All posts by Dr. Diehard

Most Disappointing Sooner Season . . . ?

It’s tempting to ask “most disappointing season ever?” but that would be tough to analyze. Let’s stick with the question of most disappointing season of the Stoop’s era? I submit to you that yes, it was indeed the most disappointing . . . but it’s close.

This was only the 4th season in Bob Stoop’s tenure of 13 seasons where he has not won 11 games. One of the 4 was his first year as head coach so he definitely gets a pass. Let’s take a closer look at the other 3.

Continue reading Most Disappointing Sooner Season . . . ?

2005 was definitely a bad year. They lost 2 of the first 3 games including a home loss to TCU. They were pounded by Texas and a late season loss to Tech sealed a disappointing season. And yet, they won 6 of their last 7. They won their bowl game and finished strong with an 8-4 record. It was a bad year but not totally unexpected as we were breaking in a new quarterback and we had lost a lot of seniors. No one expected much from the Sooners. They started off at #7 but most people agreed it was a rebuilding year.

2009 is the only other season to rival 2012 in disappointment. In fact, it was similar in a number of ways. It started with very high expectations with Sam Bradford choosing to come back for one more year. The Sooners were ranked #3 in the pre-season. But the injuries bit them early and hurt. All-American TE Jermaine Gresham went down before the season started and Bradford went down in the first half of the first game. The Sooners went on to start the season at 3-3 including heartbreaking losses to BYU, Miami, and Texas by a combined FIVE points! A loss to Nebraska was painful and then came the OU nemesis, Texas Tech, to bite them again. This gave Stoops only his second 5 loss team during his tenure. The Sooners did finish by beating OSU and winning their bowl game but they only won one game on the road that year. This was a very disappointing season . . . without a doubt. But losing a quarterback that would go on to become the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft gave a plausible reason for this disappointment.

The 2012 season started with a pre-season ranking at #1 and talk by Stoops and the players that this was the year for National Title #8. The team was featured on ESPNU All-Access and they came across as tough and confident. Little did we know at that time that they talked a lot better than they played. The Sooners got off to a decent start winning 6 in a row with the high point being a dominating victory over Texas. Everyone could see that OU was not quite as dominant as had been expected. What was wrong? They were still winning right? And yet something was there. And then came the shocking loss to Tech . . . at home . . . snapping the longest home winning streak in the nation. This is the same Tech team that would not win another game the rest of the year, losing the next 5 in a row. This one game seemed to spell doom for both teams in an odd way. The Sooners bounced back with 2 impressive victories over a good K-State team and a decent A&M squad. Injuries once again hit the Sooners hard taking down their starting RB and arguably the best receiver in college football. The loss of Broyles probably had a bigger impact than any as Landry didn’t throw another TD pass the rest of the season. And then the defense let their guard down again against a Baylor team that had never beaten the Sooners before. Another embarrassing loss left the Sooners reeling. And then we know what happened in Stillwater. The worst loss by the Sooners in bedlam history since 1945.

If the Sooners win their bowl game against a very beatable Iowa team then they will end up 10-3 and salvage a little dignity. But they have to win the bowl game to most likely avoid ending up as the lowest ranked AP pre-season #1 in history. As it is, even with a win, they will most likely be the lowest ranked in 50 years.

Is this the worst year in the Stoop’s era? Probably not.

But there is good reason to call it the most disappointing.

The reason? Expectations.

By who? By Stoops himself. 

Can the Sooners win Bedlam? Really??

Some of you may want me to ask “will” the Sooners win bedlam? I think the better question is, do the Sooners have a legitimate chance of winning?

Continue reading Can the Sooners win Bedlam? Really??

Obviously the Pokes should be favored. They've played better on a more consistent basis than the Sooners. They've only lost one game, in OT, on the road, on a night after devastation hit their campus. Sooner fans can try to say OSU is not that good, but we all know that this might be the best OSU team ever. Offensively they are definitely one of the best in the nation, if not THE best. Defense is their obvious weakness. And in the words of Berry Tramel, “It's about time OSU won Bedlam. If the Cowboys don't win this year, with the better team and the better health and playing at home, when will they ever?”

But the question is still there . . . Can the Sooners win? Not a 10-20% chance, but a serious chance of winning. Really??

In the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend." Think about all their issues. You may have read my previous blog about the defense being broken. It’s true the defense looked better this past week against ISU. But let’s be honest, it was wet, cold, playing at home and uhhhh it was Iowa State. Even though OSU lost to them, don’t expect this defense to hold the Pokes to 6 points. Considering the losses on the offensive side of the ball, I don’t see the Sooners winning a shootout. It would be Baylor all over again. The only legitimate chance the Sooners have is IF their defense plays one of their “good” games. One of the games like they played against FSU or UT or ISU. If they play like they did against TTU or Baylor then it could get ugly. Do you believe this defense will get it done against a good offense? The answer to that question will decide this game.

