Penalties a big problem for Sooners heading into Red River Showdown
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma’s strong start might look even better if the Sooners weren’t among the nation’s most flagged teams.
The Sooners committed 12 penalties for 134 yards Saturday against West Virginia, the second-highest penalty yardage total in the 17-year Bob Stoops era.
"I’m still really, really angry at our team, disappointed on our lack of discipline," Stoops said Monday. "We’ve got way too many foolish penalties that will hurt us."
Stoops didn’t blame the officiating.
"From what I understand, we earned them," he said after Saturday’s game.
It wasn’t a one-week problem. Oklahoma ranks third nationally in penalty yards per game (94) and sixth in penalties per contest (9.5). The Sooners had the fourth-most penalty yards in the nation last weekend.
With an emotional matchup against Texas coming up, the 10th-ranked Sooners want to focus on smarter play. Stoops said he can talk about it all he wants, but it’s up to the players to decide how they will play.
"I’m not playing," he said. "I’m not the one out there making those penalties. They know what’s right and wrong, and if they choose to do it wrong, that’s on them. It’s bad football."
Among the miscues against West Virginia were three personal fouls and two unsportsmanlike conduct calls. The Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) had discussed the potential for emotional outbursts against the Mountaineers in what has become an intense rivalry.
"We addressed it before the game," center Ty Darlington said. "Obviously, we knew coming into it, before pregame, everything — we know how they (West Virginia) are, and we knew they were going to come in looking for a fight."
The Sooners engaged far too often. On one of West Virginia’s drives, the Sooners committed four penalties for 45 yards, including a 15-yarder for a personal foul and another 15-yarder for illegal hands to the face. The Mountaineers eventually scored a touchdown to finish the seven-play, 86-yard march.
"There was a lot of trash talk going on from their side, but at the same time, that’s a part of the game," Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas said. "We’re not saying they were shooting at us or anything. It’s a heated environment. Every year, they give us a good game. We were just trying to come out and be the aggressor. It kind of backfired a little bit. We cleaned it up and fixed it in the end."
Texas (1-4, 0-2) is coming off a 50-7 loss to TCU and will take any edge it can get. The Sooners prefer not to give the struggling Longhorns a helping hand.
"More than anything, it’s their discipline, the players taking an attitude that they are going to do things the right way," Stoops said. "If I have one beef with our guys, it’s that. They have to have the mindset to do things right and have discipline in it, and hopefully they will."