Take last night's blowout win over Nebraska as a perfect example of how tough OU is in Norman.
The Cornhuskers have had a somewhat up-and-down year, but they're not exactly Tennessee-Martin. NU came into this game with an offense that was moving the ball pretty consistently and a decent defense.
Yet, OU put a chokehold on the 'Huskers from the opening kick and never let up. Under coach Bob Stoops, the Sooners have excelled at quick early scores and early defensive stops, opening up a landslide of points right off the bat. From Demarco Murray's long kickoff return on the first play of the game to Dominique Franks' pick-six to Quentin Chaney's long touchdown catch, this game was never in doubt after the first few minutes.
The defense's play, particularly in the first quarter, was reminiscent of OU's units from Stoops' first few years as head coach. Those units relentlessly pursued the quarterback, feeding off the home crowd's energy. That pressure created early turnovers and easy points, much like what OU fans witnessed last night.
Other observations from last night's action:
*Sounds like Auston English's sprained knee will keep him out for a couple weeks. I say sit him against Texas A&M and let him use the following bye week to get healthy. The front four should be key against Texas Tech, and having English ready to go is vital.
*I was a little surprised at how aggressive OU was in the second half. Given the friendship between Bo Pelini and Bob Stoops, I expected the Sooners to go really vanilla in the second half. Such is life in the BCS era, I guess, where style points are paramount.
*Seeing Manuel Johnson's RoboCop arm brace yesterday, I'm not confident he'll be able to contribute much for the rest of the year. Thankfully, Quentin Chaney is proving that he can stay focused on a game-to-game basis. If you can think of a bigger enigma in the history of OU football than Chaney, I'd love to hear it.
*Demarco Murray's predicaments reminds me of Mike Gaddis. For those who don't remember Gaddis, he came back to have a stellar senior season in 1991 after missing significant portions of the prior two years with career-threatening knee injuries. It's clear Murray has been missing something this year, be it a higher gear or his shiftiness. Whatever it is, he appears to be making slow and steady progress. Hopefully this bodes well for 2009.
*Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has come up in some spitballing regarding the Clemson job. Interesting, seeing as OU's defense never has been more maligned than it has been this season. Clemson seems like the kind of job that could attract an up-and-coming name from a "lesser" program: Bobby Johnson, Todd Graham, Houston Nutt, Brian Kelly, etc.
*It's much harder to evaluate offensive linemen than other positions. That said, OU center Jon Cooper seems deserving of All-American accolades this season. Cooper is the linchpin of an OU offensive line considered in some circles to be the best in the country. A four-year starter, Cooper is as rock-solid as they come. The Sooners will miss him next season.