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OU football: Jalen Hurts as focused as ever heading into 'Championship November'

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Jalen Hurts

Senior quarterback Jalen Hurts before the game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, Oct. 26.

Wearing a crimson hoodie and a black Jordan brand hat, Jalen Hurts stood before the media Monday with a slight smirk as a reporter jokingly asked him if he preferred winning to losing.

He gave nothing but a slight nod as he walked away from the podium. In his previous six minutes at the podium, he said six times that he and the No. 9 Sooners are just "trying to go 1-0" this week against Iowa State. 

Rewind nine days. 

Hurts stood before his teammates at the Will Rogers World Airport just hours after Oklahoma's shocking loss to Kansas State in Manhattan. He called a team meeting. 

"We just made a pact to each other: We're going to do everything for each other. We're going to play for each other and give it all we got," sophomore defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins told SoonerScoop's Carey Murdock Monday of Hurts' team meeting. "Jalen ran the whole thing. He talked the whole time, and everybody listened." 

The details of Hurts' message have been kept within the team. His teammates said the message was simple. 

"I don't really want to reveal the details of that," senior wide receiver Nick Basquine said, "but things that needed to be said were said. And he led that."

Hurts, with only four regular season games remaining in his college football career, is trying to make every one count. He transferred to Oklahoma for an obvious reason: to win a national championship. 

With OU's unexpected loss to Kansas State and a No. 9 spot in the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night, reaching that goal just got a lot harder. But, as someone who has been to the top of the mountain, Hurts knows the Sooners still have everything in front of them. 

He also knows it's going to take one week at a time, starting with Iowa State on Saturday.

"We're focused on being 1-0 this week," Hurts said. "I think we're trying to take the right approach of it, controlling what we can control, working hard every day."

Hurts' meeting at the airport could serve as a turning point for this team. In years past, Oklahoma has faced adversity, suffering one loss that could have derailed each season. 

But the leaders who came before Hurts didn't let that happen. 

"Baker (Mayfield) did similar things like when we were going through our ups and downs," Basquine said. "A lot of us aren't new to it, but we are a young team, so that's kind of their first experience of that."

And there's no one better than Hurts to lead those discussions.

"He's the face of our team," Basquine said. "He's the quarterback. The leader of our team. If somebody is going to do it, he should be the first guy to do it." 

In the final minutes of Hurts' availability Monday, he went back and forth with a reporter before the reporter finally asked just how bad Hurts wants to go 1-0 this weekend. 

His answer, much like his attitude, was on par with his focus. 

"Pretty damn bad."

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I joined The Daily in the fall of 2016 as a sophomore. I've covered the soccer team, both men's and women's basketball, as well as the football team for the past two years. I have been the sports editor since spring 2018.

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