Chaotic. Fast Paced. Hostile. Bedlam lived up to it’s name yet again as the Sooners won a shootout in Stillwater, 62-52. Upon the first watch, you’d think the Oklahoma did just enough to survive despite winning by two scores. On the second watch, Oklahoma’s issues were still glaring but the there were some bright spots that went unnoticed.
Let’s rip this band-aid off now as it is week-to-week the most talked about topic: defense. Oklahoma’s defense gave up a season high 661 yards of total offense; 448 of it through the air and 228 on the ground. Sounds pretty bad, huh? Well it was. It was also to be expected against the nation’s 2nd best offense.
With little to no pass rush, Mason Rudolph carved up the Oklahoma secondary in the first half and Justice Hill exploited poor tackling technique to the tune of 228 yards. It wasn’t all bad. No seriously, there are some positive notes that shouldn’t be ignored.
- Two best offenses that country has to offer went punch-for-punch for
four quarters, a single half? Despite the national narrative, Oklahoma’s defense held the nations 2nd rated offense to exactly zero points in the 3rd quarter and just 14 in the the 4th.
- This season, Mason Rudolph has had an average completion percentage of 63.3%, however the Sooners held him to just 51.8% last night on 54 attempts.
- He was also held to a season low, 8.3 yards per attempt (averaging 10.72 yards per attempt this season), not too bad.
- Oklahoma’s freshmen show a lot of potential. Tre Brown would come up with 2 interceptions (both negated by penalty). Tre Norwood would lead the team in total tackles with 7 on the night. Robert Barnes iced the game with an interception in the end-zone.
- Will Johnson played maybe his best game in an Oklahoma uniform. With Oklahoma State threatening in the redzone, he had a nice read on Mason Rudolph coming away with a key interception.
- DJ Ward and Kenneth Mann are so close to taking this defensive line where it needs to be. Not the most powerful guys but their technique and aggressiveness just seem to keep getting better these past couple weeks.
Oklahoma’s Offensive Line Took A Step Back:
Oklahoma still has one of the best offensive lines in country, but on Saturday a smaller, quicker Oklahoma State defense caught them off guard. The Sooners surrendered three sacks in a row forcing them out of field goal range. Another look at the film shows a majority of sacks were caused from simple assignment mistakes, but there were some plays were the line just got out played. Look for Oklahoma to clean things up and possibly simplify some schemes.
Marquise Brown was close to unstoppable. His 9 receptions for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns made up for nearly 34% of Oklahoma’s offense in Stillwater. It marks set a new school record for yards in a single game putting him ahead of names like Dede Westbrook, Ryan Broyles, and Sterling Shepard.
Brown has really exploded for the Sooners; in his past three games he has accounted for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns and positioning himself as Mayfield’s go-to receiver down the stretch. This important as coverage should shift to Brown and
Also a fun-fact that I put on Twitter the other night. Dede Westbrook had 46 receptions for 743 yards and 4 touchdowns during his first season at Oklahoma. After Saturday, Marquise Brown has 38 receptions for 743 yards and 4 touchdowns.
It is REALLY hard to tell what is and isn’t targeting nowadays. Earlier this year CeeDee Lamb was ejected for a “blindside” block on a Tulane player where head-to-head contact did not occur. Against Texas, at the 3:08 mark in the second quarter, a Longhorn defender dove shoulder first into Mayfield’s head well after he began his slide. No call. Now, Will Johnson. During the game I noted that Will Johnson’s hit was technically helmet to helmet contact, but disagreed with the call as it didn’t appear to be egregious or forcible.
So to get a better I idea of what targeting REALLY is, I looked up the exact criteria provided by the NCAA:
“Targeting” means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:
- Launch—a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area
- A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground
- Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area
- Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet
Looking back at the play again, Will Johnson didn’t leave his feet. He crouched, but actually veered his head away from Hill as he was falling down. He did make contact with the helmet, which in this case would qualify, however was not with the crown of helmet but the side (again veering away). At this point, the criteria seems more subjective than objective. Like holding, it can be called every play as there is some sort of helmet-to-helmet. In my opinion intent should be added to the criteria. If a player makes a valid attempt to avoid helmet-to-helmet, an ejection can be avoided.
Oklahoma Will Have To Overcome The Narrative:
I’m writing this just as the CFB Playoff Ranking show started. By the comments, you would think Oklahoma was sitting outside looking in with three losses. The popular opinion by talking heads is OU can’t play defense, and while OU has struggled they have also played some of the best offenses in the nation while teams like Alabama and to an extent Georgia have been coasting on defense as both teams have faced some of the nation’s worst offenses.
A 10 point win over the nation’s second best offense won’t be enough. Oklahoma needs to make a statement and with TCU heading to Norman this weekend, they’ll get their chance.