Justin K. Aller
The Oklahoma defense turned in their worst performance in program history. Landry Jones, Kenny Stills, and the OU offense somehow overcame it.
On a night when the Oklahoma defense could do nothing right, the offense came through with a historic performance of their own. And not just from the statistical perspective, but that game winning drive was a first for both Landry Jones and Bob Stoops.
Given the circumstances, an ultimately meaningless game in a game that never should have been that close to begin with, it's difficult to call it a career defining drive, yet that's exactly what if felt like. Only adding to the "legend" were the postgame comments from Josh Heupel where he revealed the final touchdown throw from Jones to Stills, on that quick slant, was a result of an audible called on the field by Jones.
For all of the criticism lobbed at Jones throughout his time in Norman, some of it deserved more of it not so much, to make and execute a call like that, in that moment, was incredibly impressive. I suspect there will be a number of OU fans too far gone to give him the credit he deserves here, but those people were never going to be impressed no matter what he did.
Now, does it forgive all the mistakes made in the past? Of course not. But when the guy makes positive plays, it's only fair to acknowledge those as well, right? And make them he did.
When you go 38-for-51 with 554 yards and six touchdowns, it's safe to say you played well. Was he perfect? No. But if that's your expectation, then it's high past time to make the necessary adjustment. He spread the ball around, came back to his check downs, and secured his first ever come-from-behind, game winning drive.
As for the other Oklahoma quarterback in this game, the shine may finally be coming off the Bell-dozer package. West Virginia defended it as well as any opponent has thus far and Josh Heupel continues to confuse with his refusal to get creative with it. Blake Bell finished with just 12 yards on five carries, each of which were a significant struggle.
Where to start when it comes to the wide receivers? I suppose it's only natural to do so with Kenny Stills, he of the career high four touchdown receptions. Stills was as dominant in this game as we've ever seen him be, continually abusing the WVU secondary in the all important red zone. You cannot stress enough how huge his play was in this game given the way West Virginia was defending Bell and Oklahoma's struggles to finish drives on the ground. It's easy to say now just how important getting touchdowns in those situations, as opposed to field goals, was clearly the difference in this game.
No shortage of options to move on to next. Could it be Jalen Saunders and his seven receptions, 123 yards, and that ridiculously impressive long run and catch for that 76-yard touchdown? Or Justin Brown, who has been a godsend this year by the way, and his six receptions for 112 yards, several of which were in big spots? Or a true freshman in Sterling Shepard coming through with a near 100 yard performance of his own? Like I said, no shortage of options.
As for the run game, well, it left more than a little to be desired. While Damien Williams' 163 total yards, 92 of which came on the ground, were great but much like last week against Baylor, the Sooners struggles to run the ball consistently against one of the worst defenses in the country was more than slightly alarming.
One might point to the insistence of repeatedly running the ball, up the middle, into a mass of bodies for little or no gain. As opposed to, oh I don't know, running off tackle or, I don't know, maybe some misdirection. But what would I know? Sadly, none of these things are new problems nor does there appear to be a solution in the near future.
Issues aside, it was a a record setting performance and a necessary one seeing as it was the only thing between yet another immensely disappointing loss on the road.
Accentuate the positive is what all the cool kids say, right?