First and foremost there is no doubt about it: this season is lost. There are many sunshine pumpers out there that will attempt to blow smoke by saying that our goals are still intact (Bob Stoops). That is just not the truth. The facts are what they are and any team that is a perennial favorite to win their conference and be a potential National Championship contender fails to reach its goal when they have a 4 year starter and record breaker at quarterback and lose twice at home in primetime when they could get back in the National Title hunt. If Bob Stoops' goals aren't to win National Titles on a yearly basis then we have the wrong man and he shouldn't even try to spin this loss as we still have everything in front of us because that is a total lie.
Tonight, many of our flaws were exposed. They are not a short list and they were in full view of the world on national TV tonight. We are a finesse offense with a 5th year senior QB that lacks leadership and play-making ability who due to the sheer number of attempts in this offense will be considered a better QB by many because of his stats then his performances when it mattered most. Javon Harris and Tom Wort, although they are better than last year, are still susceptible to giving up big plays. The losses on our Offensive Line have finally caught up with us. Lastly, our coaching is no longer an advantage for us in big games and at times it is a liability.
First, our offense is seriously flawed as we have nothing that we "hang our hat on". We are unable to impose our will on any one we face but have become an offense that will take what a defense gives us all too regularly. Some people spin that by saying that we are good enough to beat you in multiple ways but when you play a dominate defense there are times that you as the offense have to be able to dictate to the defense what they are going to do rather than just react to the defense and what they are doing to you. We have become a reactive offense rather a proactive offense and tonight we allow the Notre Dame defense to dictate to us who we would be rather than find creative ways to do what we wanted to and we played right into their hands rather than force their hand.
This leads to our QB. Landry Jones as I have written in the past is NOT a star. Some believe that he is one of the best QBs to come through OU but I would beg to differ. He will have many of the all-time records for QBs at OU but we must keep this is prospective. When he is finished he would have started more games than anyone in OU history as a QB and attempted the more passes by far than any QB in OU history. Realizing these facts account for his win total and career yardage record. The measure of a great QB is based on how many games did he make plays that gave you a victory when defeat was on your doorstep. The answer to this question more often than not is Landry Jones has lost those games and crumbled in the games that meant most. Most great QBs are judged by what they do in the clutch and Landry Jones falls woefully short when it comes to being a catalyst in clutch situations. Here is the proof to my statement...most people gave Notre Dame a chance if the game was left in Landry Jones' hands tonight and they executed the plan to perfection. They stopped the run and dared Landry Jones to beat them which didn't happen. By all accounts a freshman outplayed a senior tonight.
Next, I would like to discuss two guys on the defensive side of the ball that have been solid players for OU but have come up short in big games: Javon Harris and Tom Wort. Tonight both guys were seen for what they are and that's talented but flawed players which have made some outstanding plays for OU during their careers but there shortcomings are much too much for OU to overcome in big games. In the play that for all intensive purpose that decided the game Javon Harris bit up on a run fake that allowed a guy who never made a collegiate catch to haul in a 50 yard catch which lead to the go ahead score in the game and OU's undoing. He also appeared to have a poor run fit on the long touchdown run as well when he turned a 8 yard run into a 62 yard touchdown scamper. I will agree that he has looked better this year than last year but in a crucial moment Javon Harris showed his true colors. Tom Wort is not better at all. "All" of college football has figured out that Tom Wort is not a good cover guy. He was either getting beat in man like he stole something, flat out missing tackles because he is out of control or "making tackles" which consist of him hitting a ball carrier and the back falling forward for the 3 or 4 extra yards because he isn't wrapping up. These two are major liabilities to an otherwise strong defense.
Moving forward, our next major issue which has reared its ugly head was the lack of depth on our Offensive Line. By all accounts our O-Line played pretty well but the truth is because they are still jelling the running game never was able to get going. Due to this fact it allowed their safeties the ability to sit over top on all the deep routes and force us into a dink and dunk passing game which worked to their benefit because it ran the clock when we completed passes but also required that we methodically marched down the field to score which seldom happened. Without the running game the play action is a non-factor and we couldn’t create any deep 1 on 1 matchups downfield.
Lastly, but honestly I feel most importantly, I believe there was a time when Bob Stoops and his staff would enter big games and they always seem to have the "coaching advantage”. These days seem to be gone the way of great defense in the big 12 "extinct". No longer do they have a tactical advantage in big games but I believe that one can argue that they are a liability to the team in big games due their inability to adjust the game plan, create a distinct identity and the trading of loyalty for production has cause OU to shift from an elite program to a conference champion contender on a yearly basis. One might ask what the difference is and its simple Elite programs don’t lose twice at home in a year or always seem to find a way to lose games they shouldn’t year in and year out.
After providing my post-mortem of the problems that currently ail OU, I will now give you my prescription for success to each of these problems that should take place to prepare for 2013. Our 5th year Senior at QB should now began to split time with our beloved leader Blake Bell and we should start to see the offensive philosophy that will take shape for 2013 in live game action. There is no reason to wait to unveil the new offense next year. This provides us with a bit of a safety net and allows an opportunity for a learning curve to take place without having to sacrifice another season. We must recognize that Barry Switzer was right. Many of our upperclassmen need to step aside and we need to get many of our young talented players on the field rather than staying loyal to those that have been slight above average in their OU careers. Tom Wort and Javon Harris (who was victimized in my opinion on two of the biggest plays of the game) have been solid contributors for OU but unfortunately for them their positions require them to be playmakers which they are not. It is time for some of the younger guys to get a shot so that it can be determined if they are ready for the "bright lights". A lack of production equals a lack of playing time. If you recall Brandon Everage taking over for JT Thatcher in 2000 as an example of a production over loyalty. As far as the O-Line goes we re-double our efforts in recruitment and look to establish a group and let that group play. We need to stop the practice of rotating guys in on the line because if there is a group that must move in concert on the football field it's the Offensive Line and we have to pray for health. Lastly, Coaching, we have to coach with a passion on game day on both sides of the ball. Offensively we coach passively. I understand that offensive play has to have a sense of calmness but I feel like you have to convey a sense of urgency as well and we lack that coaching wise on the offensive side of the ball. I believe that Josh Heupel has to get back down on the field out of the pressbox and a decision has to be made to become a team that attacks our opponent rather than waiting for them to attack us. Many times last night I thought we should have taking some shots on 4th downs and we punted instead, we played into the conservative game they wanted us to play. In a boxing analogy, in big games we have gone from being the knockout artist (Mike Tyson/Sonny Liston) to being the counter puncher (Pernell Whitaker) but what we fail to realize is at least if we swing for the knockout you can go away without any regrets. Bob Stoops must return to being that riverboat gambler that bought him his success because a team takes on the attitude of its coaching staff.