Sloppy play knocks Oklahoma out of Top 25

BY foxsports • November 9, 2009

In crunch time, the Sooners (5-4, 3-2 Big 12) have developed bad habits that have led to narrow defeats this season.

"We have shown that we will spit the bit out in a close game. Matter of fact, I think BYU said we were, I think, a front-running team and I think that's the kind of style we've played offensively," Wilson said Sunday.

"We can play pretty well when it goes our way. When it gets going a little tough ... for the most part this year, we've not had composure, the poise, the execution level."

The Sooners' 10-3 loss at Nebraska on Saturday night knocked Oklahoma out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2005. It was also the first time since Bob Stoops took over as coach in 1999 that Oklahoma didn't score a touchdown.

Landry Jones, the redshirt freshman who has replaced injured Heisman Trophy-winner Sam Bradford, threw five interceptions and several other drives got bogged down by penalties. Tress Way also missed three field goals, continuing a trend of inconsistent kicking.

"We've had a similar script in the four scenarios that we have been on the wrong side offensively, and it's way too many negative plays," Wilson said. "The first thing an offense can do is beat itself and we have done things in four games that have cost us a chance to win all four games offensively."

Oklahoma's four losses have come by a total of 12 points, leaving Stoops disappointed that his team keeps making "foolish plays" that have kept them on the wrong side of tight games.

"We've got to look at our players and our ability to respond in a proper way and if guys aren't, then how do we handle that? That doesn't necessarily mean that you get rid of players, but we cannot allow for the same mistakes to continue to happen over and over," Wilson said.

"That's a product of coaching. If you keep making mistakes over and over, either we're doing the wrong things, we're doing it with the wrong people, we're putting players in positions that are haunting us that we have to evaluate."

Wilson's offense set an NCAA scoring record last season but has struggled this season after the loss of four starters on the offensive line and three senior wide receivers was complicated by injuries to Bradford and star tight end Jermaine Gresham. Brody Eldridge, who was moved from tight end to guard to fill in after Brian Simmons injured his knee, left Saturday night's game with a shoulder injury.

Another guard, Tavaris Jeffries, was not with the team dealing with a family matter.

Coaches didn't have an update Sunday on Eldridge's status or that of defensive end Auston English, who also was hurt against Nebraska.

"I'd say that's my responsibility because we're responsible for the players. We're responsible to coach them and to get it corrected, and it's apparent that that has not happened because we are continuing to make the same mistakes," Wilson said.

"You're going to have glitches, you're going to have mistakes. But when you keep having the same blunders, you have to take a serious look at who and what you're doing: who you're doing it with and what you're doing."

The Sooners are averaging 78.6 yards on penalties, third in the nation. On Saturday, they drew critical flags on fourth down and a key personal foul penalty that allowed Nebraska to tack on a field goal in the third quarter.

"We have the talent to be a good team. It's just about being disciplined," defensive end Jeremy Beal said. "Not getting the 15-yard penalty. Stuff like that. We don't get those and I think we're in good shape."