Justin K. Aller
The Sooners escaped Morgantown with a 50-49 win. We'll take a look at what they did right and what they did wrong in our weekly Film Study breakdown.
This one could get interesting. I think most of you know me well enough by now to know there will be no punches pulled here. I am going to try to do my best to keep things relatively on topic (meaning as little rehashing of subjects like "Landry freaks out under pressure" that we're all painfully aware of at this point) so as to avoid this turning into a 10,000 word opus, which I'm sure no one would want to read. Let's get to it.
* Still amazed at how many empty seats there were last night. I know the guys at The Smoking Musket told us that might happen, but I was still surprised. Looked like Stillwater.
* 1st Q, 14:26 - 3rd & 15 OU from their 32. Long third down conversion here following a false start penalty to back themselves up five yards. Jones gets some pressure from his right, but wisely steps up into the pocket all the while keeping his eyes down field. Makes a bit of a dangerous throw back across his body, but it's spot on to Kenny Stills just past the first down marker. Really nice play there from Landry.
* 1st Q, 13:32 - 3rd & 5 OU from the WVU 47. Another terrific throw from Jones this time to Brennan Clay for a 25 yard gain. Again, pressure comes from Jones' right as he rolls to avoid it. Once again, not the most sound of fundamentals here as he throws the ball off balance and off his back foot but puts it on the money right in between two defenders. Wow.
* West Virginia doing some interesting things on defense early, really mixing up who comes on the blitz and where they bring them from.
* On this first Blake Bell run here on second down, Derek Farniok is in at right tackle and just gets destroyed to his inside by the WVU defensive end. Easily blows up the play as Bell has to stop his forward momentum and try to take it in another direction.
Now third down, OU lines up a three wide stack set to Jones' right with Trey Millard, Justin Brown, and Jalen Saunders. Brown runs a post to the back corner, Saunders runs a drag across the middle, while Millard runs a simple stop route planting himself just inside the goal line. In a zone coverage, the WVU linebacker cannot get over in time, easy touchdown throw for Landry. 7-0 OU
* I saw on Twitter that Daryl Williams supposedly had a sprained knee and ankle after getting rolled up on and I'll simply say I hope that's all it was. They had a shot on the broadcast of him on the trainers table when Landry came over to say something and pats him on the shoulder. It sure didn't look good. I suspect we'll find out Monday at Stoops' presser, so I guess we will just have to keep our fingers crossed until then.
* 1st Q, 9:52 - 3rd & 10 WVU from their 21. A quick three and out there by the OU defense would have been huge, but unfortunately a rare missed tackle from Tony Jefferson allows Tavon Austin to convert one of his roughly 957 big plays in this game.
Very simple release route of the backfield and Geno Smith finds Austin right around the line of scrimmage. Jefferson immediately recognizes it and comes up to meet him about two yards past the LOS. Austin plants his left foot, getting Jefferson to over commit to his right, before cutting back up inside for a 14-yard gain. Credit the kid for a great individual move in space. One of many to come, obviously.
* In theory, I certainly understand the idea of a seven defensive back set. That wasn't the issue in this game as far as I'm concerned. The issue was Mike Stoops' idiotic (yeah, I said it) decision to stick with it. You're getting mauled up front and gashed in the run game, why in the hell aren't Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin on the field? The lack of defensive adjustments in this game was beyond pathetic. I can accept the fact they weren't ready for Tavon Austin as a running back, but does that mean you do nothing to adjust your game plan? I mean, my word people!
* Pretty sure I saw it in the game thread, but I can't remember who said it so my apologies for not giving the proper credit. But the WVU wide receiver definitely stops on his route here allowing Aaron Colvin to make the easy interception. Credit Colvin for reading the route early and being in position, but that one is definitely not on Smith.
* FYI for this FOX announcer, his name is Kenny STILLS. Not Kenny STEALS.
* Oklahoma is going five on three up front and getting abused. You'd think from his vantage point up in the box Josh Heupel would pick up on this and quit running the ball right up the middle, none of which have produced anything remotely close to successful so far. You'd be wrong.
* Jones throws a two yard pass on 3rd & 13 forcing Oklahoma to settle for a field goal following the Colvin interception. 10-0 OU
* Patrick O'Hara was horrible on kickoffs. What is it going to take to get a freaking kicker into this program that can put the ball into the end zone?
* 1st Q, 3:17 - 1st & 10 WVU from the OU 42. At times it's not even that OU is out of position on these Austin runs, it's that he's so damn fast it doesn't even matter.
Will also say, this front four is getting worked but the safeties behind them are not helping. Here, on a long Austin run, Javon Harris gets too far upfield and tries to make up for it by diving back at Austin ankles. He (Austin) easily avoids this and is off to the races for a 32-yard gain. Also on this play, Julian Wilson playing middle linebacker, makes no effort to avoid a block and completely allows himself to be taken out of the play.
* It's almost as if Josh Heupel isn't comfortable unless this offense is facing 2nd & 9 (or worse). I mean, I understand that would make no sense, but you watch his play call choices on first downs and there really is no other reasonable conclusion.
