As I left Oklahoma's football stadium Saturday afternoon, I heard some comments from fans that I thought deserved to be quoted here. The first was from an OU fan who said, "We shoulda beat them worse!" The other was a fan from TU who gave his slant when he said, "We shoulda won!"
Neither of them is right. It is what it is. We live in a world of reality, and the reality is that Oklahoma defeated the University of Tulsa by the score of 31-15. 'Nuff said about that.
The quote that really got my attention was contained in the opening remarks of FSN commentator Bill Land. One of his first remarks was, "The Hurricane has hope."
Best. Quote. Of. The. Day.
I think Garrett Mills showed why hope is warranted when he caught 13 passes for 152 yards, several of which were phenomenal grabs. I think his performance, especially while struggling through cramps in the second half, should have improved his future NFL draft position by at least two rounds. He's no "tweener", he's a winner, and the team that drafts him will discover that quickly.
I think JUCO transfer Ryan Bugg showed why hope is warranted by being in precisely the right spot at the right time for the second week in a row. Last week, against Minnesota, Bugg caught a deflected pass for a touchdown. This week, he snagged a fumble at the goal line. He pays attention, and that pays off.
Brad DeVault showed why hope is warranted by lofting a career-best 52-yard field goal, then added two more. He has become seriously reliable and will likely get a chance to play on Sundays if he continues in that vein.
Certainly Nick Bunting showed why hope is warranted, as he flew from sideline to sideline wreaking havoc on the OU offense. He recorded a team high nine tackles, four of which were solo, while battling cramps on the hot Oklahoma afternoon. He also got credit for half a sack.
The other half of that sack went to Steve Craver, who also had a solo sack, forced a fumble, and returned an interception 29 yards. I think his sterling play warrants hope, as well.
The offensive line shows why hope is warranted, too, as they opened holes and pass-protected well enough so that the Golden Hurricane amassed an outstanding 344 yards of total offense against the Sooners.
The defense surely has shown why hope is warranted. Even with a couple missed tackles that allowed Heisman hopeful Adrian Peterson 220 yards rushing, the "D" held one of the most elite football programs in the nation to just 269 total yards of offense. Remarkable.
In my view, though, the Hurricane has hope because of the terrific play of one Paul Smith, whom not always friendly media have dubbed the "Best Quarterback in the State". Like I should be surprised at his performance.
It was apparent to me after spring drills that Smith was terrific. It was apparent after watching "voluntary" summer drills that Smith was a leader. It was apparent after two-a-day practices that Smith has one of the best arms and football minds to grace Skelly Stadium in quite some time.
It is no longer apparent -- it is obvious. Paul Smith is the real deal and, combined with all the other reasons that the "Hurricane Has Hope", it leads us to the final quote of the day.
Several people, after watching the sensational contest on Saturday have remarked that they are "real excited about next year."
So am I.
But I am unbelievably excited about this one!!