Oklahoma Football: Is Bob Stoops Making a Mistake with Up-Tempo Offense?
After Oklahoma's 30-13 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, fans are back to pointing fingers and wanting answers. Despite the fact that the Sooners' only two losses have come to two top five teams, the sentiment among fans is the wheels are falling off the Sooner Schooner.
A few weeks ago it was the play at quarterback that was hurting the Sooners. Now the thought is the up-tempo style of offense is the reason for Oklahoma's struggles. So, is it the offense, the coaching, the quarterback or all of the above?
The truth is Oklahoma has not failed. I know that sounds crazy coming from the guy that just one month ago claimed the Sooners have dropped from their status as an elite program. But since the Kansas State game, Bob Stoops and his team have proven me wrong. It doesn't hurt that I've also had some time to gain better perspective after that loss.
The Wildcats have proven to be for real and after seeing Notre Dame with my own eyes, it's evident that the Irish have something special going on in South Bend. Certainly there's no shame in your only two losses coming to the likes of those two championship-caliber ball clubs.
In both games, the Sooners had a great opportunity to win and lost mainly because of their own mistakes. The up-tempo style of offense was never the reason. In fact, when the Sooners pick up the pace they almost can't be stopped. But, for whatever reason, Oklahoma tends to slow their pace to the point of almost running out of play clock. This is when they usually falter.
Is Oklahoma's fast tempo on offense to blame for the Notre Dame loss?
Clearly fans want to see the Sooners run the ball more and be more physical. But don't get tricked into thinking you can't be both of those things while running an up-tempo offense. It could even be argued that the Sooners run the ball better when they are playing at a faster pace.
The argument has also been made by some fans that the mistakes on the field are a result of the offense being in too much of a hurry. In reality, most of the mistakes have come when the offense slows its pace.
The bad snap in the Sooners' first drive against Notre Dame came with one second on the play clock. How can you say the pace was too fast when the play clock runs all the way down to 01?
There's also no reason a team can't be physical and move at a fast pace at the same time. Being physical and having less time between plays has very little to do with each other.
Oklahoma definitely needs to be more successful in the running game, but they can do that by picking up the pace.
In a conversation with a former defensive lineman from Oklahoma State, I was told he hated playing teams like Oklahoma because they could never get lined up correctly and many times didn't even know what they were trying to run on defense. He also told me it was exhausting for them to play at that pace and substituting was almost impossible.
If a rival defensive lineman feels that way about the up-tempo offense, then Oklahoma should take advantage of that. The problem is offensive coordinator Josh Heupel isn't doing it. The offense just doesn't seem to have the same type of rhythm as it did under Kevin Wilson.
In those days it was rare to see the play clock reach single digits. Obviously the Sooners don't have Sam Bradford running the offense anymore, but Landry Jones actually plays better when the pace picks up.
Oklahoma just got beat by two really good teams. One team has to win and one team has to lose. If you end up on the losing end, that doesn't mean you need to change everything about your team. Same goes with BCS titles. Just because you don't win a national championship doesn't mean you need to change everything on your team. The championship-or-bust frame of mind is ridiculous.
The Sooners have been playing football in Norman for almost 120 years. Only seven of those years have they won a national championship. Does that mean Oklahoma has failed as a team over 100 times?
The numbers prove you can't win them all. There are some areas where Stoops could make a few changes, but to say this season or this team is a failure is short sighted.
It's obvious the defense is better than any of us thought it would be. What will Mike Stoops be able to do with a unit full of guys he recruited?
Oklahoma fans should be excited about the fact that in the next couple of years, they might finally get a chance to see what a team with an explosive offense could accomplish with a reliable D backing them up.
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