Sooners lack big plays, third-down defense in loss to Longhorns

Posted Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Bob Stoops gave a simple explanation Saturday for his Sooners’ 36-20 loss to Texas at the Cotton Bowl: The Longhorns made the big plays, and Oklahoma didn’t.

“Those are always difference-makers in this game,” the Sooners’ coach said. “And they were a big part of the game again today. They made a couple big pass plays. We didn’t have hardly any big plays that way, offensively. I think in each part of the game, they outplayed us.”

Case McCoy tossed two long touchdown passes, 59 yards to Marcus Johnson in the first quarter and 38 yards to Mike Davis late in the third quarter. And the Longhorns (4-2 overall, 3-0 Big 12) got an early boost when defensive tackle Chris Whaley returned a Blake Bell interception 31 yards for a score.

Oklahoma’s longest play was a 47-yard pass from Bell to Lacoltan Bester in the fourth quarter. That sparked a drive for the Sooners (5-1, 2-1) to the Texas 8-yard-line before Bell eventually was sacked on fourth down.

The Longhorns also found success on the third downs, converting 13 of 20, including six on passes by McCoy.

“Definitely they executed better than we were able to blitz and cover,” Stoops said. “They found their way open, and that was a big part of their first-half third downs, where we have been, through five games, really, really good.”

2 INTs for Bell

Blake Bell entered Saturday having thrown 120 passes without an interception. He also had completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 835 yards and six touchdowns.

Texas’ defense presented a turn of events for the junior.

Bell threw two interceptions — both of which led to touchdowns — and was an inefficient 12 of 26 passing for 133 yards.

“You can’t turn the ball over like I did on those two, whether that is me, the receiver or the protection, but overall I have to sit in there and not turn the ball over,” he said.

The Longhorns pressured Bell, sacking him four times.

“He needs support,” Bob Stoops said. “I thought there were some areas where our protection broke down. Give them credit. They beat us in protections, they covered us. Blake needs to keep making improvement, but he needs, like all quarterbacks do, some support around him, too.”

Outplayed up front

Texas rushed for 266 yards, many of which came between the tackles, where the Sooners were without linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, both starters out with injuries.

“They did a good job in [the middle],” Bob Stoops said. “Those guys weren’t able to play — Corey [Nelson] won’t be playing the rest of the year, so we have to try and find ways to absorb it. It doesn’t make it easy — I’m not making an excuse about it. When they’re able to do that, it allows for some more manageable third downs as opposed to more predictable, longer-yardage sort of packages.”

Chuka Ndulue stepped up in Phillips’ absence on the defensive line, with a career-high 15 tackles. But Texas backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown snaked their ways through the Sooners’ defense for 123 and 120 yards, respectively.

“We just needed to be more physical at the line of scrimmage,” Ndulue said. “We didn’t do that. We got driven back.”

Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST

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