Off Week Gives Sooners Chance To Address Lingering Mistakes

Sunday, October 21st 2007, 7:08 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' list of college football upsets this season was supposed to startle his team and prevent a lackadaisical effort.

Running back Jacob Gutierrez called it ``eye opening'' and a ``wake-up call.'' Instead, the Sooners came out sleepwalking in a nearly embarrassing 17-7 win against Iowa State on Saturday.

Oklahoma (7-1, 3-1) was shut out in a half for the first time since last year's loss in the Red River Rivalry against Texas, as the wind affected freshman quarterback Sam Bradford's passes and the Sooners struggled with fumbles and dropped passes.

``It's hard to have a ton of energy when you're turning the ball over and dropping balls. It sucks it out of you,'' Stoops said. ``It's something to learn from, even when things aren't perfect, you need to keep with it.''

Behind a sturdy defense and the improved running of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown in the second half, Oklahoma was able to steady itself enough to defeat the last-place Cyclones (1-7, 0-4) and go into its only open week of the season on a somewhat positive note.

``This off week I think comes at a great time. We've got a lot that I'm still not at all pleased with,'' Stoops said. ``Everybody keeps talking, they have a lot of opinions on how good or bad we are. I just think we haven't reached our potential at all, and that's frustrating as a coach at this point in the year.''

Stoops' sentiments were almost an echo of last week's postgame comments, when he said the Sooners are ``just used to making more improvement at this point in the year than I think we have.''

At that time, he said an all-around improvement was needed _ better coaching, better execution and better listening from the players. He tried to get their attention by distributing a list of 31 ranked teams that had been upset by unranked foes already this season and also issuing a personal challenge.

``Hopefully the players have enough pride to realize there's some things that we have covered a lot that they need to get better at,'' he said at his weekly news conference.

So could the Sooners have still overlooked the Cyclones?

``I'd like to think not. You can throw that in there for an excuse if you want,'' Stoops said. ``The bottom line, we're in our routine like we always are. We talked about the intensity it takes to go on the road and win.''

Through the midway point of the third quarter, it was only the defense that had that intensity. In a 15-mph wind, Bradford's passes were often just out of the reach of open receivers, and the results weren't much better when he was on target. One pass smacked tight end Jermaine Gresham directly in the chest, popped up and got intercepted.

He ended up 16-28 for 183 yards and one interception, and was sacked three times _ the most this season. It was the first game without a touchdown pass in his young career.

``I don't know if it was the wind or myself in general, but there were several throws that I should have completed,'' Bradford said. ``I was frustrated with the way they did turn out. I had a few missed ones.''

After struggling at Iowa State and losing at Colorado, the Sooners have only one Big 12 road game remaining _ at Texas Tech on November 17. When they return, they'll get back-to-back home games against Texas A&M and Baylor. The season concludes November 24 with the Bedlam game against Oklahoma State in Norman.