After being down 20-14 in the first quarter, the Sooners rebounded and cruised to a 49-27 win over Texas tech. Although it was a rocky start for the defense, they showed a lot of resilience in the second half and clamped down on the Red Raider attack.
On the offensive side, it was just another day at the office for Baker Mayfield and co. Mayfield threw for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns. The only blemish that Mayfield had on the day was an interception that he threw on a deep pass to Mark Andrews over the middle. Baker looked fired up per usual and seemed to enjoy sticking it to his former team. He was able to find receivers with ease and had plenty of time to throw for most of the night.
Despite spreading it around for the first few games of the season, it seems apparent after Saturday’s primetime game that the receiving corps is centered around 3 guys at this point: Mark Andrews, Ceedee Lamb and Marquise Brown. Out of the three, Mark Andrews is the most reliable and has carved out a role as Mayfield’s security blanket. When Mayfield needs a first down and he’s in a tight spot, he looks for Andrews. Andrews had 6 catches for 79 yards and one touchdown against Texas Tech.
Complementing Andrews in the middle of the field and on the outside is Marquise Brown. Brown had a breakout game against Kansas State and followed it up with a solid performance against Texas Tech. On the day, Brown had 5 catches, 49 yards and a touchdown. Brown almost had another touchdown on a deep ball by Mayfield but was unable to come down with it since the ball was slightly underthrown. Brown does a great job getting out of his breaks quickly and sneaking through the defense to get open.
While Brown and Andrews were solid, freshman Wide Receiver Ceedee Lamb was exceptional. On the day, Lamb had 9 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Lamb can really do it all at wide receiver. He can beat guys on the outside with his speed and find the soft spot in the zone with his high football IQ. On top of this, Lamb has become Baker’s primary red zone target since he can win jump balls in the endzone with his length and athleticism. I think this is the first of many big games for Lamb now that he is back and healthy. When Lamb is playing well, it opens up the entire offense because of the threat that Lamb is down the field.
On the ground, Rodney Anderson was excellent and ran for 181 yards on 24 carries. Complementing Anderson was Abdul Adams, who had 10 carries for 95 yards in the game. The odd thing about the Sooner ground game on the day was that Trey Sermon did not get a single carry. Despite some spectacular games early in the season, Sermon has been demoted to riding the pine pony. It will be interesting to see if Sermon gets some more carries over the next few games.
On the other side of the ball, Obo Okoronkwo set the tone once again with another sack and multiple quarterback hurries. While Obo was dominant as usual, Caleb Kelly stepped up once again and had a key interception on a Texas Tech Fourth down play. Kelly did a great job in coverage on the day and was able to give Obo some relief on defense. Here is the Caleb Kelly interception:
Caleb Kelly with the INT. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/1gJnp3dZlM— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) October 29, 2017
On the defensive line, guys like D.J. Ward and Marquise Overton stepped up big in the second half. They were able to plug holes in the run game and get pressure on Nic Shimonek. I have to admit I was worried before kickoff when it was announced that Neville Gallimore and Matt Romar would not play against Texas Tech but the big boys up front came through. The strong line play in the second half also disrupted the rhythm that the the Texas Tech offense had in the first half.
I wish I didn’t have to do this but everyone knows exactly what is coming here. The secondary like usual, was abysmal. Yes Steven Parker had some big hits but he was unable to fire up the rest of the guys in the secondary. All the major contributors in the secondary got burned by Nic Shimonek in an overall embarrassing effort for the pass defense. While Johnson and Parker had some deficiencies in coverage, the main issue for the defense is the play of Motley and Thomas on the outside.
Even though Motley was able to stick with his guy pretty well, he made some poor plays and had several missed tackles down the stretch in tonight’s game. Motley does a great job of pressing at the line of scrimmage but then makes too many gambles down the field which makes him vulnerable to big plays. Although he is playing a lot better than JT, he struggled against Texas Tech tonight. Look for him to bounce back against OSU next week and rise to the occasion.
As for the play of the much-maligned Jordan Thomas, he is a totally different story. I respect the heck out of Jordan Thomas and all he has done for this program but after tonight I think it’s fair to say that he should sit for a couple games to get healthy. He is clearly still dealing with the foot injury he suffered down in Waco and it’s hurting him. He looks like he is playing at about 75% of his normal speed out there, which makes a huge difference for a corner. I understand that he wants to tough things out and be a contributor on this team but it might be best if he sits for a game or two to get healthy.
Here is my proposal for Thomas: hang in there for the next two games against OSU and TCU but then sit out for the last two games against Kansas and West Virginia. Both of those games should be easy victories and a few weeks off will allow JT to truly get healthy. Again, I am a huge fan of JT, always have been, but he’s not helping this team by playing injured right now. I know this makes Sooner fans nervous with games coming up against OSU and TCU but we may not have a choice at this point. The gap between and injured JT and Tre Brown/Tre Norwood may still be significant enough to keep JT in the game.
Despite these issues, I think the Oklahoma defense has something to build on. They showed some really great flashes in this game after an embarrassing first quarter and need to really try and build on what they accomplished. When they pressure the QB and guys like Caleb Kelly are on point, the defense takes on a different character. We will see if they can recapture some of that magic they had in Columbus over these next few weeks. Every game is a CFP elimination game from here on out and the Sooners need to be improving, not regressing, as we move into November and December. If the defense is able to get off to a better start against OSU next week, then the Sooners will be able to continue their quest for a CFP appearance.