Consider also the injuries. Is OU really deep enough to overcome injuries to Broyles and Whaley? Is Jaz going to play? Either way, the Sooners will come in short-handed. The biggest loss may be Ronnell Lewis on the defensive front.  He is projected to be a first round draft choice and without him in there the pass rush is severely limited. Obviously not a good thing against a largely passing offense. Frank Alexander will most likely see a lot of double-teams and thus limit his impact.

Home field advantage? I don’t think this is as big as some people might suppose. The last 4 games in Stillwater have all been very close with the Sooners coming out on the winning end. This year’s Sooner team hasn't had a big issue playing on the road. They have been as good (or bad) on the road as they have been at home. Advantage Pokes but not decisive.

Many games come down to penalties and turnovers. In the past 2 games the Sooners have turned the ball over SEVEN times total. The main thing that saved them against ISU was the FOUR turnovers they forced. Without those, the game would have most likely gone down to the wire. Almost 100 yards in penalties against Baylor also was a key stat that led to their demise.

On the positive side of the equation the Sooners have a LOT of history on their side, including the last eight wins in a row. As some suggest though, the Pokes are about due for an upset and this year it wouldn’t really be an upset, which is something new, and a little disappointing.

So we’re back to the question: Can the Sooners win bedlam? I say . . . yes? Barely? Ha. I admit that my threshold for saying, Yes, is very low. The odds are probably somewhere in the 30% range, just enough to say, Yes, they can win bedlam!!

BUT . . . It will take an extraordinary defensive effort AND they cannot lose the turnover battle.

The odd part is that at least this year it seems the tables have turned. The question is usually aimed at the Pokes about can they win. And usually it is assumed they can but they don’t.

So will the Sooners win? Now that is another question.

The Sooner Defense is Broken

Currently, the Sooner defense is ranked #62 in the nation in average yards given up at 385+ yards/game. This includes games against Missouri (532), Texas Tech (572), Texas A&M (527), and Baylor (617). Teams ahead of them in the rankings include such powerhouses as La. Tech (58), La. Monroe (30), and Kent State (22). Of course, the two best teams in the nation, Alabama and LSU are #1 and #2 in the defensive rankings. I have heard the argument that “if those teams had to play in the Big 12 with spread offenses they wouldn’t be any better.” Hmmm. Is that why Texas is #10 on the list? Apparently they play a little defense (but have no offense).

The problem is varied and I want to list a few of the possibilities here (briefly).

Continue reading The Sooner Defense is Broken

Complacency/Success. How do you question Stoops who has won Seven Big 12 titles and One National title? Sooner fans are you really that spoiled? I'm so tired of people saying Sooner fans are spoiled because we want more. What's wrong with wanting a defense like Bama or LSU? What is wrong with even "expecting" something better than what we have? After all, it wasn’t Sooner fans who started this year talking national title and a push for #8. It was Bob Stoops and Sooner players. We have become victims of our own success. The urgency to fix something is not there because we have already won more consistently over the past 11 years than anyone else in the Big 12. Bob has built up such a resume that he no longer can be questioned. It doesn’t seem that assistant coaches are held accountable for the repeated poor performance of their players.

Recruiting. We primarily recruit offensive players and then convert some of them to defense. Next year's recruiting class is a primary example with 10 of the 14 commits being on the offensive side of the ball. We recruit a ton of WRs and then when some of them don't pan out we make them DBs. How's that working out for us? One would think with Stoop's background in defense that he would be the first to realize that defense indeed does win championships. Maybe we need to consider offering scholarships to guys who can actually “cover” someone.

Players. This relates to the recruiting issue but one has to ask the question if these guys have been oversold or overvalued? Several of them “appear” to be legitimate talents. But several seem to be victimized repeatedly which makes one wonder about their talent or their ability to understand their assignments. Ultimately they are the ones responsible but I tend to place less blame here than some.

Coaching. Bob started off as a DB coach and uhh this seems to be the biggest weakness. Is it his fault? Sometimes our biggest strength can become our biggest weakness. Is it Martinez, the DB coach? His background is in the SEC at Georgia. His resume sounds good but who knows? Is it Brent Venables? There is no doubt about his passion but what about the defensive schemes? I have heard it suggested that we rely so much on our DBs for run support that they lose focus on their primary task, covering receivers. Is the problem partially in our front seven for not being able to stop the run without help from the secondary? Some have suggested that our schemes are just too complicated. At some point someone has to say “this just isn’t working.”

Will there be coaching changes? Doubtful. Stoops has no history of firing assistants. The only way change will happen is if Joe Castiglione or David Boren get involved. The only way that happens is if we have 2 or 3 bad seasons in a row. The program is making too much money to worry too much at this point.

What’s the answer? It seems that Sooner fans will have to just accept something less than national titles. Barring a magical season like 2000 it doesn’t seem that the Sooners are really at the level of competing for national titles.

Why? Because the defense is broke and no one wants to admit it.