What a bizarre football game. Two blocked punts, three missed extra points, one of which returned for two points, a safety, and really just some good old fashioned bad football.
So won't this film review be super fun!
(Fair warning - This first quarter breakdown could get a little long considering how poorly OU played defensively and my desire to really look at who/what areas were most at fault.)
* Just like in the Texas game, Josh Heupel has no problem getting creative with his first play-call. It's just those pesky 60 or so that come after where he typically disappoints. Why is it exactly that you can run a play like this one to Trey Millard, pick up thirteen yards, and yet he never calls it again in the game? He doesn't seem to have a problem going to the same unsuccessful run plays repeatedly throughout the game?
Just something to think about, Josh.
* I actually love the option call Heupel makes on OU's first drive, but hate the timing in which (3rd and long) he chooses to make it. Again, also (from memory) not something OU ran more than one other time again in the game.
* Jed Barnett is not the answer at punter. If there is even the tiniest hint of a breeze, his punts are typically horrible. Saturday was no exception.
* KU just showing no respect for Jordan Wade who played every down on this opening drive. KU not even chipping him with a second blocker. Both guards freely releasing to the second level and absolutely swallowing up OU's undersized LBs.
* 1st Qtr, 7:42 - 3rd & 5 OU from their 30. This is the kind of play many, including myself, have been critical of Bell for in recent weeks. Here it's a manageable third down and OU is in a four wide set with three to Bell's left and Jaz Reynolds at the bottom of your screen to Bell's right.
Reynolds runs a very simple slant route against one-on-one coverage and does a good job beating the bump coverage and maintaining his route. The KU corner is in good position, but Reynolds has beaten him inside and while not 'open' is in the proper position for Bell to make the throw as the defender would have to go thru him (Reynolds) to break up the pass.
But as we've seen from Bell in these past three games, he is incredibly hesitant to make these type of throws into a tight window. So once again he holds onto the ball far too long and is then forced to throw the ball away and OU goes three and out as their answer to KU's scoring drive.
* Watching some of these early OU punts and it almost seems inevitable that they were going to get one blocked. I won't bore you with my hatred of this stupid punt formation OU uses (you don't see any NFL teams using this formation, right?), but the three protection guys in front of the punter seem way too far back (or close to the punter).
* 1st Qtr, 6:46 - 1st & 10 KU from their 43. My word, does Eric Striker just abuse the KU left tackle on this play.
This is such a pretty pass rush move and not something you see from a guy of his size. He forces Heaps to throw the ball prematurely or take the sack and it should have been an easy interception for Gabe Lynn, but he drops the first of what we know should have been three OU interceptions. It looked like Lynn took his eye off the ball because he was worried about getting hit by the KU receiver who was forced to play defensive back on the play.
* For all the good Striker does in rushing the QB, he is virtually useless in defending the run. If his blocker gets their hands on him it's game over. Obviously you have to take the bad with the good when it comes to stuff like this, but you have to believe more teams will look to exploit it and run at him more.
* OU playing primarily in a 3-4 formation on defense with P.L. Lindley and Striker up near the line of scrimmage, with Lindley supposedly serving as a defacto defensive end. But it's not working and it didn't work last week against Texas either and yet here they are trotting it out again. I can appreciate they don't have a ton of options given their lack of depth in the front seven and being without Torrea Peterson in this game, but for all the critics of Heupel and his refusal to make adjustments on offense the same can be said with Mike Stoops and this OU defense at times.
* Some of the worst play I've ever seen from Frank Shannon here in this first quarter. He looks slow and indecisive. Both he and Dominique Alexander have been absolutely atrocious in their run fits so far. Doesn't help that KU offense linemen are free to release to the second level because OU's defensive line is getting pushed around like rag dolls.
* 1st Qtr, 4:22 - 2nd & 10 KU from the OU 29. Again, Striker is just giving the KU left tackle fits. Here he tries to cut block Striker, but he's so damn athletic he manages to keep his feet and get to Heaps for the sack.
* So, the QB run game is in for KU but not for Texas? Why do you make me hate you, Josh?
* Not a great opening quarter for Bronson Irwin.
* Nice knowing you, Mr. Ford. Say hello to Alex Ross for me if you will.
* In all seriousness, I can only hope Stoops doesn't go the route he has so many times in the past and refuses to play Ford again this season. He never got back into the game, at least on offense, following his fumble here in the first quarter. To be fair however, it's not nearly a hard enough hit on the ball for Ford to have coughed that up.
* 1st Qtr, 1:55 - 1st & 10 KU from their 32. First play following Ford's fumble and thanks to a very, very weak Zack Sanchez attempt to leg tackle KU's Darrian Miller rips off a 38-yard gain.
* Apparently you can throw a ball five or so yards out of bounds and still be called for pass interference. The PI call on Aaron Colvin here early 2nd quarter was probably questionable enough by itself, but when you consider where the actual ball was and the zero percent change the KU receiver would have had to catch it in-bounds, you simply cannot throw that flag. Horrible call.
