First loss reveals concerns for No. 4 Sooners Print
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Tuesday, 14 October 2008 11:24
NCAAF Headline News

 NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops faced questions on everything from an absent running game to shredded defense to kickoff coverage Tuesday as the fourth-ranked Sooners sought answers for what went wrong in their first loss of the season.
The targets were many during Stoops' longest news conference of the season, which contained a complete assessment of the breakdowns in a 45-35 loss to Texas that dropped the Sooners (5-1, 1-1 Big 12) three spots in the Top 25.
One by one, Stoops addressed the issues in a marathon question-and-answer session that spanned 40 minutes - about one-third longer than his session a week earlier that previewed one of college football's games of the year.
, 2-0).
Win or lose, Stoops has been an expert at keeping the Sooners focused after the high-stakes Red River Rivalry. He's 9-0 the week after the Texas game.
``The end-all isn't with that game. We've got a long year, and you've got to work your way through it,'' Stoops said.
Tailback Chris Brown said the Sooners endured a dead-quiet bus ride back from Dallas on Saturday night, soaking in their first loss before moving on to address some of the areas of concern Stoops was asked about on Tuesday.
The coach conceded Oklahoma needs to establish a better run game after managing only 48 yards rushing against the Longhorns, but noted it's hard to be too critical when Sam Bradford spent most of the game picking apart the defense for 387 yards passing and five touchdowns.
He said no decision had been made on whether Austin Box would take over at middle linebacker for the injured Ryan Reynolds (knee), or if Travis Lewis would move inside and Box would take his place at outside linebacker. He bristled at the notion that coaches didn't go with their best backup option on Saturday, when Brandon Crow replaced Reynolds because he'd practiced the most and best at the position heading into the game.
lot of them.''
Stoops also announced that he's making four personnel changes in hopes of shoring up one of only four kickoff coverage units in the nation to give up two touchdowns this season. The Sooners didn't allow any touchdowns last season despite leading the nation with 104 kickoffs.
``What are we doing differently? Nothing,'' Stoops said. ``It's people.''
Oklahoma knows nothing is lost at this point, except the chance for an undefeated season. Only two years ago, the Sooners lost to Texas in Dallas and were still able to win out and claim their first of back-to-back Big 12 championships.
It would take some help for that to happen again, but Texas faces No. 11 Missouri, No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Texas Tech the next three weeks.
``We're not too far off from our goals. We still can conquer our goals that we set out for. That's what we're trying to do,'' Brown said. ``We're just moving on. It's in the past, so we're just putting it behind us.''
This week is all about rebounding. The Sooners bounced back from their two regular-season losses last year to win rivalry games against Texas and Oklahoma State the following week, so it's not an entirely new proposition.
understands what we need to do to get to where we want to be at the end of the season,'' defensive captain Nic Harris said. ``And hopefully that'll be Miami.''
To get there - where the national championship game will be played - will take improvement in the many areas Stoops addressed on Tuesday, and their first loss might provide just the kind of attitude adjustment the Sooners needed.
``Especially when you're put up on a pedestal and you're No. 1, it's hard to lose,'' Brown said. ``It brings you down back to earth. That's where we're at now.''
 

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