The Sooners bounced back strong from an ugly performance against Army a week ago by routing Baylor 66-33 in Norman on Saturday. The pregame drama surrounding Kyler Murray didn’t rattle Oklahoma at all, as they scored early and often, effectively putting the game out of reach in the first quarter. It can sometimes be tough to find meaningful takeaways in blowouts, but we’re gonna try:
The Defense Showed Improvement –
After a less-than-stellar showing against Army, in which the Sooners’ D was on the field for a ridiculous 45 minutes, Kenneth Murray and company looked much better against a talented Bears squad. Murray continued to dominate in the middle, following up his record breaking performance last week with 17 tackles, including 8 solo efforts and one sack. His senior counterpart, Curtis Bolton had a busy afternoon as well, racking up 16 tackles of his own. Both Murray and Bolton rank in the top 11 nationally in total tackles, making Oklahoma one of just three schools with two players in the top 25 in that category. (Note: The statistics haven’t been updated yet for games played September 29th, so these numbers will change. Hard to imagine and 17 and 16 tackle day will hurt those guys, though).
One more note on the LB corps is that it was nice to see Caleb Kelly have success against Baylor. He had two sacks on the day, including this vicious blindside hit in the second half:
Baylor had success through the air in the second half, as Charlie Brewer put up 400 yards and had a pair of touchdowns, and probably could’ve had at least one more if it weren’t for some lazy route running by Denzel Mims in the first quarter. (Sidenote: Mims had one of the worst best days I’ve ever seen. One second he’s muffing a punt and just giving up on a sure touchdown, the next he’s making a massive play for the Bears. I was frankly a little shocked when I saw he had 11 catches and 110+ yards because during the game I felt like he was rooting for Oklahoma. Weird).
Despite a statistically solid day for Brewer, OU’s secondary actually looked pretty good. A big piece of that improvement likely was having sophomore Tre Brown back on the field after he missed last week. Brown had a phenomenal day, racking up 6 tackles and, more importantly, 4 passes defensed. Not a bad day, especially considering a storyline going in was that Oklahoma’s corners would potentially be outmatched by Baylor’s large, physical receivers.
Of course, the old habit of missing routine tackles reared its ugly head at times, allowing for Baylor to make big plays that should’ve been prevented. Oklahoma showed it can play defense on Saturday – how consisntely can it do so is a question that remains to be seen, and likely will be what determines the success of this season. Here’s to hoping Mike can get it figured out.
Kyler Murray Is Above Average
Kyler had a silly good day yesterday. He was 17 of 21 for 432 yards and six (6) touchdowns through the air, and added 45 yards and a score on the ground. Ho hum, just good enough for a 348.0 passer rating, which was the highest single game rating since at least 1996. He is a truly special player – the way he creates plays out of thin air is so fun to watch (the 3rd down play where he recovered his own fumble only to throw a dart on the run for a first down comes to mind) – and selfishly I think it’s a shame he’ll be playing baseball in the future. Check out this article from The Ringer for a nice 1,000 word summary on my feelings about this.
Now, these numbers don’t completely overshadow how the game started – with Murray on the bench. Missing or being late to practice is a bad look, no question. There will be chatter this week about the punishment he received and whether it was even a punishment at all. 3 plays is a pretty short suspension, after all. Perhaps other players will look at it as if QB1 is getting special treatment from Lincoln Riley. Perhaps it will create a rift in the locker room.
But probably not. If a little extra sleep is the secret ingredient to helping the guy put up 450+ yards and 7 touchdowns, then this fan/blogger is a proponent of practices that start later in the day. I’m joking of course (kind of), but as long as this isn’t a pattern and doesn’t happen again, then I do believe this is pretty much a non-issue.
Oklahoma Needs Ben Powers
It was an interesting day for the o-line. They flashed dominance at points, and looked completely lost at others. They had far too many penalties, and honestly were bailed out by the skill positions behind them. Sure, Trey Sermon had a 100 yard day, but how many times did he have to make someone miss in the backfield to make a play? And yes, they only gave up two sacks, but the guy we talked about in the last section had to show off how athletic he is too often for my liking.
The unit has been inconsistent throughout the year, both in performance and in makeup. Guys have been changed positions, lost their jobs, etc. All of this leads to a lack of cohesion and can slow the offense down. So, for a group that is struggling with this already, losing a key starter and leader is a huge blow. Powers’ absence was glaringly obvious early in the game and continued to be an issue throughout. Obviously, it wasn’t a make-or-break for this game, but as OU gets into the tougher stretch of its schedule, the big guys need to be fully healthy if the Riley attack is going to reach its full potential.
Don’t Watch Football Games With People That Bet Against Oklahoma
Both of my roommates bet on Baylor +14 for the first half and +23.5 for the full game. Not an ideal group to be watching the game with. I’ll admit I was pulling for the backdoor cover once the game was fully in-hand, but early on, we were living in a broken home.
Texas is up next for the Red River
Shootout Showdown next Saturday. Until then – Boomer Sooner.