Under the direction of Matt Campbell, the Iowa State Cyclones earned the title of ‘Giant Slayers.’ Hoping to buck the trend, the Oklahoma Sooners carried the No. 5 ranking into Ames. In the first Big 12 Conference game of the year, only one could prevail. Exacting revenge, the crimson and cream returned to their winning ways with a 37-27 victory on the road.
An Unfamiliar Rushing Attack
For the second consecutive outing, the Sooners were forced to rely on options outside of Rodney Anderson to shoulder the rushing responsibilities. Utilizing four different ball carriers, it was quarterback Kyler Murray leading the charge yet again. Rushing the ball a total of fifteen times, the dual sport athlete recorded 77 yards for an average of 5.1 per carry. This should come as no surprise with the speed and ability to scramble that the signal caller possesses. But, is this by design or simply by necessity at this point in time?
Honestly, I can’t remember a time in the past decade that a quarterback has led the team in rushing in two consecutive contests. Let me know if I’m off base here!
A Bolstered Front Seven
It’s no secret that the Sooners put a premium on increasing the talent level across the entire defensive unit — bringing in players like Brendan Radley-Hiles and Ronnie Perkins. A quick look at the depth chart reveals numerous underclassmen competing for playing time. The effort in recruiting is paying dividends in the pass rush — a vital aspect of the game in the Big 12. Continuously putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the number of sacks climbs higher and higher on the young season. However, the most noticeable improvement comes in the form of run defense. Against ISU, the front seven allowed a mere 87 rushing yards on 29 attempts. The numbers average out to three yards per carry. That’s not a bad day in temperatures approaching the triple digit mark.
On the year, Oklahoma gives up just 119 yards per game on the ground.
An Ability To Overcome Mistakes
On several occasions, Hakeem Butler displayed why he may very well be the best receiver in the league. But, it came at the expense of Parnell Motley. Missed tackles became the norm as old habits do indeed die hard. Surrendering two scores to Butler alone, Oklahoma continued to display an ability to overcome the mistakes. In conjunction with the missed tackles, Grant Calcaterra coughed the ball up after securing a first down. Proving costly at the time, the fumble allowed the Cyclones to tie the game at 10-10 while the crowd went wild. Facing a momentum swing, the Sooners rattled off 14 unanswered points to maintain the lead. The mental fortitude gained through this contest should come in handy throughout the duration of the season.