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Dennis Dodd: The return of Big Game Bob

Discussion in 'Sooner Football' started by milesl, Sep 13, 2015.

  1. milesl

    milesl Member


    The return of Big Game Bob: Oklahoma finds a QB and a future


    Dennis Dodd

    September 12, 2015 11:41 pm ET

    Bob Stoops had seen better days. His offense had seen long fields all night. Don't even ask about the quarterback.

    Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield hadn't seen much of anyone open Saturday at Tennessee. If he did, the former walk-on was either overthrowing and/or underachieving.

    For large swaths of what was developing into the Neyland Nightmare for the Sooners, there were questions about the coach's future, the offense's production and the quarterback's judgment.

    There isn't an exact reason why Oklahoma made the biggest comeback in Neyland Stadium history -- just that when it happened, it restored faith in a program previously in a tailspin headed to historic lows.

    "Of all our wins," Stoops said after a 31-24 double-overtime win over Tennessee, "this may have been my favorite."

    That was saying a visor-full for the winningest coach in program history. This is the man who coached Adrian Peterson and a lineage of Heisman-worthy quarterbacks.

    This is also the coach whose national championship trophy from 2000 was getting rusty. To some.

    But ultimately, this is the coach who is now 6-4 against the SEC.

    How's that for blowing gas up your … backside?

    Now history may record the win as the moment the Sooners found a quarterback, a future and the return of … old what's his name? … Big Game Bob.

    The Sooners may not be back, but they are now a factor. You must admit that now. The defense dug in after falling behind 17-0. The entire team had inexplicable late life, but life just the same. The offense didn't really wake up until the fourth quarter.

    Mayfield started 10 of 27 with two interceptions. In the final nine minutes of regulation and overtime, he completed 9-of-12 passes for 92 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for another.

    Tennessee just wilted slowly before our eyes. Mayfield and the Sooners grew up at the same pace. More than half of their yards (195 of 348) came after the midway point of the fourth quarter.

    OU scored twice in the final 8:20 to tie it, the last time with 43 seconds left. Mayfield, with two defenders closing in, deftly lifted a pass over a third defender into the hands of Sterling Shepard.

    With the quarterback, the game and that future on the line, Mayfield dived in on fourth down in overtime to tie it 24-24. The game-winner came on the next possession when Shepard tight-roped down the right side with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield.

    No assurances for how long on any of this high lasts, but the alternative for the previously slumping Sooners wasn't acceptable.

    Even before OU had fallen behind 17-0 in bloodthirsty Neyland, there were questions about Stoops. Not about his job security so much as about his job effectiveness.

    Oklahoma was coming off a season (8-5) that tied for the worst record of the Stoops era. A team with two talented tailbacks brought in a new offensive coordinator (Lincoln Riley), who specialized in the pass.

    Riley then found himself teaching Mayfield, a former Texas Tech walk-on who went from starter to not being offered a scholarship. The first time Stoops knew Mayfield was officially on campus was when the kid showed up at an offseason meeting.

    Suddenly, somewhere, a light went on in the fourth quarter. When Zack Sanchez intercepted Tennessee's Josh Dobbs in the second overtime, the angst -- for now -- was over.

    It was vintage for both Oklahoma and Tennessee. Stoops got his big-game reputation for rising to the top at the most important time. Three of those six SEC wins have come against Alabama (3-0!). He's beaten Tennessee twice in a row.

    Meanwhile, the Vols are now 2-30 against ranked teams since Phil Fulmer left in 2009.

    An OU loss would have been its third in its last four games. The last time that happened was in Year 1 of Stoops (1999). Some of it had come to be expected. The last time the Sooners had been held without a touchdown was only two games ago in a humiliating loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

    An image Oklahoma had spent the better part of a decade and a half being crafted was unraveling.

    On a scale of early-season troubles, Oklahoma's hardly rates a blip. Notre Dame lost its quarterback. Auburn's Jeremy Johnson has lost his aim.

    Holy Toledo, Arkansas.

    While Tennessee played without linebacker Curt Maggitt (hip) for a long period, Oklahoma was playing without much urgency.

    The Sooners' wake-up call came from somewhere down under for a program that has won eight Big 12 titles under Stoops. The points came in bunches in the fourth quarter and overtime.

    Faith was restored. A smile crossed a previously troubled face. For one game, at least, Big Game Bob was back.

    "In my 15 years," Stoops said, "I have never been part of a comeback like this."
  2. winout

    winout New Member

    For a HC it really comes down to getting good coordinators. I don't see how I would hire a OC or DC without any experience at the D1 level.

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