It’s been a tumultuous season so far for the Oklahoma Sooners and fans alike. OU is looking to build off of the momentum created by its four-OT win against rival Texas, but there are still a lot of unknowns for this team heading into its fifth game of the season. That said, here are some trends to monitor:
Oklahoma has been lights-out in first quarters. Whatever Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch are saying before kickoff is working. The Sooners have outscored opponents in the first quarter 58-3 this season. Offensively, Oklahoma sports a 80 percent completion percentage,, 5.51 ypc and has more explosive plays than in any other quarter. Defensively, Oklahoma has limited opposing quarterbacks to a 42.9 percent completion rate and have allowed just 29 yards on the ground (1.16 ypc). The team has obvious issues finishing a game, which we’ll talk abou next, but they have no trouble getting things going early.
Lincoln Riley’s offense has tended to stall in the 4th quarter. With Riley being one of the country’s top offensive minds, it’s a bit troubling that the Oklahoma offense hasn’t scored in the fourth quarter in its past two games. In fact, this season OU has been outscored in the fourth quarter this season 45-17. Not ideal. Furthermore, the Sooners have more passing attempts in the 4th quarter than any other quarter, but the completion percentage drops nearly 30 percent. The rushing game saw noticeable improvement against Texas, so it stands to reason that OU could lean more on it to keep this offense moving in late-game situations.
Oklahoma’s run defense breaks down in the red zone. Grinch’s defense has been pretty stout against the run, as it’s currently ranked 12th in the country against the run. That ranking is a bit deceiving, however — Oklahoma’s defense has allowed opponents 18 trips to the red zone thus far this season, and of those 18 trips, opponents have scored on 15 of those drives. Of those 15 scores, nine are rushing TDs. While there are few explanations (i.e. two overtime rushing TDs), the fact of the matter is that OU’s defense isn’t as effective against the run in the red zone as it is on other parts of the field. Will it improve with names like Perrion Winfrey and Josh Ellison beginning to make an impact in the interior of the defensive line? That could be answered this Saturday as the TCU offense is a perfect 8-8 in the red zone with four of those scores being rushing touchdowns.