Broyles' injury makes a lasting impact on Sooners' season
When Dominique Whaley went down with a broken ankle, many felt the Sooners’ offense could still thrive. After all, before the season began, Roy Finch was expected to take over as the starter.
But when Ryan Broyles went down with a season-ending ACL injury, there was panic among Sooner nation. How would the offense finish the regular season without its leading receiver?
The Oklahoma State game provided the answer, and it wasn’t a pretty one.
Perhaps the most alarming statistic to come out of Broyles’ injury is the lack of touchdowns junior quarterback Landry Jones has had in the games since then. In the three games Broyles did not play, Jones threw for no touchdowns.
While the argument would be that Blake Bell has taken the touchdowns Jones would have had, as Bell scored seven in those final three games, the reason the “Belldozer” package was installed in the first place was because Jones and the offense struggled in the red zone.
Jones’ lack of touchdowns was only one area that began to plague the Sooner offense as the season went on.
The receivers knew they would have to play without Broyles at some point — they just assumed it would be during the 2012 regular season. When he went down, a greater weight was placed on the shoulders of Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and the other receivers and tight ends. It was a weight they were never fully able to carry.
As was evidenced in the OSU game, several players had key drops or failed to fight for the ball. Those things, along with an inability to get open like Broyles could, led to a dramatic increase of turnovers.
In their first nine games with Broyles starting, the Sooners had 16 turnovers. In the three games without him, the offense had 12 turnovers. This means that 43 percent, nearly half, of OU’s turnovers came without Broyles in the game.
With this lack of a go-to receiver, OU was forced into many third-and-longs. With Broyles starting, OU converted 45.5 percent of its third downs. Without him in the last three games, that number plummeted to 32 percent. With the offense unable to stay on the field, it put more pressure on the defense, which helps explain some of the issues that plagued that side of the ball.
The offense was able to put up points against Baylor, but it struggled the rest of the time to have any real success. With the coaches realizing their biggest playmaker was gone, they put the ball in Jones’ hands. While he is a great quarterback, it was obvious the offense was simply not the same with Broyles out of the lineup.
With a bowl game against Iowa still to come, the offense has time to begin to figure out how to find success without Broyles. That game could dictate how the Sooners play in 2012, as they begin their first full year without Broyles.
As was evidenced by the last three games of the regular season, replacing him will be no small task.
BY THE NUMBERS: Sooner offense
OU’s offense lost effectiveness after the loss of senior receiver Ryan Broyles, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Texas A&M with three games to go.
45.5 Percent of third-down opportunities the Sooners converted with Broyles in the nine games prior to his injury
32 Percent of third-down opportunities the Sooners converted without Broyles in the three games after his injury
16 Turnovers Oklahoma suffered in the nine games prior to Broyles’ season-ending injury
12 Turnovers Oklahoma suffered in the three games after Broyles’ injury
28 Touchdown passes thrown by Landry Jones in the nine games prior to Broyles’ injury
0 Touchdown passes thrown by Jones in the three games after Broyles’ season-ending injury
64.6 Completion percentage of Jones’ passes in the nine games prior to Broyles’ season-ending injury
59 Completion percentage of Jones’ passes in the three games after Broyles’ injury
8-1 OU’s record in the nine games prior to Broyles’ injury
1-2 OU’s record in the three games after Broyles’ injury
Compiled by Jordan Jenson, Sports Reporter