West Virginia took the game plan that Oklahoma used against Nebraska last week and nearly beat the Sooners with it on Saturday night. The Mountaineer defense completely dominated the line of scrimmaged, erased Oklahoma’s running game and forced Spencer Rattler to make plays downfield to win the game. That’s exactly what Rattler did but it didn’t come without an extreme amount of uncomfortable moments.
As a team the Sooners averaged just two yards per carry on the night. Eric Gray lead the offense on the ground by grinding out 38 yards on 12 carries. Kennedy Brooks added 17 yards on 5 totes as Oklahoma’s rushing attack became as ineffective as we’ve seen in a long while. Of Oklahoma’s 313 yards of offense, 256 came through the air.
What’s lost in the criticism of the Sooner offense is how fantastic the defense played. West Virginia only managed 226 total yards of offense and was held to even fewer rushing yards than OU (47). The Mountaineers managed just 1.6 yards per carry.
Game Defining Moment
Not only did Spencer Rattler complete 72% of his passes on the night, on Oklahoma’s game-winning drive he was perfect. Rattler completed passes to Marvin Mims, Brayden Willis, Eric Gray (twice), Drake Stoops, and Michael Woods to go 6-for-6 for 54 yards and an average of 9 yards per pass to set up Gabe Brkic’s walk-off field goal.
Look, say what you want about Rattler (It’s a free country) but just make sure that you include the fact that when he had the ball in his hands for potential game winning drives against Kansas State and Iowa State last season it resulted in turnovers. He’s come a long way since then and absolutely led this team to victory over West Virginia.
Marvin Mims was held to just two receptions on the night. Jadon Haselwood was just one catch better, going for 21 yards on three receptions. Credit the Mountaineer defense for removing Spencer Rattler’s top two targets and making them pretty much irrelevant.
The Issue Is Up Front
If you’re going to criticize the Oklahoma offense then you have to start with the guys up front. After four games it is clear that this group is not the unit that we had expected to see as the season approached. They were completely manhandled by the West Virginia defensive front and Football 101 teaches that if you lose at the point of attack then you’re going to struggle to put points on the board. Unless you’re bringing Caleb Williams in as a lineman then he’s not going to make the offense perform any better.
How Good Is This Defense?
In short…dang good!
The Mountaineer offense came to Norman averaging 39 points and 411 yards per game. They fell way short of both on Saturday night. WVU was averaging 271.3 passing yards and 139.7 rushing yards per game. Against Oklahoma’s defense the managed 179 yards through the air and 47 on the ground.
The Problem Child
I said in our preview podcast that West Virginia didn’t have a receiver that really scared me. I need to admit that I was wrong about that. Bryce Ford-Wheaton seemed to come up with big catch after big catch on the night. He ended the night with 93 yards on 8 receptions and was complimented by Winston Wright who had 65 yards on 7 catches.
Michael Woods had his best game as an Oklahoma receiver. The Arkansas transfer took advantage of coverage attention given to Marvin Mims and Jadon Haselwood by hauling in 8 catches for 86 yards.
Brian Asamoah quietly led Oklahoma’s defense with nine total tackles, tying Pat Fields for the most on the team. Delarrin Turner-Yell finished just behind them with eight tackles and also came up with an interception. The Sooners have come up with at least one turnover in each of the four games so far this season.
Gabe Brkic was money on Saturday! His three second half field goals, including the walk-off, provided all of Oklahoma’s scoring in the second half.
Oklahoma hits the road for the first time on the season next week. The Sooners will travel to Manhattan to take on the Kansas State Wildcats.
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