For OU to have a truly successful season, I figured that the Sooners needed to scrape by Tennessee somehow. I didn’t bank on it being that tight in a scrap to beat the a team in front of the biggest crowd to ever see an OU game.
With how OU’s schedule sets up, the win allows the Sooners to make incremental improvement on offense (mainly at offensive line) before the November gauntlet of key games.
The Good (Often Great)
The defense played two quarters of great football, and considering the great field position the Vols had all first half, OU’s defense did a good job making sure the team was not down 28-0 at the half.
OU’s defense in the second half made big play after big play, and when OU’s offense finally woke up in the fourth quarter, the defense continued that momentum and got a quick three-and-out to give OU the ball right back.
New playmakers on all three levels of defense appeared on Saturday. Devante Bond had his best game as a Sooner, complementing Striker in attacking on the flanks. Charles Walker made big plays with a huge interior rush. And Steven Parker making big plays helped in the secondary.
In the preseason, OU's coaches knew they had stars in Striker, Tapper and Sanchez. It looks like you can now add to that list.
OU’s defense now gets to adjust to some high-volume throwing teams, but if Mike Stoops can dial up that kind of pressure regularly, OU looks ready to play defense at a high level.
*Baker Mayfield’s fourth quarter.
Probably the most clutch fourth quarter by an OU QB in a long time. Mayfield consistently
avoided pressure and sacks to make scramble yards and key passes. Use any football cliche you want, but Mayfield gutted out two touchdown drives.
It was playmaking at QB at the highest level. OU needed two touchdowns with zero margin for error. Mayfield certainly brings some attitude to the OU QB position.
Sterling Shepard was just clutch at receiver. Huge plays the entire fourth quarter and overtime: He caught the tying touchdown, set up the 1st OT touchdown and made the great play for the second overtime touchdown.
Along with Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd, Shepard was the best offensive player on the field.
Austin Seibert had one bad punt. Other than that, Seibert again did a great job punting the ball. In particular, the hang time on his kicks neutralized a big time punt return game from Tennessee. And so far at place kicker, Seibert has been automatic.
For a true freshman playing in his first road game, it was a big performance.
A poor game from by OU's OL forced Perine to gut out an effective 78 yards rushing. He also made a great TD catch on third and goal in the fourth.
OU’s OL is probably going to deny Perine the kind of 200 yard games he had last year. But he’s still going to be an effective weapon for OU.
OL had a bad game. No way to spin it.
Pressure all night from the Vols. False starts and holding penalties that were killers. Bedenbaugh needs to get the OL improving game by game.
*Fall on the ball?
OU’s inability to get a fumble recovery after one of Baker Mayfield's interceptions represented a sure turnover opportunity blown by OU, and at the time, it that looked like a game killer.
Other than Shepard, OU’s WRs had a case of the drops and did not have a good game. OU is going to need better play from more playmakers as the schedule changes to more effective attacking passing offenses.
The punt return situation is still a huge problem. For all his heroics at WR Shepard’s inability to field punts and read punts is causing big time field position problems.