By John Shinn
NORMAN — If you coach or play at Oklahoma, you’re afforded a certain bubble. It’s an area where you can ignore out what’s being written and said about the program.
Sooner offensive coordinator Josh Heupel doesn’t venture outside of it very much, but he does understand why his seat is getting hotter.
The offense doesn’t seem to be progressing and neither does the quarterback position. At least, that was the case in last Thursday’s 41-12 loss to Baylor.
“Everybody in this program is disappointed when you don’t go out and perform the way you are capable of,” Heupel said Tuesday night. “Obviously last week is a big game and you want to perform well. For us, at the end of the day, it’s disappointing. It hurts. You come back to work on Monday and it’s a new week. We are only as good as our next performance. That’s how we live every week.”
But what exactly are the Sooners working on?
The offensive problems against Baylor were not specific to that game. The Sooners have scored just 13 offensive touchdowns in six Big 12 Conference games and been held to two or less in four of the six.
Heupel harped on the inconsistency of the unit Tuesday. For the most part, OU’s been able to run the ball well. It’s enters Saturday’s home finale against Iowa State averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
But throwing the ball has been a mixed bag that yielded few positives last week against the Bears. Quarterback Blake Bell was just 15 of 35 last Thursday and has only completed 60.4 percent of his passes this season. The Sooners are only averaging 7.06 yards on Bell’s passing attempts.
Many are wondering if the time has arrived to make some serious changes to the offense in terms of the quarterback and play caller.
OU coach Bob Stoops said Monday those wouldn’t change. But the offense has to get better over the last final three regular-season games to quiet the calls for an offensive redesign.
“I don’t listen to anything, don’t read anything. It’s just part of the game,” Bell said. “Obviously it’s disappointing we lost, but we’re moving on to Iowa State. We’ve just gotta move on.”
Above all else, the Sooners have to become a better offense. But how that happens turned up no definitive answers Tuesday night.
Heupel and Bell both harped on the same thing — consistency. The offensive coordinator held his index finger and thumb about an inch apart when asked how far the Sooners were off.
“When I say it’s not far off, that’s what you’re play for every day,” he said. “It’s hard to get 11 guys playing at high level, consistently, throughout an entire ballgame. Obviously we didn’t do it last week.”
Perhaps that will be the case Saturday. But the Sooners are nine games into the season. Teams don’t typically change their stripes in the middle of November.
Bell was only thinking about the future and Iowa State Tuesday night and finding the consistency OU hasn’t been able to corral.
“It’s obviously frustrating but we’re working each and every day. Baylor is in the past,” he said. “Now it’s working to Iowa State.”