MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 29: Jaz Reynolds #16 of the Oklahoma Sooners pulls in a pass against Allen Chapman #3 and Tysyn Hartman #2 of the Kansas State Wildcats in the second quarter at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
I'm not gonna lie, these are always more fun to do after a big win. That said, it's more than a little frustrating to be sitting here on a Sunday morning having seen this game and knowing that Texas Tech got obliterated on their own field by Iowa State. I'm just speechless as to how this OU team could have lost to them, but we won't get into that as I try to stay on topic.
As for this game, it was a tale of two halves or as some have put it really more three quarters vs. one quarter. So we'll try and look for some adjustments that were made or just individual assignments that were won that led to such drastic differences between the two segments. Also, some of the different wrinkles we saw and specifically the red zone opportunities. Clicking play on the ol' DVR . . . now.
* First play of the game and seeing it the day after, I still feel just awful for Dom Whaley. It's hard to watch the replay and see him get rolled up on from behind and his ankle. The trainers are cutting his shoe off and you can just tell he is in an incredible amount of pain. Just wrong place, wrong time kind of deal but that doesn't make it any less of a sickening feeling for a quality young man. A full and speedy recovery Dom, we're all rooting for you!
* 12:24 1st Qtr, 1st and Goal OU. Still in the opening drive of the game, just after Broyles had dived for the pylon though replay showed he stepped out at about the one and a half yard line. I must have been in a daze because I remember watching this live and having no clue that Blake Bell was even in the game. As it happened, I honestly thought it was Landry running it in on a keeper. ESPiN even shows him in the huddle on the sideline as they're getting ready to go line up and I apparently just missed it.
As for the play itself, OU is in a major 'jumbo' package with to TEs and both FBs (Millard and Ripkowski), in the backfield with Bell in the shotgun, and Broyles out wide as the lone WR. The entire right side of the line crashes down hard to their left at the same time as left guard Adam Shead pulls to his right and gets a crushing block to create the lane that Bell strolls through untouched.
Given the massive struggles this line has had in plays like this you'd think this was a different team. Easily the best they've executed down in this area all year. Now some of that had to do with Bell in the game I'm sure, which there is no way KSU could have been prepared for, but it's still execution and to see it here was glorious. It's funny to watch it again because you can tell that Bell was just waiting to get hit even as he's running it in, but that hit never comes and he almost runs it right up into the stands. He's VERY eager to celebrate and it's cool to see a young kid get his first career touchdown in his home state. Hopefully he had some family at the game. 7-0 OU
* Random note - Adam Shead might be playing as well as any offensive lineman right now. He's a redshirt freshman, but has looked borderline dominant these last two weeks. He has been a welcome addition to the line at left guard and something to keep an eye on the rest of this year.
* 10: 53 1st Qtr, 3rd and 4 KSU. Tom Wort makes his presence known early. Klien makes a hesitation fake like he's going to run it up the middle then drops back to pass. Wort recognizes the fake and comes crashing in from his MLB spot. Hubert, the KSU RB, stays in to pass protect and tries to cut Wort but he easily sidesteps it and swallows up Klein for an eleven yard loss. Hubert certainly did his QB no favors, but also credit Tony Jefferson who was initially beat but got back in coverage to take away Klein's primary WR.
* 9:30 1st Qtr, 2nd and 6 OU. On this play you can see RB Brandon Williams' inexperience. From the snap you can tell it's a play that isn't going to work, it's just not blocked very well. Instead of just taking what little is there, he tries to bounce it to the outside and loses five yards. With more snaps I have no doubt he recognizes this and instead just cuts it up inside and takes what he can get, but this is what happens when you never play him and then just throw him out there. I absolutely hate that it took a Whaley injury to make it happen, but hopefully now the coaches will start playing this kid in meaningful situations so taking his redshirt off wasn't a complete waste.
* Fortunately on the next play, 3rd and 11, OU calmly gets a first to extend the drive on a short crossing route to Finch who gets his head almost ripped off courtesy of a vicious facemask penalty.
