|No answers for No. 3 Sooners' road woes|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 09 September 2008 10:12|
As his third-ranked Sooners (2-0) prepare to travel away from Owen Field this week, he can only hope that the troubles that led to two road losses and one neutral-site blowout last year won't board the team plane to Washington.
Stoops said Tuesday that he had he quizzed his team to see if they could provide any reasons that led to the Sooners' upset losses at Colorado and at Texas Tech and unexpected struggles in a visit to Iowa State last season.
``There isn't any one idea,'' said the Oklahoma head coach, who turned 48 on Tuesday. ``In the end, you can't turn the football over, and why do you turn it over? I can't answer that. Is it focus? Is it being careless with the ball? I don't know. You have more breakdowns mentally; what's the reason? You practice the same way.
Of late, the Sooners have been much, much stronger at home. They carry a 20-game home winning streak that's the longest in the nation, but are 12-9 away from Owen Field in that span - including three straight BCS bowl losses and two Red River Rivalry defeats at the hands of Texas.
It's those road slip-ups that have kept Oklahoma from getting back to the pinnacle of college football.
``To have a great year, you've got to be able to go on the road and win,'' Stoops said.
The problems in last year's losses were varied. At Colorado, Reggie Smith's muffed punt in the fourth quarter allowed the Buffaloes to rally late. At Texas Tech, the defense bent too much to give the offense a chance to come back after quarterback Sam Bradford's first-quarter concussion. In the Fiesta Bowl, the breakdowns were widespread in a 48-28 loss to West Virginia.
``All of those games are different, but there are some factors that we need to learn from,'' offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. ``History is nice if you can learn from it, and hopefully we can. But we're not going to try to make it too big a deal other than if we're going to be a championship-caliber team, we need to be strong enough to win on the road.
``This will be great challenge. It's going to be long travel, time zone change, hostile crowd, and so it's going to be a great opportunity.''
problems for Oklahoma in its first year in a no-huddle system, although the Sooners are doing all they can to prevent that. They're piping in noise and having offensive players whisper in practice to get them used to straining to hear each other.
Wilson said it should also help that many of the Sooners' signals come from the sidelines, and Bradford will be mainly responsible for making sure offensive linemen are informed of any adjustments.
``You're not in a huddle but you still have to communicate to everyone what the play is and what's going on and what we're trying to do. I think it will be harder,'' Bradford said. ``I may have to work myself more tackle to tackle and get out and make sure everyone's hearing me and make sure everyone knows what's going on and we're all on the same page.''
Other than the practical solutions of dealing with noise and travel, the Sooners aren't sure what they need to fix to avoid last year's fate.
``I don't really know. I don't think anybody knows,'' receiver Juaquin Iglesias said. ``It's just one of those things that just kind of happened. I don't know how it happened. I think that's just one of those things about being mature and trying to focus.''
One thing is for sure, though: After what their last true road game cost the Sooners last season - a likely berth in the BCS title game - this trip definitely has their attention.
the year because this sets the tone for our future road games and sets the tone for our team,'' outside linebacker Travis Lewis said. ``It's easy playing in front of 85,000 that love you, but what about the 80,000 that hate you?''