For the first three weeks of the season, Oklahoma looked like one of the most complete teams in the country. Week four served as a reality check.
The Sooners played disinterested football for a good chunk of their 49-41 win over Baylor. That can happen when college students figure prominently in any activity.
Of greater concern, OU’s secondary looked a lot like the unit that was incinerated on the regular a year ago. Bears quarterback Zach Smith completed 33-of-50 passes for 463 yards and four touchdowns. Notably, two of his touchdown throws covered more than 70 yards.
Baylor’s coaching staff apparently noticed that even though opposing offenses weren’t making Jordan Thomas pay for it, OU’s senior cornerback was getting beat deep with enough frequency this season that it was worth targeting him. Smith and receivers Denzel Mims and Charles Platt (a combined 16 receptions for 185 yards and 4 touchdowns) victimized Thomas repeatedly before he left the game late in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Meanwhile, Baylor’s unheralded offensive line protected Smith well against OU’s pass rush, which gave the sophomore quarterback ample time to find his targets downfield.
As the Sooners officially entered Big 12 play, Saturday’s game raised familiar questions about their ability to slow down the league’s lineup of spread offenses. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and the rest of the defensive coaches now have a bye week to try to plug some of the holes. If they can’t come up with any fixes, shootouts will become the norm in what could be a volatile season.
*Has Parnell Motley taken the title of lockdown cornerback away from Thomas? Motley is playing superbly this season.
*Keeping Trey Sermon out of the running back rotation until the second half seems odd. On the other hand, he brings a bruising element to the the ground attack that makes for a nasty changeup from what opposing defenses are seeing from Abdul Adams and Marcelias Sutton.
*It may seem strange to say this after a team just gave up 625 yards, but the defensive acumen of Baylor coach Matt Rhule and coordinator Phil Snow was evident last night. They maneuvered their players into situations where they could get clean shots on Baker Mayfield to make him pay for his tendency to hold the ball too long.
*Speaking of which, the punishment Mayfield endured last night illustrated the tricky balance between letting him do his thing and getting him to work within the confines of the offense. This makes two weeks in a row in which his apparent determination to go deep gummed up the offense’s rhythm. At this point, you have to think those are the throws defenses want Mayfield to make, as OU’s receivers have yet to prove that they can consistently win 50-50 balls down the field.
Also, incurring a taunting penalty and throwing a touchdown pass on the ensuing play are about as Baker Mayfield as it gets.
*Even though OU’s running game got moving late in the game, the inefficiency of the efforts to pound the interior of BU’s defense surprised me. Not sure if that had more to do with the blocking or the middle of Baylor’s defense.
*Honestly, the disparity in penalty yardage (OU: 10-105; Baylor: 6-29) felt warranted to me. Just a sloppy effort. Makes you wonder if the pregame antics had the Sooners too wound up.
*Where was Grant Calcaterra?
*Kenneth Mann has come on strong at defensive end.
*On Marquise Brown's fumble, it's like clockwork when a guy starts fighting for extra yards.