It was still a mixed bag of emotions for Oklahoma fans but the end result remained the same as the Sooners returned home from Manhattan with its perfect record intact. An offense that had been stagnant produced 37 points and 392 yards. However, the defense that had been dominant couldn’t get off the field in the first half and saw the Wildcats convert on four of its five fourth down attempts. Mental errors led to untimely penalties and special teams gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Yeah, mixed bag is a good term to describe Oklahoma’s efforts on Friday. One one hand the Sooners are 5-0 with the possibility to move into the Top 5 nationally but on the other hand it still seems that we have more questions than answers after five weeks of the season.
Game Defining Moment
Trailing 27-10 late in the third quarter the Wildcats could have folded but instead they made this game extremely uncomfortable for Oklahoma. A 7-yard touchdown pass from Skylar Thompson to Deuce Vaughn brought Kansas State to within 27-17 and then they did the unthinkable.
Momentum from the touchdown was amplified even more so after the onside kick recovery and Oklahoma seemed to be on the ropes on the road. However, the OU coaches in the booth noticed something that everyone else (Including the Big 12 replay official) missed in that KSU kicker Ty Zentner actually double tapped the ball on the kickoff making it an illegal touching.
Conversations swirled after and, and are continuing, that Lincoln Riley shouldn’t have been allowed to challenge the play because it had already gone to replay once to make sure that the ball had traveled 10 yards. That said, the initial replay was wrong and Riley’s challenge was correct. Riley’s challenge was also specific to the ball being touched twice a second time as it came off the tee.
Regardless of the replay arguments, the play was overturned and subsequently the air was sucked out of the stadium. Spencer Rattler would ultimately throw an interception on Oklahoma’s next possession but the crowd and momentum wasn’t able to swing back after the de-escalation of the momentum following that onside kick.
I’ve often talked up Perrion Winfrey’s ability to occupy multiple blockers at once but how about Jadon Haselwood blocking out three defenders on Jeremiah Hall’s rushing touchdown. By the way, that was Hall’s first rushing touchdown of his career.
The Offensive Line Was Better…And Worse
Lincoln Riley did some things to help Spencer Rattler against the pass rush. He rolled the pocket and he spread out the defense with stretch plays, bubble screens, and swing passes. All of that helped Rattler get a rhythm going and it simplified the blocking schemes for the offensive line. The true measure of improvement on the line was the push that got the running game going. Kansas State entered this game allowing just 75.3 rushing yards per game. Kennedy Brooks exceeded that himself, going for 91 yards with an average of 6.1 yards per carry. As a team the Sooners ran for 131 yards, and two touchdowns, at an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
The offensive line improvement was tapered off a bit by the mental mistakes from the group up front. For all that they did good there were still missed assignments, false starts, and a personal foul that set up Kansas State’s kickoff return for a score. All of that is 100% mental but it’s also been there for five weeks now.
Hello Kennedy Brooks
In our preview podcast I pegged Kennedy Brooks to be Oklahoma’s leading rusher and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Brooks got the lion’s share of the workload with fifteen carries to Eric Gray’s four. Brooks doesn’t bring the dual-threat aspect to the game plan that Gray does but he is the more physical runner of the two backs and that’s exactly what the Sooners needed against this Wildcat defensive front.
Oklahoma’s defense produced at least one turnover for the fifth time this season when Nik Bonitto picked up a Jacardia Wright fumble and returned it 70 yards to the OU 19-yard line. That said, the Sooners could have produced at least three turnovers on Saturday had it not been for dropped interceptions.
The Problem Child
If you were paying attention to the “coach speak” this week then Skylar Thompson starting at quarterback wasn’t that big of a surprise. A thorn in Oklahoma’s side the last two seasons, Thompson gave the Sooners everything they wanted wanted on Saturday, completing 29 of his 41 pass attempts for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
You have to give the offensive nod to Spencer Rattler as the offensive hero. There were questions as to how he would respond to being booed by the home crowd last weekend. Needless to say, he bounced back in a big way in Oklahoma’s first road game. Rattler completed 88% of his passes (just three incompletions) for 243 yards and two scores. He did have the one interception but it was inconsequential. In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t much different than a punt.
Defensively you have to give Pat Fields a look after leading the team with 9 total tackles but Brian Asamoah also had a strong game as did Isaiah Thomas. Short passing routes and play-action and attention to the run game kept Oklahoma’s pass rush at bay for most of the afternoon but Isaiah Thomas came up with a huge sack.
It’s officially Hate Week as the Sooners head south to Dallas next weekend for the Red River Rivalry.
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