Sooners aim to stay focused against TCU

NORMAN, Okla. -- Aaron Colvin has a different vibe during his senior season at Oklahoma. It’s a laser-focused, unyielding approach to his final season in crimson and cream.

He’s taken a leadership role for the Sooners and, after OU’s impressive win over Notre Dame, this week that leadership will be tested as Colvin and the rest of the leaders on the Sooners’ squad aim to keep their team focused when TCU visits Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Sandwiched between Notre Dame and Texas, it’s a classic trap-game scenario for the Sooners.

“With me being so old, I kind of get things now; it’s more clear to me now,” Colvin said. “Last year, some years before, we kind of looked ahead as a team. I feel like that hurt us; maybe when we were on top, we looked ahead or we were down, we looked ahead.”

The Sooners suffered upset home losses to Kansas State (24-19 in 2012) and Texas Tech (41-38 in 2011) during the past two seasons. They won 39 consecutive home contests from 2005-11.

Colvin and the Sooners are determined to avoid any letdowns.

“It felt good,” Colvin said of beating the Irish on the road. “We beat a good Notre Dame team at their place. After a win like that, guys do get excited. As a leader, as a senior, I have to show those guys that we have a long season ahead.”

While the Horned Frogs offense has struggled mightly in 2013, TCU enters the game with a defense that leads the conference in sacks (15) and forced turnovers (12). If OU doesn’t play with focus and execute well, the Horned Frogs have the ability to make them pay.

“Our goals are in front of us,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Our players are smart enough. They know what kind of game we’re in for. They have our full attention. They have a great coach and will make us execute in everything we do.”

It’s the overriding theme, if you ask Sooners coaches and players about the potential of looking past TCU with an eye on the Longhorns.

“You know, I always laugh at that because it happens every year,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “I don’t look at it that way. This is not the first big nonconference game that we’ve had. We’ve played a lot of them and we play Texas the same time every year. It’s always the same story, with the letdown before and after, and that hasn’t happened to us. We’re going to do our business like we always do.”

In other words, the standard is the standard. The Sooners coaches expect their players to play at a certain level, regardless of opponent, date or location.

Not to mention, the Sooners are going out of their way to remember the disrespect they felt before the season, when the praise and accolades they’ve received this week was hard to find.

“Now everybody wants to say we’re good and can compete for a national championship,” nickelback Julian Wilson said. “But before the season, we weren’t predicted to win anything. We didn’t pay attention before the season, so there’s no reason to start now.”

The stated goal at Oklahoma is to compete for national championships and win Big 12 championships. If they hope to acheive one or both, they’ll have to defend their home field better than they have in the previous two years.

“The focus this week has to be 10 times better than it was last week,” linebacker Corey Nelson said. “We have to be even more focused than we were against Notre Dame because we cannot let TCU come in here and beat us. That’s when teams get beat – when you take teams lightly.”

Colvin believes this year’s team is different, so he’s hoping the results are different as well.

“This season, I feel like we’ve been dialed in to the team we’re playing,” said the All-Big 12 cornerback.

So Colvin’s message to his teammates this week will be quite simple.

“As long as we continue to get better, we can be one of the best,” he said. “Why not do that?”