The Oklahoma Sooners worked in a number of new faces on defense in their 66-33 win Saturday over the Baylor Bears, and the D ended up giving its best performance of the season.
The raw stats don’t tell a particularly compelling story. Baylor found the end zone four times and cranked out 493 yards of total offense. BU quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns. Two Baylor receivers, Denzel Mims and Jalen Hurd, topped 100 yards receiving for the game.
In reality, the Sooners played solid anti-spread D all game, illustrated by the Bears’ overall inefficiency. The Bears ran a total of 101 plays in the game; Brewer had to throw the ball 60 times to compile all that yardage. The Bears’ per-play average gain of 4.93 yards for the game would rank 109th nationally when compared to season totals for every team. Coming into the game, Baylor ranked 18th overall at seven yards per play.
If OU wasn’t scoring so easily, the Sooners could have run more clock and kept Baylor’s offense off the field. Instead, OU’s longest drive of the day went just eight plays and consumed under three minutes.
Yes, tackling still needs work. Sooner defenders still seem good for at least two lame-brained penalties every game. The middle of the unit still looks a little soft.
Polishing up those flaws in the defense would be nice. The bigger picture on that side of the ball looks promising, however.
*Doubt it’s a coincidence that the D played so well in a game in which more players saw meaningful snaps than usual. The rotation on the defensive line, in particular, appeared to keep them fresh.
*A few welcome substitutes: Patrick Fields, Dashaun White, Jon-Michael Terry, Isaiah Thomas.
*Cornerback Tre Brown probably had the best day of anyone on that side of the ball for OU. He tackled and covered well all game, breaking up four passes. BU wideout Denzel Mims bodying him up for a TD on a slant route demonstrates the downside of using a player his size, but it’s not as though Tre Norwood and Parnell Motley are gargantuan.
Don’t be surprised if Brown gets his first start next weekend at the Red River Shootout.
*Would be interested in hearing why Caleb Kelly got so much time in the second half. Is it possible he and Curtis Bolton are going to start rotating at WILL linebacker?
Whatever the reason, Kelly played with a little extra cilantro in his salsa.
*The Sooners forced BU to execute and string together long drives. It feels better to see your defense stoning the opposition, but bend-don’t-break philosophies remain the best strategies for stymying pass-heavy spread offenses.
*As much as I’d love to see a badass pass rushers out on the field for the Sooners, I like when Mike Stoops has to get creative to generate pressure on the quarterback. OU’s blitz packages versus the Bears were on point.
*You can blame passivity for OU’s inability to create turnovers, but scheme doesn’t account for the opportunities that were botched on Saturday.
*For the rewatch:
What facilitated Baylor’s occasional bouts of success on the ground?
Were there any particularly egregious tacklers (or non-tacklers)?
With Kenneth Mann sitting this one out, what did OU do to hold down the strong side defensive end position?
*Offensively, OU played an extraordinarily efficient game. Having watched Baylor play defense this year prior to this game, I expected something like that. It was still an exceptional performance.
The level of explosiveness from this offense, particularly in the passing game, is off the charts.
*Unfortunately, the run blocking seems to have graduated from concerning to a problem. I’ll have to take a closer look at what Baylor was doing to get a better idea of what went wrong, but it seems as though chemistry is lacking. (That and, well, losing Orlando Brown from last year.)
Guard Ben Powers’ availability could end up being a big story this week.
*Along those lines, the inability to get Trey Sermon going remains befuddling. It’s possible that he continues to be the victim of running into stacked boxes, but we’ll see.
*Apparently, Grant Calcaterra is at his best when he has to do something spectacular. (I did like seeing Brayden Willis get in on the action late in the game.)
*For the rewatch:
What’s happening on the left side of the line?
Was Kennedy Brooks the beneficiary of Baylor’s defense being gassed, or did he give OU reason to think he can be more of a force in the running game?
What was Baylor doing to pressure Murray?