Defense bends, almost too much

Monday, October 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ It would seem that perhaps no one was more stung than Mike Stoops by Oklahoma's defensive performance against Kansas State.

The Sooners bottled up tailback Josh Scobey and generally did a good job of containing the running of quarterback Ell Roberson. But they didn't do well against the pass, and it nearly cost them in a 38-37 victory Saturday.

That left Stoops, co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach, bothered Sunday afternoon.

``We'd play really good at times, then we'd look like we never played defense before. It's really frustrating,'' said Stoops, who coaches the secondary.

``We left 'em with the last option and they hit it. We just need to be smarter. I think we took away a lot of the things they wanted, but the last resort, going vertical and throwing three guys down the field and us not being able to play it, is not very good execution of our defense.''

Roberson hurt Oklahoma at times with his running, finishing with 115 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. But he was equally effective through the air, throwing for 257 yards and a touchdown.

His ability to hit big passes helped the Wildcats rally from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half.

``I was proud of the fact he hung in there,'' KSU coach Bill Snyder said. ``He grew up a great deal today. He struggled in a lot of ways through the course of the ball game, but by the same token, each time that he did, he still came back.''

Stoops was most upset about Roberson's 57-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Lloyd that made the score 38-33 with 2:02 remaining. The 2-point conversion pass made it a three-point game.

``Really, you can accept some of that other stuff. But that was hard to accept, that one,'' he said. ``We didn't show much poise or much discipline back there on our positioning on the ball.''

Stoops said part of the problem was that Kansas State forces teams to prepare for a number of things, running and throwing. He also felt his defense, which lacks depth due to the losses of three players this season, grew tired on a warm afternoon.

Cornerback Michael Thompson was seriously hurt in an automobile accident in March. Defensive back Terrance Simms is out for the season with a knee injury, and defensive end Dan Cody left the team after being diagnosed with clinical depression.

``When you play in long games like that, we get wore out,'' Stoops said. ``That's just what happens when you're not deep and you play a physical team like we did Saturday.''

Head coach Bob Stoops said he liked the way the Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) responded to Kansas State's ruggedness.

``I'm very proud of our players to have withstood it,'' he said. ``We found a way to make enough plays to win the football game, and that's special.''

Quarterback Nate Hybl passed his toughest test as the starter. He was battered by Kansas State defenders, and at times appeared a bit wobbly, but he never left the game. He was intercepted three times, but threw for 283 yards, including touchdowns of 63 and 75 yards to Antwone Savage, and he led the Sooners on a 17-play drive in the fourth quarter that led to a field goal and a 38-27 lead.

``I thought Nate Hybl was just excellent,'' Bob Stoops said. ``He made some great passes and our receivers made some big plays.''