Look, trying to find positives after a loss is something that teams to the north of us do. We're Oklahoma and losing will never be accepted here. We're not used to it, we don't excuse it and we certainly can't tolerate it. It's not something that we're willing to change either, and because of that whenever a loss rears its ugly head change is what we demand from our team. We're still waiting on someone to listen to us though.
This week's roundtable takes a look at elements of change, along with a few other aspects and general thoughts surrounding Oklahoma's football program.
I'm giving you free reign to substitute any one player for another on the offensive side of the ball. Be very careful with your answer because the team will be stuck that way with the rest of the season. Who is it?
Matt: I'm pretty sure that the fan choice here would be at the quarterback position. Keep in mind though that we can't take the change back. I'm disappointed after last Saturday's loss but certainly not ready to give up on the season. By yanking Landry Jones for Blake Bell we are pretty much waving the white flag of surrender on 2012. Keep in mind that other than take a snap and run straight forward, Bell has yet to show that he's a game manager or a game changer at quarterback. Yes, I know the Landry argument is that he hasn't either.
My position to change would be Roy Finch for Dominique Whaley. I'm a fan of Whaley but come on. Finch is explosive and has a center of balance like no one else when he's running the football. They need to give this kid more touches! Unfortunately the only way that is going to happen is for someone to step out of the way.
Rich: I'd really like to see Trey Metoyer benched at this point. Don't get me wrong, I think he has the potential to be a star at WR, but lacks a connection with Landry Jones at this point in time. It's either Jones leading Metoyer out of bounds hoping he can make a miracle catch on an uncatchable ball or Metoyer losing where he is at on the field. Whatever is going on is hurting this offense in a significant way. Here is where I employ a bit of a position shuffle so bear with me for just a second. In place of Metoyer, Kenny Stills needs to make the move back to the outside along with Justin Brown. This leaves the slot receiver position vacant and to fill the void, look no further than the next man on the depth chart in Sterling Shepard. This is a kid who has gone out and accomplished what fans had hoped Metoyer would do in completing the reception on every pass that has come his way. Jones has targeted Shepard a total of 8 times and 8 times the ball has been caught. There is no doubt that this is a talented receiving group that possess both size and athleticism but Shepard has proven he can be an asset when he has been given the opportunity.
Jordan: Trey Millard for well, Trey Millard. The coaches keep telling us how he's one of the best players on the team and yet he continues to be criminally underutilized. If I have free reign, the guy never leaves the field. Be it fullback, h-back, tight end, running back, I don't care the guy stays on the field. Speaking as someone who went back and watched the game, it was beyond ridiculous how little he was used against Kansas State.
If you're calling b.s. on that pick, then I'd go with Damien Williams. Look, we all love Whaley's story and while I thought he looked as good as he's looked all season Saturday he doesn't bring the explosiveness that Williams does.
Time to reset the season. What are the attainable goals now?
Rich: After a loss to Kansas St., it is tough for me to jump to the conclusion that a Big XII Title is out of reach. Finding a spot in the National Title Game will require a ton of other teams to generously help out so I'll write that out of the equation. This is a team that is loaded with talent, yet due to injuries, suspension, as well as others leaving the team for personal reasons, many starters didn't have to fight for their starting jobs and it shows. The greatest areas where this can be seen are along the offensive and defensive lines. Simply put, there is no worry of losing the job to another up and coming player. Realistically, knowing that, I'd say this is an average Oklahoma team who at best will go 9-3 on the season.
Matt: Ugh! I hate this question. We want championships every year at OU. This just isn't a national championship team. We've seen Bob Stoops' teams recover from an unsuspecting loss before and still win the Big XII championship so I'm keeping that at the forefront of what is still possible in 2012. They are clearly going to have to do some work though in order to keep that as a possibility.
Jordan: Welp, national title is out (though I was never a huge believer in that to begin with) and not just because of one loss. If you picture in your head this OU team against Alabama and don't shudder with fear I'm not sure what to tell you. So, is a Big 12 title still attainable? Theoretically, sure, I guess. The schedule doesn't seem to favor that, especially after what we've seen on the field thru three games. So I'd say 9-3 regular season is a best case scenario, maybe 10-2 if everything broke in their favor.
Is there any redemption for Landry Jones?
Jordan: The guy is what he is. We were pretty sure we knew his ceiling even before this season, all he's done is confirm we were right. Look, I genuinely feel for the kid. That's not an easy spot to be in and it's not as if he's happy about not playing well. He had the unfortunate timing of following a Heisman winner and one of the most accurate passers in CFB history, life just sucks like that sometimes. He'll go down as statistically the best QB to ever play at OU, while almost every Sooner fan probably wouldn't have him in their Top what, Top 10? Top 8?
Rich: That's a tough one to answer. I have been a fan of Jones from day one. But, the fact remains that he is a fifth year senior who is still making rookie mistakes. This was a season in which Jones was going to build upon his first round draft grade and possibly make a run at the Heisman. I fail to see how either will come to fruition as I believe Jones has hit a plateau, a plateau that flattened out last November. Landry has the skills to be a great quarterback but lacks the leadership mentality that it requires to get there. We as a fan base have constantly given Jones shot after shot to prove that the switch had been flipped on. Redemption is out of the question for Landry as an individual but certainly not out of the question for this team as a whole.
Matt: In short, no. The fanbase has already written him off and are looking towards the future. Truth is, he could not throw another interception all year long, and lead this team to an 11-1 regular season finish and it still won't be enough. He's the imperfect quarterback playing for a team that demands perfection and following a guy who pretty much was perfect. It's a no win situation for Jones.
Through three games it sure appears that the defense is ahead of the offense. Does that surprise you?
Matt: I'm going to go ahead and say yes. In fact, shockingly yes. While the defense hasn't been extraordinarily outstanding this year, the turnaround through the first three games has been impressive. There are still some things to work out on the line but you have to applaud what Mike Stoops has delivered so far.
On the other hand, the offense had a senior quarterback and plenty of skill position players who are upperclassmen. Yet through three games they're averaging 37.3 points per game which is good for seventh in the Big XII. With the talent Oklahoma has on offense that's shocking!
Jordan: Given my expectations for Josh Heupel and Mike Stoops respectively coming into the season? Nah, not really. Heupel's in over his head and Mike's been around the block more than his fair share. When you look at it that way, it makes sense we're seeing what we are.
Rich: This is an offense that is working in its second season with Josh Heupel as the man calling the shots with a 4 year starter at QB. Mistakes from the QB should be at a minimum as the growth process runs its course. The thing I continue to see is mistake after mistake. Granted the defense is making mistakes as well but none of them have come up as costly as those committed by the offense. To be honest, this is an offense I expected to be light years ahead of what we saw last Saturday night.
Big XII Power Rankings. Rank the teams from first to worst.
Rich: Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, OSU, Iowa St., Texas Tech, Kansas
Matt: West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, OSU, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas
Jordan: Not predicted order of finish: Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas, Baylor, TCU, OSU, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas