Column: The sky is not falling on Oklahoma Sooners football


Stop it. Stop it right now.

Almost 24 hours have passed since Oklahoma State upset the Sooners in Norman and I can’t help but be astounded at the amount of moping on the OU side of social media.

Before I get started, allow me to preface by saying fans have a legitimate reason to be upset. It’s never easy to swallow a rivalry loss, much less one at home in overtime.

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Play-calling on both sides of the ball has left something to be desired. The kicking game fell off. Injuries piled up as the weeks passed.

January’s Sugar Bowl gave Sooner fans a renewed excitement not seen since 2008. Sporting a cool No. 4 ranking in August, Oklahoma-faithful expected a berth in the College Football Playoff. Four losses later, some are calling for the heads of just about everyone on the home sideline in Norman.

It’s no secret this season was a disappointment. That said, there isn’t a problem with Oklahoma football.

The Sooners were eight points away from 11-1. Eight.

At TCU, sophomore Trevor Knight faced his first true road test against a Horned Frogs team that, until this morning, was a serious contender for a berth in the playoff. If not for a few mistakes (namely a 29 yard interception returned for a TCU score), OU probably would have won that game.

The only reason Oklahoma fell to Kansas State was a pair of missed field goals and a PAT that sailed wide.

OU dropped Bedlam because of a poor coaching decision with under a minute and a half to go.

Yes, all of these games are someone’s fault, but it’s not the same someone. Coaching was not consistently a problem. Quarterback play was spotty because of injuries. Granted, Michael Hunnicutt missed kicks this year but he didn’t lose four games singlehandedly.

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has taken as much heat as anyone in the country this year for his play-calling. Admittedly, Oklahoma found its offensive identity in the run early in the season, but no one told Heupel. However, in OU’s last two games against Kansas and OSU, the offensive scheme much better suited the personnel on the field. With freshman Cody Thomas at the helm, Heupel shied away from his typical pass heavy offense. Stud frosh Samaje Perine received 60 carries for 578 yards and seven touchdowns.

When Heupel elected to throw the ball, the routes on the field played to the Sooners’ strengths. In Bedlam, we saw a lot of swing passes to the running back or seams to the tight end.

That’s offensive evolution, people. Heupel adapted to the personnel left on field and hasn’t received credit.

Furthermore, even if one refuses to recognize the improvement upstairs, most of the Sooner sideline was on crutches by the time the final whistle blew against OSU. It’s hard to win when your top passer, running back and wide receiver aren’t on the field.

Yes, Baylor curb-stomped OU in Norman, improving to 3-1 in the last four meetings with the Sooners. Yes, Mike Stoops’ defense was shaky at times. I recognize these are issues that need to be fixed, but…

There are always issues that need to be fixed. That’s why we have an off-season. That’s why it’s important to recruit well, something Oklahoma has been doing this calendar year.

It’s O.K. to have a down year. Fans are growing restless because they crave titles. Admittedly, the program is long-overdue for a conference championship.

However, claiming OU had a down year because of internal issues without recognizing the increase in the level of competition across the conference is insulting to the rest of the Big 12. There is not a fundamental problem with Sooners football.

Trevone Boykin and Bryce Petty are excellent quarterbacks. Mason Rudolph is probably the future of Cowboys football. Kansas State will (seemingly) always have the Purple Wizard.

The Big 12 has a lot to be excited about. That doesn’t stop with OU.

Amidst all the doom and gloom around Norman, no one is talking about the upcoming quarterback derby between Knight and Baker Mayfield. Samaje Perine is just a freshman and should be a Heisman-contender at least once. The 2015 recruiting class is beginning to take shape. Frank Shannon could see Owen Field next year. If we’re lucky, Dorial Green-Beckham might suit up in crimson and cream next to Sterling Shepard, as well.

This isn’t sunshine-pumping. These are facts and reasons to be excited. I know losing Bedlam hurts. An 8-4 record looks ugly. The sky is not falling in Norman, however.

Stop moping, Sooner Nation.