Jeff Lebby: OU needs more 'chunk' plays

Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. (17) is defended by West Virginia cornerback Wesley McCormick (11) during Saturday’s game in Morgantown, West Virginia.

 

NORMAN — If there was one play that summed up Oklahoma’s 23-20 loss to West Virginia Saturday, it came in the second quarter.

With the Sooners leading 3-0, quarterback Dillon Gabriel dropped back to pass from the WVU 46-yard line. He found a wide open Marvin Mims just 10 yards from the end zone on a potential walk-in touchdown.

The ball hit Mims in the hands but he dropped it. The Sooners eventually went for it on fourth-and-6 but failed to convert, as they came up empty handed.

It wasn’t just one of several missed opportunities for the Sooners, it was also a missed explosive play. and those kinds of down-the-field plays have been lacking for the Sooners this season.

Against the Mountaineers, the Sooners had four plays of 20-yards or more. Three of them came via running back Eric Gray. Gabriel eventually found Mims for a 67-yard completion later in the second quarter, but that was his only completion of 20 yards or more.

The heavy rain that fell most of the game likely had an impact, but the Sooners have struggled for much of the season with explosive plays.

“We’ve got to create more chunks in the throw game,” OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said. “That has not gone our way here the last few weeks, to say the least. So we’ve got to make those plays. We’ve got to make some competitive plays, as well. Obviously, the elements the other day were part of it in the fourth quarter primarily. But outside of that, we had opportunities to make plays and get away from them. and we didn’t. That’s something that’s got to change.”

The Sooners have struggled particularly in conference play. In the first three games of the season, all against non-conference opponents, the Sooners recorded 22 plays of 20 yards or more. In their seven conference games, they’ve recorded just 29 such plays, which ranks 56th nationally and seventh in the Big 12. That’s an average of just over four per game.

“I’m surprised that we haven’t created more chunks in the throw game,” Lebby said. “Without a doubt. and I think you’ve seen, if you go back and you watch it, there’s been great opportunities where we have not connected. and so that is surprising. It’s frustrating because you’ve got a chance to get away from these [opponents] at times and multiple games where we don’t. So yes, that’s surprising and frustrating.”

The remedy could come this Saturday against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are surrendering 12.3 yards per completion, which ranks 87th nationally.

Kickoff announced: The Sooners’ season finale at Texas Tech will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26.

The Sooners’ home finale against Oklahoma State also kicks off at 6:30 p.m. this Saturday.

 Venables, Sooners coaches speak on Virginia tragedy

Three University of Virginia football players were shot and killed on campus Sunday night.

The three players — Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry — were killed after returning from a school field trip, university president Jim Ryan confirmed Monday morning. Two other students were wounded.

The suspect, former UVA football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., was taken into custody by local authorities on Monday.

Venables released a statement Monday morning via Twitter.

Both Lebby and defensive coordinator Ted Roof expressed condolences prior to their press conferences Monday.

“I’ll start off with expressing condolences for the University of Virginia, their football program and the people associated with that, especially the families of those men that were lost yesterday,” Roof said. “Wow. Heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to them. It’s just a terrible tragedy and certainly an awful, awful thing.”

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