The Edmond Sun

November 29, 2012

Have offense, will travel to TCU

John Shinn
CNHI News Service

NORMAN — A team wants to be playing its best at the end. Whether Oklahoma’s achieving that is debatable. It’s defense is struggling.

On the other hand, look at the Sooners have done offensively in the last four games.

Brennan Clay’s 18-yard touchdown run to secure a 51-48 over Oklahoma State last Saturday was the Sooners’ 24th in the last four games. During that span, they’ve racked up 136 first downs.

“Offensively, we’re on the rise and we’re executing really well right now,” center Gabe Ikard said. “We’re a little banged up up front, but guys are sliding in there and performing really well. We’re putting up a lot of points on the board.”

They’ve amassed 178 over the last four games in wins over Iowa State, Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

What caused the Sooners’ offense to take off over the last four games? Several factors have been involved.

It helps that OU’s last four opponents haven’t been defensive juggernauts. OSU is No. 72 in total defense at 409.9 yards per game; Iowa State No. 97 (444.83); West Virginia No. 117 (487.36); Baylor No. 119 (509.73). No one is going to compare any of those teams to the Steel Curtain.

But it also coincides with OU’s offense taking flight over the last four games. Since the loss to top-ranked Notre Dame on Oct. 27, the only thing that’s stopped the Sooners has been themselves. They’ve only punted 11 times in the last four games.

The Sooner receivers have synched in with OU quarterback Landry Jones. He has thrown for at least 400 yards in three of the four games and for at least 500 in the last two. The only game he didn’t was against Baylor. The Sooners rushed for 183 yards that night and four touchdowns.

Getting time to throw hasn’t been a problem either. Jones has been sacked just twice the last four games.

“You lose a game and then people think you can’t coach, you can’t throw, you can’t block, you can’t catch, you can’t do all this stuff on offense,” quarterback Landry Jones said. “We just went back to the drawing board and went back to work, and all of that stuff paid off for us. I don’t know if we drastically changed anything. We might have tweaked some stuff here or there on what we were doing, but I think just the hard work and the determination that we’ve put into this offense has really started to pay off for us.”

You could argue this is the best OU’s offense has looked since it set NCAA records in 2008.

The 12th-ranked Sooners (9-2, 7-1 Big 12) will need it to be hitting on all cylinders when they face TCU (7-4, 4-4) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Amon Carter Stadium.

OU’s special teams have played well, but a leaky defense isn’t the reason the Sooners still have a chance to win its eighth Big 12 title since 2000.

The difference between the Horned Frogs and the last four opponents is TCU can actually play some defense. For OU’s offense, it will be facing its toughest test since Notre Dame.

“I think we have a lot of momentum behind us,” fullback Trey Millard said. “We’ve had a lot of good plays — a lot of big plays — when we’ve needed them. We need to keep the momentum going. It’s easy to make plays when you’ve got everything going right for you.”