That pretty much sums up my thoughts about two-thirds of the way through the second quarter of saturday's game against Utah State. I count myself among those who figured that A) Oklahoma hangs half a hundred on the Aggies, and B) the Aggies wouldn't score more than 10ish. And, at 21-0 it looked about right. But... well we all know what happened. I proudly will wash my crow down with a glass of iced cold reality.
Also, no... Oklahoma does not usually struggle in the first game. At least not against teams like USU. And if you think we need new assistant coaches I'm guessing you weren't a fan in 2008 when Oklahoma had the most potent offense in modern college football, or in 2009 when Oklahoma ranked 8th in the nation in total defense. Because if you were a fan before, oh say yesterday, you would remember those kinds of (very, very recent) things. But hey, knee jerk reactions are common after a first week brain-cramp. Not calling anybody out in particular, but take a deep breath... and count to ten.
Realistically, Utah State had no business being able stay in this game until there were four minutes left. Landry Jones was BAD. The secondary was BAD. Those observations are obvious. But lets take a look at some other conversations going on around the water cooler... well going on in my head at least.
The "don't throw yourself off a building" perspective:
So Utah State head coach Gary Andersen was the defensive coordinator at Utah in 2008 when the Utes went undefeated and handled Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. He's obviously got some skills to play giant killer. Also, I have to believe that the Aggies were focused on two teams coming into this season, Oklahoma and Boise State. No matter how hard the coaches were trying to get the players to focus on Utah State in the previous weeks, most 18-22 year-olds are going to be focused on next week's match-up against Florida State. Utah State played their hearts out, and I commend them for it. In an all or nothing match-upagainst one of the biggest of the big boys, Gary Andersen and Co. are going to be a lot more aggressive with the play book. I'd be shocked if Kevin Wilson wasn't holding back for match-ups against FSU and UT. In a game where Oklahoma appeared to have every advantage on paper, clearly the intangibles got the best of them.
I don't know exactly what was going on in the heads of the players and coaching staff of the Sooners. However, they obviously weren't keyed up and ready to go dominate. I was having flashbacks of recent losses to TCU, Boise State, West Virginia, and BYU. All games I feel Oklahoma was capable of winning. The difference is that the Sooners weren't playing TCU, WVU, BSU, or BYU. And maybe this is a good thing. You know our boys like to just come out and astound everyone with an extremely sub-par performance every now and then. Perhaps this will be their ONE time this year. Of course, it could be indicative of things to come, but wouldn't it be nice if the Sooners for once had that really sub-par performance against a team they didn't have to be good against to beat.
I'm not a completely silver lining type of guy, but this is the silver lining part of the post. So, that said... if a lot of Oklahoma's problems were due to first game jitters, over-confidence/looking ahead, and conservative play calling, then there's a good chance that the players and coaches will change their ways rapidly. Also, Landry Jones was a little bi-polar last year. For instance, against BYU he completed 6 passes for 51 yards. And that's it. That's all he did. Next two games he threw for a combined 622 yards and 9 TDs to 3 INTs. Against Miami and Texas he combined for 438 yards 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Next two games, 546 yards with 6 TDs to 1 INT. Then there's 245 yards and 5 INTs against Nebraska followed by 392 yards 5 TDs and 1 INT against Texas A&M. Oklahoma State and Stanford reflect the same kind of fluctuation. Here's to hoping we catch him on the upswing against Florida State. I'm not going to make excuses for the secondary other than to say their young. They better grow up very fast.
The "You may want to sit this season out" perspective:
Utah State? Utah friggin'State!?!? I don't care how "up and coming" they may be, or that the Aggies were 9 points away from being a 7 win team last year. They were a 4 win team last year. Period. Sure they have an athletic QB and Oklahoma struggles with athletic QBs at times. But those QBs played for teams like Missouri, Texas, Nebraska, and Florida. Not UTAH FRIGGIN' STATE! Look, the only way I say "Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad" is if the Aggies win at least 7 games (preferably more) and beats Boise State. And even then I have to pretend like the game was played in Austin with only Longhorns and Utah State fans in attendance. And John Blake and Schnellenberger taking turns calling plays on the sidelines. I'm okay with OUstruggling against a mediocre opponent at home if they make the necessary improvements afterwards . However, I refuse to elevate the Aggies to a team that would be capable of this performance on a regular basis.
Landry Jones looked like he made negative progression over the off-season. And I've never thought a secondary that came up with 3 INTs looked so transparent. Demarco Murray looks ready to carry the "Adrian Peterson carrying an inept offense to victory" torch, but the guy shouldn't have to. And how did the offensive line forget how to pass block but learn how to run block? My heart wants to say these factors all combined for the perfect storm, but my head tells me the Sooners have too many question marks in too many areas to pull through the meat of the schedule. In 2005 and 2009 the team was incomplete and took all season to look like a contender. Despite an entire off-season to cure last years woes, it appears that Oklahoma will have a repeat of those years. Ughhhhh....
So what does it all mean anyways?
Well I'm thinking it's not the worst thing in the world to struggle against a mediocre team at home in the opening game of the season. I have faith in the coaching staff and the talent Oklahoma puts on the field. Florida's offense looked pathetic through the first three quarters against Miami (OH) but I have a hard time believing they won't get their act together and have a solid season. Texas looked less than stellar against Rice. Yeah, I think Utah State is 10 points better than Rice, who won all of two games in 2009 by a combined 9 points. Also, that game may have been in Houston, but Rice averaged 13,552 persons per game in attendance last season. Yesterday's game against Texas hosted 70,445. Something tells me the extra 57,000 or so wasn't the Rice faithful. I do agree that that game wasn't as close to the score, but if UT finds themselves in as many third and long situations in Big 12 play as they did yesterday, then it may be a long season for the 'Horns as well as the Sooners. However, I still think UT irons out the kinks in the weeks to come.
And that may be the hardest pill to swallow for Sooners fans. Three traditional powerhouses performed below expectations on saturday. Florida has until October until the trip to Tuscaloosa. Texas has until October until the showdown in Dallas. Oklahoma has until saturday before the Seminoles come to Norman. If you need a little comfort, know that Samford is an FCS team that finished 5-6 in 2009. And Christian Ponder may be the best QB Oklahoma faces off against all year, but he should be in the pocket much more than Diondre Borel was saturday. I'm expecting a close game and another nail-biter against the 'Noles... unless we don't make any adjustments. In that case, you can go ahead and throw yourself off a building.
And to my brother in law, no I don't think a win is a win. An ugly win is a win and I'll call the game against Utah State a wake up call if the Sooners come out and compete for the Big 12 Championship. I'll call it a sign of things to come if there is a repeat of last season. Hoping for the wake up call.