OU’s offensive woes continue as Jeff Lebby stands behind fourth-down call

OU’s offensive woes continue as Jeff Lebby stands behind fourth-down call

Jeff Lebby stood by his play call on the failed fourth-down conversion that sealed Oklahoma’s 27-24 defeat Saturday: “Needed to be about a yard deeper. That's the reality of it. I can put us in a better situation.”

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Nov 4, 2023, 10:05pm CDT

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Nov 4, 2023, 10:05pm CDT

STILLWATER — Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby stood by the play call he dialed up on the failed fourth down conversation that sealed the ninth-ranked Sooners’ Week 10 defeat after Saturday’s 27-24 loss at No. 22 Oklahoma State.

Down three and facing fourth-and-5 with 1:06 remaining, OU rolled quarterback Dillon Gabriel to his left for a completion to Drake Stoops that came up two yards short, turning the Sooners over on downs and leaving the Cowboys to run out the clock on the 118th and final scheduled Bedlam football game.

Afterward, Lebby shook his head when asked if OU (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) considered using its last timeout before the play and if he might have changed the play call in hindsight.

“We liked it,” Lebby said. “Thought it was going to be man-to-man. Needed to be about a yard deeper. That’s the reality of it. I can put us in a better situation.”

It was a new week, but the Sooners’ offensive struggles — and the words behind them postgame — were much the same as OU’s Big 12 title hopes took a potentially fatal blow inside Boone Pickens Stadium.

The Sooners’ 37 pass attempts, 5.5 yards per carry and 492 yards gained against OSU (7-2, 5-1) told the story of offensive bounceback after a tepid showing at Kansas. Yet the program’s 20th all-time defeat to the Cowboys also featured three turnovers, seven missed third-down conversions and one touchdown on the Sooners’ final nine drives.

With patience among the fan base running thin on the Sooners’ second-year coordinator, Lebby’s tone Saturday evening echoed the stance he had offered seven days earlier following OU’s 38-33 defeat to the Jayhawks.

“We just didn’t play good enough,” he said. “That’s the reality. I didn’t coach good enough, I didn’t call it good enough and we didn’t play good enough. That’s the reality of it when you’re on the wrong side. We’ll get on the bus, we’ll watch the tape and get right to it.”

Turnovers, Brent Venables said, were the difference in the Sooners’ second loss of 2023. Two of them came via botched snaps from center Andrew Raym.

Brent Venables confirmed the initial errant snap, which went directly to running back Jovantae Barnes on OU’s second offensive drive, was designed to go to Gabriel. Lebby said the 54,105 fans inside played a role in the Sooners’ second mishandled snap of the day, which came on the first play of the Sooners’ third-to-last drive with 7:52 remaining.

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“It was just the crowd was the issue on the one snap there in the fourth quarter when we snapped it early,” he said.

Saturday’s offensive performance only heightens the mounting pressure surrounding Lebby’s position in charge of the Sooners’ offense. The noise around him has never been louder in his two seasons at OU.

By the outside criticism, the Sooners’ offensive coordinator says he is unbothered.

“That has zero effect,” he said. “I don’t go down those rabbit holes. I am consumed with our football team, our unit and whoever we’re preparing for.”

 

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at [email protected].

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