* Random note - Seeing much, much better footwork from Landry on these first two drives. He hasn't necessarily been under pressure, but there have been a couple times where he held it longer than he would have liked and he kept a good base underneath him instead of throwing off his backfoot like we've seen him do so many times.
* 7:16 1st Qtr, 3rd and 10 OU. After two less than impressive throws by Landry, we're looking at 3rd and 10 from the KSU 11. Four wide set with Finch in the backfield next to Landry in the shotgun. Broyles and Dejuan Miller at the bottom of your screen, both run inside post routes with Broyles underneath. Landry has ALL DAY to throw thanks to outstanding pass protect from his o-line.
Seriously, look at that! Can you get better pass protection? Miller leaps to make a fantastic grab, catching the ball with his hands mind you and not his body, then does an even better job to get not just one foot in but both. For the life of me, with all his physical gifts, I'll never understand why Miller didn't have a bigger impact in his four years but if he can close out this season with some big games I'll be very happy for him. 14-0 OU
* On the ensuing kickoff, OU pooches it and still somehow gives up a 30 yard return?!? But yeah Bob, you don't have a special teams issue (rolls eyes).
* 4:44 1st Qtr, 3rd and 7 OU. The enigma that is Landry Jones on display here. Again, just outstanding pass blocking by the o-line giving Landry all day to throw. He clearly comes off his initial read (progress Landry!) and checks to Broyles running a post route over the middle. He makes a perfect throw just over a leaping defender hitting #85 in between basically three defenders. It's NFL type throws like that which make some of the other stuff he does so baffling.
* 3:34 1st Qtr, 3rd and 2 OU. Bell is back in on a third and short as OU brings Finch in motion out of the slot on another zone read play. Unfortunately, there appears to be some confusion on the play and Bell winds up dropping the ball on the turf. It's a shame to because watching the blocks the o-line gets, the hole up the middle is easily as good as the one he walked into the end zone on. It would have easily been a first down and maybe even a big gain when you look at some of the blocks on the second level. They'll work out these kind of kinks with more reps, but as it is now OU is forced to punt.
* 1:13 1st Qtr, 3rd and 8 KSU. After two perfect contain plays by the OU defense on zone read run plays, OU has the Wildcats in third and long backed up on their own 14. Klein drops back to pass and the Sooners have perfect coverage, get some pressure as the pocket starts to crumble, forcing Klein to pull it down. Big Frank had got a little too far up field, creating a big hole to Klein's left that he spots and takes off. Corey Nelson is in position to make the play, kind of looked like he might have been spying Klein, but takes a poor angle on the play underestimating Klein's speed. R.J. Washington was chasing from behind, but also couldn't catch him as Klein somehow scrambles for a first down. This was also the first 1st down of the quarter for the KSU offense. At the end of the play, Washington is very lucky not to draw a late hit call as he tackles Klein well out of bounds. The K-State fans would whine about several calls later on, but IMO they had a right to be upset about that one.
* 0:12 1st Qtr, 1st and 10 KSU. Not a big deal here, but this is the K-State flea flicker where Jefferson gets a PI call. I'm sorry, but this is a terrible call. There is no body contact whatsoever. They are both hand fighting for position and yeah Jefferson grabs his right arm, but it's freaking football for god's sake. To me, this is 100% a home field call.
End of the 1st quarter, 14-3 OU.
