What an impressive performance, aside from the coverage busts of course, from this Oklahoma team on the road against Kansas State.
Going in two of the things we were most concerned about were Daniel Sams and John Hubert only to eventually learn that neither would really ever be a factor. It will be interesting to see as we review the game film just how much credit OU deserves for that or if it was more about K-State choosing not to involve them more.
On the flip side, OU's offense line was as good in this game as they've been in any other in recent memory. They absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage creating gaping rush lanes for both Brennan Clay and Trevor Knight. Outstanding job by all the guys up front, but also a somewhat unheralded Bill Bedenbaugh who OU fans should be very excited about as he leads this offensive line for years to come.
Let's get started.
* It was just one play and the first of the entire game, but when Hubert ripped off that 12-yard run right thru the middle of OU's defense I was like "Oh great, here we go."
But then they ran their second play.
So they line Jake Waters up out wide and put Hubert in a wildcat formation, which I suppose makes sense from a 'we're going to trick you' standpoint but just struck me as so un-Bill Snyder like. Then they take a delay penalty only to stay in the same wildcat formation. Once they finally get the play off, Charles Tapper does an excellent job beating his man at the point of attack forcing Hubert to try and bounce it outside. But he's met by a bevy of OU defenders and is dropped for a six yard loss.
* Really liked this counter quarterback sweep play OU opens with on offense and ran another time or two during the game. It gets the linebackers going in the opposite direction of the play and even if it's only a step or two, that's all an athlete like Knight needs.
* 1st Qtr, 11:36 - 2nd & 3 OU from their 43. Just to appreciate this is not an easy throw to make either from an accuracy or arm strength perspective.
Knight can make most, if not all, of the throws he just needs to do it on a more consistent basis. And there is no reason to believe with the progress we've already seen that he won't be able to get there.
* I think the biggest and certainly the most encouraging sign we've seen from Knight in these last two games is that he's making the easy throws look easy. Which sounds silly to say, but when you think back to how far he was from doing just that in his first two starts I feel like it makes a ton of sense. And honestly, in this offense, that's really all he should need to do for both it and he to be successful.
* 1st Qtr, 8:31 - 3rd & goal OU from KSU 12. It's easy to forget this play came on third down as was the difference between six points or yet another failed red zone opportunity from this OU offense.
Nothing particularly complicated about this play, just a simple post route from Sterling Shepard. But the KSU defender gives him way too much space, then tries to undercut the route but can't get there in time. Nice strike from Knight who stands tall and calm in the pocket to deliver a nice ball. Touchdown, Oklahoma.
* Knight's interception. Look, I can't tell you whether or not Joey Harrington is right here with his explanation for why he believes Knight made this throw. But the guy did play the game and, in my opinion, his explanation seems to make sense.
* I thought the OU corners played way too soft and made Waters job much too easy for almost the entirety of the game. It's one thing to play that soft after all those big plays to Tyler Lockett, but even those weren't him beating guys as much they were just complete coverage busts.
* It's crazy how susceptible Zack Sanchez is to a double move.
* 1st Qtr, 3:43 - 3rd & KSU from OU 33. I can't begin to express to you all how big a fan I am of this OU defensive set. They tend to pick their spots with respect to how often they use it, but from memory just about every time they've employed it they've been successful.
You can see pre-snap they only have one guy (Chuka Ndulue lined up as the NT) with his hand in the ground. Then they make that late shift which creates confusion amongst the KSU front.
It certainly helps that Sanchez and Cortez Johnson do a good job covering their guys to Waters' right, forcing him to come off his initial read but not before Geneo Grissom beats his man for the sack.
* As bad as the OU safeties, or at least Quentin Hayes, may have been in pass coverage, I thought both Hayes and Gabe Lynn were absolutely outstanding in run support.
* Oklahoma takes over after that sack on their two yard line and proceeds to go on a 98-yard touchdown scoring drive. Which does not happen if not for this spectacular third down play from Trevor Knight.
