In a back-and-forth battle, the Oklahoma Sooners found themselves locked in an overtime battle with a fierce rival. Forced to utilize one aspect of the game — special teams — that has proven to be a liability at times, Lincoln Riley witnessed the unthinkable.
Settling in on the defensive side of the ball, OU forced Sam Ehlinger and the Texas Longhorn offense to the sideline. Trotting out onto the field, Cameron Dicker needed to put points on the board for the Texas Longhorns. Sending the ball skyward, a hand slapped it out of the air as fans went into a frenzy.
On the ensuing possession, Spencer Rattler and the running backs managed to give the kicking team a favorable position. Electing to kick a field goal on second down in the third overtime period, Gabe Brkic stepped up. Shanking the what would have been the winning attempt, the game wore on.
Eventually scoring a touchdown and converting the two point conversion, the pressure once again fell on the defense. Answering the bell, Tre Brown intercepted a potential game-tying pass in the end zone. The move officially brought the golden hat back to it’s home in Norman!
Quick Hitting Takeaways
No McGowan, No Problem
Although the Sooners entered the season with a depleted running back room, the outlook heading into the Red River River looked grim. Without the talents of Seth McGowan, a true freshman and the team’s leading rusher, questions and concerns centered on the group. However, the other ball carrying candidates answered the call.
Relying heavily on T.J. Pledger in the backfield, the junior carried the ball 22 different times. The number is a single game season-high for any ball carrier on the roster this season. Displaying patience and vision throughout the duration of the contest, Pledger eclipsed the 100 yard mark. The effort also marks the first time a ball carrier has eclipsed the barrier in a game this year.
Dominating The Line of Scrimmage
On both sides of the ball the Sooners dominated the line of scrimmage. Offensively, the line asserted themselves living up to much of the expectation placed upon them heading into the campaign. Consistently opening running lanes, the group sprung the runners to total 208 yards gained on the ground.
Now appearing to possess a viable rushing attack despite being short-handed, the line must continue to play with confidence. The level of comfort in the plan expanded beyond the five though as the defensive line seemed to be infected with the same mindset.
Finding a way into the backfield, the defensive line found a way to limit the rushers of the Longhorns. Removing the attempts of Ehlinger, the front seven of the defense held the running backs to a combined 28 yards of offense. Needless to say Isaiah Thomas is a star in the making and continues to pick up the slack left behind by the suspension of Ronnie Perkins and the opt out of Jalen Redmond.
Secondary Experiment Success
Earlier this week, rumors of an experiment taking place in the secondary began to swirl. Attempting to combat the height of the receivers, Joshua Eaton’s name surfaced a prime contender for playing time. While the youngster may not have had a significant role on Saturday, one other defender began to make a name for himself.
Instead, Woodi Washington entered the fold and consistently heard his name over the PA system. The biggest moment of the afternoon undoubtedly played out in the fourth quarter. Sinking into deep coverage, Washington crossed into the endzone glued to the hip of the receiver. Turning to find the ball, the defensive back locked into the underthrown ball. Elevating as a redshirt freshman, Washington snagged the ball out of the air.
Zero is my hero echoed across Sooner Nation. More importantly, Washington is evidence of the talent that sits on the roster as underclassmen in the secondary.
Penalties & Takeways
Starting the game on a drive of penalties, it appears as though it would be a long night for the offense. As one of the most penalized teams in the Big XII Conference, it’s something the Sooners must continue to improve on. Mental mistakes and break down in technique has cost this team in various situations and over the course of three consecutive games now. The hope is that this is not the norm for the the team as a whole after receiving a week off this coming weekend.
In addition, Alex Grinch has consistently said the dam walls are about to break in reference to the turnovers. Mentioning how this team has been so close on so many occasions, fans are now seeing a glimpse of what Grinch has spoken of. Unfortunately, the offense appears to be a turnover machine themselves. Coughing the ball up three times, the Sooners once again failed to win the turnover battle despite forcing three turnovers themselves.
It’s one stat line that is impossible to ignore given how much the defensive coordinator has brought it up.