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Sooner Report: The Baylor Build-Up Begins
October 28, 2013

Sooners Climbing in BCS Rankings

The second BCS rankings of the season were announced Sunday night, and the Sooners vaulted into the top 10 after registering a 38-30 victory over Texas Tech. Oklahoma came in at No. 10 in the BCS Rankings after coming in at No. 15 in the initial standings. The Red Raiders were 7-0 and ranked No. 10 in the initial before suffering their first loss of the season at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Of course, the task doesn’t get any easier for the Sooners as they face another undefeated Big 12 opponent. Next up for Oklahoma is a trek to Waco, Texas, on Nov. 7 when they will face Baylor, who currently owns an 8-0 record and the No. 6 spot in the BCS Rankings.

Three Sooners are among four one-loss teams in the BCS Top 10, joining  Stanford (#5), Clemson (#8) and Missouri (#9).

Missing Millard

While there was plenty of elation in the Oklahoma locker room on Saturday night, that adulation was tempered in the training room after a steady stream of coaches and teammates came to wish offensive co-captain Trey Millard their best regards. Millard suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the victory against the Red Raiders, a game that unfortunately will mark the last one in an OU uniform for the senior from Columbia, Mo.

Much like fellow senior captain Corey Nelson, who suffered his own season-ending injury against TCU, Millard was spotted on the practice field on Monday, carrying on as a leader and boasting his typical infectious smile.

Although the versatility, consistency and productivity that Millard brought to the Sooners is difficult to measure, head coach Bob Stoops and Millard’s teammates did their best to quantify what “Fat Daddy” means to this squad.

“He’s such a strong and important part of team as a person, a leader and a player,” Stoops stated. “It’s going to be hard because also all of the things he does. He’s so versatile. It will be challenging working around all of the things he did.”

Stoops also said that it will be a challenge to replace Millard is special teams as well because he has been the “best special teams guy for three years.” Another area where Millard’s talents proved valuable was in the run game as he helped clear paths for the running backs, Stoops said.

Running back Brennan Clay explained that Millard was important to the team as an all-around player, including in blocking for him and other running backs. Clay also said it is “heartbreaking” to see the injury because Millard is a “humble, down-to-earth kid.”

Senior Gabe Ikard said the Sooners will rely on more than one player to help fill the void left by Millard’s injury.

“Obviously Trey is the best in the country for what he does and all the things that he can do, so we are just going to have to take the talents of a couple of guys and hopefully combine them into something close to what Trey is capable of,” Ikard said. “We will just see how that goes, but we will be ready to go. We have good players. There is not another Trey Millard out there, but we can take a couple of guys and make it work.”

Sooners Working on Modified Schedule

With no game this Saturday and a nationally-televised contest against Baylor on Thursday, Nov. 7, Coach Stoops and his staff are employed a modified schedule leading up to the contest in Waco, Texas. OU will hit the practice fields Monday through Wednesday. Then, Thursday and Friday, the players will attend classes but not practice like usual. Those two days, coaches will hit the recruiting trail with practice will resume Saturday as if it were a typical Monday practice schedule.

Baylor Coach Art Briles on Facing OU

Dating back to 1999, no Big 12 team owns more wins against another conference foe than Oklahoma against Baylor, with a 13-1 record. Overall, the Sooners are 22-1 against the Bears. Additionally, under Stoops, OU has posted a 5-0 record when facing AP Top 10 teams in back-to-back contests.

OU’s lone loss to Baylor came on Nov. 19, 2011, as eventual Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III led the Bears to a 45-38 upset in Waco.

During Monday morning’s Big 12 conference call, Baylor head coach Art Briles talked about the program’s first victory over the Sooners in 2011 and his defense this season.

Briles said that Baylor does not talk about “signature wins” simply because he believes every time the team is fortunate enough to get a victory, he considers that a signature win. But he did admit the last game in Waco against OU was valuable for the team.

“That was certainly a huge win a couple of years ago because we were fighting to be bowl eligible and it helped us there, gave us a lot of momentum to finish out that season,” Briles shared. “From that standpoint it was a big, big win in 2011.”