* 15:00 2nd Qtr, 1st and 15 KSU. Klein's long TD run. OU is back in their idiotic three man down line, which IMO directly leads to this TD run. Well that and some pretty crappy tackling, but the three man line doesn't help. Because it allows the center to come clean off the snap and get untouched to the second level swallowing up Travis Lewis. Klein follows his FB, who blocks Wort, through the gaping hole and is met by Jefferson for what would have been a decent gain if he just wraps up. Instead he tries to lay a double forearm shiver of some sort which Klein calmly bounces off of and is off to the races. Safety Javon Harris takes a pretty bad angle on the play or he also has a chance to prevent it from being a long TD run, but IMO Jefferson should have ended this before it even got that far. This kid is not Tebow, but we sure just made him look like it. 14-10 OU
* 13:49 2nd Qtr, 1st and 10 OU. The Sooners are driving, looking to answer KSU's score. Once again, Landry has all day to throw and seems to lock onto Trey Franks very early. The KSU defender clearly sees this and jumps all over a comeback route, picking Landry off. After the game, Bob blamed this on Franks and I will admit it looks like a very lazy route. I will say on the replay, it looks like Landry eyes at least are not initially focused on Franks but that may be me reading too much into it. Either way Franks makes no effort to play defender and it's a drive killing turnover.
* On the first KSU play following the INT, Ronnell Lewis plays the zone read about as bad as humanly possible. He shows zero discipline, immediately crashing down on the RB as Klein calmly pulls the ball back out and takes off for a 30-yard gain.
* 12: 48 2nd Qtr, 1st and Goal KSU. I'm not gonna lie to you, watching this live, at this point I'm VERY worried about our chances. We've lost all momentum and KSU just physically manhandles our defense, way too easily pushing Klein into the end zone to take a 17-14 lead. Knowing what we know now, it shows the character this team has that we might have been doubting after Tech. 14-17 KSU
* 11:53 2nd Qtr, 2nd and 7 OU. Clearly wasting no time, the Sooners offense is on the move. Setting up this play with two previous bubble screens, Jaz Reynolds is about to make his first of several big plays. Landry gives his now trademark shoulder pump fake before finding Reynolds between two defenders. Reynolds tips the ball to himself before hauling it in and you can't really appreciate how good a catch it was till they show the replay. He does such a good job of bringing it in that he never even lets come close to touching the ground. If he lets it get into his body as he's falling to the ground, it's the kind of play that goes to replay and might be overturned.
* On the very next play, they go right back to him on a quick seam route off play action to Brandon Williams. He's hit at the five yard line just as he catches the ball, but leaps as he's falling backwards while at the same time extending the ball to break the plane of the end zone. Just one hell of an effort play, no other way to say it. The XP kick is very low and blocked, but Hunnicutt got no favors from his blocks. 20-17 OU
* 10:36 2nd Qtr, 2nd and 8 KSU. I'll be quick, but I pointed out the bad so I wanted to take a sec and point out the good. Klein on a keeper play here runs right up the middle into a mass of bodies, he bounces it outside after getting stuffed, and looks to have plenty of green in front of him. Jefferson, fighting off a block from the TE, comes from out of nowhere (or at least out of the picture) and closes on Klein like a freaking missile. He pulls him down from behind on a solid tackle and you can see Klein start to get up a little slower.
* Random note - KSU had a lot of issues getting the play call in during the first half. They just burned their third and final timeout at the 6:33 mark. I think I heard them say they had two guys who called their plays on offense. How can that possibly work?
* 2:14 2nd Qtr, 1st and 10 OU. Landry's second INT. Again, IMO at least, he locks onto his primary WR right from the get to. This time it's Stills who is running a deep post route. Now he falls down so it's hard to put it all on Landry, but he falls down coming back for the ball because it's so under thrown. For me, that's at least 65/35 on Landry vs. Stills.
* KSU gives OU an absolute gift with a fumble by Hubert, but that was only after another fumble by Lockett that the defense could have easily had if they fall on it before it goes out of bounds. As it is, OU takes over on the KSU 36. The offense does nothing with it and forces Hunnicutt to come out to attempt a 53 yard field goal. Now if you had been fortunate enough to be watching this game with me in my basement, you might be the proud new owner of jtesooner's house. I would have bet just about anything this had no chance of being good, but give the kid credit for making what I'm sure will be the longest kick of his career. I'm pretty sure it scraped the back side of the cross bar going over, but as far as I know those still count for three points. 23-17 OU
That's it for the first half, plenty more fireworks and some quality defense coming up in the second half.