Oops! Oklahoma WRs finding passes hard to handle
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)Cameron Kenney earned himself a spot on the bench for No. 20 Oklahoma with a series of dropped passes.
Brandon Caleb, DeMarco Murray and DeJuan Miller were guilty, too. By the time offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was done counting up the number of drops, he had reached double digits.
"We had enough drops the other day if we benched everybody for drops, we'd be playing with six or seven players," Wilson said.
Blame it on a lack of rapport with Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, who returned after missing a month with a sprained joint in his right shoulder. Blame it on the inexperience of an Oklahoma receiving corps that was without its top four pass-catchers from last season. Or blame it on a simple lack of concentration.
Whatever the case, the Sooners (3-2, 1-0 Big 12) need to make it stop before Saturday's showdown with No. 3 Texas (5-0, 2-0) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
"We've just got to figure out a way to bring the balls in. I mean, nothing's going to be perfect," said Kenney, who had three passes bounce off his hands - as many as he caught. "We've just got to learn how to forget about it and figure out a way to snag 'em in and just hold onto them."
Adding to the frustration is that the drops are such a fundamental problem. The Sooners' receivers have caught hundreds of passes over the years in high school and practice, although most of them are finding themselves in the spotlight for the first time.
Oklahoma lost starting receivers Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson from last year's team, while tight end Jermaine Gresham and receiver Ryan Broyles have been out with injuries.
"It's like any young guy or guys that are fairly inexperienced that the more they're out there, the more sure of their self and the better they see things and handle things. I'm hoping that's what it is and in my gut that's what I believe it is because they're good receivers who can catch the ball," coach Bob Stoops said. "We just have to settle down and compete in the moment and relax in it to be effective."
Wilson said he counted 10 or 11 dropped passes as he was reviewing film of the 33-7 win against Baylor, out of Bradford's career-high 22 incomplete passes. Still, Bradford ended up with 389 yards passing.
"That is extremely high, and it is unusual to have that many drops and still have the numbers that we had passing and still keep drives alive," Wilson said. "In our reduction of negative plays, we feel that a drop is a wasted play. It's not that much different than a penalty.
"When you get a penalty, you get a down over. When you get a drop, it's no yards and a loss of downs."
Caleb, a junior, said he would chalk up the drops more to a failure to concentrate or eagerness to turn upfield before the ball arrives than he would to inexperience.
"There's going to be dropped balls," said Caleb, who set new career highs last week with seven catches and 139 yards receiving. "You just try not to look that play off and just go to the next one," Caleb said. "You try not to think about however many dropped balls you had or however many catches you had. You just go to the next play."