Thank god for Kyler Murray…
I don’t think anyone expected that to be the reaction heading into Saturday night’s game against Kansas — the Big XII’s perennial bottom-dweller whose most notable moment over the past several years has been making Baker Mayfield grab his crotch on national television. (And beating Texas in 2016. People don’t forget).
But that’s pretty much what the takeaway from the Sooners’ 55-40 Senior Night win has been. The offense once again had to put up half a hundred to beat the Jayhawks because the defense, once again, couldn’t buy a stop. It was by far Kansas’ best conference performance of the year, as they racked up 524 yards, including 348 yards on the ground. Little stat for everyone reading – Kansas gained more yards on the ground against the Sooners last night than it gained TOTAL YARDS in all but one Big 12 game this season (the Jayhawks gained 368 total yards against Oklahoma State back in late September).
That’s not just bad. It’s terrible. And simply unacceptable for the caliber of program that Oklahoma is.
It’s not often you see a winning team in Dan Wolken’s Misery Index, but the effort and performance Oklahoma’s defense displayed Saturday made the USA Today columnist place the Sooners #1 in his list. In the article, Wolken seriously wonders whether Lincoln Riley should just onside kick after every score since it “probably couldn’t yield any worse results than the Oklahoma defense is producing on its own.” At this point, he honestly might be right.
It’s really disheartening to watch games that go like this, just knowing you’re in for a “first to 50 wins” sort of game every single week, no matter the opponent. But that is the state of the Oklahoma program right now – and it’s obvious more change is needed.
I don’t know what the solution is, but its clear that just firing Mike Stoops wasn’t the solution Sooner fans were hoping it would be. There are glaring issues with scheme, with fundamentals and with effort. This is a group who has lost its confidence and is simply not holding up its end of the bargain.
I would have to imagine that the Ruffin McNeil experiment will end following this season. Being a players’ coach is fine and great, assuming you’re producing results. He is not, and so he cannot be Riley & Co.’s long-term solution to fixing this mess. Who will replace him remains to be seen, but it’s not an understatement when I say this decision will define Lincoln’s career at Oklahoma. Expectations are high, and they must be met if the Sooners are ever to take that next step beyond just making the playoffs.
While Saturday’s story undoubtedly was the incompetence of Oklahoma’s defense, we can’t just thumb our nose at yet another 50+ point performance from college football’s most dangerous offense.
Kyler Murray was absolutely humming, putting up 371 total yards and five (5) touchdowns, including one 75 yard TD scamper that wowed everyone watching. Sometimes it can be easy to forget how fast the guy really. That run showed that if you give him an inch, he’ll take 80 yards and a touchdown. Carson Meier and Grant Calcaterra both had solid outings as they each were on the receiving end of Murray’s two touchdown strikes.
The rushing attack was all on Kennedy Brooks, who carried the ball 25 times for 171 yards and a pair of scores. Brooks carried the load for Oklahoma after Trey Sermon tweaked his ankle after his first and only carry of the night.
With 7 touchdowns accounted for, we’re missing one score to get to our final of 55. That TD came courtesy of Shane Beamer’s special teams unit as true-freshman, Brayden Willis blocked a punt deep in KU territory early in the fourth quarter. The ball bounced backwards and was scooped up by Curtis Bolton who walked in for an easy touchdown, his second of the year.
So two sides of the ball played well, while the third was just short of a disaster, and at the end of the day, Oklahoma is 10-1 with its hopes of a conference championship 4-peat still alive. Not terrible, all things considered.
However, I think we all know what to expect next week in Morgantown. I don’t have high hopes for the secondary against Will Grier and the Mountaineers, but maybe we’ll see a little bit of Sooner Magic out of the defense. Should OU come away with a win, they’ll be on their way to Arlington to get some revenge on Ok, Cool Tom and the Longhorns. But again, giving up 40 to the Jayhawks certainly doesn’t make me feel like that’s likely.
All I know for sure is, I’m taking the over.