back that can hurt you a lot of other ways. They can pound you. Obviously, the inability to stop the run the last two weeks ... We have to make some adjustments."
He said that after the Baylor game, and the result at West Virginia was twice as bad.
"It's unacceptable," Stoops said Saturday night. "We're living on the edge."
Actually, the Mountaineers pushed them over it, and they fell farther than any OU defense ever had.
"Embarrassing," defensive captain David King called it. "For two weeks in a row we've been exposed by high-powered offenses. It's all out there on tape now. ... Something has to change."
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
West Virginia's Tavon Austin had 572 all-purpose yards in Saturday's loss to Oklahoma. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World