Both Notre Dame and Oklahoma are looking for their first win of the DI-A season Saturday in Norman, Okla. The Sooners are 0-2 after extremely lopsided losses to Life and Texas A&M, and Notre Dame is 0-1 after losing 99-0 to Arkansas State.
Judging by the 85-0 throttling Texas A&M handed Oklahoma last week, it appears the best chance for the Fighting Irish and Sooners to score wins this season will be against one another.
“We are ready (to win). We were really, honestly disappointed last week in our effort,” said OU coach Kenny Forehand.
“We had to move some guys around due to some injuries, and we didn’t react to that real well. A&M came out and jumped on us and we never really recovered.”
OU is still without Joe Bach, the athletic former Sooner wrestler who is recovering from injury. Zac Givens, the former walk-on wide receiver turned flyhalf, left OU after the fall semester. His replacement, Brenner Roath, tore his MCL in the opening minutes of the Life game.
Still, Forehand believes OU can bag a win Saturday against Notre Dame, but to do so his team will need to show huge improvement on defense.
“We didn’t feel like our effort was there. We didn’t feel like our pattern was there, so we really focused on that, and effort, an overall team understanding of what we wanted to do,” he said.
“You can put in any pattern you want in the world, but if the effort’s not there and the team hasn’t bought in then it falls apart. We spent a lot of time as a team working on that.”
Getting the ball in the hands of Michael Al-Jiboori will help the Sooners, too. He is a big, strong, fast, impressive athlete, but he’s struggled to get much possession playing as a wing or center.
“He’s an incredibly talented kid, and we’re trying not to throw too much at him, and sometimes you overcoach kids who are just incredibly talented,” said Forehand.
“We’ve looked at him at center and wing. Some of our issues with him at wing has been our ability to have possession and he doesn’t get any ball. We’re playing with some options with him.”
Winability is one reason Oklahoma is excited about the Notre Dame game, and Notre Dame is the other.
“Looking at film, this is one we want to go out and win. A lot of people are excited about playing Notre Dame,” said Forehand. “Two of the four or five best schools out there in football, which is what matters around here. There’s a lot of people coming out for it.”