Wow, the third quarter of the Cotton Bowl was the single worst quarter of football I've seen OU play since the second quarter of the 55-19 debacle against USC in the 2005 national title game. The warning signs were all there in the first half: Big-play drives by Texas A&M countered by long, time-consuming drives requiring constant execution by the Sooners.
*Tress Way had a good last game punting the ball for OU.
*The offensive line for the most part gave Landry Jones enough time to generate a passing game, which created three long drives in the first half.
*Brennan Clay made some nice physical runs to pick up first downs and had an excellent screen pass play.
*Kenny Stills had a nice first half.
*Landry, minus his one requisite pick, had a solid first half with a great TD throw on the run to Justin Brown. It showed some of the improvements Landry has made this season.
*Run blocking at crucial times was subpar, especially the interior OL, which got worked by just three or four guys.
*The Belldozer insertion on 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard line was unnecessary. Leave in the offense with Damien Williams.
*Damien Williams seemed rusty at times, missing running lanes.
*The entire freaking defense down the line.
*The front four made zero plays and was just dominated inside and outside.
*Franklin Shannon missed several chances to tackle Johnny Manziel before breaking off huge plays.
*Tom Wort missed his usual tackles.
*The secondary, again, was in coverage, but the defensive backs made zero plays on the ball to force turnovers. The secondary never adjusted to tackling Manziel or the Aggie RBs.
*Finally, after the third touchdown of the third quarter, the defense seemed to quit. The stink of Lubbock circa 2009 and Stillwater in 2011 was there.
*The offensive play-calling to start the second half was terrible – passive and predictable. OU didn't test teams deep and spread opponents out. The three-and-outs decided this game.
*Mike Stoops' scheme was flawed from the start. A&M carved it up like it wasn't there. Mike has showed zero adjustments to spread teams with QB running games.
The Unknown (The Future)
*When does a 10-3 season seem like a step backwards? When you get blown out in a bowl game by a team that you beat last year by a couple of TDs. We will ignore the recruiting impact of this loss for now. Where does OU go from here on the field?
*The defense is in complete disarray and loses six starters (Demontre Hurst, Tony Jefferson, Javon Harris, David King, Jamrkus McFarland, Casey Walker). The returning starters and veterans are a huge mixed bag of players not getting it done at an all-conference level. The only player on defense who might be all-conference is Aaron Colvin, and he isn't making plays on the ball.
*Defensive tackle returns one guy with "starting" playing time. That's it.
*Defensive end returns Geneo Grissom and Chuka Ndulue, but it's very possible neither guy starts next year if more athletic players are ready.
*Linebacker? It's Franklin Shannon and then hoping that Aaron Franklin and Eric Striker can make enough plays to get on the field.
*Defensive back? A new cornerback seems easier than finding two safeties. OU badly needs competition at all spots.
*Realistically the defense won't be "fixed" until 2014 at the earliest.
*Offensively, OU needs to break in a new quarterback. Many OU fans will be happy to see Landry go, but a new starter is going to make mistakes and probably rack up some losses.
*Regardless of who wins the job, hopefully the new QB will be allowed to use his mobility to help the OU offense become more multi-dimensional.
*So far, the jury is still very much out on Josh Heupel as offensive coordinator. His Mike Leach era background seems to dominate his play-calling.
*Even projecting the most optimistic results at QB and with the rebuilt defense, the current BCS system means a very likely loss to a loaded and talented Notre Dame team in South Bend will all but end any thought of OU being in any kind of title game hunt.