By John Shinn
NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and his brother, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, share many traits. One characteristic that separates them is span of memory.
Ask the head coach about what happened last season or seven days and it’s a distant memory. He only worries about the future.
Mike Stoops is different. He has an elephant-like memory for anything in the past that might motivate his players. The embarrassment from giving up 778 yards in last week’s 50-49 victory over West Virginia is a strong topic.
Another one he’s harping on was something he didn’t even see in person — last season’s 44-10 loss to Oklahoma State
“Our pride is hurt. Our guys are very prideful. We’re embarrassed by what happened,” Mike Stoops said. “We’ll see what we can do about Saturday.”
Above all else, it was the Sooners’ dignity that got rubbed into the turf the last time the Bedlam rivals met. That 34-point loss that turned into a mob scene at Boone Pickens Stadium had a lot of time to sink in.
“You never see yourself getting embarrassed on national television,” OU wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “But they were a great team but it wasn’t something that I felt like was a fluke or anything like that.”
The 14th-ranked Sooners (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) have shown every measure of respect they can possibly give the 22nd-ranked Cowboys (7-3, 5-2) since that loss. Stills’ sentiment that OU had to accept last year’s Bedlam shellacking like men has been universally accepted.
If anything, it has heightened a rivalry that’s been very one-sided for decades.
“That was a massacre. That wasn’t even a loss. We’ve gotta play so much better defense, especially from last week to last year,” defensive tackle Casey Walker said. “The defense has to improve tremendously.”
However, the respectful tones will end when the teams meet at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Owen Field. This is a game OU has been looking forward to for quite a while. Those who were critical cogs for the Sooners last season probably started thinking about it as they left Stillwater.
“It’s still a sour taste in our mouth, the way we went down there and laid an egg last year,” defensive end David King said. “A lot of guys on this defense were a part of that. We’re going to use that game last year as a motivator to come out. They came and put up 40-something points on us last year. That’s just not the way we want to play.”
Anyone else playing for the Sooners that doesn’t have that memory, has been getting non-stop history lessons from OU’s defensive coordinator. He believes a team is never more focused than when its pride is wounded.
“I think you can motivate a team by what you say and what you do and how you act,” Mike Stoops said. “This game is built on emotion and motivation … we say that wears off after a few plays but that’s not true. Your will to win, your determination to win is built as the week goes on. It certainly can be a factor in any game.”
If the Sooners lacked motivation last season, they won’t be the case on Saturday. Mike Stoops won’t let them forget.