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Red River Shootout 2011 - Offensive Recap

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55-17.  Where do you even start?  

I think the obvious place would be with the man at the helm of the OU offense, Landry Jones.  We were very pleasantly surprised to see a whole lot of Good Landry inside the Cotton Bowl despite a Texas defense that threw the kitchen sink at him.  While he certainly wasn't perfect, he was cool under pressure and made good decisions with the ball all day.  He has had issues getting frazzled when facing pressure, which he did today, and throwing the ball up for grabs.  That did not happen Saturday, at least for OU anyway, and we saw (in our favor of course) just how big of an impact that can have on the game.  Fortunately, it was a non-issue for Sooner fans and Landry.

In addition to his ball security and decision making, what makes his performance even more impressive is that it was essentially done in one half.  He had 302 of his 367 yards passing in the first half and quite honestly, probably could have had five hundred if the coaches had really pushed it in the second half.  Texas and Diaz thought that they could rattle him and force him into bad decisions, considering some of his previous performances it was a plausible theory.  All he did Saturday afternoon was prove them wrong time and time again.  To say Landry picked apart their secondary would be the understatement of the year.  He and his WRs had an absolute field day with the Horns' pathetically soft coverage.

Speaking of those wide receivers, one hell of a performance huh?  There was talk this week that one of the glaring holes on Ryan Broyles' resume was the lack of a big game in Dallas.  I'd say his nine catch, 122 yard, and one touchdown performance answered those critics quite nicely.  Of course it's not just what he does when the catches the ball, but the attention he draws away from his fellow teammates as well.  Evidenced quite clearly on Kenny Stills' first TD catch, where Texas liability safety Blake Gideon bit hard on an out route by #85 and left Stills all alone in the end zone after blowing by his man.  As usual he made plays all day, all over the field, and only further cemented his legacy as the best WR to ever play for OU.

As good as Broyles is, Kenny Stills' ability to make big plays in big games almost defies explanation at this point. Five catches for 51 yards isn't a record breaking performance obviously, but his two touchdown catches were both of the impressive variety, going up over his man to haul both in.  If you take away a completely bogus offensive PI call that took away another TD, he could have had an even bigger day.  But the one "play" he did make that some might have missed, but should endear him to OU fans for all time, was when he shook off the attempt of a UT defender to help him up after a play in the 2nd quarter.  It's a little thing, but something I personally LOVED and shows that he truly "gets it" with respect to what this game and rivalry mean.  It was just awesome.

On top of all that, the emergence of Jaz Reynolds as a viable and legitimate threat at that third WR spot makes this offense even more impossible to defend.  In a similar game to the one Dejuan Miller had last year, most of Reynolds' catches just had that "big" feel Saturday.  Several for first downs, obviously none bigger than the 3rd and 25 conversion that you surely remember and have read about, well everywhere.

Add in some nice catches from the RBs and TEs and the passing game was clearly the star of this show.

Now, as for the running game, well that one is going to be a little more difficult.  I swore that if our Sooners won this game, no matter the score, I wouldn't be my usual Debbie Downer self.  So discussing our run game, outside of the one obvious play (which I have to address), is basically impossible to do.  For all the blitzing that was not working against the OU passing game, it absolutely destroyed the OU run game.  It's clearly a disturbing take away from this game that we can delve into later in the week, but now is a time of celebration.

So let's talk about the (sadly) one run play that did work, the 64-yard Dom Whaley TD run.  It was perfect execution in every sense of the word and from every OU player on the field.  However, that wasn't actually what impressed me the most.  What impressed me the most was Whaley's speed.  If you go back and watch that play or see the highlight, check out how he pulls away from the UT defenders.  Specifically CB Quandre Diggs who is significantly smaller than Whaley and if you can believe the internet, is supposedly a 4.4 forty guy.  So here you have Whaley clearly pulling away from him on a long TD run, impressive to say the least.  There has been some debate here about just how fast some thought Whaley really was and I think he gets a bad rap because he is a long strider.  So it doesn't look like he's running as fast as he really is and that play Saturday is a perfect example of exactly that.

Overall, about as great a performance as any OU fan could ask for in this pressure cooker of a football game.  A great, great day for Sooner Nation!