And we're back. For the second half. As we all know, this one went slightly better for our Sooners. So it should be slightly more enjoyable to break things down.
* OU opens up the second half in the hurry up and clearly is the most effective they've been, offensively, the entire night. The problem becomes is this the only way they can run their offense effectively?
* 3rd Q, 12:55 - First sign of the Bell-dozer and UTEP plays it about as well as you can. The only problem was OU only needed about six inches for the first down and while it's close, Bell could basically fall forward and pick that up. It's blocked pretty well, though Ripkowski does get uncharacteristically stood up, and it leaves Bell one-on-one with a UTEP safety. Bell takes him on, gets flipped up in the air, and picks up the first down.
* Even this early into the second half, you can start to see the Oklahoma offensive line starting to look like they should look.
* Kish is doing some odd things with the linebackers here in UTEP's first drive of the second half. Almost like Nelson is lined up as the MLB and Wort at WLB.
* 3rd Q, 10:03 - And as soon as I type that, I'm shown just how little sense it makes. It's Jeffery gashing the OU defense again and doing so as a direct result of his offensive line getting to the second level of the OU defense about as easily as humanly possible. So easily in fact, that Nelson actually gets double teamed by two of them. That's right, they had so little to do with OU's defensive line that both had the freedom to release and go double team an OU linebacker. A touchdown saving "tackle" from Jefferson limits it to a 15-yard gain.
* 3rd Q, 8:56 - HOLY CRAP!!!! Here is an actually, real, dime package. Only one linebacker on the field. Hold on, let me repeat that. ONLY ONE LINEBACKER ON THE FIELD. I'm fairly certain that is the first time anyone has been able to type that about an OU defense in what, 8-9 years? Four down linemen, one linebacker, six defensive backs. Wow, it truly does exist. Seriously, as an OU fan this is the equivalent of seeing Bigfoot. Oh, and by the way it works. Sooners hold on third down and force a UTEP punt.
* 3rd Q, 8:42 - OU gets the ball back on their own 20 and open with a simple run play from Damien Williams. It's a little thing in the course of a game, but one of the things going back and breaking it down like this something you really take notice of. Williams takes the hand-off and quite frankly, the play is not blocked very well at all. Ikard kind of gets a block on his man, but he's still able to get an arm on Williams. Add to that, a second UTEP defender, completely unblocked, who is basically waiting for Williams in the hole. Impressively, Williams simply lowers his pads and runs through both arm tackles without even breaking stride. He turns what I can almost guarantee you with Clay or Whaley would have been a two yard gain into an eight yard gain.
* 3rd Q, 6:48 - I don't know what to call this play. First it was New & Improved Landry, then he reverts to Bad Landry. UTEP brings the blitz on 3rd and 4 and the pocket immediately collapses. N&I Landry uses excellent footwork to shuffle out to his left, keeping his eyes down field. Unfortunately, he doesn't really square and/or set his feet on his throw and as a result misses a very open Taylor McNamara high and slightly behind. If that throw is on target, it's at least a 20-25 yard gain and extends the drive. Just one of countless opportunities Oklahoma failed to convert that could have easily changed this game significantly.
* Man, Daniel Franklin got destroyed on that one punt return. Thankfully, he was okay. Something tells me he'll get his revenge later this season. If you haven't been paying attention, he is getting that same kind of release on punts that James Winchester got the last two years. And Daniel Franklin goes about 6'2" 230, so the second a return guy doesn't make that fair catch call . . . look out.
* 3rd Q, 6:24 - This is the 71-yard run from UTEP's Jeffery. Have to credit Stoops for describing the play perfectly today (Mon.) in his weekly presser. The play is quite clearly designed to go up the middle, but OU completely collapses the middle of the line. To Jeffery's credit, he quickly recognizes this and bends the play back to the outside. Aaron Franklin has a chance to stop him for a minimal gain, but misses the tackle and at that point the only thing stopping him from a 97-yard TD run is Javon Harris. Jeffery gives Harris what some might call a stutter-step move and Harris misses the open field tackle but slows Jeffery just enough. Trailing the play, in an incredibly impressive display of speed and more importantly effort, is Franklin who missed the initial tackle. Fortunately, Mr. Reliable, Aaron Colvin runs the play down from the back side, but only after said 71-yard gain.
* Very next play, you see why the coaches (and myself) like Javon Harris. UTEP runs a quick WR screen play and Harris immediately recognizes it. He closes the gap incredibly quickly and is there a split second after the ball arrives. Makes the tackle for a four yard loss.
* Just saw Sterling Shepard in for a play, so once again our commenters were right and oddly SoonerSports.com was wrong. Also worth mentioning, it was pretty clear that Whaley wasn't quite the old Dom Whaley but his o-line is doing him no favors so far.
* Unlucky for Justin Brown who just made a fantastic diving effort on the sideline. He's definitely going to make some plays this year.
