Sooners seek redemption after Texas loss Print
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Sunday, 12 October 2008 22:31
NCAAF Headline News

 DALLAS (AP) -Oklahoma's season opened with the highest of hopes, and they were only amplified when the Sooners reached the No. 1 ranking a month into the season.
Crushing as it may seem to those in crimson and cream, a loss to Texas may not be the end of those preseason aspirations.
``It's always disappointing to invest so much and you end up losing. But in the end, I think everyone realizes, if you watch everyone else play, it isn't that easy to go undefeated at all,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. ``There's a ton of games left. There's half the season still left and a lot of good teams out there.
``We've got to be ready to play, to be at our best, but chances are everyone else could have the same thing happen to them. I don't need to refresh everyone's memory but, heck, the national champion a year ago had two losses and late in the year.''
4 after a 45-35 loss in one of the Red River Rivalry's most memorable games. Texas took over Oklahoma's old No. 1 ranking, and unbeaten Alabama and Penn State are the only other teams ahead of the Sooners.
``We know there's a lot of games to be played, a lot of games,'' linebacker Travis Lewis said. ``There's a lot of one-loss teams right now, and our goals are not thrown out by any chance, by any means. We have our heads up.
``We've got a good team coming into home next week in Kansas. That's a good redemption game.''
The Sooners have some issues to shore up before the 16th-ranked Jayhawks (5-1, 2-0) arrive next Saturday.
They're one of only four teams that have allowed two kickoff return touchdowns this season, and Stoops has indicated the problem is simply an unwillingness to tackle by some players on the coverage unit. Jordan Shipley's 96-yard return gave the Longhorns their first touchdown of the game, and their first big emotional play.
``We just all kind of stand there and stick our hand out, and he runs right through everyone,'' Stoops said in assessing the play.
There's also the matter of replacing Ryan Reynolds, the only experienced linebacker on the team. Stoops said the solution would involve moving either Lewis or Austin Box from the outside to the middle, but it would take a little more time to figure out which one.
ery to repair torn cartilage in his knee just before the season, and Lewis has since emerged as one of the team's defensive playmakers. He is tied for the team lead with 3 1/2 sacks, and he had a career-best 19 tackles against the Longhorns.
Stoops said the switch wouldn't be too daunting because the positions are quite similar, but Reynolds was also the leader of the unit as the only one who came into this season with starting experience.
After he left Saturday's game in the third quarter, Texas scored on four straight possessions to claim the lead.
``He makes a difference,'' Stoops said. ``These other guys will have to step it up and take more responsibility for it. We can't use it as an excuse.''
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said he considered the Sooners' inability to convert on late third downs to be more of a problem than the lack of a running game. Oklahoma ran for only 48 yards, but Sam Bradford's 387 yards passing and five touchdowns kept them in the game until a three-and-out midway through the fourth quarter.
``It'd have been neat if we could have made that third down right there. It'd have been neat to see how that game would have went because there was still a lot of football left to be played,'' Wilson said.
``Not that we would have won. There was a couple big heavyweights going toe-to-toe exchanging punches. They got a couple punches in and we couldn't answer.''
The Sooners' chance to respond will come in the next few weeks. Kansas provides Oklahoma a chance to bounce back, and the season ends with a flourish as No. 7 Texas Tech comes to Norman on Nov. 22 and the Sooners travel to eighth-ranked Oklahoma State the following week.
``We lost to Texas. That's a rival game that's big for us, and the winner of OU-Texas normally determines who wins the South in the Big 12. But we lost two years ago and we still went to the Big 12 championship,'' defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. ``It's a long season, and we'll be OK.''
 

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