Originally Published: Sep 12, 2009 10:20 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
NORMAN, Oklahoma – The past week has been a tumultuous one for the Oklahoma Sooners with the confirmed losses of Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and All-American Jermaine Gresham.
The injuries to Bradford and Gresham put a strain on the Sooner offense during their loss to BYU. Even though OU was winning at halftime, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said the locker room mood was dismal.
“It was a total morgue,” Wilson said. “It was a concern; I was a cheerleader for 10 minutes. ‘We’re winning, open your eyes. Get a little spunk here, let’s go.’”
That negative attitude carried over into the week, and the team lacked veteran leadership among the players. That’s when defensive tackle Gerald McCoy stepped up as the Sooners’ new vocal leader.
With morale low during practice Monday, several players said McCoy got them motivated and that his energy became infectious.
“There was kind of a mopey feeling around here because we lost the game,” McCoy said. “I just simply told everybody, ‘Look, people lose games. I know we’re known for winning and you guys are used to winning, but there comes a time when you have to lose and you do lose.’”
McCoy was one of OU’s few bright spots against BYU. He consistently beat double teams and disrupted plays in the backfield, and was the only player head coach Bob Stoops said had a great game.
The 14-13 loss was a disappointment for the Sooners, but McCoy said it is key that they recover well and prove that they are still an elite team.
“Great teams know how to take a loss, rebuild, and come back and play better the whole rest of the year,” McCoy said. “I said, ‘If we want to be one of those great teams, that’s what we have to do. Forget about that game Saturday; I know it hurts, but get over it, pick yourself up and move on.’”
Florida won last year’s national championship and is a favorite to repeat that championship, but the Gators suffered a disappointing upset loss at the hand of Mississippi at the beginning of the season. The year before that, the LSU Tigers won the national championship despite an upset loss to Kentucky.
“We’re starting in a tough spot, and that’s how it is,” Stoops said. “To me, you fight your way out of it and – as clich? as it may be – you take it one game at a time and you work for improvement. That’s what we need to do.”
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