MOORE — American Staff
After two games, Oklahoma has done what it had to do. Saturday night’s 69-13 victory over Florida A&M lifted it to 2-0. It even got its starters a fourth quarter off and emerged from the first two games in good health.
But the bar was set low for the Sooners’ first two outings. After all, the Rattlers — an FCS team — and UTEP, which OU topped 24-7 on Sept. 1, are a combined 0-4 through two weeks.
It’s going to get a lot tougher.
No. 15 Kansas State, which pummeled Miami (Fla.) 52-13 on Saturday, is next on No. 5 OU’s agenda. There will be an obvious elevation in talent when the Wildcats arrive at Owen Field on Sept. 22.
Have the Sooners made the kind of strides they needed to make in the first two games? In some ways, yes. In others, no.
The positive for the Sooners on Saturday night was that the offense was much more explosive. Six of their 10 touchdowns came on plays of 10 yards or more and they averaged over 9 yards per play in piling up 662 yards of total offense.
“The whole week we had been saying we need to light it up,” OU center Gabe Ikard said. “That was our little slogan we had going. We said we were going to light the scoreboard up and put points on the board for our defense since we kind of disappointed them last week and it was just we need to be more crisp, more clean. Get into a better flow of the game.”
It did, scoring touchdowns on eight straight possessions from early in the second quarter until early in the fourth quarter. But that came after a five possession span to start the game where OU scored a pair of touchdowns, but also punted twice and had committed its first two turnovers of the season.
“I thought we played well in the second half. I wasn’t happy with our execution the first half, run game and pass game,” offensive coordinate Josh Heupel said. “Certainly, in the second half our guys did a much better job. Handled the looks and the pressures that they received.”
Execution was OU’s “buzz” word the first two games. Simply coasting by on athletic ability isn’t going to do much to prepare them for what’s ahead.
OU coach Bob Stoops was more interested in the eight penalties for 80 yards and the first two turnovers of the season on Saturday, than winning by 56 points.
“I’m disappointed in a couple really bad penalties,” he said. “One killed the drive. Similar to a week ago, we’re getting down in scoring position and we have a penalty that we need not have that destroys the drive. The other one could have. A couple turnovers, again we’ve got to correct that and take better care of the football.”
OU now has two weeks to do those things. The first two games allowed it to ease into the season. The time to hit full stride has arrived.
After watching the Wildcats beat up on the Hurricanes on Saturday, it wasn’t hard to get the Sooners’ attention.
“We know what kind of issues they present, so we are through these two games and where we want to be and are really excited to get into conference play next week,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
The Sooners are 2-0. On paper, everything is going according to plan. But the soft start is over. The meat of the season has arrived.