I mean.....just, wow (how's that for some analysis). No disrespect to him because they're just different players, but if Blake Bell is still the quarterback that's a three and out drive with you likely giving K-State excellent field position punting from your own end zone.
Again, there's a reason Knight initially won the job and it's because of his ability to make plays like this. This is the kind of stuff you just can't teach, you either have it or you don't. And Trevor Knight has it.
That was special.
* Clay's patience running the ball in this style of an offense is so much fun to watch.
* Just a little thing here on this play, but I wanted to point it out.
Your standard read-option play that winds up going for a first down, but it's a play you could argue that Knight actually makes the wrong read in keeping it instead of handing off to Clay. And yet it works because he's so athletic.
He's still learning the intricacies of how to run this style of offense and even in practice he can only get so much out of it because he's wearing a blue jersey. The only true way to master it is with live reps in actual games so he'll continue to get better, but it's obviously impressive that even when he makes the wrong decision here he can still make something positive out of it.
Under center, I-formation. That, my friends, is a thing of beauty.
* I think I just saw the OU offensive equivalent of a unicorn.
* MOAR TREVOR KNIGHT ON THE ROLLOUT, PLEASE
* A 14 play, 98-yard touchdown scoring drive that didn't involve a single passing play. It's a brave new world in Norman, Oklahoma.
* Bust No. 1
Some combination of miscommunication and Hayes just biting WAY too hard on the underneath route, which there is no need for as both Sanchez and Dom Alexander are there in coverage.
It was pretty clear throughout at least the first half that M.Stoops must have had some doubt about how well the front seven was going to hold up in the run game. If he'd have known they were going to play it as well as they did, he could have given much more safety help over the top than he did rather than, on most downs, committing them to helping in the run game.
You learn from your mistakes and this is clearly an adjustment he makes at halftime. Still though you'd hope it could be made prior to that and 200+ yards with three touchdowns from Lockett later.
* I know it was a question in the game thread both I and others were wondering, why wasn't Roy Finch playing more? Well from what little I've seen of him so far in this game, it's because he's hitting the hole too quickly. Which doesn't sound like something that should be a problem, but even AD used to get criticized for this at times during his time in Norman. You have to be patient enough to allow both the hole and the play to develop.
You can't play eight yards off the line of scrimmage and still get beat by a double move. That's just horrible coverage on the part of Cortez Johnson.
Again, to the point I made about what M.Stoops asked of his safeties, here you have Lynn walking about before the snap as an extra defender in the run box. Which leaves Hayes as the lone deep safety having to decide which deep route, KSU runs one with each of their outside receivers, he has to help on. He chooses too late and can't get over to Lockett in time. Credit Waters, Lockett, and K-State for exploiting these coverages from M.Stoops' defense.
* 2nd Qtr, 4:17 - 3rd & 1 OU from their 36. This is just flat-out physical domination.
So many things to love on this play, where to start. Outstanding job by both Bronson Irwin and especially Daryl Williams to get their bodies turned and wall off their respective blocks. Then look at Aaron Ripkowski fill that mother-loving hole! He drives his man backwards and though his guy gets rolled up on making the block look a little better (hence Harrington's over-the-top commentary on the replay) than it might have been, it's still one hell of a block.
Then don't sleep on the job Durron Neal does here to get a piece of the KSU safety who, if he doesn't, probably prevents this play from being the 64-yard touchdown it becomes. It also helps that No. 4 for KSU takes a really bad angle on the play, but still this was just impressive on so many levels.
* I'm going to need some help on this busted coverage.
So here things are pre-snap.
What I'm confused about is you see the trips set to KSU's left with each receiver matched up as I've laid out. However, at the bottom of the screen you have Colvin, OU's best corner, covering....well, no one. There is no KSU receiver out of frame, you see everyone in this picture that they have lined up on the field.
So the decision here, on 1st & 19, is to have Colvin covering essentially space, Lynn cheating up to apparently help against the run (did I mention that it's 1st & 19?), with once again zero safety help over the top after having already been burnt on repeated occasions down the field for big plays?
