Remember when we (or some of us) were younger and you used to pretend it was opposite day?
Up was down, left was right, yes meant no.
It was dumb, annoying, and really didn't make a whole lot of sense.
Well that pretty much sums up the offensive game plan Josh Heupel designed for this 108th meeting between these two hated rivals.
Literally nothing that this OU offense did made any sense. It was almost as if none of the offensive coaches on OU's staff watched any film from Texas' previous games.
Texas has struggled mightily to stop a kindergarten-like simple quarterback run game. OU and Heupel did none of that. Bob Stoops even went so far as to say during his postgame press conference that he and the offensive staff weren't comfortable using Bell in the run game. Which if actually true leads to the obvious question of why you even start Blake Bell in this game to begin with? This game plan needed to be centered around the quarterback running the football. So if you come into the game without that even being a part of the plan, you've already shot yourself in the foot by voluntarily refusing to exploit one of the glaring weaknesses of this Texas defense. I literally cannot even comprehend the stupidness of that Stoops statement.
Texas has been horrible stopping the run against even the most average of rushing attacks. OU and Heupel didn't allow a single running back more than seven carries in the game.
Texas has looked helpless defending the zone read and yet OU did not make it a focus of their offense, possibly because when they did call it Bell repeatedly made the wrong read.
It was, quite frankly, one of the dumbest possible game plans someone could have created for this game. I'm not entirely sure if your intention was to do the exact opposite of everything you should do that someone could have recreated what Heupel did Saturday.
It was described during the postgame by former OU fullback J.D. Runnels as 'vanilla.' And why wouldn't you, in this game of all games, draw up a vanilla game plan if you're Josh Heupel?
I'll tell you why. It wasn't because you didn't watch any Texas tape. It was because you watched too much of it. You saw how bad they were on film and came into this game thinking you could just line up and do whatever you wanted to do. Instead, Texas showed up pissed off like the team playing with there backs against the wall many of us expected them to be and OU showed up like the 'Sooners' on the front of their jersey would be enough for them to win this game.
What's disappointing is that this isn't the first time we've seen Bob Stoops have this type of performance. It's happened far too many times in fact. But when it happens against Texas it's different. There's a difference between losing and losing to Texas. There just is.
Obviously it didn't help that Blake Bell played by far and away the worst game of his very early OU career. Nor did hit help much that he did his best impersonation of everything OU fans hated about Landry Jones -- i.e. the happy feet, crumbling in the face of pressure, throwing off your back foot, mind-numbingly stupid interceptions. For all the opportunities Bell has stepped up in the face of pressure, on Saturday against Texas he looked like a guy who was not prepared for the magnitude of the moment in which he was playing.
It also didn't help that Bell once again looked tentative both in his decision making in the pocket and even more so in his unwillingness to run the football. And if Bell doesn't want to and/or has been coached not to run the ball then there is very little reason for him to be the starting quarterback. Because he isn't going to be a guy who beats you purely with his ability to throw the football. That much is abundantly clear.
Which is what made it so odd. Yeah, he struggled some against TCU. And yeah, Texas fan will tell you (especially after Saturday) that he'd never done anything at quarterback to begin with. But we've never seen him struggle like we did on Saturday. So much so that many were openly calling for a change, which is something that could very well happen if this offense struggles for a third consecutive game next week against Kansas. But that's a conversation for another time.
For a running back unit that has come through several times already this season, it was a fullback and a true freshman that were the only threats on Saturday. Trey Millard and Keith Ford were so very clearly the guys needing carries in this game and yet each only received seven and six respectively. The only instances, and those were brief in this game, in which Oklahoma had success running the ball were behind carries from one of these two. And yet you're constantly left wondering why either didn't touch the ball more than they did. Obviously we're used to it with Millard, but Ford was a new development (and, to Heupel's credit, a solid wrinkle added for this game) yet just as disappointing.
To be fair, it's not as though the OU offensive line was opening up these massive running lanes and Heupel refused to run the ball. But in the rare instances in which the Sooners did find success moving the ball it was on the ground. There was no creativity similar to what we saw in the Notre Dame game. Instead, OU took the arrogant approach of thinking they could simply push the Texas front around and they could not have been more wrong. It was basically the OU offense we saw last year, but without a quarterback capable of completing the forward pass on a consistent basis.
Speaking of the forward pass, when was the last time you can remember an OU football game in which their wide receivers were as non-existent as they were in this game? Outside of Lacoltan Bester, no other OU wideout finished with more than twenty yards receiving in the game! Sterling Shepard didn't even record a single reception! Certainly Bell's struggles contributed greatly the the wide receivers irrelevancy in this game, but it's not as if they were wide open constantly and Bell just couldn't get them the ball. They, like every other aspect of this OU offense, were simply outplayed.
Something Bob Stoops, as usual following a loss, was all to happy to offer up in his explanation for his team's embarrassing performance.
Just about everything that transpired Saturday afternoon in the Cotton Bowl was unfathomable coming into the game considering what we've seen from this Texas team. And yet Heupel and this OU offense looked as inept as an overmatched high school football team. It was pathetic.
To borrow a line I saw on Twitter: I can deal with losing. It's football, it happens. What I can't deal with is watching a team that looked to be woefully unprepared. And as far as I'm concerned that's what we saw Saturday afternoon. And that's just flat unacceptable.
If there is a single game on your schedule every year that you plan for it's the Texas game. You do whatever needs to be done to win that game.
Clearly OU did not get this memo. You can pin it on whoever you'd like. I'm not here to tell you it was any one individual's fault. I think when you get dominated, in every single aspect of the game, as thoroughly as Oklahoma was on Saturday you can't possibly point to one single person and/or factor. You win and lose as a team and this was very much a group effort.
This is an offense with some pretty serious problems that have been masked somewhat by the opponents Oklahoma has faced. But they were exposed on Saturday and in a league in which scoring points is a necessity, struggling at the quarterback position can be a back breaker. You need look no farther than Saturday for evidence of that.