* And is it just me or has Colvin really not played that well in these last couple games? Almost looking lost at times in pass coverage?
* It's incomprehensible how frequently OU lines up on defense with someone completely unaccounted for sending Mike and/or Bob Stoops frantically sprinting onto the field to burn a timeout. How can this happen in literally every single OU game, sometimes on multiple occasions?
* I have never, ever seen Bob Stoops take off his own headset and give it to a player to talk to a coach upstairs. But he just did it here with Alexander following KU's second touchdown of the game. The true freshman has really struggled not just in this game, but all year with his run fits and, at times, taking himself out of plays simply because of his inexperience. Obviously, the only way he's going to learn is by playing and, unfortunately, learning from his mistakes. But this OU defense is really hurting at times as a result.
* I'm quickly becoming convinced that either (1) I do not know how the zone read should be run or (2) Bell has no idea how to run it. He repeatedly makes the decision not the keep the ball on plays where in my opinion if he did there are plenty of yards to be had.
* A second consecutive week where OU is looking to the sidelines for a play only to have the play clock expire on them. This time on a fourth down they were going to try and convert, but instead were forced to punt. I'm no lip-reader, but it sure looked like Stoops had some choice words for Heupel on that one. Even if he didn't though, crap like this has sadly become the norm and is beyond unacceptable.
* Amazingly, OU actually downs a Barnett punt inside the KU five only to then promptly allow a thirteen yard run and immediately negating any positives from having the Jayhawks backed up in their own end.
* Both announcers struggling to find the words with which to describe what KU is doing to OU up front. I know the feeling, guys.
* It's hard to believe Zack Sanchez played as much offense as he did in high school considering how many would be interceptions we've seem him drop this year. This one against KU literally could not have been thrown more to him than Heaps' intended target.
* It's officially time to give up any hope of Quincy Russell making an impact (possibly even playing) for this team in 2013. OU came into this game with essentially one (!!!) defensive tackle in Jordan Wade (I don't count Chuka Ndulue as a DT) and according to OU's participation report Russell didn't play a single down. If coaches don't think he's ready to contribute against a team like KU? I mean, wow.
* 2nd Qtr, 9:49 - 2nd & 6 OU from their 48. If you told me Bell was doing his best Landry Jones impersonation here I would completely believe you.
The announcer even calls him out for his happy feet in the face of literally zero pressure. He starts out in the shotgun, takes the snap, and starts to drift backwards. His first read is not open, so he continues to scan the field but also continues to drift backwards. All the while he could VERY easily step up in to the pocket, instead of drifting backwards, or even -- hey, here's a cray idea -- take off running and try to pick up positive yards.
Nope, instead he holds on to the ball far to long (as usual) and settles for a check down to Millard for a loss of three yards.
The announcers excuse it as Bell attempting to set up the screen pass and in fairness it does kind of look like that was the play call, but if it was then it was the slowest developing screen play in the history of football.
* Not that I'm one to encourage drinking, but we might have to come up with a drinking game for Bell arm punts/overthrows.
* 2nd Qtr, 8:31 - 1st & 10 OU from the KU 39. This is just a really good throw from Blake Bell down the field, something he's obviously struggled with most of this year. He makes a good play fake to Damien Williams and stands strong in the pocket before finding Jalen Saunders perfectly in stride for a 26-yard gain. That was pretty.
It's not like he's incapable of making those type of throws. It's just that he does it so inconsistently. And I think, at least for me, that's where the frustration stems from on the part of OU fans.
* Yep, I'm convinced now Bell just doesn't know how to run the zone read. His decisions on when to keep or handoff the ball are highly suspect.
* 2nd Qtr, 7:11 - 3rd & 12 OU from the KU 16. This touchdown pass from Bell to Reynolds is almost identical to the throw I detailed earlier where Bell wouldn't pass into that tight window but does so here.
Identical route from Reynolds, although a little deeper due to the down and distance. But still pretty good coverage from the KU defender, however just like the first time Reynolds puts himself between his man and the ball. For whatever reasons, Bell makes the throw here where he didn't before and as a result OU gets a much needed score.
Funny comment - I was at the game and when this play happened a KU fan behind me was screaming for the ref to throw a flag because Reynolds unnecessarily dove into the end zone. Moron.
* No clue what the hell happened on the ensuing PAT, but that was one of the ugliest kicks I've ever seen from the usually reliable Michael Hunnicutt.
* Nobody near me in the stadium or after the game thought the move to play Montell Cozart, let alone burn his redshirt, made any sense. KU had a ridiculous amount of success running straight at this OU defense, so now your plan is to run sideways with zone read plays? Whoever was calling these plays has been hanging out too much with Heupel.
* Nice play from Geneo Grissom out in space defending the option.
