Oklahoma braces for TCU

Monday, September 22, 2008 | 10:19 p.m. CDT; updated 11:20 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 22, 2008
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says he will make sure his players understand that TCU, the Sooners next opponent, is a dangerous team.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops remembers exactly what it felt like to lose at home to TCU in 2005. By the end of the week, his players won't have any trouble with remembering that either.

"Are you kidding, of course!" Stoops said when asked if he was reminding his team of the Horned Frogs' victory. "They're 13-1 in the last 14 games played against BCS teams, and they're 5-1 against Big 12 teams. They're an excellent football team, ranked in the Top 25 and rightfully so."

The personnel of the two teams has changed a lot in the three years since TCU's win in Norman, Okla., most notably in the Sooners' backfield. In 2005, the Sooners had Adrian Peterson (now with the Minnesota Vikings) in their backfield, but an inexperienced quarterback in Paul Thompson, who was making his first career start.

The stalwarts of the 2008 Oklahoma backfield, quarterback Sam Bradford and running back DeMarco Murray, weren't on campus when the teams last met. They were high school seniors, Bradford in Oklahoma City and Murray in Las Vegas.

Despite that, Stoops said some things do not change between the opponents, no matter who wears the uniform.

"They have a great, great defense," Stoops said, "(TCU coach) Gary (Patterson)'s teams always play incredibly disciplined in how they play. You still see a lot of that for sure."

RUNNING IN PLACE: Under coach Mark Mangino, Kansas's running game has been one of its strongest assets. In 2006, Jon Cornish's 1,457 rushing yards led the Big 12. Last year, Brandon McAnderson led the Jayhawks with 1,125 yards, good for third in the Big 12.

But this season, Kansas' ground game has faltered, despite returning Jake Sharp, who had 821 rushing yards a year ago. The Jayhawks' top rusher is junior Angus Quigley with 214 yards in four games. Sharp checks in at third with 86.

"We're taking a hard look at it now," Mangino said. "It improved a little bit last week, it's gotten a little better, but it's not exactly where we want it to be. We need to clean up our fundamentals on the offensive line and finish blocks."

Mangino also stressed that the Jayhawks' running backs need to focus less on making a huge run and more on making a play that will extend their drive.

"Every time you get the ball, you're not necessarily looking for a big play, you're looking for a productive play," he said. "I think our running backs, to some degree, want to find a way where they can look for seam that's going to create a big run.

"That doesn't necessarily happen, because defenses are not going to give you a lot of creases. What they have, you have to take, rather than try to make a big play out of something that would be a five-yard pickup, which would be suffice."

SILENCE IS DEAFENING: Almost every coach, regardless of his record, hears negativity from his fans at some point in their careers. But according to Texas coach Mack Brown, those fans are probably just the loudest and not the majority.

"I think coaches are appreciated by so many people that are usually not as vocal," Brown said. "Vocal people are negative people, usually, they're the ones that want the guy fired. Coaches that I hear that get out of coaching say that ‘I don't know where all these people were when I was coaching, they were really quiet and now appreciate it so much.'"

Brown's comments concerned former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, who was inducted into the Texas A&M athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 19, but was fired in 2002, despite being the coach with the most wins in Aggies history.

"I thought he's been appreciated for many years because he was there for so long and accomplished so much," Brown said. "R.C.'s a true Aggie, he's like David McWilliams here. He's a great friend of mine and I'm very proud of him."

TAKING THE WEEK OFF: Half of the conference has already completed its nonconference schedule and will have a bye this week. That leaves a decision for the coaches on what to focus on with an extra week before playing a conference game. The happiest person to have the week off might be Iowa State coach Gene Chizik.

"Right now, I could probably stay on the phone for two hours and tell you what we need to get done," Chizik said. "We're not a very good football team right now. We've got to run the ball better at our tailback position. We've got to be more physical up front and get a tailback running game. I think right now, that's what's glaring that we don't have."

But the Cyclones' problems aren't limited to the offensive side of the ball.

"Defensively, we're feast or famine," Chizik said. "We're good sometimes, and other times, we're giving up too many big plays. I think we've got to work on consistency, and we're not consistent enough right now to win."

CAN WE RESCHEDULE?: Colorado coach Dan Hawkins wouldn't mind some extra time before facing Florida State's two quarterback system. The Seminoles have alternated between D'Vontrey Richardson and Christian Ponder for their first three games, and will likely do so again.

"We need a month, I'm going to call (Florida State coach) Bobby (Bowden) and see if we can reschedule," Hawkins said. "You'd love to have more time, but you don't, so it doesn't matter. We'll only get to play one of them, one or the other."

LONG MEMORY: Baylor coach Art Briles didn't want to risk being pranked again if he could avoid it. A caller with a fake affiliation asked an inappropriate question of the Bears' coach a week ago, and he hadn't forgotten.

"Hey, don't make them if they don't want to talk," Briles said when nobody was asking him questions. "We could get a prank call."


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David Knight September 23, 2008 | 10:41 a.m.

Ha ha ha. After the whipping that the Sooners will administer to TCU this Saturday, they will be remembering how they crushed Missouri not once, but twice last year! You do remember that, don't you?

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken September 23, 2008 | 11:10 a.m.

Sooner fans are truly insufferable. :P

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