End of the 1st Quarter (one in which our fifth year starting quarterback has no clue of the game clock which he allows to run out before getting a play off) Sooners lead 10-3.
* Probably not a coincidence that Shannon is in here and WVU gets a one yard gain on a first down run as well as a three and out for the OU defense.
* The holding being done by this WVU offensive line, and subsequently being ignored by this joke of an officiating crew, is rather impressive.
* 2nd Q, 12:01 - 3rd & 7 WVU from the OU 35. Austin, in the slot, matched up one-on-one with Julian Wilson. Wilson actually has really good coverage here, it's just a perfect throw from Smith. Puts it just out of the reach of a diving Wilson to find Austin for a big first down.
* Very next play, the worst pass interference call you will ever see in your life. Look, I get there is no uncatchable rule in college football but that doesn't mean you can fail to use common sense and simply pick up the flag. One of several absolutely atrocious calls in this game.
* About as weak a push as you'll ever see as WVU has no trouble punching it in from the one yard line on fourth down to tie the game at ten. The blueprint on beating this OU defense is so simple it's disturbing. Spread them out with multiple wide receiver sets, then run it right at them. Wash, rinse, repeat.
* 2nd Q, 9:50 - 2nd & 10 OU from their 24. Following a drop from Clay, the Sooners are facing a second and long deep in their own end. Saunders runs a quick little option route over the middle and Jones quickly finds him right in between two defenders. Saunders shows that Austin isn't the only one on the field with some jets as he immediately turns the ball up field, splitting the two defenders, and leaving them in his jet wash. He deftly avoids an ankle tackle coming from his blind side, takes a sharp angle to avoid the deep safety, and he's got nothing but green in front of him. Fantastic effort here from Stills as well who uses his speed to get out in front to take care of the only man on the field as he escorts Saunders into the end zone. 76 yards later, it's 17-10 OU.
* 2nd Q, 8:15 - 2nd & 21 for OU from their 13. After a stupid personal foul penalty on Saunders, OU is looking at a second and forever with their backs up against their own goal line. Absolutely perfect play call here from Heupel with a screen pass to Damien Williams out of the backfield. The offensive line and Landry do a great job of selling it allowing Williams and Gabe Ikard to get out in space. Actually, Ikard just gets in Williams' way as he turns on the jets to zoom right by Ikard for a 35 yard gain.
* 2nd Q, 5:22 - 1st & goal OU from the WVU 4. Kenny Stills has been flat-out dominant on this drive, only fitting that he would finish it off. Hard to really call this a fade route, but whatever it was it worked. The WVU corner never really gets his head around and Stills uses his hands to create separation at the last minute for an easy touchdown catch. 24-10 OU
* 2nd Q, 4:46 - 1st & 10 WVU from the 50. After a forty yard gain from Smith to Austin (sigh), the Mountaineers are in great field position here at midfield. They run a quick bubble screen to Stedman Bailey at the top of your television screen. What happens next is called a fumble in every other football stadium in the country, with the lone exception being this one in West Virginia on this particular night.
Bailey very clearly makes the catch, puts the ball away, makes a football move, only to have Colvin put helmet to ball and pop it out. Naturally, these geniuses rule it an incompletion.
* This is the perfect opportunity for this OU defense to get a stop, on third and ten, and keep their foot on the throat of this West Virginia team. They fail to do so, Smith finds Bailey for a 33-yard touchdown, and now we're in a shootout. I'm convinced this was the turning point of the game. If OU can force a punt, there is no reason to believe WVU can stop them from going down and taking a three touchdown lead. Maybe they come back and still make a game of it, but I really think in the midst of a four game losing streak and down 21 this would have been a much different game. 24-17 OU
* WVU employing the patented Von Miller stall tactic here with OU driving late in the first half.
* 2nd Q, 2:22 - 1st & 10 OU from the WVU 48. By far and away the best blocked play from the OU offense in this game as Damien Williams houses it. Ikard and Broson Irwin drive back the WVU defensive end just before Ikard comes off to pick up a linebacker in the second level. Williams explodes through the hole they've created and the WVU deep safety has no chance after taking a horrible angle on the play. Williams cruises into the end zone to make it 31-17 OU.
* Another great defensive play by Colvin to break up a pass intended for Bailey, knocking it up into the air and the waiting arms of Javon Harris. Also a really poor decision/throw from Geno Smith.
* I'm sure you know already, but I cannot even begin to describe to you just how different this OU run game looks when they go off tackle as opposed to trying to force it between the tackles.
* Uncharacteristic miss from Michael Hunnicutt to close out the half.
* Evidently, the refs had yet to meet their quota for horse bleep calls in this half as they sneak one more in here at the very end. As Tavon Austin is ducking out of bounds, Lamar Harris gently places two hands on him. Austin isn't knocked down, barley even breaks stride, but apparently constitutes a personal foul penalty somehow.
Despite the best efforts of the officials, West Virginia fails to get any points prior to the half. So the Sooners head to the locker room with a 31-17 lead.