As the Oklahoma Sooners took the field against the ULM Warhawks, question concerning both sides of the ball remained firmly in place. However, by the time the game ended, fans as well "experts" filled in the blanks to some of the more pressing issues. Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game.
Trevor Knight Left Plenty Of Room For Improvement
For the first time since 2007, the Sooners tabbed a redshirt freshman as their starting quarterback. Obviously, as with every decision, the flood gate of critics opened leading to opinionated conversations before witnessing Trevor Knight play a single down on the collegiate level.
Early on, nerves as well as adrenaline pumped through the veins of the newly instated quarterback as the ball sailed a bit. Routine swing passes looked anything but routine as the ball hit the ground several feet shy of the intended receiver. Yet, in the second half, Knight settled in to connect on two touchdown passes for a total of three during the game. Needless to say, where this quarterback really shined was on the ground with 103 rushing yards. Knight certainly trusts his legs more so at this point than his arm. Make no mistake, the upside for this talented quarterback remains in tact.
Pressure From The Defensive Front
One major component that was lacking in 2012 was pressure on the opposing quarterback from the defensive front seven. Moving into 2013, depth remained a concern which may have played a role in the switch to a 3-3-5 against ULM. With less lineman down, the Sooners still found a way to disrupt the Warhawk offense. Charles Tapper became the marquee name with his intensity and motor. Yes, he only recorded three tackles but he could consistently be found making an appearance in the backfield.
Not only was Tapper a force to be reckoned with, the linebackers' names rang out across the stadium as Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon could be seen all over the field. Fans will continue to marvel at the speed of this tandem as the coaching staff uses them liberally in blitz packages. The duo combined for 15 tackles and one sack.
The defense gave up 38 total rushing yards, swallowing up ball carriers near the line of scrimmage. As the oracle (aka Bob Stoops) promised, the attention and emphasis on stopping the run has been renewed...or so it seems.
Special Teams Drastically Improved
For years now, Oklahoma has lacked a powerful kicker with the ability to consistently place the kickoff outside of the endzone. On Saturday night, all of that changed as the coaching staff finally decided to bring on a special teams coach. Initially, many thought (including myself) that Michael Hunnicutt would take the field as part of the kickoff team. Instead, Nick Hodgson took the field in impressive fashion. Is it safe to say that Hodgson silenced all doubters and won the starting job with his performance against ULM?