I'm at a complete loss.
Then they show both Mike and Bob lecturing Sanchez on the sideline after the play when really, in my opinion, the coverage was set up to fail to begin with.
* Whoever's decision it was to use this camera angle on kickoffs the entire game needs to be immediately fired.
* Pretty damn impressive what Jordan Wade did in this game playing nearly every snap without a backup guy behind him.
* Clay gets tripped up by the turf monster on a second down run forcing OU to use their first timeout. Perfectly understandable as the clock ticks under 40 seconds remaining in this first half.
They come back onto the field out of the timeout only to have Heupel try and send in a play change with less than ten seconds to go on the play clock. Thus forcing OU to waste a timeout on consecutive plays. Not so understandable.
* 2nd Qtr, 0:21 - 2nd & goal OU from KSU 8. Not sure what others think they saw here in blaming Knight for not getting rid of the ball and tacking a sack. If you want to argue he should have just thrown it away and not risk the clock running out before OU could get reset to spike it, I'll certainly allow that. But the insinuation as I seem to remember that he missed a touchdown here is not one I'm seeing on film. K-State has all four of OU's wide receivers, two of whom are asked to run fade routes (you know because those always work for this OU offense), completely blanketed.
OU goes into halftime with a 24-21 lead.
* Even with Knight at quarterback I'm not a huge fan of OU running four wide sets, but at least it makes a hell of a lot more sense than it did doing it with Bell in there. Knight is so much more capable as a runner that even in a four wide set he doesn't have to throw the ball for something positive to happen. That certainly had not been the case in recent weeks for Bell who was much to slow and indecisive in both his reads and when to leave the pocket.
* Solid job from both Michael Hunnicutt (or Moneycutt as he's come to be known round these parts) and even Jed Barnett as well kicking into and with the wind. That second Hunnicutt field goal was far from a sure thing, but he drilled it with no issues.
* K-State continually left OU's backside defenders completely unblocked during this game asking their ball carriers to beat a guy one-on-one and more often than not they lost that battle. Credit to OU's defense for making that happen.
* Really difficult situation on that Trevor Knight fourth down conversion that went to replay, but could not be overturned. I can see the argument from K-State's side of things about when his foot goes out and where the ball is, but the simple fact of the matter is they simply didn't have a good enough camera angle to overturn the initial ruling. You wouldn't think that would be possible in this day and age of technology, but yet here we sit.
Worth mentioning that it doesn't really cost K-State anything, other than field position, as OU would go on to punt the ball back to the Wildcats several plays later.
* What a bizarre play here with this short, but near touchdown punt return from Saunders.
As the announcer said, just a poor punt and one in which KSU's punter doesn't catch it cleanly causing the coverage team to overrun the play. Heads up play from Saunders to recognize both this and KSU's inability to locate the ball. He fields it with such a head of steam I'm legitimately amazed that anyone, let alone the punter, is able to get there in time to force him out just short of the end zone.
Great special teams play.
* One play later, Clay bounces one off left tackle for a touchdown. Uncle 'Mo firmly in OU's corner.
* But K-State kidnaps him shortly thereafter with a big return and 15-yard touchdown saving penalty on the ensuing kickoff.
* However, then this happens.
And you can very clearly see the benefit of playing bump/press coverage rather than 8-10 yards off the line of scrimmage. Granted No. 14 isn't anywhere near the threat that Lockett is, but still OU had been playing off everyone in this game for the most part.
This particular play was a welcome change.
* They do wind up conceding the touchdown to K-State here mid-fourth quarter, but solid couple of goal line stand plays from the OU defense prior to said TD. Showed some physicalness we haven't seen in years past and something to be excited about building towards the future.
* Solid job from the OU offense to move the chains and milk about four or so minutes off the clock with this ten point lead late in the fourth quarter. That's how you win football games.
* Nice play on the ball from Hayes with his interception to effectively end this football game. And a nice little bit of redemption for a guy who had a pretty rough day otherwise.
41-31 FINAL, OU wins.