This had all the pregame signs of a Baylor win:
- Depleted Oklahoma defense;
- OU offense without it's best player;
- Baylor with all the momentum playing at home on a Thursday night.
And that’s just what happened.
This will be brief.
OU played excellent defense for about 20 minutes – defense that really should have been good enough to make this a game into the fourth quarter. Mike Stoops had Baylor on its heels and out of sync. The new defensive scheme was working.
Then Art Briles threw in some QB run game out of the zone read. (OU does not quite yet have the personnel needed on early downs to counter that.) Then Gabe Lynn happened after a brutal offsides penalty by Eric Striker in a third-down situation. Then Blake Bell threw the interception before the half.
And the defense was done.
With any kind of sustained offensive success in the first half, the defense probably plays four good quarters and there would have been drama in Waco.
Hunnicutt’s 47-yard field goal miss would have moved OU within eight points of the lead. It would have been a big play in retrospect. Baylor drove 70 yards for a touchdown after the miss.
Offensive game plan
OU’s offensive game plan was maddening.
The shuffling of QBs early in the game and in the red zone was asinine. OU probably scores a TD if Josh Heupel had just left Trevor Knight in to run the zone read two more times in the red zone (ignoring that Trevor could have handed off to Clay for a TD on the first play).
The Belldozer attempts were poorly timed and horribly executed. OU’s RB corps is its deepest and most talented group, but Heupel’s game plan early on made them
The real mismatch in this game wasn’t on the field. It was Briles versus Heupel.
I don’t know what OU’s offensive scheme is right now, and it does not appear that OU has anyone at QB to execute a zone-read run scheme or a spread passing game.
Speaking of QB play...
Blake Bell's stock
After the Texas Tech game I decided to treat Bell’s QB rating like a stock.
SELL!!! SELL!!!! SELL!!!! like Randolph and Mortimer Duke at the end of Trading Places.
With Baylor selling out to stop the run, Bell could not accurately complete passes (again). Receivers were open, plays were there to be made, but Bell again struggled when OU needed him most.
Power running game
OU seemed lost in the power running game without Trey Millard. If OU wanted to prove how valuable Millard was, consider Thursday night a success.
Where do we go from here?
*Defensively, OU is in big trouble versus an Oklahoma State scheme that attacks the Sooners' weakest point. Kansas State's running attack will also present issues.
*Offensively, things are a total mess. It’s not like Knight did anything to justify starting him against Iowa State, but OU has to try something different the next game. The calls to see Kendal Thompson are probably going to only get stronger. To be honest, they have some merit, considering the shakiness of Knight and the lack of speed and passing game of Bell. OU has to get some better answers at QB before spring.
I’m starting to think Bell is OU’s Garrett Gilbert and Knight is Case McCoy.
*Where do we go next year? With two conference losses this season, there are no Big 12 championships in sight.
Defensively, things are trending in the right direction. If OU could get Philips back at defensive tackle and add some more depth at outside linebacker and defensive end, there’s an infusion of young talent at all three levels on campus.
Offensively, Bob Stoops has two simple choices:
1. Continue with this zone-read, Oregon thing and commit to it. Hire a new offensive coordinator who knows how to call it, commit to Knight or Thompson at QB and move Bell to tight end.
2. Ditch the zone read completely and roll back to the spread passing game that Heupel can execute as an offensive coordinator. Focus all spring on Cody Thomas and Justice Hansen, young QBs with better passing skills. Let the other QBs know that’s your call so that they plan accordingly. Five QBs in spring ball is at least one too many, especially when you need to get as many reps as possible for Thomas.