CNHI News Services
Bob Stoops tried to explain what happened late Saturday night and early Sunday morning at Sun Bowl Stadium.
He tried, and it all sounded pretty reasonable. He said the offense was “a little inconsistent,” at his weekly Monday press conference.
“What I mean by that is in the first quarter, we’re moving the ball some, we have a big strike inside the 5-yard … and we have a chop block and then all of a sudden we’re first-and-25 and can’t convert,” he said. “It’s really tough to convert a first-and-25.”
That was one miscue.
Then there was Trey Metoyer just out of bounds, costing the Sooners a touchdown. Then there was a post route for Justin Brown that quarterback Landry Jones, “unlike him,” Stoops said, threw behind and high.
He said the run game was all right, it averaged 5 yards a carry, but can be better. He did not say the Sooners got to that average solely on a late 65-yard run from Damien Williams.
He addressed Jones being sacked three times, saying a couple of them were on Landry, for holding the ball too long, because he had plenty of time, and a couple of times there were assignment issues that put the quarterback peril.
A receiver fell down when they thought they had the right play called. He fell down. What are you going to do?
Jones chimed in.
“We had a game plan and we just didn’t go out there and execute what we wanted to do,” he said. “We just kind of weren’t in sync.”
Only here’s the thing.
Neither one of them is telling us anything. They’re telling us what happened like we’re watching film with them. They’re not telling us why what happened happened.
See, guy falls down.
See, ball’s off target
See, flag brings it back.
See, he was supposed to do this and he did that instead.
At one point, I began to ask a question, only to have another question come in from a few feet away. While Stoops answered, I decided not to ask it.
This was it:
Is this a team you feel really good about that simply had some correctable execution issues or do you fear it’s a team that just can’t execute?
It’s good to give choices, but not more than two. Also, I realized it’s one of the questions that never gets answered.
It was the same way last season, after Texas Tech and Baylor. It always came down to these three plays or these five plays or these plays where a corner got turned around, a couple guys weren’t on the same page or a blocking assignment doesn’t reach everybody (which happened to be Stoops’ explanation of the blocked punt that led to UTEP’s only points).
What we never hear is that everybody has to play a lot better because they weren’t very good, period. We never hear that this has been an issue all the way back to last season, whatever it is, and something has to be done.
It’s only one game.
But already, the question is an old one.
Is this a good team if only it would play well, or is this not a very good team, and that’s why it doesn’t play well?
Through the preseason, it seemed pretty clear the Sooners were breathtakingly new and uncertain. Lots of guys with experience, but so many at new positions. Then came injuries to the offensive line. Then came turmoil along the defensive line.
Kenny Stills showed up.
The defense yielded no points.
Yet the Miners were close nearly the whole way and probably should have been ahead, even as they got nothing from their quarterback.
Explaining all the struggles, Stoops appeared to make a great deal of sense. It did, though, become hard to keep track of everything.
There was much to explain.