Oklahoma football fans won't have to look very far to try and find out what happened Saturday night that led to their 24-19 loss to Kansas State. First off, let's give credit where its due and congratulate Kansas State for earning the victory. Bill Snyder coaches his teams to be sound on special teams, to control the clock and to protect the football. They're not going to come into to any venue and wow them with their offense but what they will do is capitalize on your mistakes while limiting their own. That's exactly the trap that Oklahoma fell into Saturday night.
I'm not too interested in the offensive stats from Saturday night because you can rack up a thousand yards but if you don't score as many points as your opponent then you're doomed. Not only did the Sooners shoot themselves in the foot multiple times on Saturday night, they did so in the most costly way possible.
After taking a 3-0 lead on their first offensive position, Oklahoma and Kansas State slugged it out through the remainder of the first quarter and into the second. At the 12:45 mark of the second quarter Landry Jones made the first crucial mistake of the night. Rolling to his right, Jones was trying to make something out of nothing and was stripped of the ball while still in the end zone. Kansas State's Jarell Childs recovered the fumble to put the Wildcats up 7-3.
Not pushing the panic button, the Sooners took their next offensive position and methodically marched down the field on the Wildcats. Facing a second and goal from the KSU one yard line, OU was on the verge on regaining control of the game and swallowing up any momentum Kansas State may have built. Little did anyone know that the second crucial mistake was about to occur. Bob Stoops and Josh Heupel opted to go with the popular Belldozer package to punch the ball in but sophomore quarterback Blake Bell fumbled the snap, resulting in Oklahoma's second turnover of the night. The Wildcats took that possession to the Sooners' six before settling on a field goal, essentially turning Oklahoma's two turnovers into a seventeen point swing in favor of KSU.
OU wasn't done though. After scoring a touchdown on their second possession of the second half, to regain the lead at 13-10, Oklahoma's defense forced a KSU punt. Starting at their own four, Oklahoma's offense moved eighteen yards in three plays and were faced with a second and four at the twenty-two. The offense was clicking and Kansas State was on their heels. Another touchdown drive for the Sooners would have no doubt sealed the fate of the Wildcats as the next in a long line of victims to fall slain on Owen Field. Instead of all of that hapening, the third crucial mistake of the night occurred.
Throwing under pressure, Jones failed to step into his pass to Kenny Stills. The ball missed Stills high and instead was thrown directly to KSU corner Ty Zimmerman. The interception landed the Wildcats on the Oklahoma 38 and five plays later Collin Klein was in the end zone for the go ahead touchdown. The two teams would swap scores in the fourth but it was too little too late for OU at that point. Opportunity had been wasted, not once, not twice, but three times.
The three Sooner turnovers (all from quarterbacks) kept Oklahoma from scoring seven points and directly resulted in Kansas State scoring 17 points. The Wildcats aren't the best team in the Big XII. They're good good enough though to come into your place and beat you when you give them at 24-point margin of error though. That's exactly what Oklahoma's offense did. It can't be excused, it really can't be explained and honestly it shouldn't be accepted. It was truly a disastrous performance for an offense that had high expectations coming into the night.
Quarterbacks - In addition to fumbles and interceptions, Landry Jones missed a wide open Brannon Green that would have turned Oklahoma's first possession into seven instead of three points. Too many mistakes in a big game to merit a passing grade. Overall Grade: D
Running Backs - The best run of the night was brought back by a holding penalty on Justin Brown. Dominique Whaley averaged 5.7 yards per carry and Damien Williams 3.7 against the third best rushing defense in the Big XII. Still wasn't near enough though. Overall Grade: B
Receivers/Tight Ends - Good for the most part. There were a few times where some routes were broken off (looking at you Kenny Stills) and then some where the receivers flat out ran the wrong routes. With the youth and newness of this crew, we'll call that a learning curve. Overall Grade: B-
Offensive Line - Decent protection. Teams are going to get to Landry Jones in conference play and that's to be expected. They didn't get massively overpowered but you have to put some of the blame of a 40% third down conversion rate on their shoulders. Overall Grade: B-
Coaching - I believe that we had every right to expect more coming off a bye week. With all due respect to the Wildcats, there's no way that you'll convince me that they had Oklahoma ready to play this game. Long gone are the days when you put your helmet down on the field and you win just because you're OU playing a home game. Overall Grade: F