5 Reasons the Sooners Won't Bounce Back from the Texas Loss
A demoralizing loss just about always brings out questions surrounding your team. However, when that loss comes to your biggest rival after you entered the game as two-touchdown favorites, things tend to be magnetized a little bit more.
After a 36-20 loss at the hands of the Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma is all of a sudden left with several questions that need to be answered.
With the remaining Big 12 schedule doing them no favors, the holes on both sides of the ball may be too much for the Sooners to overcome.
Here are five reasons why the Sooners won't overcome the several question marks that were exposed in the Texas game.
The key to any championship season is staying healthy throughout the course of the year. That's been well-documented.
Obviously, there's a ton of luck involved in that, but avoiding serious, season-ending injuries to players on either side of the ball is the key ingredient to winning a title.
However, in Oklahoma's case, they've been rather unlucky this season in the injury department.
After it was revealed that Corey Nelson would be lost for the year due to a tear in his pectoral muscle, the Sooners received more bad news when it was announced that Jordan Phillips would also be lost for the year due to season-ending back surgery.
Nelson was having a breakout year in his senior campaign, as he helped resurrect the linebacker position that had been absent in the Oklahoma defense since the middle of last season.
Phillips was also making a huge impact on a unit that entered the season with several question marks. What was a weakness of the defense just a year ago, his presence at defensive tackle was the key reason as to why the Sooners were having improved success against the running game.
Now, the Sooners will move forward without their anchor on the defensive line, and their leader of the defense at linebacker.
That's not exactly a recipe for success.
Questions at Quarterback
Blake Bell has been anything but stellar in his last two starts.
Combined, he's completed 32 of 57 for 285 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. However, the more alarming stat may be that Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard only combined for three catches in last week's loss to Texas.
It's not just the fact Bell has sailed the ball past his receivers on several occasions, it's the fact that he's looked very uncomfortable in the pocket, which has caused him to force it into tight coverage instead of hitting wide-open receivers.
There's no doubt that Bell has the arm to stretch the field on opposing defenses, but we've yet to see him consistently deliver the ball with poise and accuracy.
Due to the deficiencies that Bell has shown in the passing game, many fans are now wondering if another quarterback change is looming. With confidence being a premium at quarterback, the last thing you want is to have your starter looking over his shoulder after every mistake.
If the passing game continues to struggle, the offensive output will take a hit as well. In a conference where offense is king, it's yet to be seen if the Sooners can muster enough points to outscore the high-powered offenses they'll soon have to face.
There's something to be said about having several experienced players on your roster during a conference championship push. Especially, when you consider the tough games away from home that the Sooners will soon have to endure.
Oklahoma entered the season with several newcomers on the both sides of the ball that needed to step up. For the most part, that's exactly what's happened.
However, the youth and inexperience has certainly reared it's ugly head at times. Last week's lost to Texas is a perfect example. With the injuries that were suffered in the previous week, the Sooners were forced to play a freshman at linebacker and another at defensive tackle. The results weren't exactly enticing for Oklahoma.
Moving forward, several newcomers, especially on the defensive side of the ball, will have to elevate their game if the Sooners hope to contend for a Big 12 title. That's easier said than done, especially when you also have to replace the valuable leadership that's been lost to injury.
If the loss to Texas showed us anything, it's that Oklahoma has some serious holes to shore up in the run game.
In fact, both Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground. As a team, the Longhorns rushed for 255 yards.
Granted, most of the problems up front were a direct result of the absence of Corey Nelson and Jordan Phillips, but that's an obstacle that the Sooners will have to face for the rest of the season.
With an already thin defensive line, losing their best defensive tackle in Phillips is pretty devastating. Especially considering that the Sooners still have several teams on the schedule that are very capable in the running game.
If the Sooners continually lose the battle in the trenches like we saw last week, they'll have a tough time with slowing down any of the high-powered offenses they'll face in the coming weeks.
At the beginning of the year, it was thought that the three-game stretch of Notre Dame, TCU and Texas would be the biggest obstacle on the schedule for the Sooners. However, it now appears that Oklahoma has even tougher games on the horizon.
A visit to Lawrence on Saturday to face Kansas should present the opportunity for the Sooners to shore some things up, but shortly after, several roadblocks await.
The remaining schedule would be a lot more manageable if the tougher tests were being played in Norman. However, that's the bad news for the Sooners, as three challenging road games still await.
The first to come, and possibly the toughest of the three, is the Thursday night trip to Waco on Nov. 7th to face Baylor. With the Bears likely coming into the game undefeated, and a national audience tuning in, this could turn out to be the biggest game in school history for Baylor. With that being said, there's no doubt that Floyd Casey Stadium will be turned into a hornet's nest.
Shortly after, the Sooners close out the schedule with back-to-back road games against Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
Granted, the trip to Manhattan doesn't look as tough as it once did, but this will be anything but a gimme. Especially, if the Wildcats gets the advantage of a night game with freezing, late November temperatures.
Then, the regular season concludes with a trip to Stillwater to face the Cowboys. Boone Pickens Stadium is one of the most intimidating places to play in the Big 12, and that will only be magnetized when the Sooners come to town.
Here's a look at the remaining schedule for the Sooners.
Oct. 19th - at Kansas
Oct. 26th - vs. Texas Tech
Nov. 7th - at Baylor
Nov. 16th - vs. Iowa State
Nov. 23rd - at Kansas State
Dec. 7th - at Oklahoma State