With Texas and the start of conference play just around the corner, the Air Force Falcons gave Oklahoma plenty to think about in the Sooners' 27-24 win:
Game-Planning for the Option
OU's games against overmatched Utah State and now Air Force have added to the longstanding body of evidence that running quarterbacks pose the biggest challenge for the Bob Stoops-Brent Venables defense. Be it the zone read or the triple option, if the quarterback is a legitimate threat to scramble, the chances of beating the Sooners grow significantly.
That November trip to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies and Jerrod Johnson should be a doozy.
As we saw against Utah State, the Sooners' front four just can't handle the option. The Falcons gashed OU's D repeatedly over center Saturday, as fullback Jared Tew rolled up 93 yards on 21 carries.
Chalk up some of those busts to the d-line being unfamiliar with Air Force's scheme. However, on the heels of a strong performance against Florida State, the Cadets offered a sobering reminder of the general youth and inexperience of this unit. Injuries continue to limit Frank Alexander and Adrian Taylor, highlighting the depth issues along the front line.
Two steps forward, one step back for No. 6.
Kenney played the first two games of 2010 like the competent second receiver the Sooners have been seeking. Yesterday, he looked like the man of old, dropping two balls and barely registering in the passing game.
Fleming followed up a standout game against Florida State with one that had to leave some wondering if he should still run with the first team.
Fleming's greatest gaffe came on Air Force's final score. He was caught woefully out of position before the snap, enabling the Falcons to pop off of a 15-yard touchdown run.
In Fleming's defense, he was OU's second-leading tackler, tallying 11 stops on the game. For some reason, though, he seemed to miss almost as many tackles on the day, too.
Travis Lewis' Non-Injury
When Lewis went down in the first half, word of a possible knee injury spread through the Twitter universe pretty quickly. It was a "that would suck" moment.
Thankfully, he went back into the game quickly and ended his day with 13 total tackles and a sack.
If Sooner fans were worried about OU's run defense on Saturday, just imagine it without No. 28.
First Drive of the Third Quarter
Air Force took the opening kick of the second half and promptly marched 80 yards for the game-tying score. The Falcons hadn't just shifted momentum; they appeared to have it in a vice grip.
A 36-yard return by Mossis Madu on the ensuing kickoff put OU back in position to turn the tables, though. On the first play of the possession, Landry Jones stood tall in the pocket and got drilled a split second after he uncoiled a perfect strike to Ryan Broyles, taking OU down to the Air Force five yard line. Next play, DeMarco Murray waltzed into the end zone.
It didn't break Air Force, but it was big nonetheless.
I'll say without equivocation that Hurst was OU's most valuable defensive player on Saturday. Even though he only had three tackles in the entire game, Hurst played his assignments on the edge versus the option exceedingly well.
Here's one you don't hear every day: Special teams play saved the Sooners' day.
This time, the difference in the score was a missed field goal by OU's opponent. Little Jimmy Stevens was perfect on the day, drilling two field goals and three extra points.
(To say that Patrick O'Hara may have been Wally Pipped by Stevens would be an insult to Pipp's legacy of competence. Still, Stoops has a tough call to make at kicker this week.)
Punter Tress Way helped OU control field position, netting nearly 50 yards per attempt. Also, the return game was solid.
All in all, not bad.