Arguably the best game Oklahoma has played all season should provide for a number of interesting things to keep an eye on. I know some would argue that Notre Dame was OU's best game, but the Sooners never trailed in that game after getting off to the best possible start. Whereas against Texas Tech OU was behind on two separate occasions as well as giving up 17 straight points during one stretch.
So let's jump right in.
* 1st Qtr, 14:30 - 3rd & 6 TTU from their 32. Love what Mike Stoops draws up on this play, Tech's first third down of the game.
Here is what things look like just as the ball is being snapped.
Sooners have six guys right up on the line of scrimmage.
Here things are a second later with Dominique Alexander and Frank Shannon backing out of their blitz look into pass coverage. The confusion this causes up front allows Eric Striker to come free off the edge and run down Davis Webb from behind for the sack.
I saw Seth C. from Viva The Matadors say on their site that he thought the speed of OU's defense was a bit of a shock for Webb and I think this play was a really good example of that.
* He doesn't do it all the time, but on some of his runs Blake Bell makes some really subtle yet nifty moves with his feet to avoid tackles. Almost kind of gives the Tech defender a 'dead leg' of sorts here as he avoids the tackle.
* You want an example of why we're going to miss Trey Millard . . .
. . . He just carried no less than four Tech defenders past the first down marker.
* Dionte Savage got worked on that field goal block. Could be a good example of why he really hasn't seen any time at guard with the first team offense.
* Pretty clear case of an overzealous true freshman in Jordan Evans' personal foul penalty that gave Tech a first down on 3rd & 26.
* 1st Qtr, 9:15 - 1st & 10 TTU from the OU 40. On the very next play following that penalty, Aaron Colvin comes up with his interception. He does a good job of selling press coverage before backpedalling just as the ball is snapped. Kind of hard to tell if Bradley Marquez gives up on the route a little bit or if it's just a horrible throw by Webb, either way Colvin makes a nice diving over-the-shoulder effort to haul it in.
* Hard to fault Brennan Clay, in my opinion, on his fumble here in the first quarter. Tech's Tre Porter just put his helmet right on the football.
* Still can't believe that offensive pass interference call. Gabe Lynn literally had a handful of the receiver's jersey.
* 1st Qtr, 5:20 - 3rd & 9 TTU from the 50. Very similar situation here to the other third down we detailed above and actually the Sooners do the exact same thing with six men up on the line of scrimmage and the linebackers showing blitz then dropping into coverage.
However, this time Striker can't quite get there and Webb throws an absolute bee-bee between two OU defenders. The other team is going to make some plays and that's exactly what happens here. He could probably make that throw ten times and get picked off or broken up as many times as it's completed, so give him credit here for making one heck of a throw.
* Watching both Alexander and Evans on multiple plays and I initially rolled my eyes at Bob's excuse in the Kansas game about being "in the wrong place", but when you really look at things it can literally be a wrong step or two that prevents them from being in the position they need to be. That's how fast the game is at this level.
* 1st Qtr, 3:45 - 2nd & goal TTU from the OU 4. Again, first of a couple mistakes from Zack Sanchez in this game with this halfback pass for Tech's first score. He clearly doesn't stay home on the play, but he does have a run responsibilty which is what causes him to step up and lose Eric Ward in the back of the end zone.
Here's the thing, Sanchez is an aggressive corner. He gets caught looking into the backfield on occasion and at times that is going to burn you. I like that kind of corner. I'm willing to give up a big play here and there for the upside of making the big play. Granted, he's struggled to come up with that big play having dropped multiple interceptions, but he's been in position and those INTs will come with time. 7-0 TTU.
* Tech doing some interesting things with their defensive alignments that has been giving Oklahoma trouble, especially when they try and run the ball. It's not anything overly complicated, but it's just off-center enough that it has made things difficult for the Sooners.
* Bell is visibly frustrated coming off the field as the Sooners are forced to punt here late first quarter. This is about the time many of us in the game thread, and I assume in the stadium as well, were close to calling for a quarterback change.
