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Sooner Offense Returns To Identity Lost In Dallas

After some humble pie in Dallas the Sooners returned to the ground in Lawrence.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
"We did start out slow and I just keep telling the guys on the sideline, 'Keep coming, keep doing what we do, and stuff will work out for us.'" -Blake Bell

If there was any doubt before (which there really shouldn't have been), there's none now. Oklahoma's best chance for offensive success is to use their quarterback and running backs to pound the ball at their opponents. It worked in the five games leading up to the Texas game and it worked in the game after. While this isn't a rehash of last week's criticism it is the evidence needed to prove that the Sooners should have never abandoned the rush.

The game didn't start out very positive for the Sooners, on either side of the ball, against Kansas. Oklahoma's first two drives ended with a punt before a Keith Ford fumble killed the third possession, resulting in Kansas taking a 7-0 at the end of the first. Just eleven seconds into the second quarter the Jayhawks expanded their lead to 13-0 when James Sims ran it in from eleven yards out.

Oklahoma finally got the ball moving consistently with their second possession of the quarter, sparked by a pass interference penalty and a Damien Williams 14-yard run. Facing third and twelve from the Kansas sixteen, Blake Bell hit Jaz Reynolds in stride for a touchdown strike to put the Sooners on the board. Oklahoma's next possession was a one-play drive in which Lacolton Bester took the ball on a receiver end-around and then hit Sterling Shepard down the sideline on a perfect 49-yard touchdown pass. The play was set up by putting the receiver in motion multiple times and in one drive we witnessed more creativity within the offense than we had seen through the first six games.

The Sooner offense would score twice more in the second half and Aaron Colvin would return a blocked PAT for a safety to secure an ugly 34-19 win. The twenty-four million dollar question is, at what point did the message get to Josh Heupel that misdirection and play-action will work wonders at improving both the rushing and passing attack?

For the fifth time in six games Oklahoma ran the ball more than they passed. The Sooners had 45 rushing attempts for 235 yards compared to 26 passing attempts for 180 yards. Williams led the way for OU, on the ground, with 15 carries for 56 yards.

Position Grades

Quarterback, B-: Bell still has his limitations but had a much better game plan to work with this week. He was second on the team in rushing with 53 yards on ten carries. He completed 15/25 passes for 131 yards and had two touchdown passes to one interception. He still holds the ball way to long at times, because of indecisiveness, which drops him to a B- from a +.

Receivers, A+: Down field blocking, touchdown passes, touchdown receptions and team average of 11.3 yards per reception had this unit delivering the best offensive performance of the day.

Running Backs, A: A couple of missed blocks in pass protection and a fumble keeps this unit from getting an A+. Five different running backs carried the ball for the Sooners with three of them averaging over six yards per carry.

Offensive LIne, A-: A slow start gets this unit the minus but the overall performance was good. Bell went down once but it was more credited to a missed block from the running back than anything else. A team rushing average of 5.2 yards per carry is more than acceptable.

The problem with Oklahoma's offense is identity. There still seems to be a struggle between who they need to be and who Heupel wants them to be. We all like the prolific, high scoring attacks but that's not the identity that this group can pull off. Nor is it the identity that they need to pull off.