Ask any football coach what areas they want to see improvement, what issues they worked on during a week of nothing but practice, and a stock answer can be expected.
So what about Oklahoma?
The Sooners come out of their second open date 2-2 on the season, but are stepping out of a huge win — four overtimes — against rival Texas.
OU has been great in the first quarter of games (they’re outscoring the opposition 58-3), but downright awful in the fourth quarter (they’re being outscored 45-17).
Heading into this week’s game at TCU, the OU run game is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry (that would be the lowest since 2010) and the passing game needs polish (six interceptions, nearly a dozen drops). The run defense has been solid (except for when the quarterback takes off) and the pass defense has been a disaster (opponents are averaging almost 14 yards per catch). And special teams have resulted in catastrophic plays that eventually lost two games.
So what did OU spend the most time on during the open date?
“Yeah, it honestly probably is close to the stock answer,” Lincoln Riley said Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “I mean, I think, gosh, there’s so much. There’s so much we’re doing well and I’m excited about, but so much we have to clean up.
“I think just looking for more consistent football across the board, all three sides. We’ve had kind of moments of brilliance and moments of not brilliance. I think if you’re gonna be a really, really good football team, this is kind of the time — it set up for us — this is the time we should really have a lot of growth. We’ve gone through some ups and downs as a team, you know, we’re coming off a big win, hopefully (have) a chance to get some guys back here in the next few weeks, a chance for players to really improve. So this is the time we should improve.
“That’s what we told our team. I mean, this is laid out for us to really, really go play a higher quality of football and play closer to what we believe our potential is. But we’ve got to go do it. We had a very productive bye week. Guys did a good job handling it. And we need to do it again here this week and be ready to go.”
Asked what teaching moments he could point back to in the first four games during last week’s open date, Riley reiterated the breadth of the team’s issues are “Oh, so many.
“I mean, there is. Just some of the critical plays that we haven’t made. Obviously want to be able to play more consistent across the board. Want to be able to finish games when we do play well enough to get leads against good opponents.
“But also, a lot of exciting things from those first four games that we certainly feel like we can build on.”
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