* You can see how badly Alexander and Evans want to make plays, but it's that overeagerness that, at times, causes them to overrun the play. It's something you can appreciate, but at the same time I'm sure something that is driving the coaches crazy. You can't be too hard on them, but you also have to teach them being that aggressive leads them to be out of position. One of those things that really one comes with experience.
They are both very athletic, which you like for the development and potential future success, but it's that same athleticism that can be their downfall at times. Evans especially has been and was very physical in this game. He very rarely misses an opportunity to throw a shot into a guy that's being held up by his teammates.
* As you would expect, just about every time one of OU's freshman linebackers lines up on Amaro it is Webb's first read. And it's worked just about every time, also as you would expect.
* 2nd Qtr, 12:57 - 3rd & 7 OU from their 6. It's easy to understand now just how big of a third down this was. At the time, OU's offense and Bell had done virtually nothing with the football, are down by a touchdown, and facing the prospect of giving Tech the ball back with excellent field position.
Sooners go with a five wide, empty set and work Saunders and Shepard off one another. Shepard runs a quick little sit down route to draw the attention of the linebacker just long enough to give Bell a window to Saunders who has run a deeper inside post route.
Bell makes a really good throw over the linebacker and finds Saunders in space as the Tech safety is slow to react thus giving OU a much needed first down.
* Unfortunately, Bell comes back on the very next play and throws a poor ball into double coverage that Shepard has to make a play on just to break up the potential interception.
* Third big throw to convert on an OU third down for Bell as they march down the field for this eventual 97-yard scoring drive.
* This might be the best game I've ever seen Nila Kasitati play. His athleticism has been on display for much of this first half. He moves so well for a guy his size, it's a significant asset for this offense when he's pulling out in space.
* 2nd Qtr, 6:05 - 2nd & 11 OU from the TTU 15. After another false start penalty, the Sooners actually have a little more space with which to work for this touchdown scoring play.
The play fake will get a lot of credit here, and it is a good one, but if you watch the play again you'll see for some reason Tech leaves Saunders completely uncovered in the slot. Pretty easy pitch-and-catch really. 7-7 tied.
* Have to like the effort from Charles Tapper on the Amaro fumble with the talented defensive end not giving up on the play, pursuing down the field, and ripping the ball free just before the Tech tight end hits the ground.
* 2nd Qtr, 4:06 - 1st & 10 OU from their 24. Not a lot to analyze here, just one hell of a throw from Bell to Saunders for a 76-yard touchdown. The play fake freezes the Tech safety just long enough for Saunders to get behind the defense and Bell unleashes a ball that goes 50 yards in the air and allowing Saunders to run under it perfectly in stride. 14-7 OU.
* He's certainly not always where he needs to be, but it's hard not to be impressed with Jordan Evans' play in this first half. Also, for all the success Striker had early in this game he's been almost completely taken out of the game once Tech realized he won't attempt an inside pass rush.
* This third quarter opening drive is one of the more physical I can recall on the part of OU's offensive line in recent years.
* Brennan Clay has a pretty serious leg drive.
* Have felt for a while that Damien Williams' vision is a seriously under appreciated aspect of his game. The ability of a back to see the cutback lane in that split second before it's actually there isn't something that you can teach. You either have it or you don't and he has it.
* You might not ever seen an easier touchdown run than the one Williams got to end this drive. To say Tech's defense was worn down would be an insult to the phrase 'worn down.' They could have literally laid down and I'm not sure the run would have been any easier. 21-7 OU.
* Probably safe to assume Baylor is going to test Sanchez early and often with double moves since he's shown a propensity to bite on that first fake. Tech burned him a couple times in this game and it's those kind of big plays/quick strikes this OU team were fortunate to overcome against Tech, but likely won't be able to against a more explosive Baylor offense.