No doubt, current members of the Oklahoma squad who were on the field for the Sooners’ only loss to the Bears will seek a much different outcome in 2013.

Passing Games of OU and Baylor

One of the nation’s best defenses will face one of the best offenses as OU and Baylor meet next week. OU is ninth in the FBS in total defense (314.3 ypg) and pass defense (179.5 ypg). Baylor owns the nation’s top-ranked scoring (63.9 ppg) and total offense (718.4 ypg).

Leading the Baylor offense is junior quarterback Bryce Petty, who has completed 122 of 176 pass attempts (69.3 percent) for 2,453 yards on the season. Petty has recorded 18 touchdowns compared to just one interception.

Stoops said all aspects of the Baylor signal caller’s game impress him.

“Great arm, great poise, throws a great ball,” Stoops shared. “You can tell he has a great understanding of their offense and where he wants to go with everything so he does a great job.”

On Saturday, OU’s passing game showed improvement from previous weeks. QB Blake Bell completed 14 of 22 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Jalen Saunders. Saunders finished as the game’s leading receiving with six catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

“We were more consistent with our drop back passing game was the difference,” Stoops said. “We have been really good through the year running the football and the other day we were better in our third down, in our drop back game, executing our receivers, quarterback, our protection all of it together and we were a little better in some of our play action. Picking up some plays with our play action off of our running game.”

Ruckus Created

In the days leading up to last week’s game, the @OU_Football Twitter accounted urged fans to #CreateARuckus. Head coach Bob Stoops appreciate the efforts of the Sooner faithful who hung in through a weather delay to make a difference for Oklahoma.

“I also want to compliment our crowd for the game,” Stoops said. “With the hour-and-a-half rain delay and poor weather they could have easily cashed it in and not come back or participated in the game. I thought our fans and the atmosphere here was fantastic. They really made a difference to our team and our players just to feel that energy and excitement from the crowd. It really was a big part of the game in areas where we were able to steal back the momentum. They fans had a great hand in that, so we really want to thank them for their participation.”

Senior captain Gabe Ikard put it more succinctly when discussing the fans at Saturday’s contest: “Yeah, they created a ruckus.”

“We really needed them and they did a great job. It was difficult for them (Texas Tech) to communicate at the line of scrimmage and that can play a big role in a football game.”

Scooba Scores (Again)

Wide receiver Lacoltan Bester is affectionately known simply as “Scooba” in the Oklahoma locker room. The Scooba, Miss., native owns the distinction of being one of 10 FBS players who have thrown a touchdown pass, caught a touchdown pass and run for a touchdown this season.

Asked if there is anything he hasn’t seen Bester do, head coach Bob Stoops possibly offered a new challenge: “I guess not. Special teams touchdown, maybe.”

While Bester showed off his passing skills to hit fellow receiver Sterling Shepard for a touchdown at Kansas, he displayed good judgment and great open-field running skills when he pulled down a play that called for a throw to Bell and instead ran for a TD against Texas Tech.

“He said he had the confidence he could put it there but he was worried about having to lead Blake (Bell) too far that it’d turn him into a receiver,” Stoops chuckled at Monday’s press conference. “I was talking to him (Bester) on Sunday and he said, ‘Oh coach, I would have made the throw, I was worried about Blake.’”

While the play still resulted in a touchdown, Stoops was clearly pleased that Bester exercised discretion befitting of a former quarterback.

“He did it right, in that if there’s any question it’s always a good play to pull it down and take off and get what you can and he sure did that,” Stoops continued. “He did a great job cutting back and I thought the entire team hustling down field really did a great job blocking for him.”

No doubt Bester has been one of many bright spots for the Sooners in 2013. After coming to Oklahoma from East Mississippi Community College last season, Stoops said that “Scooba” really started to blossom this spring.

“The light kind of came on for Lacoltan late spring last year and that’s when you knew you’d start to see that, hey, he’s going to have a chance to make and impact. And he had a great summer. How I could tell is when we got to two-a-days he was in a lot better shape than he had been.”

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