WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Brennan Clay #3 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs the ball against Ahmad Dixon #6 of the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Oklahoma's two losses this season can be pinned squarely on the defense, particularly the secondary, but that doesn't necessarily absolve the offense from their short comings. The bottom line is, when you score 38 points it should be enough to win against Texas Tech and Baylor. However, why settle for 38 points when you could have more? That's exactly what the Sooners did in both losses by failing to execute an effective offensive game plan in the first half.
Saturday night in Waco was an extension of what we saw a month ago in Norman when OU lost to Texas Tech. The Bears have one of the worst run defenses in the Big XII and just like the Tech game the Sooners failed to exploit it. Not counting the "Belldozer" plays Oklahoma called 26 running plays for the entire game against one of the worst defenses in the conference. The result was 143 yards and a 5.5 yards per carry average. That would be a significant mark of success had it not been for a couple factors.
1) It wasn't enough! Oklahoma was always within striking distance and at one point carried the momentum and the lead. When your running backs are gashing the defense to the tune of 5.5 yards per carry why limit them to just 26 total carries? Just to be clear, when we're talking about a 5.5 yard per carry average is equates to a rushing attack that's unstoppable. More carries would have resulted in longer sustained drives, more scores and less time that the Baylor offense was on the field.
2) I'm sure that by all accounts Brennan Clay is s superb human being and model citizen. However, at this point he's not the answer at running back and quite frankly shouldn't be in the equation. I don't want to get into bagging on this kid because he has suffered some injuries throughout his career and I'm not sure he's 100% right now. All I'm going to say is this - Brandon Williams 8.7 YPC, Roy Finch 5.6 YPC, Trey Millard 4.0 YPC, Brennan Clay 3.5 YPC.
Then there's the issue of the slow starts this offense has gotten off to in their two losses. They had 7 points at the half of the Tech game and 10 Saturday night against Baylor. To their credit they've been able to get things rolling in the second half on both occasions but the ability to make in-game adjustments instead of having to wait until the half has been costly. Leaving points on the board in the first half has directly contributed to close losses rather than close wins. Its a disturbing trend!
The offensive stats aren't bad. The Sooners scored and racked up over 600 yards. In his first game without Ryan Broyles, Landry Jones completed almost 71% of his passes and threw for 447 yards. The problem is that the game plan set up to strike quickly and keep pace with Baylor instead of exploiting their struggles against the rush and keeping the Sooner defense off the field. Here's a perfect example...
At the 9:50 mark of the third quarter Oklahoma was in complete control of the game. They had outscored Baylor 14-0 to this point of the half and had just fielded a punt from the Bears while holding a 24-17 lead. Another Sooner touchdown coming off a time consuming drive would have pretty much put the Sooners in position to have this game put away. Instead here's what happened - Oklahoma passed the ball five times over the next three plays and punted it back to Baylor with less than two minutes taken off the clock. That one run, by the way, was a 13-yard scamper by Roy Finch.
For the most part the offensive players did what they were asked to do. Sure there were some mistakes (Trey Franks fumbled, Landry Jones threw a pick and the o-line gave up two sacks) but there's no way you can convince me that the offensive game plan put them in position to succeed. When it comes to offense, this one is on the coaches and not the players. Either they failed to adequately game plan for Baylor or failed to plan at all.