A great road win by a team that rallied and stayed composed during an excellent second half. The Bad/Ugly sections will detail some of the mistakes, but never underestimate what a big road win means for a team trying to win a conference title and getting into the first college football
Optimus Perine. Perine Time. Whatever nickname you want, the freshman ran for 241 yards on 34 hammering carries against the WVU defense. It was the best freshman rushing effort since Adrian Peterson in 2004. Perine gave a clutch rushing performance when OU really needed to move the sticks and get some points. Perine was huge part of the reason why OU was 5-for-5 in red zone touchdowns.
In the preseason, OU’s running backs were supposed to be a weakness. Four games into the season, it’s the exact opposite: The RB corps has turned into a real weapon.
Alex Ross' kickoff return TD
Sometimes you need a big special teams play to grab momentum, erase mistakes and give your offense or defense a boost.
Alex Ross' game-tying kickoff return right before halftime belongs up there with the great returns in Sooner lore. OU had played an uneven half on offense and was at times bad on defense. The team walked into the locker room tied and all of their mistakes wiped off the board.
He's already a lethal weapon as a kickoff returner, but Ross is rounding into form as a college-level RB. Ross ran the ball very well in the second half. The second series in the third quarter was based mostly off his big runs. He’s not the natural runner of Perine or Ford, but the kid has some serious physical skills that OU can use.
When OU couldn't cover the latest Lockett in last year's Kansas State game, it looked like Quentin Hayes might be milk cartoned by Mike Stoops with an influx of new safeties. However, in this two-game stretch, Hayes is playing as well as any OU safety under Bob Stoops that
I can recall.
Hayes' coverage in the third and fourth quarters was key in changing the game defensively for OU. He had a fantastic interception that stopped a WVU drive and put the OU offense back on the field for the drive that put OU up 38-27. Finally, in the fourth quarter, he had a terrific blitz sack that effectively ended another Mountaineer drive in OU territory.
WVU did its best to neutralize Eric Striker. Their OL held up against OU’s three-man front. But WVU could not handle Geneo Grissom.
Grissom was everywhere – deflecting passes, sacking the quarterback, forcing a fumble, making tackles. He was a total force out there.
From my amateur view, any time your offense has more than 300 yards rushing and your two primary RBs average more than 7 yards per carry, your OL is doing a lot right. Especially on the road on a night where the passing game was not clicking consistently enough to drive the field. The OL also kept OU from settling for field goals in the red zone.
Defensive adjustments in the second half
In years past, OU's defense seemed to have great first halves, only to struggle in the second. Mike did a great job adjusting his defensive scheme in the second half to counter Dana Holgorsen’s protection scheme with a change in the coverage scheme.
In the critical third quarter, OU forced a red zone FG and an INT, while the OU offense put 14 points on the board. It changed the whole complexion of the game.
First half defense
This was not good. WVU had the big TD pass to Kevin White and two more TD drives in the second quarter. Holgo changed up WVU’s passing attack by adding more blocking and protection for Clint Trickett, and OU’s defense showed some leaks that other teams will likely try to emulate.
Zack Sanchez's damaged shoulder
Sanchez is gutting it up and playing cornerback with his damaged shoulder. It’s leading to ugly tackling.
Should Bob and Mike contemplate sitting Sanchez for the TCU and Texas games? Those are two teams more likely to feature running games than high-flying passing attacks.
Does OU need to get Jordan Thomas and Stanvon Taylor more reps? Maybe get Sanchez almost a month of recovery time until KSU and Monsieur Tyler Lockett.
It was there, but knocking the ball away right as Hodgson was going to recover it was ugly. It led to a quick TD by WVU, aided by a bit of a meltdown by the OU D.
The Big Question
Sooner fans everywhere are asking about the QB run game. Just like the Tennessee game, Trevor Knight had huge running lanes on plays if he had kept the ball. It seemed he could have easily had 100 yards rushing.
Knight’s mobility makes him special. He’s not a dropback, Air Raid QB. His game and skills are different from a guy like Landry Jones.