For the first time since 2003, our Sooners made the trip home from Lubbock in a celebratory mood and it's safe to say they were not alone in their happiness. Sooner Nation needed this win almost as much as this Oklahoma football team, some might say we needed it even more.
Spirits were down prior to Saturday's afternoon kickoff, but after three games and a couple painfully dull bye weeks we finally got to see our Sooners. I say finally because Saturday was what we are all hoping beyond hope is the real Oklahoma football team. It was just one game, so plenty remains to be seen as to whether or not that is actually the case but for at least today let's just enjoy getting that Lubbock monkey off our back!
As for our Film Study, you know the drill by now. We'll post what we see and some things that stand out as we watch the replay of Saturday's game. Here we go.
* Very first play in the game and I wouldn't necessarily say my faith in Josh Heupel is restored (by any means), but on this first play was a sign that he 'got it.' It's a slip screen to Kenny Stills, which is a very easy throw for Landry Jones to make (made even easier by Tech's coverage) and it goes for a quick first down and a nice gain. What it showed though was that Heupel understands getting Landry some easy throws early builds his confidence and puts the offense in a rhythm. Again, it was just one play and the first of the game but it was something I was very happy to see early.
* Another good sign, they go right into the hurry up and Damien Williams picks up eight yards on a simple stretch play off right tackle. Side note - arm tackle this guy at your own risk future opposing OU defenders. He's not opposed to taking your arm off at the elbow. You have been warned.
* 1st Q, 13:40 - 2nd and 13 for OU from their own 49. Here the Sooners are in the pistol and a three wide set. Trey Millard is actually lined up as the tight end on the left side of the line. Interesting new little wrinkle there. He runs an eight yard in route and makes a nice sliding catch a couple yards short of the first down. What's interesting on this play, aside from Millard at tight end of course, is that he isn't Landry's initial read. His first read was Justin Brown, who is initially covered, but Jones makes a good decision and a nice throw here. Hey, it's progress!
* I know I won't be the first one on here to say it, but I think they need to ditch the Bell-dozer. We're less than two minutes into this game and they run him out for a 3rd and two. My issue isn't so much as on this particular play rather later in the game when he's vulturing touchdowns from a very deserving Damien Wiliams, but for some reason this bothers me. I'm torn though because a part of me says "Look, it works so who cares how they get it done" while another part says "At least give the offense a chance first."
Bell is the future and we can talk about whether that excites or scares me (not his fault, think Josh Heupel) but I almost think this special package hurts the offense at times. Am I crazy?
* All that said, VERY much liked the added threat of bringing Sterling Shepard on the jet sweep in the Bell-dozer.
* 1st Q, 11:45 - 3rd and 8 for OU from the Tech 31. Perfect play call here with the screen to Williams out of the back field. Gabe Ikard and Bronson Irwin get out in front and while neither get really great blocks, they do just enough to allow Williams to pick up the first down. Actually, OU is incredibly lucky Irwin isn't called for a pretty blatant holding out in open space. Really lucky.
* 1st Q, 11:05 - 3rd and 10 for OU from the Tech 13. Oh, Good Landry my how we've missed you. Just an absolutely beautiful throw to Justin Brown for the touchdown. Seriously, it could not have been thrown any better. He puts just enough air under it and Brown catches it in stride just a half step behind his defender. Nice work by Brown as well to get both feet down in-bounds. Great opening drive for the Sooners as they convert three third downs, the last being that touchdown throw. 7-0 OU
* I guess it wasn't a mirage. Mike Stoops actually opens up this game in a true dime formation, six defensive backs with Tom Wort being the only linebacker on the field (though that later changes). Hallelujah.
Teams are going to try and run against that formation, as Tech does here early, but Julian Wilson and Gabe Lynn aren't drastically smaller than Corey Nelson so assuming they can hold up against the run they should be fine.
* Should have been a three and out on Tech's opening drive, but Jamarkus McFarland cannot wrap up in the backfield.
* If no one ever blocked Tom Wort, he'd be one hell of a middle linebacker.
* It was odd seeing Demontre Hurst play one of his poorer games I can remember. He's been so consistent, it's just strange to see him get beat like he did a couple times in this game.
* 1st Q, 7:17 - 2nd and goal for Tech from the OU 12. Okay, I'm a fan of the dime package but maybe not down around your own goal line. Tech open up a hole I could run through and multiple OU players get destroyed on this play, allowing TTU's Kenny Williams to stroll into the end zone untouched. Watching it live, that drive scared the crap out of me. OU looks great, Tech comes back and answers way too easily, I thought our Sooners were in for a really long day. Fortunately, I was wrong. 7-7 tie
* Random OT - So Okie State can't have their paddles, but Tech can have cow bells? Not sure I follow that logic.
* Tress Way just booted a 72-yard punt. Welcome back, Tress. We missed you.
* Tech's second offensive possession, OU back in the dime, and already Wort is no longer the linebacker on the field. Maybe it's just a coincidence, though he did struggle in coverage on that first drive, but Nelson is on the field now instead of Wort.
* It may be a little thing for some of you, but for me I miss seeing an OU defense that when they make the tackle they drive the guy backwards. That happened today, more than once, and I'm a big fan. Nobody expects you to stop them on every single play, but when they make a play you make them pay for it.
* 1st Q, 4:30 - 1st and 10 for Tech from their own 14. Oh, Jamarkus. The big fellas so rarely get their hands on the ball, it's almost hard to blame the guy here. As for the play itself, absolutely fantastic recognition by the entire OU defensive line that Tech is running a screen here. King (at DT), McFarland, and Washington all immediately stop their rush and drop back to defend the pass. Washington actually tips the ball up into the air and into the waiting arms of McFarland.
