No. 14 Oklahoma looks to rebound vs. ULM after Houston loss

BY foxsports • September 9, 2016

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma has been against the ropes before.

Just last season, the Sooners unexpectedly lost to Texas, and Oklahoma was considered an afterthought in the national title race. Oklahoma rallied, won seven straight games and reached the College Football Playoff. The first game after the Texas loss was a 55-0 thumping of Kansas State, the first of four straight games in which the Sooners scored at least 50 points.

The Sooners opened this season with a 33-23 loss to Houston that dropped them from No. 3 to No. 14 in the AP poll . They believe they can regain their footing again, starting with Saturday's game against Louisiana-Monroe.

''I have all the confidence in the world,'' Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield said. ''Houston's a great ballclub. All the credit in the world to them for coming out and out-competing us on Saturday. We're a good team too.''

The Sooners need to get back on track quickly-- they host No. 4 Ohio State the following week in a make-or-break game. For now, Mayfield said the team simply wants to play better.

''It's about not focusing on the loss too much, learning from your mistakes and moving on,'' Mayfield said.

Here are some things to look for as Oklahoma tries to bounce back.


SOONER SECONDARY: Oklahoma's secondary got shredded by Houston's Greg Ward Jr ., especially in the first half, so the Sooners plan to do some experimenting at cornerback. Michiah Quick and P.J. Mbanasor are likely to get their fair share of action this week.

''I think it starts in practice and it starts with your attitude, effort and technique and how you prepare,'' Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. ''Every time you think you have all the answers, you're going to get slapped; it's the world we live in. Whether it's me or a player, if you get too full of yourself -- and you can be overly confident and not prepare the right way -- then you're gonna get humbled.''

JOE MIXON: The Oklahoma running back was a bright spot against Houston. He ran for a 32-yard touchdown against the Cougars and finished with 181 all-purpose yards. Starting running back Samaje Perine's shoulder was dinged up last week and, though coach Bob Stoops said Perine is fine, Mixon might get some extra work if the Sooners decide to play it safe with their workhorse.

GAME BREAKER: Mayfield was hesitant to throw at times last week , but he may have found someone he can trust in Mark Andrews . The 6-foot-5 tight end caught three passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns against Houston. Andrews has 22 career receptions, and nine have gone for scores. Wide receiver Dede Westbrook had eight catches for 70 yards last week. It may be worth watching to see if Mayfield looks for Andrews more often.

GARRETT SMITH: Louisiana-Monroe's quarterback passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 150 yards and another score in a season-opening win over Southern last week.

NEW LOOK: The Sooners will play in updated Memorial Stadium for the first time. The changes include a newly enclosed south end zone and an 8,500-square foot video board that the school says is the second- largest in college sports.


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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter (at)CliffBruntAP .