OU football: Now you see the offense, now you don't
Evin Morrison, The Oklahoma Daily
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Oklahoma offense's disappearance act in the second half gave way to the ugly ending for the Sooners' 41-13 loss in this year's 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
The reason OU lost by double-digit points wasn't solely because the defense gave up 41 points and 663 yards to a Texas A&M team led by a Heisman-winning quarterback, although numbers like that aren't hard to overlook. But the Sooners had been in two shootouts in the last three games of the regular season, winning two games of those games by a combined four points.
Both times the Sooner defense failed to contain a high-scoring offense. Both times, OU's offense made up the ground to win the game.
But on a night when Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel wouldn't be denied his final opportunity to prove the voters chose correctly, the Sooners flopped on the offensive side of the ball after the halftime intermission, failing to score a single point in the second half.
"We just didn't execute when we needed to and we didn't take advantage of the opportunities when we had them," co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said.
Players and coaches credited the Aggie defense for keeping their defense disguised while consistently putting pressure on senior quarterback Landry Jones after halftime.
"We didn't go as fast as we usually did, and they caught us a couple of times," junior running back Damien Williams said. "We still had a chance in the third quarter, but things just didn't turn out our way."
After not using senior punter Tress Way at all in the first half, the Sooners were forced to punt on every offensive possession of the third quarter. To add insult to injury, OU also watched Texas A&M score on all of its possessions — an unanswered 20 point differential.
At first glance, it looked like the Aggies had found the right game plan to disrupt a veteran quarterback who was best known for having an immense group of talented wide receivers. But the Sooners admitted they knew what to expect from Texas A&M going into the game.
In the end, the offense just couldn't execute when it needed to put points on the board.
"It's obvious we didn't play the way we wanted to play," Jones said. "We couldn't run it; we couldn't throw it but that happens."
No doubt, the offense can't be blamed for all the problems that came to light Friday night.
The OU defense has produced some of the worst statistical performances ever recorded by the program. This year against West Virginia, OU allowed the single most yards (778) to a Mountaineer team before escaping Morgantown with a one-point victory.
The following week against Oklahoma State, the Sooners needed overtime to sneak past the Cowboys for the three-point win after the defense gave up more than 400 yards in regulation.
The Sooners' identity this year — especially in the last games of the regular season — was outscoring their opponent.
But when an offense is forced to punt while a defense continued to allowed touchdowns on the other end, the recipe for a disastrous performance was in full effect.
"It's tough when that happens," senior safety Javon Harris said. "We all wish would have done better."
And ultimately that identity came to haunt OU in the second half of the Cotton Bowl Classic.