On a cold and rainy day in Lawrence, Kansas, the Oklahoma Sooners lost in the final minutes of the game, 38-33. After a hour long weather delay and many bizarre plays at David Booth Memorial Stadium, the Kansas Jayhawks made just enough plays to give OU its first loss of the season.
In what could be the last game in the OU-KU series for the foreseeable future, the thing that stood out today was the lack of discipline from this Sooners squad. OU had 11 penalties for a total of 101 yards. This came even after Brent Venables said in his pregame interview that the keys for the game were going to be on discipline and focus — two things this team lacked today.
Speaking of discipline, you have to question the play calling from this staff today. In a game in which OU finally started finding success with Tawee Walker and the ground game, Jeff Lebby went away from it through stretches of the game. It seemed like each time the Sooners ran between the tackles, great things happened. This caused Kansas to switch to Cover 0 and stack the box. Jeff Lebby’s response was not to keep that going or pass to receivers who had favorable 1-on-1 matchups, but to run jet sweeps and screens.
While the blame will fall on Lebby, Dillon Gabriel is just as much at fault. The Sooners’ QB had guys open but chose to either check down or tuck it and run. It seemed like the senior quarterback is playing to not lose his job rather than playing to win by taking chances downfield. The Oklahoma offense took only a few shots down the field all game. Even on a rainy day, you would think an offense designed for big plays would take more chances. Instead, it was the Kansas Jayhawks hitting on big pass plays down the field and creating a spark for their team.
Throughout this season, the defense has saved the team in a few games when the offense was struggling. Today when the defense needed the offense to save them, the help did not come. OU had so many errors on both sides of the ball — from missed tackles to coverage busts. Then you add two OU fumbles and a pick-six thrown by Gabriel on the first possession, and you put yourself in a very difficult position. This time, Sooner Magic could not bail out this team.
Bottom line — KU capitalized on their opportunities and seemed like the more focused team today. Oklahoma played too conservative, and when you combine that with the multitude of penalties, you get the outcome of a crucial conference loss on the road. The Sooners can’t afford another hiccup from here on out if they have any hopes of reaching the Big 12 championship game or even a College Football Playoff appearance. The schedule does not get any easier from here. Next week they travel to Stillwater for what should be a raucus environment in the last Bedlam game for years to come.