* Tech's "fake" punt return. The angle the television broadcast provided does not lend itself to truly detail what happened on this play. The easiest way to describe it would be a simple misdirection on the part of Tech's return team setting up like the return is designed to go right, but keeping a handful of players on the right side of the field where the return actually will go.
It was a very clever play, but also easily avoidable on the part of the punting team if their coverage follows the actual ball instead of where the bodies go.
* If Mike Stoops goes into this Baylor game trying to use Jordan Evans in coverage instead of bringing an actual extra defensive back on to the field it's going to be an absolute blood bath.
* With the onside kick, it looks to me like Kass Everett just got caught in no-man's land. Kind of like in baseball when you're trying to decide whether to charge a bouncer or wait for the hop, that's what I see here. Certainly doesn't absolve him of any wrong doing, but he's also not entirely at fault either.
Ballsy call from Kingsbury that paid off.
* A quick clinic on how not to tackle performed by the Oklahoma defense.
* OU's difficulty in dealing with Jakeem Grant's speed does not bode well for the Baylor game.
* 3rd Qtr, 0:50 - 1st & 10 OU from the TTU 35. If you hadn't already heard, this Lacoltan Bester double reverse was originally designed as a throwback to Bell. And I've seen a number of people suggest Bell walks into the end zone if Bester makes the throw instead of tucking it, but I'm not sure I'm buying that.
Tech doesn't completely sniff out Bell slowly releasing out into the secondary, but there was a defender rushing late to cover him which appears to be the reason Bester didn't make the throw.
Obviously things worked out well with Bester's ad-lib. 28-24 OU.
* Not to advocate only using him in this type of role, but the idea of a fresh Roy Finch in the fourth quarter against a tired and worn down Tech defense (or any defense really) makes me smile. He is shredding Tech on OU's first drive in this fourth quarter and obviously it's not because he's running over guys. Because he's fresh, his cuts are so quick and the Tech defenders look practically helpless trying to react.
* How could I not include the last time (sadly) we'll see Trey Millard in the crimson and cream?
* Impressive effort on the ensuing play which is a touchdown run from Williams, who gets hit and turned sideways but maintains his balance and almost side-shuffles into the end zone.
* 4th Qtr, 9:37 - 4th & 2 TTU from their 46. The only words I can think of to describe this play are 'throwing up a prayer' that unfortunately is answered.
Wilson is beaten, and beaten very badly, off the line of scrimmage, but that couldn't have been readily obvious to Davis at the time he releases the ball under heavy duress. He heaves up a prayer that comes down in the waiting hands of his receiver who might have taken it to the house were it not for the fortunate falling down of Colvin who unintentionally trips him up.
* Sticking with the Baylor comparison, Oklahoma did not tackle particularly well in this game. That can't happen next Thursday because when you miss a tackle against Baylor, more often than not it turns into six points.
* I guess I just missed it during the live broadcast, but it is unimaginable to me how many times M.Stoops has singled up Evans on Amaro in pass coverage. Pretty sure it hasn't worked a single time. On absolutely zero level does that assignment make sense.
* Kingsbury's reaction is absolutely priceless when Bell finds Shepard for essentially the game clinching first down. The tweet from OU Football's official account got deleted, but they were right. Winning does look better.
* I wanted to single out this play because Brannon Green is in for Millard and this is what OU is going to need out of him going forward. Here you can see him lined up as an H-back to the strong side of the play.
He latches on to his block, drives his man towards the sideline, before eventually pancaking him (of sorts) and allowing Clay to turn the corner. Just a stellar block.
And that's what we've heard since he arrived last year, that the strength of this game was his ability to block. He's never going to present the same kind of threat Millard did, but no one is so that's not really a fair comparison. Where it hurts is that opposing defensive coordinators had to account for Millard on literally every single play he was on the field, that will not be the case for Green or anyone else who plays in Millard's place. But if Green and/or Aaron Ripkowski can consistently block like this then the loss of Millard could be somewhat mitigated.
* Victory formation.