Obviously you have to grade openings against teams like UTEP on a curve. Still, factoring in that element and with a host of preseason questions, OU had a very efficient and – for the most part –
well-executed home opener.
OU moves onto Columbus and Urban Meyer’s five-star squad of Buckeyes, who are picked again by many to return to the College Football Playoff for the third time in four years. This game has
massive national significance, just like last year. If OU wins, then the Sooners can take several paths to a CFP spot. Lose to OSU, OU will need a dominant run through the Big 12.
With a host of unproven targets, Mayfield spread the wealth. He made one real mistake on a fourth down, and at times he held the ball too long, which won’t work in Columbus. Still, he was efficient and ultra accurate.
There has been some discussion about whether Andrews is a real NFL prospect at tight end. On Saturday, he looked like a first-round pick, dominating the game in a Gronk-like manner. A 200-yard receiving game was easily there.
Andrews' understudy Grant Calcaterra also flashed elite potential with a beautiful catch on a precision pass from Mayfield.
Anyone else think that 2019 No. 1 TE recruit and OU verbal commitment Austin Stogner enjoyed watching the TEs play?
The Very Good
Returning six key components, OU's OL had a great start to the year, gashing UTEP for large running holes. In the last two years, OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh's units have taken three or four games to come together, so this fast start was needed and appreciated. OU could have scored at will on the ground or the through the air with that unit.
OU’s chances in Columbus ride in large part with this vaunted OL group.
The new wide receivers
They made tough catches, they made routine catches and they made yards after the catch – all in all, a fine debut. By the middle of the season, Jeff Badet and CeeDee Lamb are going to be total terrors.
The new running backs
Abdul Adams flashed the speed and quickness that he showed in high school. He also had a very good pass reception.
In limited reps, Rodney Anderson looked pretty good. You wonder if he will get a heavier workload in Columbus.
Marcelias Sutton showed some speed and moves, and later in the game, Trey Sermon showed a power game that could be a real factor later in the year and in short yardage. Behind OU's huge line, Sermon could really wear out some poor Big 12 run defenses in a similar manner to Samaje Perine.
OU showed enough at RB that the position seems to be in good, but maybe not elite, hands. Just like the WRs, the Sooner RBs could be wearing out Big 12 defenses by midseason.
Emptying the bench
Kyler Murray starting the second half at quarterback was a nice change. Bob Stoops would have started Mayfield at least one more series.
In addition, the entire bench was emptied. We saw lot of freshmen and redshirts make their debuts. Bedenbaugh had to like his backup OL grouping.
For three quarters, it was good, even considering UTEP’s inability to test the whole field with its limited passing game. OU played a lot of kids Saturday, really testing depth and aiding development. You hope that move will pay off in the future, which looks very bright with Kenneth Murray, Addison Gumbs, Mark Jackson, Tyreece Lott, Tre Norwood, Robert Barnes and Tre Brown.
Defense on the UTEP's first possession
UTEP guard Will Hernandez crunched Marquise Overton twice on the drive, and the linebackers hit the wrong gaps, leading to two huge running plays. After that, things settled down, although WILL LB Emmanuel Beal got caught twice not dropping far enough on passes to the tight end. Fortunately, safety Steven Parker broke up one of them.
Defensive tackle Matt Romar got two personal foul penalties courtesy of Hernandez working him over a little. Meanwhile, SAM LB Caleb Kelly received a silly roughing the passer penalty.
OU cannot give a team like Ohio St. drive-extending penalties for big yardage.
Jordan Parker's knee injury
Parker got a late start in 2016 as a result of offseason surgery. Otherwise, he would have won the starting cornerback job in August. He then missed time again in the spring due to another surgery. Now, he's out for the season with a major knee injury.
Secondary coach Kerry Cooks finally had three game-ready corners. That is now back to two in Parnell Motley and Jordan Thomas. OU played Tre Norwood and Tre Brown in the blowout win, and I can see Cooks getting both of those young players as much game action as possible.