Oklahoma’s 33-23 loss to Houston on Saturday was a direct result of two factors. First, the Cougars were a better team that day and we don’t want to take away from that at all. Houston was #15 going in and #6 coming out. Reason why? They’re just dang good!
The second factor was Oklahoma’s mental mistakes. When you’re playing a Top 15 program on the road and you make the mental mistakes the Sooners made you’re going to walk off the field a loser. That statement pretty much sums up Bob Stoops press conference on Monday.
“Anytime you’re away from home and playing a good football team and give up a return for a touchdown and two fumbles, you’re on the short end of turnover ratio and you’re going to be on the wrong side of it and course that’s how it was,” Stoops said to the media.
Lack of focus was an issue in all aspects of the game for the Sooners. Defensive penalties led to Houston’s momentum swinging field goal just before the half and OU never regained the lead. “Through the first half we were really in a good football game,” Stoops continued, “but I really felt we lost some momentum with that last field goal at the end of the half. Another situation where we’re out of it, but we roughed the passer, so made a critical mistake that ends up leading to three points, and that kind of started it.”
It was also a lapse in focus led to a poorly kicked ball on the field goal attempt that was returned for a touchdown. “Our kicker got anxious, started to kick too soon, had to stop momentum and was not able to complete the kick like he normally does.”
It wasn’t just offense and defense that were at fault though. With the offensive struggles Stoops said that it was a matter of Baker Mayfield not focusing on the targets underneath while trying to get the ball vertical. “Yes. I think at times Baker held on, instead of taking what was open and what was there on his first read, he was waiting for something different, something that takes a little bit longer to progress, and that’s not how the offense operates. We had guys in certain spots that would’ve been easier throws and would’ve helped us.”
Oklahoma is about to run the gauntlet of Ohio State, TCU, and Texas. They will all be ranked and will mean that the Sooners will have opened the season playing ranked opponents in four of the first five games of the season.
Three of those four games are played away from Norman as well. If the Sooners come through the next four games with a 4-1 record they’ll be back in the thick of the playoff hunt. They’ve got the talent to make it happen as well. They just need the focus.