In a final warmup before the Notre Dame game, OU's blowout win featured more big passing plays in one game than the last two combined. It was the kind of game that OU's offense needed going into a bye week with, arguably, the biggest game of the year on deck.
Bell's passing day was not just good; it was great. Bell outdid the prior benchmark for first-game starters (Sam Bradford versus North Texas in 2007).
Bell did a great job with the easy short passes that Trevor Knight was not completing. He was hitting guys in stride and finding the open receiver. Were his 400-plus yards inflated by serious yardage after the catch? Sure, but he was still making the accurate passes that OU's offense needed.
Bell did a good job going through his progressions. He was not rattled by the blitz. If there was a passing play to be made, he made it. If not, Bell would take off and get positive yards, instead of taking sacks. He moved outside the pocket and continued to look down the field for targets. It's hard to nitpick his performance, but hopefully Josh Heupel can work with Bell to trust his arm and power some passes downfield, instead of putting so much air under them.
Beyond his passing acumen, Bell brought confidence and poise to the OU offense, and it was infectious. The WRs who were not making plays in the first two weeks suddenly started making plays again.
Brennan Clay struggled while Tulsa made it a point to stop OU's running game, but Finch had more than 100 yards of total offense, scoring a TD and setting up another score. Finch looks great in space, and you have to hope that OU has a series of plays
for him against ND with his home run ability.
Worrying about who is going to carry the ball for OU in 2014 after Damien Williams, Clay, Trey Millard and Finch leave? Well, don't.
Ford was the best looking running back out there for OU. In the fourth quarter, he displayed power and running ability that echo a dash of AD. (I'm not saying Ford is Adrian Peterson, but he runs with a sense of rage not seen since AD.)
The young defense
OU's defense struggled at times, giving up some third-down plays to Tulsa in situations where the D was forcing punts in the first two games. However, it's more about who was out there for OU:
- Hatari Byrd for Gabe Lynn;
- Stanvon Taylor for Aaron Colvin;
- Zach Sanchez starting at cornerback;
- Dominique Alexander, who will replace Corey Nelson next year, playing a bunch;
- Matt Dimon at defensive end.
Other youngsters who saw time included Jordan Wade at defensive tackle, Jordan Evans at LB, and Ahmad Thomas and L.J. Moore at defensive back. OU is building depth, and the stories of OU's depleted defensive talent appear to be slightly exaggerated.
The special teams units had been flawless so far, but, unfortunately, that run ended.
The biggest mistake was some bad punt coverage and tackling, as the Sooners gave up a huge 77-yard return that set up one of Tulsa's field goals in the third quarter. In addition, Nick Hodgson's streak of great kickoffs was broken with a kick that went out of bounds.
The targeting call on Gabe Lynn
Just a terrible call that, fortunately, was overturned on replay.
If it's overturned, then why does the penalty still count?
Nothing this week.
Some things to think about during the bye week:
*What exactly is OU's offensive scheme?
Bell seemed to be running the Landry Jones scheme, not the zone read we had seen in earlier games.
*Why didn't Bell get the nod at QB from the start of the year?
His poise and control of the offense were obvious. Bell would be much better prepared for ND with three games as the starter under his belt.
*Does this 400-yard day solidify Bell for the rest of the year as starter?
Have we entered the two-year reign of Blake Bell? Or, is it an ongoing competition all year long when Knight returns from injury (with Kendal Thompson included)?
*Can Mike Stoops' new 3-3-5 defensive look work against the Fighting Irish, who have perhaps the most conventional pro-style offense that OU will see this year? Any chance of a return to the familiar 4-2-5 scheme? If so, who is the second DT to play alongside Jordan Phillips?