OU football: Sooners have uphill battle against Texas Tech this weekend
The monkeys keep piling up on this year’s Oklahoma football team.
If last year’s home loss to Texas Tech was a brutal awakening for the Sooners’ previous home-field domination, then certainly last week’s home loss to Kansas State was an assault on OU’s home-advantage ego.
Forget the previous home losses you can count on one hand under coach Bob Stoops; certainly OU football didn’t expect to lose for second consecutive year within the friendly confines of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium with a senior quarterback, proven playmakers at the running back and wide receiver positions and a new defensive coordinator that planned on fixing the gaping holes in the secondary unit.
That’s just not Oklahoma football.
However, three games and five weeks into the 2012 season, Oklahoma (2-1, 0-1 Big 12) finds itself on the brink of becoming one of the bottom-dwellers in the conference standings during the same week that the Sooners are going up against a team they haven’t beaten on the road since 2003.
But the Sooners can exorcise both demons with a single win against Tech this weekend.
“It’s extremely vital,” junior linebacker Tom Wort said about performing well this weekend. “They’re going to be a good team; (Tech’s) fast, and they move the ball around, so we’ve got to do our assignments and execute our game plan during the game.”
The Sooners were in a similar situation after losing to Tech last year at home. OU turned around and went up to Manhattan, Kan., snubbing the Wildcats on their own field.
Then-junior quarterback Landry Jones had one of his best performances, throwing for 505 yards and five touchdowns while the OU offense shoved off every defensive scheme thrown at it. The OU defense also pitched a shutout in the second half to help give the Sooners the 58-17 victory after KSU scored on three of its first four possessions in the first half.
And having an all-around successful performance is exactly what coach Bob Stoops wants to see from his players this weekend in Lubbock.
“We have to go and execute well,” Stoops said. “We’ll address what we have to do well to win down there, and, in the end, it’ll get down to the same things: will you protect the football, be strong in the kicking game, play good defense.”
But there may not be a tougher place for the Sooners to snag a confidence-building win. Since 1999, OU holds an 8-5 series advantage over the Red Raiders, and four of the five losses were registered when Oklahoma was the visitor. And with the Tech defense being ranked first in several Big 12 categories including total defense, sacks and interceptions, no matter where the teams meet, OU will have to bring their ‘A’ game to the battle royale.
“From an athletic standpoint, they’re probably the most athletic d-line we’ve faced so far this year,” senior offensive lineman Lane Johnson said. “The (defensive) ends can rush up the field hard, and this team likes to start fast, but our practice also intensified after the loss because we don’t want to make those same mistakes from last week.”
If OU goes out and turns the ball over like it did two weeks ago and fails to stop the Red Raider offense from converting on third down, expect the Sooners’ woes to only compound before the team returns to Norman.