This season probably hasn’t gone exactly the way Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans wanted.
As the team’s leading tackler, OU’s defensive captain isn’t playing badly. Week in and week out, however, the effort and focus haven’t always been there from the veteran.
Neither proved to be a problem on Saturday in OU’s 45-24 win over Baylor. Evans played the game of his career, notching two interceptions, two sacks and nine total tackles. He broke up two more passes for good measure.
More importantly, Evans displayed impeccable timing. His first pick came late in the fourth quarter with Baylor on the doorstep of the OU end zone, snuffing out a scoring opportunity for the Bears. He grabbed his second oskie early in the second, returning the ball two Baylor’s one yard line, which led to an easy Samaje Perine touchdown run on the next play that gave the Sooners more than enough breathing room to roll to a 21-point win.
A number of Sooners gave standout performances in the victory. Evans stood out more than most by making key plays all over the field on defense.
*OU’s offensive line seems to be regressing slightly in the last couple weeks. The blockers struggled more with BU’s front four than I expected.
That may sound like picking nits on a day when the Sooners averaged nearly eight yards per play on offense. The West Virginia defense doesn’t screw around, though, and coordinator Tony Gibson has a unit that thrives on shooting gaps and causing chaos.
*Similarly, the defensive line had a rough day. The Baylor offense couples a power running game with spread formations that stretch the whole field. That stresses the defensive front by taking away the numbers that typically enable a defense to control the box area between the tackles.
The Bears used that advantage to open big holes consistently for BU running backs JaMycal Hasty and Blake Lynch, along with Bears quarterback Seth Russell on read plays.
*Speaking of Russell, combine today’s gruesome ankle dislocation with the broken neck he suffered last year, and he has given more than enough to the game. My non-expert opinion: probably time to retire.
*And speaking of retiring, I thought there were plenty of opportunities for the Bears to quit in this game. They declined, which is a surprising for a team going through so much turmoil.
*Dede Westbrook (four receptions, 88 yards, two touchdowns) shined again, but it was encouraging to see Baker Mayfield spread the ball around to a number of targets. OU completed 20 of 25 passes, and five players had at least two catches.
The more dependable targets at Mayfield’s disposal, the more problems OU causes for opposing defenses.
*The Mountaineers are a solid team from top to bottom with a rowdy home crowd. Next week should be fun.