The big fella starts to take off (if you can call it that) and as he's getting tackled low, a Tech player comes from behind and almost accidentally tips the ball out of McFarland's grip. It's just an unlucky play and at the time seemed to perfectly (in a sick way) sum up what we thought this OU team to be. Bad break for the OU defense.
* Casey Walker was borderline dominant in this game. OU is going to need a similar performance Saturday against Texas.
* 1st Q, 1:43 - 2nd and 9 for Tech from their own 41. Credit to Mike Stoops for finally getting creative with his blitz packages. They didn't work every single time (few do), but it's nice to see them at least trying to mix things up. Here they bring Colvin and Wilson on a blitz while dropping both Walker and Jordan Phillips into coverage. Tech does a very good job in picking it up and Doege makes a nice throw for a first down, but sometimes the other team is going to make plays. It happens. The point, as I was saying, is Stoops getting creative with his calls.
End of the 1st quarter and we're all nodded up at 7-7.
* It just wouldn't be an OU game if they failed to waste a timeout while on defense.
* I'm still baffled how Damien Williams only wound up with 48 yards rushing. Still thirteen plus minutes to go here in the second quarter, but it seems like every time he's run the ball he picks up eight or nine yards.
* 2nd Q, 13:34 - 2nd and 10 for OU from the Tech 49. Again, where has this Landry Jones been?!? OU in a four wide set with trips to the top of your screen and Williams in the backfield. Jones' first read, maybe two, aren't open so he calmly comes back to his check down (Williams) even as a Tech rusher is coming in his face. It's an easy dump off throw and Williams makes a nice move to pick up the first down. Yes, Landry it really can be that simple sometimes!
* I know there was some arguing on the long would be touchdown throw to Justin Brown, but I still think they made the right call. That said, there is no excuse for the game failing to be stopped to at least review the play. But then again, we were in Lubbock so in that respect it actually makes sense.
* Sterling Shepard has moves on top of moves. That is all.
* 2nd Q, 11:28 - 1st and goal for OU from the Tech 1. Bell comes back in and will punch this in, but this what I was talking about earlier. Williams has been terrific on this drive and OU is on the one yard line now following a very nice 18 yard pickup from Whaley. I just think you have to at least give either of those guys a chance to finish off this drive. They've earned it. I think both are fantastic teammates, but I just find it hard to believe those guys aren't pissed off knowing the only chance they have to score is if they do so from farther than ten yards out. 14-10 OU
* It wasn't quite Hammer-esque, but Aaron Franklin definitely just brought the boom on this kickoff return.
* Cannot stress enough how great a job OU's defensive line has done in their recognition of Tech screen passes. Credit to both them and the coaches for hammering that home in their game prep.
* Man, Bob wore out that sideline official in the first half. He was spitting hot fire at that guy.
* Interesting. Oklahoma's two defensive ends right now (8:50 mark in 2Q) are Rashod Favors and P.L. Lindley. Another sign of M.Stoops recognizing OU's lack of a pass rush thru the first three games and mixing it up trying to find guys that can pressure the quarterback. Not sure how much we can expect to see of either next week though as both are pretty undersized to go against what Texas is likely to run.
* 2nd Q, 8:08 - 3rd and 4 for Tech from the OU 43. First sighting of Frank Shannon as far as I can tell. OU is in the dime with Shannon as the lone linebacker on the field (Nelson is playing DE, which I'll never understand but these coaches love for some reason). Shannon creeps up, comes on the blitz, and gives the Tech running back trying to pick him up all he can handle. He forces Doege to get rid of the ball earlier than he'd like, but Tech is bailed out by a defensive holding call on Julian Wilson.
* For some reason, these announcers got really hung up on the fact that Tech WR Eric Ward was committed to OU at one point. They've brought it up like 15 times in the last five minutes. It's annoying, but then again so are they. Moving on.
* I don't know what happened in these last two weeks of practices that convinced Jay Norvell to give Durron Neal and Lacoltan Bester a chance, but I'm very excited whatever it was finally happened.
* I'll be very surprised if throws to Damien Williams out of the backfield are not a big part of OU's game plan against Texas. They used similar throws with great success last year to Whaley and I believe Williams is even better out in space on those kind of plays.
* Really nice sequence of events here for Landry. First he makes another nice (and quick) check down throw to Williams who, after getting a solid block on the edge from Bester, picks up about nine yards. Then after Williams is stopped for a three yard loss, finds Millard wide open for a first down. Then on the very next play, a play-action designed rollout to his left, finds Neal in stride, dragging across from the opposite of the field, on a really nice throw on the move and across his body.
* 2nd Q, 3:37 - 3rd and 6 for OU from the Tech 13. The offensive line gives Landry a perfect pocket from which to throw and he delivers a perfect strike to Stills in the back corner of the end zone. It helps that the Sooners go max protect and only send three guys out into the play, but credit Stills for easily beating his man in coverage. 21-13 OU
* 2nd Q, 1:46 - 2nd and 7 for Tech from the 50. Not much you can say here, just an incredible individual effort from Aaron Colvin. He starts to come on the blitz, realizes he isn't going to get there, so he leaps just as Doege releases the ball, and you know what happens next. Wow.
* 2nd Q, 1:15 - Down and distance doesn't really matter. I'm only mentioning this play because Justin Brown just crack-backed the crap out of a Tech DB, which was something I completely missed in my initial viewing. Brown acts like 'ho-hum' about it while true frosh Sterling Shepard does Brown's talking for him as the Tech guy works his way back to the sideline.
Unfortunately OU has to settle for a field goal and we go to the half with a 24-13 lead for OU. The second half Film Study will be posted shortly, if you're up for sticking around a little while longer.