OU football notebook: Stoops addresses 2013 schedule
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012
11/23/12 at 3:13 AM
The most unusual thing about Oklahoma's 2013 schedule is the presence of three byes. OU is off Sept. 21 between games against Tulsa and Notre Dame, Nov. 2 between games against Texas Tech and Baylor, and Nov. 30 between games against Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
Asked if he was OK with the layout, coach Bob Stoops said: "I've got to be, I guess. That's the way it is."
Another anomaly - the Sept. 7 game against West Virginia is the earliest Big 12 game for OU since playing Baylor in the second game of the 1999 season.
"There were all kinds of holes initially," Stoops said. "When we first looked at it, we were going to have something like this year - a game, then off, a game, then off. We were going to have two games before playing Notre Dame. That's their fourth or fifth game. How do you have time to build?
"Just unusual, too, with the way the calendar falls with the extra week next year, and wanting to have a presence on championship weekend. All of it together, that's just the way it is."
The Sooners will be off Thanksgiving week next season for the first time since 2004.
Third time a charm for OU: The Sooners were 4-of-15 on third downs in their 44-10 loss at Oklahoma State last December. They were 2-of-8 in the first half, when they fell behind 24-3.
They must be better in the clutch Saturday to win. Given the last three weeks, they should expect to be.
OU was 9-of-15 on third downs at West Virginia last week, 9-of-13 against Baylor the week before that, and 9-of-14 at Iowa State the Saturday before Baylor.
That's a 64-percent success rate, or 10 points higher than Marshall's NCAA-leading 54 percent.
"We talk all of the time - guys have got to step up on third down; guys have to step up and be playmakers," co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "The quarterback, receivers, the offensive line, the backs in protection... Everybody has done a really good job on third down.
"We've got to continue that because we are playing very talented offensive teams."
OSU's third down defense ranks second in the Big 12. The Cowboys allow opponents to convert 33 percent of their third downs.
Help wanted: OU coaches hint that their seven-defensive back alignment of the past two weeks has been trashed. That's probably a good idea, since West Virginia and Baylor combined to rush for 710 yards against a defense where safeties were playing linebacker.
"We're asking them a little bit too much sometimes, to make some tackles in some areas that are pretty difficult," Stoops said of safeties Tony Jefferson, Javon Harris, Julian Wilson and Gabe Lynn. "That's where we've got to make some adjustments, and how we're playing some of our guys up front, too. We've got our hand in it as coaches to try and make some adjustments to give those guys a better opportunity."
Brotherly beef: Conversation between the Stoops brothers on the West Virginia sideline was a tad more heated than usual, given the Mountaineers' 778-yard extravaganza.
While Bob brushed the tension aside, Mike said: "When you're getting ripped like that you deserve it. That comes with the territory. I'm glad I've got a butt left still."
OU head coach Bob Stoops talked about the 2013 schedule this week. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World