The Oklahoma Sooners closed out the first true road test of the season with a 45-33 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers in a hostile environment. With the offensive architect in Dana Holgorsen having a hand in designing the scheme, the OU secondary knew for the third week in a row they would be tested heavily.
Dana (Holgorsen) does a great job with different formations and what he's trying to do. We did deploy a couple different coverages to help us out, and they were effective. We made a couple adjustments scheme wise, and they helped us get a fumble in the fourth quarter. It helped a little bit. - Bob Stoops on the Defense
Leading a revival in the West Virginia passing attack, Clint Trickett consistently threw to his favorite receiver and playmaker, Kevin White. Before long, the tactic worked as Zack Sanchez showed signs of the shoulder continuing to affect his style of play. Failure to wrap up quickly led to a 68-yard touchdown reception as White initiated the mental game with his defender. The unlucky recipient? The aforementioned Sanchez.
One crucial game key for the Sooner defense was to force Trickett out of the pocket while making him uncomfortable. On the second play of the game, Eric Striker came up with giving fans the impression this defense was in business. However, success was limited as the Mountaineers continued to move the chains with 26 total first downs.
Mario Alford got in on the scoring action as well recording a 30-yard reception as WVU reclaimed a 17-10 lead.
Long yardage plays, often by the way of the screen, outlined the first half for West Virginia. By half time highlighted by a 24-24 score, the Oklahoma defense clearly needed a few adjustments.
We didn't let them get deep balls in the second half and that made the difference. That was really the biggest part of the first half. - Bob Stoops on the Second Half Adjustments
In the remainder of the game, West Virginia found themselves being kept out of the endzone until garbage time. Thus, we have a tale of two halves. The adjustments manifested themselves in Oklahoma's defensive front putting pressure on the edges forcing WVU to use their backs in pass protection. The result left Trickett without an extra receiver or two to target downfield. From there OU's secondary entered max protect shutting down White and the air raid.
Defensive Line - In Morgantown, Oklahoma looked to a disruptive front in order to achieve success. Unfortunately, Clint Trickett looked comfortable for an entire half delivering the ball with decisiveness and accuracy. While the unit was unable to make their living in the backfield throughout the entire evening, the D-Line lived up to expectations when WVU rushed the ball. A committee of running backs saw the average hold at 3.4 yards per carry. What we're looking for is a complete 60 minutes of havoc, not 30. Overall Grade: B+
Linebackers - There is no doubt that Jordan Evans had possibly his best game to date recording a team high 11 tackles. Elite pass rusher, Eric Striker and Dominique Alexander each recorded eight of their own. Combine the efforts of Geneo Grissom and this group had a solid outing by breaking up passes and bring ball carriers down in the backfield. Although the group lacks depth, the LBs continuing holding their own against opposing offenses. Overall Grade: A
Secondary - Missed tackles and mental mistakes proved costly in the early going. Zack Sanchez played possibly the worst game of his career (specifically referencing the first half) yet continued the streak of consecutive games with an interception. while Ahmad Thomas showed a new level of maturity. The added growth at the safety position allows for Quentin Hayes to come up big when asked to blitz. Screen plays plagued this defense for the second game in a row. Needless to say, there are a few loose ends to tie up after this one. Two interceptions and the scoreboard are the redeeming qualities after this past Saturday. Overall Grade: B-