The Crimson and Cream played sharp football, including another stellar performance from quarterback Jalen Hurts. As usual, you could find a few reasons for concern if you looked hard enough.
How about a handful of knee-jerk impressions about both sides of the ball?
*Don’t discount what it says that the Sooners snapped off more than 10 yards per play versus Tech. The Red Raiders have made decent strides on that side of the ball under their new coaching staff.
OU has hit double digits on that metric in three of four games this year. That happened four times in the entirety of the 2018 campaign.
*It went unnoticed with all the offensive pyrotechnics on OU’s side of the ball, but did we see some cracks in the running game for the first time this season?
No one is going to complain about 7.2 yards per rush, which is what OU produced Saturday on 29 carries when netting out sacks. Even so, that masked a boom-or-bust day on the ground for the Sooners. Leaving out two carries that went for touchdowns from the one-yard line, ten of OU’s rushing attempts went for two yards or fewer.
The Sooners did have nine runs of at least 10 yards against the Red Raiders. This has actually been a running theme all year: OU is either getting stuffed or ripping off five-plus yards. It’s not the worst way to live, but it could make managing drives tough at some point in a game this year.
Also, it’s possible that Tech was keying on the run and daring OU to throw.
*OU’s coaching staff kept right tackle Adrian Ealy’s injury under wraps. In light of Lincoln Riley’s depiction of the situation after the game, I wouldn’t expect to see him on the field against Kansas.
Ealy’s absence meant sliding right guard Tyrese Robinson to tackle and inserting Brey Walker in Robinson’s place for his first start
That sounds like something offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh cooked up during the off week – there was no real indication prior to the game that Robinson was an option at tackle.
It didn’t seem to make an overwhelming difference, but maybe that had something to do with the aforementioned inconsistency of the rushing attack?
OU will obviously want Ealy back on the field on Oct. 12.
*CeeDee Lamb didn’t seem to be drawing the same kind of bracket coverage from Tech. You saw what happened (six receptions, 183 yards, three touchdowns).
*Through four games, running back Trey Sermon has nearly 40% fewer carries than he did during the same time span in 2018. Considering that he has struggled the last two seasons to stay healthy down the stretch, that seems important.
Of course, the number of attempts that have been shifted to the QB position isn’t necessarily a good thing. How about getting Rhamondre Stevenson more touches?
*Hurts made more confidence-inspiring throws versus Tech than any other game this season. He still sometimes struggles with the deep ball, such as the off-target toss to Nick Basquine that was intercepted off a deflection. But Hurts was still precise in the range of 10 to 20 yards.
*The difference in the OU defense when nose tackle Neville Gallimore is on the field is pronounced. Marquise Overton holds down the fort well enough in Gallimore’s absence; Dillon Faamatau less so. But Big Canada has put himself in another class this season, and he put that on display on Saturday.
Gallimore has probably passed guys like Ray Lima to become the top defensive lineman in the Big 12.
*When Tech ramped up the tempo on offense, the Red Raiders put together consistent drives. Consider that a warning sign for the future.
*When was the last time that OU’s defense played with that kind of physicality? The cheap shot on running back Kennedy Brooks in the second half really seemed to light a fire under the D.
*MIKE linebacker Kenneth Murray seems to operate at his peak when he’s working off the edge. He made life miserable for Tech’s offensive backfield today, especially when given the opportunity to rush the passer.
*Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has to figure out what is happening on runs to the boundary (the side of the offensive formation closer to the sideline). Tech creased OU’s front multiple times when it ran that direction. It seems like the first time we’ve seen RUSH LB Jon-Michael Terry come up small on the edge this year.
Other teams on the schedule can do more to take advantage of that hole than Tech, and the Red Raiders had little trouble exploiting it.
*OU’s safeties quietly played a solid game. Patrick Fields wiped a touchdown off the scoreboard when he broke up what looked like a completion to towering Tech receiver T.J. Vasher in the back of the end zone. Meanwhile, Delarrin Turner-Yell was active all day, ringing up seven tackles for the game.
Importantly, Brendan Radley-Hiles is clearly getting more comfortable in the role of nickel. You worry about what will happen when he gets paired up against more physical receivers, but he’s looking like more of an asset in coverage and run support as time goes by.
*On the subject of safeties… the experiment with Trejan Bridges got off to a rocky start. The blue-chip freshman receiver got tagged for two penalties in his first action of the season at nickel. He definitely showed no apprehension about mixing it up, but he remains a major work in progress (which, of course, is understandable and not surprising).
*Another game, another deluge of penalties. OU racked up more than 100 yards in penalties for the second time this season. (Note that the officials also hit the Sooners for 94 penalty yards versus Houston.)
Some of the infractions came in the aftermath of the incident with Brooks, so it’s hard to get too worked up over those. In the aggregate, though, it’s just too many. Riley and Grinch need to get that cleaned up.
*Placekicker Calum Sutherland may have lost his job while apparently serving a suspension for an off-the-field incident. His replacement, kickoff specialist Gabe Brkic, drilled his only two field goal attempts and seven extra points. While pulling double duty, he still managed to send seven of his nine kickoffs for touchbacks.