Moaning about a 49-21 win like the one the Oklahoma Sooners got over the UCLA Bruins on Saturday seems pretty obnoxious, so I’m not going to do it.
Specifically, I’m not going to talk about OU’s inability to punish UCLA consistently for crowding the box on early downs. I also won’t bring up the Sooners’ issues in short-yardage situations.
I’m also not going to mention the number of tough catches that OU wideouts made to bail out out iffy throws by Kyler Murray. I’ll leave it to the receivers to have words with their quarterback about hanging them out to dry a few times, too.
You get the picture. A week after OU moved the ball at will against Florida Atlantic, the Sooners showed against the Bruins that their offense still remains something of a work in progress. The ragged moments came close to matching the number of explosive plays over the course of the game.
To be fair, while Chip Kelly’s offensive acumen gets all the hype, UCLA’s defensive coaches have done tremendous work so far on their side of the ball. They inherited plenty of talented athletes from Jim Mora Jr.’s regime. This was always going to be more of a slog on O than going up against a team like FAU.
Even so, we saw that OU’s offense has a few warts. Given that it seems unlikely Rodney Anderson will play again this year, Lincoln Riley has some work to do in the coming weeks to clean things up.
*Through two games, the offseason investment in the third phase is paying dividends. Last week, the Sooners scored a touchdown on a blocked punt. This week, OU started two drives in the red zone that led to touchdowns thanks to returns from Tre Brown on a kickoff and CeeDee Lamb on a punt.
*On average, OU started on its own 35. The Bruins started on their own 24.
*We saw the problems posed by Murray’s height in this game. He had two or three passes deflected at the line of scrimmage, and I suspect a couple of his poorer throws occurred when he tried to throw high to ensure the ball wasn’t tipped.
Murray also threw his fair share of 50-50 balls throughout the day. I guess you can get away with a few of those when you OU’s receiving corps, but it would be nice to see a little more precision on downfield throws.
Murray also struggled with swing passes and the shallow crossing routes again this week.
*As a unit, OU’s receivers played superbly. Murray has two legitimate go-to guys in Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb. His chemistry with both appears to be improving, too, although I imagine Lamb would prefer not to get hung out to dry as often as he was today.
*Assuming Anderson is done for the year, freshman T.J. Pledger could work his way up the depth chart pretty quickly. He has looked strong running the ball in mop-up time so far.
*The left side of the offensive line didn’t have its best day. I also got the impression Creed Humphrey had a rough day in his first start, but I’ll need a closer look.
*I’d be interested to know how much freedom Murray has to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
Also, is Riley holding anything back from the playbook?
*What I’ll look at on the second pass:
- Where were the breakdowns coming from in run blocking?
- How did Humphrey do?
- What kept Trey Sermon from running effectively?
- What was open when UCLA stacked the box?
*Story of the first two games is Curtis Bolton. Multiple people asked me during the game about why Caleb Kelly wasn’t seeing the field at WILL linebacker today. The answer is simply that Bolton is playing too well to take him out. Strong against the run and an asset as a rusher.
*Make no mistake about it: UCLA’s offense is not good, especially the offensive line. This was what the D was supposed to do.
*Kenneth Murray didn’t show up much on the stat sheet in week one. The MIKE LB came out smoking this time around (nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss).
*Is Dillon Faamatau the Sooners’ best nose tackle? That dude is scary.
*Ryan Jones is starting to put it together at SAM LB. He covers ground quickly and can lay some wood on occasion.
*The safeties didn’t impress me today, including the bust on tight end Caleb Wilson’s long catch and run in the first quarter.
Wilson is UCLA’s best offensive weapon. Letting him get loose that way can’t happen.
*OU has found something with its rotation at cornerback. Kerry Cooks is using different combinations of Tre Brown, Tre Norwood and Parnell Motley really effectively. Mike Stoops deployed some interesting third-down packages with Norwood.
*Things for the rewatch:
- How did the defensive interior hold up?
- Did the safeties pick up their play after the first couple drives?
- Does Tre Brown need even more run?