* It's frightening to watch just how easy Jeffery cuts these runs back and how there is literally no OU defender their in the cut back lane. Frightening.
* 3rd Q, 1:10 - I think this one play might sum up why Jamarkus McFarland has been such a frustrating player to watch. This is just picture perfect technique for a defensive tackle. He gets his hands into the guard, stands him up, rips him aside, and just swallows up the UTEP running back. It just doesn't get any better than that. But that is what's so frustrating with McFarland, that you only see it in brief glimpses.
* Thru three quarters and damn, Tony Jefferson was all over the field in this game.
End of 3rd Q, 10-7 OU
* My lord, it just defies all logic how easily this defense still continues to get beat by shallow, crossing routes over the middle. UTEP didn't do it a lot in this game, but every single time they did, it worked. Expect to see a lot more of this once conference play starts. It's not like Big 12 teams are unaware of this fact.
* Another glimpse from McFarland, who is getting double teams on this play, but still fights through it to get the initial hit on the UTEP running back.
* Just saw the R.J. Washington we need to show up this year. Destroy the UTEP left tackle with a pure speed rush and is a split second from getting the sack and a possible forced fumble.
* The UTEP fake punt - Worth mentioning again that reserve LB Caleb Gastelum was the guy who made the tackle on the failed fake attempt. Jaydan Bird comes in late and the tv cameras went right to him following the play, so that may have been the reason people initially credited him for the tackle. Good recognition from Gastelum on the play though.
* This isn't a knock on Landry as there are all kinds of different type of player, but Blake Bell just has born leader written all over him. At the end of the day that may prove to mean very little, but I just have a feeling guys are going to be willing to run through a brick wall for him next year.
* 4th Q, 10:48 - Without question, the most unexpected touchdown pass we'll see this season. OU is in the shotgun (weird!!!), four wide set, with Brannon Green is split out to Landry's left. He just runs a very simple option route and really doesn't even create that much separation, but Landry makes an absolutely perfect throw for the easy TD catch. You can tell how unexpected it was by the way his teammates mob him on the sideline, until Trey Millard comes over to grab him and pull him back out for the extra point.
Side note - Jerry Schimdt celebrations with the players are just absolutely priceless. Seriously, you should start watching for this during games. You can thank me later.
* 4th Q, 8:37 - Another solid run from Damien Williams. He kind of tip-toes his way up the middle, makes a jump cut to this right, and takes on two UTEP tacklers. They almost bring him down, but he maintains his balance with his left hand on the ground and scrambles for six more yards.
* 4th Q, 3:09 - Mr. Damien Williams announces his presence with authoritah! Just a superb piece of blocking on so many levels. Daryl Williams, Bronson Irwin, Gabe Ikard, and Nila Kasitati up front. Jaydan Bird, unintentionally, actually takes out two guys on the play. Justin Brown does a good job on his man. And of course, Trey Millard as the lead block clears the way. All Williams has to do is plant his foot in the ground and turn it up field. To his credit he makes a nice, subtle little cut back move in the open field to give him the angle on the only remaining UTEP defender. Oh, and one of the first guys to congratulate him on the sideline? Dom Whaley, class act. 24-7 OU
* Didn't notice it at the time, but Kass Everett caused that fumble on the ensuing kick return. Good to see him contributing even if it is just on special teams.
* 4th Q, 2:45 - Nothing really happens here aside from OU recording a sack, but I just wanted to point out the for down linemen. From left to right: Rashod Favors, Marquis Anderson, Jordan Phillips, and Charles Tapper. So, again, commenters were right about who did and did not play. Man, SoonerSports.com is making me look bad. This was really more of a coverage sack than anything, but I do believe it was not properly credited in the final box score to both Favors and Tapper as it should have been.
Couple side notes - (1) FWIW, on Phillips' first play in the game he draws a double team. (2) With Tapper's dreads flowing out of his helmet, I can't help but be reminded of The Predator. We can only hope he has a similar type of success rate.
* 4th Q, 2:12 - Oh my. Phillips just got destroyed. Maybe that had something to do with why he didn't play more. To be fair, he was double teamed, again. Seriously though, how is this kid ever going to learn if they don't get him some actual meaningful snaps?
* Certainly not something that will surprise anyone who follows this team, but remember the d-line I just listed out for you? Would kind of imply it's "backup time", right? So who is the Sooners MLB on the field right now? Of course it's Tom Wort, a guy who many have said is quote "a little banged up right now." So, sure, by all means leave him in the game where any number of stupid, pointless, random injuries could occur. On top of that, the entire starting secondary is still in the game as well. Just, brilliant coaching.
Okay, rant over.
Might as well end on a positive, right? Haha, that's a wrap. Hopefully you enjoyed it. We'll be back next week for what better be a full on sunshine pumping special edition.