|Oklahoma heads into offseason after yet another BCS setback|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 03 January 2008 14:11|
Now, after Boise State's wild comeback lingered for so long last year, the Sooners (11-3) head into this offseason carrying another difficult Fiesta Bowl defeat with them.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops considered his team's 48-28 loss to No. 11 West Virginia on Wednesday night ``absolutely embarrassing'' and called it ``very disappointing to finish the season this way, and after such a solid year to come out and play as we did.''
``They don't need to get it out of their minds too soon. They need to really look at what we need to do differently,'' Stoops said. ``Obviously, I need to do things differently as a head coach and the players, they need to have some discipline.''
Oklahoma yielded 349 yards rushing, its most since Stoops took over as coach nine seasons ago and the most ever by a Sooners team in a bowl game. Oklahoma also committed 13 penalties for 113 yards.
``No discipline whatsoever,'' Stoops said. ``That has to be a reflection on me. I am obviously not doing a good enough job of getting our players to understand how to play smart.''
The discipline problems showed up earlier in the week when starting defensive tackle Demarcus Granger was sent home after a shoplifting arrest. Oklahoma got off to a sluggish start, and then a failed onside kick attempt cut off any momentum the Sooners had after scoring nine straight points in the third quarter.
``It definitely drives us,'' receiver Juaquin Iglesias said. ``This is our fourth straight BCS loss. We've just got to push forward. We've just got to do something different, something different than what we're doing now.''
The Sooners have had slow starts on offense in their last five bowl games, including falling behind Boise State 14-0 last year and 20-6 to West Virginia this year. And the defense has given up 55, 43 and 48 points in its last three BCS bowl games.
That's not the kind of defense Oklahoma has become accustomed to under Stoops. The Sooners ranked ninth in the nation in scoring defense heading into the Fiesta Bowl, but had yielded more than their 18.2-point average by halftime.
West Virginia's first two possessions after halftime were three-and-outs, but the failed onside kick provided the Mountaineers with good field position to get their offense going.
``We just couldn't get anything going after that. You've got to take the cards which you're dealt. Even though we gave them a short field, with great defense you've got to stop them,'' Sooners linebacker Nic Harris said.
Harris said next season began Thursday, with Oklahoma heading back home. At least this year, they're less likely to endure seemingly endless replays like those that followed Boise State's trick-play trifecta that included a hook-and-lateral and a Statue of Liberty play for the win. The Broncos were rewarded by getting quarterback Jared Zabransky on the cover of a popular video game, and many Sooners ripped that cover off and replaced it with an Oklahoma-themed one.
West Virginia didn't need any gimmicks to beat the Sooners, getting big-play scores without resorting to gadgets.
``We've just got to go on to next season. This is going to stick with us throughout the next year. It's a hard loss to take,'' linebacker Curtis Lofton said.
It's even harder because of the potential the Sooners showed at points during the season. Even with a freshman at quarterback, the offense was off to a record-breaking start before a stunning loss at Colorado. And then the pieces seemed to be fitting back together before another setback at Texas Tech, in which quarterback Sam Bradford was injured.
Oklahoma rallied from that second loss to win its second straight Big 12 championship, knocking off top-ranked Missouri in the process to give Stoops reason to campaign for a spot in the BCS national championship game.
It couldn't have been more clear in the Fiesta Bowl that the Sooners weren't deserving.
``This year, it's been a roller-coaster for us. At times this season we were really good and we were on a high note, and we'd get beat and it would drop us right back down. It was like that the whole year,'' Lofton said.
``It's just kind of bad to end it on a low note.''