Fair or not, the perception around Oklahoma football these days is that the Sooners have become stagnant. The program is still racking up 10-win seasons and conference championships at a consistent pace, but the criticism is out there. Bob Stoops has built a standard where a 10-win campaign is followed by explanations why it wasn’t an 11 or 12-win season.
“In the end, we weren’t quite good enough to win 11, 12 or 13 games. We were good enough to win 10 and have a part of the (Big 12) championship once again, for the second time in three years,” Stoops said in defense of his program in January. “That’s where we’re at. People get bored with just winning the Big 12 championship. You’ve gotta win the national championship.”
Chief among the outcry is that Oklahoma has lost its mean streak. That Stoops’ teams aren’t as tough as they were a decade ago.
Enter new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
“I expect them to be perfect,” he told the Oklahoman. “That’s the one thing that they’ll understand.”
Bedenbaugh was asked by KREF-AM in Oklahoma City about his ability to bring that much desired mean streak with him from Morgantown to Norman.
“That’s the only way to play football, and especially offensive line,” he explained. “That’s just the mentality you have to have. Obviously you try to go out and recruit that, but I think you can develop that as well. You go out there and get the job done. It’s my job to coach you. It’s my job to push you. It’s my job to make you expect yourself to be great, and then you’ve gotta go out there and you’ve gotta respond to it.”
Oklahoma ranked fifth nationally in passing offense, 12th in total offense and 15th in scoring offense this fall, but must replace fifth-year senior quarterback Landry Jones along with its top two pass catchers. Bedenbaugh inherits an offense that returns nearly 95 percent of its rushing offense and four offensive linemen from 2012, but ranked just 60th nationally in rushing offense and 34th in yards per carry. Considering everything Oklahoma loses in the passing game, those numbers will need to improve in 2013.
That process begins right now.
“We’re gonna be going through the workouts right now, but once you put the pads on, and you get in there, and you get physical, and you get down and dirty, that’s when you really learn the mentality and the toughness of a kid,” Bedenbaugh said. “When things are tough, when it’s hot out there, you’re in your second hour of practice, and you’re beaten up, and you’re bruised. Are you gonna push through, or are you gonna quit? That’s when you can learn about kids. It’s my job to motivate them and keep pushing them. I’m jacked up. I couldn’t be more excited to get out there and start coaching these kids.”