Coming off its first loss of the season, a coaching staff shake-up and a bye-week, the new-look Oklahoma Sooners took down TCU in Fort Worth by the final score of 52-27. Oklahoma’s offense led the way once again, putting up 542 yards on just 69 total plays (~8 yards per play).
While these types of performances have come to be expected of the Sooners’ offense, it was clear that the bye-week did the team some good in the run game. After a bit of a shaky start to the season, with personnel shuffling resulting in some inconsistent performances, the offensive line absolutely dominated the TCU front 7. Oklahoma’s line bullied the Horned Frogs from whistle-to-whistle, paving the way for Kennedy Brooks, Trey Sermon and Kyler Murray to rush for over 325 yards.
It was a career day for Brooks, who rushed for 168 yards and a score. Coming into the day, the Mansfield, TX product had just 192 yards on 15 carriers. Unfortunately for Brooks, his 18 carries Saturday hurt his production stats – he now averages a pedestrian 10.9 yards per carry.
Sermon had a great afternoon as well. The 225 pound sophomore had a 100+ yard day as well and added a pair of touchdowns. Unfortunately for Sermon and for Oklahoma, the talented back went down late in the fourth quarter with a lower leg injury. Early reports suggest the injury isn’t as bad as initially thought, but all of Sooner Nation will be on the lookout for updates here.
Just as it is true that gaudy numbers are old-hat for the Sooners’ O, it is equally the case that opposing teams have come to expect near-record breaking days when playing against the Oklahoma defense. I am pleased to report that this did not occur on Saturday.
Sporting a new-look 4-man front, the Oklahoma defense forced stops early and often however reverted to some old habits late in the second quarter. It looked to be the same old story when the dreaded backup quarterback, Michael Collins came in to relieve Shawn Robinson, who had an absolutely dreadful day.
Collins, on the other hand, provided a near-immediate spark. Oklahoma was unable to capitalize on a pair of poor throws early on, both of which should’ve been easy turnovers. Collins made them pay each time, the first time with a simple screen to KaVontae Turpin who broke a couple poor tackles and raced for a score. The second, immediately after Bookie Radley-Hiles dropped a sure-fire pick six, Collins hit Jalen Reagor deep over Parnell Motley.
This was a stressful stretch for Oklahoma fans. Some bad habits reared up (missed tackles, poor man-coverage on deep balls) just as Lincoln Riley and the offense began to sputter, allowing TCU to make the game just a 3-point game by half. I say Riley began to sputter because he got conservative late in the half and he took full responsibility for it in today’s presser.
The Sooners’ defense righted in the ship in the second half. It allowed just three points, despite facing some tough starting field position, and forced a turnover late (Motley, making up for getting beat earlier) to post a respectable first day in the post-Stoops era. It was a performance that made clear that the team can play at a higher level. And while Mike wasn’t the only issue, perhaps having a new voice is just what they needed.
Now – I’ve saved the worst for last. It was an absolutely terrible day for Oklahoma’s special teams. Giving up a kick off return for touchdown on its first attempt, then kicked to Turpin again, who promptly returned the ball to the 40. And to make matters worse, Oklahoma was offside on that play. (He finished the day with 125 kick return yards). And then they kicked to him again on a punt. And he returned that 25 yards. The crown jewel of the special teams disaster Saturday was the delay of game on the punt team, who was already backed up inside its own 20. Against better offenses, this can easily cost you a game. Oklahoma and Shane Beamer have shown promise this season on special teams, so at the moment, this appears to be more of an outlier than an issue.
Despite the rough second quarter and the poor special teams play, it was a very positive bounce back game for the Sooners. They will be back in action next week when Kansas State comes to Norman.