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ORLANDO, Fla. – As the Sooners’ season comes to a disappointing close, many OU players were in shock after losing the Russell Athletic Bowl.

The Clemson Tigers dominated on every side of the ball, winning the bowl game 40-6.

Clemson scored on their first possession of the game and never looked back.

The Sooners’ only points were scored late in the fourth quarter on a run by Alex Ross.

Following the loss, OU head coach Bob Stoops said the number of mistakes buried them from the start.

“I’m really disappointed in how we played,” Stoops said. “You know, just the number of turnovers were so big. And then we finally make a play, get a turnover. We feel we got a touchdown and we’re offsides.”

During a news conference after the game, he said it all began with “veteran guys missing tackles in the open field.”

He said when you combine that with an “inability to throw the football,” you can’t expect to win the game.

“We had our chances,” he said.

Stoops says the team practiced hard and attended meetings and should have been prepared for Monday night.

He was not the only one.

Several members of the Sooner squad say they feel the same way as their coach.

“I didn’t see it coming, we didn’t see it coming,” said Eric Striker. “We had a great week of preparation, you know, it’s a game of offense, defense, special teams. We just didn’t come out with that edge, we didn’t come out on fire.”

Striker may have been one of the only bright spots on the team.

He recorded nine solo tackles and three assists during the contest.

Striker also recorded 1.5 sacks, breaking the OU record for most sacks by a linebacker.

“This is not how the year was supposed to go for us,” said Daryl Williams. “It’s life. Wake up in the morning, stub your toe on the bed, you ask why that happened but it’s just how life is.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Samaje Perine.

Much of the criticism was directed at OU quarterback Trevor Knight.

In his first game following an injury that sidelined him much of the season, Knight completed just 17 passes for 103 yards.

He also recorded three interceptions.

Stoops says in the spring, the quarterback spot will be open “with other guys coming in and inconsistencies. Every position is open.”

“Offensively, our inability to throw the football. You can’t play one-handed. I thought overall, we did a really nice job of running the football, but lack of execution in the passing game was a major factor as well,” Stoops said.

“We’ve battled that adversity all year long and we just came up on the wrong side of that fine line a few too many times, and that’s just paying attention to those small details. We gotta correct that in the offseason and get on the right side of that fine line,” said Trevor Knight.  “You can sit here and blame it on a bunch of different things, but the fact of the matter is we didn’t play as well as we should have tonight or the other games we lost.”

“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Knight added. “I’m going to do what I’ve always done and keep looking up and keep pressing forward.”

“We have to be better,” said OU co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “We need more balance.”

For Daryl Williams, this game will be his last wearing a Sooner uniform.

“We did the little things wrong,” Williams said. “I’m gonna miss these guys and I did everything I could.”

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