* 2nd Qtr, 4:50 - 4th & 21 KU from their 14. Matt Dimon was actually very close to blocking another punt earlier in this game, but here is just completely unblocked until he reaches KU's version of the same stupid back three punt formation OU has employed this year. He and two other OU guys all arrive at the same time and get a solid push, then Dimon simply reaches out his long arm and kind of lunges over the pile of bodies. But the punt was so low he (Dimon) actually winds up blocking it with his helmet, even said after the game it left a scuff mark. Then the KU punter does the smart thing kicking it out of the back of the end zone.
* Nice return from Finch on the ensuing kickoff sets OU up with a short field. Little man even puts a big shot on a would-be KU tackler during the return.
* 2nd Qtr, 4:34 - 1st & 10 OU from their 49. Where the frick was this last week, Josh?!?
I suppose he deserves some credit for pulling it out of his bag of tricks this week, but coming off a game in which OU was desperate for something similar to break them out of their funk instead you save it for Kansas???
As for the play itself, just executed to perfection. And I know everyone is joking about Bester throwing the best deep ball on the team or how they need to give him a shot at quarterback, but it really was a pretty pass. Hit Sterling Shepard perfectly in stride. Awesome.
* 2nd Qtr, 0:48 - 3rd & 6 OU from the KU 30. Again, an instance here in which Bell makes a really nice throw into a tight window to Shepard for a first down. This one being exceptionally tight right in between two KU defenders. So once again we know he's capable of making the throw, he just needs to do it on a more consistent basis.
Now he doesn't necessarily do Shepard any favors with the ball being a little high and asking him to go up and get it, exposing himself to a potential big hit over the middle of the field, but they can't all be perfect throws.
* Of course, then he comes back and throws three straight incompletions and OU is forced to settle for a field goal. It's clearly not a talent issue with Bell. It's a consistency issue.
Halftime OU leads 18-13.
* OU wide receivers doing a solid job blocking down field on these Blake Bell runs.
* 3rd Qtr, 10:55 - 1st & goal OU from the KU 10. I'm not going to go so far as to say this was a Barry Sanders like play from Shepard on the touchdown catch, but that's the first person that jumped to mind when watching him dance around out in space. And it's dancing with a purpose mind you as he beautifully sets up his blocks, or really just block from Saunders, bouncing inside then out before scrambling into the near corner of the end zone.
That was pretty. And credit Saunders for keeping his block and making that TD possible.
* Kass Everett has played pretty well for the most part this year and he's only going to be called upon more depending on the health status of Julian Wilson who went down earlier in this game and did not return.
* I think OU could have run that short little out route to Shepard on literally every single play and KU would have never stopped it.
* 3rd Qtr, 6:08 - 4th & 2 OU from the KU 29. Bad Blake. This is actually an ingenious play call from Heupel if Bell executes it like it was called. Aaron Ripkowski of all people lines up at tight end and immediately releases out on a corner route. And he is WIDE open, like could not possible be more wide open.
But Bell holds onto the ball too long for a reason I cannot begin to determine, then gets some pressure in his face and goes full you know who freaking out, throwing wildly off his back foot while falling away and into the open arms of a KU defender.
Absolutely horrible. If he just steps into his throw and initial read to Ripkowski it's an easy first down, if not potential touchdown. Yeah, he's probably going to take a shot on the throw, maybe even a big one, but the freaking guy is 6'6" 260! If he can't hang into the pocket and deliver ball even in the face of a big hit then how is he ever going to be a successful quarterback?
* You watch games like this one, see Roy Finch make plays, and only get more pissed off about how poorly OU has mismanaged his time in Norman.
* Gotta love seeing Millard rip of that long run. And I know what he was thinking in cutting back, but just keep that forward momentum big fella!
* Terrible job by the punt return on the punt of OU that KU winds up blocking. With the KU defender literally taking it off Barnett's foot. Somebody definitely missed an assignment.
* And you'd hope that this OU defense would bow up and at least put up some form of a fight deep in their own zone, right?
Nope, one play and a KU touchdown.
* The most, and possibly only, penetration Jordan Wade got the entire game was on this blocked extra point that Colvin returns to the house.
* 4th Qtr, 9:45 - 2nd & 7 OU from their 28. You want to know why I think Damien Williams should get more carries, look no further than this play.
The only other back on OU's roster that could make this play is Finch. That cutback move and the vision to even recognize the backside of this play is why he's an NFL back in my opinion.
If he just takes what is there, OU is very likely looking at a third and long which could potentially end what ultimately winds up as a touchdown scoring drive.
* To their credit, when OU needed a time absorbing drive they stepped up and got the job done, primarily on the ground as well.
That's a wrap on this one. Certainly not pretty and plenty to be concerned about considering what OU has left on their schedule. It's an OU team with a number of flaws and no real readily obvious cures for most of them.
That's just the unfortunate reality of the situation right now.