Sooners 24, Blazers 17
Before I get critical of the Sooners' performance Saturday night let me give the best positive spin I can. First off, this wasn't UAB's first rodeo. In 2003 they lost 16-13 at number 4 Georgia. Last season they lost 17-10 at number 3 Tennessee. Needless to say the Blazers were not intimidated coming into Norman Saturday night.
Yes, the Sooners were lucky to escape with a win but at least that is what they did. The Sooners came dangerously close to playing the role of Goliath two seasons in a row but they didn't. I still had a sense of hope walking out of the stadium Saturday night as opposed to feeling hopeless a year ago.
Paul Thompson was better than even I expected him to be (14/24 227 yards 2 touchdowns and two interceptions). He is going to get better as the season progresses and we didn't really see him included in the running package yet. I think they will open it up a little more next week for Washington but don't really expect to see the offense fully open up until the Oregon game. The jury is still out on Thompson but I'll take 58% completions, 200 plus yards and a couple of touchdowns from my qb any day, more on the turnovers later.
Joe John Finley was also surprisingly impressive Saturday night. With all the talk about the immediate impact that freshman Jermaine Gresham was going to make Finley averaged almost 20 yards per catch (4/79) with a touchdown and a nasty block on AD's 69 yard touchdown reception.
I'll no longer say that Reggie Smith is going to be a star because Reggie Smith is a star. The sophomore was electric on punt and kick-off returns and added five solo tackles on defense. Just wait until he gets some snaps on offense as well.
If anyone at all had doubts about the health and durability of Adrian Peterson going into the season let those doubts be put to rest now. He is in the best shape of his life and proved Saturday night he is completely healthy. Peterson averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 24 carries with a touchdown and had a 69 yard touchdown reception.
On the flip side turnovers almost cost Oklahoma the game. I'm glad they didn't because turnovers can be fixed. I was pleased with what I saw offensively except for the four turnovers. If they can cut down on those I believe they will be a dangerous offensive team.
I went into the game worried about Oklahoma's offense but I left concerned about the defense. UAB racked up 301 total yards and at times seemed unstoppable on the ground. The Blazers averaged 3.4 yards per carry on 40 carries. Missed tackles were too abundant on Saturday as well. The OU defense gave up an additional 120 yards on missed tackles. However, like the turnovers missed tackles can be fixed.
What you have to worry about on opening weekend is blown assignments and formation issues. While there seemed to be no formation issues with the Sooners cornerback D.J. Wolfe struggled in coverage assignments. Reggie Smith has the ability to shut down the other side of the field so DJ is going to get picked on this season. He has to improve!
In all a win is a win and I`ll take it. OU has lots to improve on and a schedule that should allow them to do that. The first three games build (UAB, Washington, Oregon) on each other with a final tune-up (Middle Tennessee State) before Texas.