After the previous week’s listless showing in the Red River Shootout, you couldn’t ask for a better bounce-back effort than what Oklahoma gave Saturday in dismantling Kansas State, 55-0.
- OU had more than four times as many first downs as the Wildcats, 30 to 7;
- The Sooners had more than five times as many total yards, 568 to 110;
- OU gained more yards on its three interception returns, 62 yards, than KSU did passing, 45.
I could keep going. It would be one thing if the Wildcats really sucked, but this team took Oklahoma State and TCU to the wire in the last two games.
Whatever your feelings about OU’s 2015 squad, you have to admire a beatdown of biblical proportions like the one the Sooners administered Saturday. Teams reach that level of dominance in a single game only so often.
*OU’s front seven dominated the action, with 11 tackles for loss on a total of 53 snaps. The D repeatedly forced K-State into obvious passing situations – not exactly Joe Hubener and Kody Cook’s forte. It didn’t help matters for KSU that the Wildcat receivers were significantly outclassed by the OU secondary.
*On a day full of standout performances, cornerback Jordan Thomas arguably gave one of the best. He was stellar in coverage when K-State quarterbacks Joe Hubener and Kody Cook tried to go deep. He also played run support brilliantly. All in all, he had a superb game.
*The chatter in the week leading up to the game about Will Johnson taking over at nickelback proved true, as defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks benched Hatari Byrd and moved Steven Parker back into a safety role in nickel packages. Given how poorly Byrd played in the previous five games, I can’t say the move was a shock.
*OU finally has the depth on the defensive line to allow the staff to roll in three-man units in waves. The second-team grouping of Charles Walker, Marquise Overton and D.J. Ward showed little dropoff from the starting set of Charles Tapper, Jordan Wade and Matt Dimon. Overton looked especially promising in his first extended time.
*Lincoln Riley filled the game plan with quick throws and screens that exploited the space offered by the Wildcats’ soft pass coverage. The Sooners pushed the tempo and executed about as well as could be asked.
Typically, KSU’s perimeter defenders give up those throws and quickly rally to the ball to minimize the damage. This time, they couldn’t contain OU’s receivers and running backs. I doubt OU would have the same success against teams that play tighter, more physical coverage. Still, grade-A performance from the Sooners’ skill positions, led by ultra-efficient quarterback Baker Mayfield.
*The Sooner O needed the quick game to work because the offensive line is still scuffling along. Holes appeared sporadically for Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. In fact, the best running threat OU had to offer might have been Mayfield bailing from the pocket on dropbacks and taking off. Speaking of which, the pass protection left something to be desired, too.
All that said, I hope Bill Bedenbaugh sticks with yesterday’s starting unit the rest of the way (Orlando Brown, Jonathan Alvarez, Ty Darlington, Nila Kasitati, Dru Samia). It makes for a nice blend of building for the future and playing for now.
*For the umpteenth time in the last decade, OU struggled in short-yardage situations. At some point, the O’s inability to punch the ball in in the red zone will cost the Sooners a win in the second half of the year.
As much as I despise the Wildcat, that might have to be the go-to strategy when OU needs to get hard yards.