Sometimes it's something simple, like walking on the practice field, strictly forbidden in the must-hustle zone at Oklahoma. Maybe it's a missed question in a team meeting.
"When you’re not paying attention to every single thing that you do, it’ll show up on the field," said Sooners receiver Jaz Reynolds.
Lost focus can cost teams dearly. No one knows this more than the juggernaut in Norman, which inexplicably fell behind Texas Tech at home, 31-7, before losing, 41-38.
Oklahoma's team captains called a players-only meeting in the week that followed the loss to correct that, among other things.
"They felt the lack of focus that was out there and they brought it to our attention and made sure it doesn’t happen anymore," Reynolds said.
Their message was received, teammates said. A few days later, they proved it, emphatically responding to another part of the leaders' message.
"We should go out there and when you get hit in the mouth, keep playing," Reynolds recalled the leaders saying. "Everything’s not going to go right, but you’ve got to just keep playing."
Against Kansas State last Saturday, the Wildcats turned a 14-0 deficit into a 17-14 lead to seize control of the game. Oklahoma's answer? Shutting out K-State over the game's final 42 minutes to outscore the Wildcats, 44-0 in the 58-17 win.
"The offense complemented the defense, and the defense complemented us," Reynolds said. "We played as a complete team on Saturday."
Message not only received, but applied. Oklahoma was at its most dangerous, but that will have to continue this week. Texas A&M might have more losses than Kansas State, but the Aggies also have more talent and would love a statement win of their own.
"They’ve been potent all year when you look at their production, run and pass," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "They do a great job running the football and then everything sets up off of that; their play-action passes, then they’ll isolate their receivers different ways. Very good personnel, very good skill people and they do a really good job of using all of them. It’s a tough task keeping them down."
The Aggies have shown the ability to dominate two top-10 teams, opening up 18- and 17-point leads against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, though second-half collapses put blemishes on their record.
For the Sooners, though, winning this game is about maintaining that focus for another week and climbing back into the Big 12 race, where they still hold their own destiny.
"Not all criticism is bad for you," Reynolds said. "You can get better from it, and that’s what we took from it."
For the Sooners, the challenge will be keeping that focus and playing as a complete team for one more week. ... And then another next week.