Ronald Martinez - Getty Images
THIS is the Oklahoma Sooners offense we've all been waiting to see!
It's difficult to truly express just how enjoyable that was to watch. No, not the clip above from your favorite movie of all time, Ace Ventura. I'm talking about what we saw from the Oklahoma offense on Saturday against Texas Tech. We saw an OU offense that came as close to living up to expectations as we've seen all season. It was a performance, while far from perfect (don't worry, you know we'll get to that), that could be described as nothing less than their best of the season.
Our fear was that coming off a second bye in just three weeks Bob Stoops and company would remain as defiant in their refusal to admit changes were needed as they had been in their public comments all week. Fortunately for all involved that was not what we saw Saturday in Lubbock.
Instead what we saw was that Bob Stoops and company got it. They got that changes were needed and it would appear they made a number of them. Granted, when your players execute like Oklahoma's did on Saturday it makes any coach look like a genius but that does not change the fact these OU coaches deserve recognition.
Do we all wish it had happened prior to a loss as opposed to following one? Obviously. However, the fact that it did happen at all is a major positive for many of us who were unsure if it would ever come in the first place.
As down as nearly all of us were on Landry Jones heading into Saturday's game, he looked like a completely different quarterback. There were multiple instances that clearly stick out in my memory of the game in which Jones remained remarkably cool in the face of pressure. The sight of which has been about as rare as sightings of mythical legends such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.
There were also multiple times in which Jones initial read, possibly even second or third, was not available and he actually came back to his check down receiver. HE CAME BACK TO HIS CHECK DOWN RECEIVER.
This, my friends, was a sign of progress and it's the only thing any of us who have been critical of Jones in the past have ever really asked for from Jones. It's actually a perfect example of why Jones has been so frustrating and why he has so many critics. It's because of games like Saturday, where Jones can look so good that when Bad Landry rears his ugly head it baffles the mind how one player can actually be that bad after seeing him make plays few other quarterbacks can make.
His final stat line of 25/40, 259 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions certainly aren't earth shattering. But it was so much more about the confidence he displayed than the stats he put up.
What made Jones' performance all the more exciting was the fact that, again for the first time all season, he didn't just lock in on Kenny Stills for the entire game. Jones spread the ball around incredibly well, getting multiple receivers involved in the passing game. Sterling Shepard had four receptions for 41 yards, Durron Neal recorded his first two receptions as a Sooner for 38 yards, Trey Millard had two catches, Justin Brown had three and a touchdown, Lacoltan Bester even got in on the action. All of that without even mentioning Stills who finished with seven catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. While running back Damien Williams actually finished as OU's leading receiver putting up an impressive six receptions for 82 yards and was a frequent target on checkdowns in our previously mentioned progress witnessed from Landry Jones.
If you'll allow us a Captain Obvious moment, when you spread the ball around like that it makes your offense much tougher to defend. It's something this Oklahoma team can do because of all the talent they have at their skill positions and obviously something we all hope can continue over these next eight games.
Now, about that running game. I'm going to try really hard not to turn this into an overly negative nitpicking session, but it was hard not to come away still disappointed. It was a little odd as in watching the game, at least for me anyway, it felt like the run game was working quite well. But following the game, and even at halftime actually, in going back and looking at the final stats it was really pretty average at best. Just 121 yards on 29 total carries for a 4.2 yard average per carry isn't horrible, but it also isn't really that great.
Additionally, if you remove seven Blake Bell carries and a reverse to Stills the OU backs really only got 21 carries in the entire game. Jones finished with 40 passing attempts, so even if you use those 29 attempts Josh Heupel still clearly favored the pass over the run yet again.
The leading rusher, both in attempts and yards, was Damien Williams and his 14 rushes for 48 yards. To be fair, Williams did have 20 total touches, but it was hard not to feel as if he still did get enough carries on Saturday. Following Williams, Dom Whaley had 22 yards on just two carries and clearly had very few opportunities in the game for some unknown reason.
However, Williams did get a "starter's" share of the carries and Trey Millard was much more involved in the game both in his touches and the number of plays he was on the field. So in that respect, you have to credit the coaches for actually doing what they told us they would do.
As for why guys like Landry Jones and Kenny Stills were in the game with OU up 28 points late in the fourth quarter? Well, that's just who we've all come know Bob Stoops to be. It doesn't make any sense, it never has, and it never will. It's just Bob Stoops.
I can almost guarantee you there will be a record setting number of "See, I told you so" individuals on Oklahoma sports talk radio shows throughout the coming week proclaiming how smart they were for stating this Sooners team is just fine. In addition to being idiots, those people were wrong before Saturday and while OU came away with the win those people are still wrong. This Oklahoma team still has its issues to be sure, but for the first time all season we saw a team actually capable of winning the Big 12.
Is that this team's actual identity? I can't tell you that right now. The schedule ahead is not an easy one and it starts this Saturday in Dallas. However, for the first time all season we saw an OU team we could get excited about and that is a very, very welcome feeling.
Just keep your fingers crossed it lasts longer than one week.