Always weird reviewing a very competitive, entertaining game that goes into the fourth quarter.
Your team scores 38 points and rushes for 277 yards, which means your offense has done a lot right. You give up 30 points with two terrible gaffes on special teams gaffes, which means your team has made some big mistakes.
Finally, when you lose another huge piece of your team to injury, it kills a little bit of the joy of such a big win.
The ground game
Oklahoma's rushing game dominated the entire second half of the game. OU came out to start the second half and just worked Texas Tech on its first drive between the tackles, driving 86 yards in 11 plays. Later, with the game on the line, the running game managed 53 yards and almost six minutes of possession for a key field goal that nearly iced the game.
For all the struggles offensively, OU has been able to run the ball in the fourth quarter to have more victory formations without giving the opposing offense a chance to win/tie the game at all.
Big plays on defense
It wasn’t a great defensive effort on OU's part. Tech had far too much success throwing the ball and, at times, running the ball. But OU forced turnovers and at key times made big plays – deflecting passes and making sacks and tackles for loss. When the game was on the line, the defense dominated Tech on its last offensive possession, knocking quarterback Davis Webb around.
(Tech got incredibly lucky to complete a miracle pass on 4th and 2 and to not have Webb's fumble end up being a defensive touchdown.)
Blake Bell’s progression... BUY!!
This week, I’m buying that Bell can continue to improve in the passing game – and that Josh Heupel can continue to fine tune the offensive air attack to what his QB does best.
Bell did a great job staying the in pocket and hitting his wide receivers on 3rd and long during the key game-changing drive in the second quarter that started on OU's 3 yard line. He also hit on a great deep toss to Jalen Saunders. Those passes transformed this game.
Running back rotation
The RB rotation was pretty much ideal. Brennan Clay struggled with a bad fumble, but he was his usual reliable self the rest of the game. Damien Williams had his best game of the season. And OU finally has figured out how to use Roy Finch.
Finch gives OU a fourth-quarter, change-of-pace back. When the defense is gassed, OU rolls a fresh speed back out who can pinball around and is a nightmare to find and tackle.
Offense in the first quarter
Just bad. After getting great field position and a big run by Bell on its first possession, OU went nowhere and ended up with a blocked field goal.
OU cannot start that slowly against Baylor. Heupel has to figure out a way to get rolling in Waco.
The procedure penalties
Aaron Ripkowski had two. The first one killed OU’s first drive. For a home game, that's just poor discipline.
Jay Boulware should return his paycheck for this game. OU got completely worked in special teams.
Tech pulled off some bizarre punt return fake thing, which led to good field position for a field goal. Then, OU’s front line had no idea what to do on Tech’s onside kick. Kass Everett could have easily recovered it if he had moved up. Instead, he froze and got smashed by Tech's coverage players. Tech took that free possession and converted it into a TD.
Just awful preparation.
Zack Sanchez's coverage
Sanchez has had a great season at cornerback, putting the preseason favorite to win the position, Cortez Johnson, on the bench. However, Eric Ward worked him on a long TD drive in just two plays where he made the same mistake of looking into the backfield. In addition, Sanchez lost Ward on Tech’s first TD.
If Sanchez plays like that against Baylor’s deep passing game, OU will have to consider making a change.
*OU’s defensive injuries are piling up. If OU cannot get Frank Shannon back, the Sooners will have to start two true freshmen at linebacker versus Baylor and running back Lache Seastrunk. OU’s defensive line is going to have to play a great game, and Eric Striker is going to need to play big time as well. It goes without saying that OU will need a great game from the secondary.
*What does OU do offensively going forward? How to replace Trey Millard?
*Kansas State provided somewhat of a template on how to attack Baylor. Can OU pull off the upset?