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Oklahoma Sooners Football: Offense “beats” Defense in 2021 OU Spring Game, 30-29

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It was football.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, football returned to the Palace on the Prairie for the Oklahoma Sooners’ annual Red & White Spring Game. Despite facing a game-opening three score deficit, OU’s offense (white) would ultimately prevail over the Defense (red), winning 30-29.

While a pair of 15-minute halves doesn’t exactly provide a whole lot for fans to draw conclusions from, it was rather interesting to see how some of the newcomers could potentially contribute later this fall and throughout their Sooner careers.

Offense

As previously mentioned, OU’s offense began the spring game trailing its defense, 21-0, and for a while it appeared that the ‘D’ didn’t actually need the extra help with a solid first half performance. Eventually, Oklahoma’s ‘O’ closed the gap before taking and holding onto a late lead.

  • Unsurprisingly, Spencer Rattler opened the spring game as QB1 and looked like his normal, active self on the field. Statistically, he wasn’t the most prolific passer on the day, but the general rule is that everything in a team scrimmage should be taken with a heavy grain of salt. Overall, the third-year Sooner completed six of 14 pass attempts for 116 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
  • Of course, one of the major talking points going into the game and throughout the contest was the play of true freshman QB and five-star signee Caleb Williams. Right away, he appeared to be as advertised and did not look like a player making his debut in a collegiate setting.

It’s early, but the zone read looks like a straight up lethal weapon with Williams running the show. Not only did he consistently make solid reads, he displayed an impressive ability to run the ball. On the day, Williams completed 10 of 11 pass attempts for 99 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed the ball five times for 42 yards. Still, there’s no QB controversy here, but so far it would seem like OU is in great hands should it ever need to to turn to Williams in a pinch this fall.

  • True freshman WR Mario Williams also lived up to his spring billing, showing off his elite burst and overall pass-catching savviness. Although OU didn’t allow much from its special teams returners on this day, look out for No. 4 in the return game as well.
  • Tennessee Volunteers transfer RB Eric Gray has generated a lot of buzz this spring, and he showed why his coaches are excited about what he brings to the offense. Both as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield, this former Vol clearly has qualities that would make him a starter at most programs around the nation. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him listed atop the depth chart for the Sooners at some point this fall.
  • It was nice to see third-year WR Jadon Haselwood on the field after he missed most of the 2020 season with a knee injury. Not only did he make an appearance on Saturday, he delivered arguably the highlight of the game with this incredible one-handed reception. Physically, he has all the tools to become one of the nation’s top wideouts. Hopefully he can keep this positive momentum going throughout the 2021 season.
  • Another notable nugget from the offense was Andrew Raym receiving the start at center. Throughout the spring, there has been a three-way competition between Raym, UCLA Bruins transfer Chris Murray and Ian McIver. Speaking of Murray, he started the game at right guard, while Tennessee transfer Wanya Morris started at left tackle.

Defense

Although the defense came up short on the scoreboard, Alex Grinch’s group looked to have picked up right where it left off last season. The depth at every level is likely as good as it has been in the Lincoln Riley era, and bodies were continuously swarming the ball.

  • LB Caleb Kelly is back for his sixth year at the University of Oklahoma, and after missing the majority of the past two seasons with injuries, seeing him on Owen Field was a welcomed sight. I wasn’t able to properly track him all game long during the live broadcast, but he appeared to be playing from the MIKE position early in the game.
  • DL Josh Ellison recovered a fumble on a play where Spencer Rattler faked a handoff to Kennedy Brooks before attempting a backfield toss to a sweeping Mario Williams.
  • Toward the end of the game, DL Jordan Kelley and crew were credited with stuffing sophomore H-back Mikey Henderson in the end zone for a safety. Upon personal review, I don’t believe it would have actually counted as a safety in a real game, but I’m okay with it standing today. Either way, the important part of this play is how aggressive the defensive front was while containing the ball carrier.

Special Teams

Since this was a spring game, the kick and punt returns were largely limited, so for now those units are still relative mysteries. Meanwhile, Gabe Brkic went 2 for 2 on a 44-yard and 24-yard field goal attempt. Backup kicker Zach Schmit nailed a 41-yard FG. Finally, Reeves Mundschau received the start at punter, maintaining his job from a season ago.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, there really isn’t much that should be taken away from a spring game, especially one as short as today’s. The QB room at Oklahoma has to be regarded as one of the best in college football, and the skill positions are deep with talent and experience. Defensively, many members of the secondary showed promise, while the line should once again be the strength of that side of the ball. Best of all, while several notable Sooners were held out of today’s spring game, there were no apparent injuries on the day. If OU can remain relatively healthy going into the 2021 season and beyond, it should be on the short list of legitimate national title contenders.

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