Well, I nailed the score…
Based on his reaction after the game, Bob Stoops also had his doubts that his team was ready.
The Sooners’ green offensive line struggled badly in their opener at home against Akron, which didn’t instill much confidence that they wouldn’t hold up in an environment like Neyland Stadium. Butch Jones’ impressive collection of talent also looked ready to win a statement game to prove the Volunteers are back. (Frankly, if the Vols don’t fold in the wake of such a deflating loss, they should contend for the SEC East.)
Ultimately, though, a masterful performance by OU’s defense and a bunch of offensive resourcefulness produced one of the most thrilling wins for the Sooners in recent memory.
A few thoughts and observations:
*Mike Stoops put together a fantastic game plan to slow down the Vols’ prolific offense.
Mike deployed OU’s 3-4 personnel with both Eric Striker and Devante Bond rushing off the edge. The heavier set helped combat UT’s physical ground game and enabled the Sooners to put heat on UT quarterback Josh Dobbs. It also put the onus on Zack Sanchez, Jordan Thomas, Ahmad Thomas and Steven Parker to hold up in pass coverage against the Vols’ talented wideouts with less help than in their nickel packages.
When it came to executing, Mike made all the right calls at all the right times. Dobbs was shell shocked by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.
Holding a team with UT’s weapons at the skill positions to 3.3 yards per play rocks.
*Bond and Parker, in particular, had fantastic nights for the D. Same goes for defensive lineman Charles Walker, who’s making a big impact in short bursts.
*Offensively, both the receiving corps and offensive line got off to rough starts. Miscues and mistakes piled up quickly and had a hand in putting the Sooners in such a massive hole early in the contest.
Although the receivers eventually settled in, I’m not sure if the line really ever got things sorted out. That made OU’s second half comeback all the more unlikely.
*I’ve had my doubts about Baker Mayfield, but damn if he’s not a gamer. The ability to slip out of tackles in the backfield and snap off throws has been missing from the OU stable of quarterbacks since maybe forever. Mayfield’s Houdini act was the only thing keeping the Sooners’ hopes alive on the offensive side of the ball until the fourth quarter.
Lots of QBs would have packed it in the face of that kind of pass rush.
*Speaking of packing it in, this struck me as the type of game where last season’s Sooners would have checked out.