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Oklahoma football: Grading the OU Sooners' 50-49 victory at West Virginia

OU REPORT CARD — The Sooner offense gets its highest marks for being clutch, but Mike Stoops and the defense have some explaining to do.
Oklahoman Published: November 18, 2012

Wow. The Sooners' offense was not only productive, it was clutch. Maybe the most clutch game of the Bob Stoops era. But the Sooner defense turned in perhaps the worst game in OU history.

Playing from behind: A. OU never trailed until 7:12 remained in the game. From then on, on his final two possessions of the game, trailing on both of them, Landry Jones completed nine of 10 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

Schemes: D. Mike Stoops lost his chess match with West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers continually lined up with three split receivers bunched to the short side of the field, then ran the ball to the right side. The OU defense was stretched thin, and scatback Tavon Austin had lots of room to maneuver. Austin had runs of 31, 74, 56 and 54 yards, en route to 344 yards on 21 carries.

Hospitality: A. From The Mountaineer welcoming OU tail-gaters on Friday, to general goodwill around Morgantown on Saturday, to the West Virginia forming the state of Oklahoma and spelling out “OK” inside it (even if it was upside down), the Sooners were well-treated on their first foray into the Mountain State. The OU crowd numbered probably 5,000 and far exceeded the turnout from any other first-time Big 12 visitor. The Mountaineer band also spelled out “XII” to salute its new conference.

Kickoff coverage: A. On a night when the Sooners kicked off plenty of times, West Virginia's dangerous return game was not a factor. The Mountaineers' Austin came into the game leading the Big 12 in kickoff return average, 30.3 yards. But Austin's eight returns netted just 146 yards, and only once did WVU start past its 23-yard line. That one time was just at the Mountaineer 34.

Mining field position: F. Four times West Virginia started drives inside its 10-yard line. All three times, the Mountaineers produced a touchdown drive. They drove 91 yards in six plays in the second quarter, keyed by Geno Smith completions of 41 and 33 yards. They drove 92 yards in 17 plays in the third quarter, converting three third downs and one fourth down. They drove 97 yards on five plays in the fourth quarter, keyed by Smith completions of 35 and 33 yards, and a 24-yard scramble. And they drove 92 yards on three plays late in the fourth quarter, keyed by Austin's 47-yard run and Smith's 40-yard pass to Stedman Bailey. For good measure, WVU also had TD drives of 78 and 85 yards.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist and Reporter
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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