Film study: Taking a second look at Oklahoma’s 24-7 win over UTEP
I watched the whole game and tried to narrow it down to some interesting moments and things that happened during the game that I missed the first time.
* Soothsayer J.C. Pearson, the color commentator who was made several accurate statements about things before they happened, said UTEP people are telling him that, by the end of this season, everyone in the country will know the name Nathan Jeffery. Try by the end of the night.
* Sooners come out in a 4-3 set, with Joseph Ibiloye starting instead of Gabe Lynn at nickelback. Tony Jefferson playing about four yards or so off the line of scrimmage; he really lined up close the . (Played in the box quite a bit?) They really switched back and forth between the 4-3 and 4-2-5 Saturday quite a bit — a lot more than I expected.
* The first play is a sign of things to come for the Sooners. Jeffrey takes the ball from quarterback Nick Lamaison, bends back and slips past defensive end R.J. Washington. Had Washington stayed home, he would’ve been right there to stop Jeffery for about a 2-yard gain instead of the 14 he actually gained. It was a common theme Saturday with Jeffery; he’d cut back to a wide open hole away from most of the OU defensive linemen and linebackers, who were walled off by the UTEP front five. If safety Javon Harris hadn’t been playing back deep, Jeffrey just may have opened this game with an 80-yard touchdown. Can you imagine how horrible that would’ve been for the Sooners?
* At about 12:32 left in the first — and after Jeffereys has already gained 40 yards on the ground — we got the first glimpse of King’s impressive pass rushing from the 3-technique that was really effective Saturday. He was beating his man, Lamaison saw it and moved forward in the pocket. With Wort keying in from about 7 yards back, Lamaison made an incredibly risky throw across his body toward the endzone. Demontre Hurst got under the receiver and had the ball hit him right in the hands, then bounce right to Jefferson. Both Sooners could’ve picked that one off.
* On 3rd-and-5 at OU’s 22-yard line on UTEP’s opening drive, King absolutely abuses the UTEP right guard and pulls Lamaison down for a critical sack that ended a huge threat. Big-time play there by King and it’s exactly why he’s such a threat for opponents at the 3-technique. That right there is why, if Stacy McGee comes back and King moves back outside to end, coaches are probably still going to pull him inside some like they planned to anyway. King’s sack is followed by the first of three UTEP missed field goals.
* Soothsayer Pearson predicts before OU’s first snap that Kenny Stills will have a “huge season.” I mean, I guess we don’t know if he’ll have a great season, but he know he had a great game.
* Sooners go 24 seconds from the end of their first offensive play to the second snap. Much slower tempo than we’re used to seeing with OU, but co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said it was because of all the newcomers on the field..
“Early in the ballgame, you saw us not use a lot of tempo,” Heupel said. “We’re trying to get them into a rhythm and into the flow of the ball game.”
* On that second play, OU lines up in a pistol formation, with Trey Millard to Landry Jones’ left. Stills comes in motion from right to left, and turns toward Jones as he fakes a handoff to Dominique Whaley. In the confusion, Millard has slipped out of the backfield, to the right. Jones rolls out, throws to Millard, who subsequently plows through a UTEP safety for a first down and a 9-yard gain. One of six touches for Millard all night. Another would come late in the first quarter, when he caught another Jones pass for another OU first down.
* One swing pass to Whaley could’ve had a shot to be successful, but UTEP linebacker Aubrey Alexius read the play well — he began heavily pursuing Whaley when he looked back at Jones, before he’d even completed his play action fake — but also had a straight path to Whaley because both Trey Metoyer and Stills blocked the same Miner cornerback. Whaley barely catches the ball before Alexius hits him for a loss. Good thing for OU that he didn’t drop it, because it was clearly a lateral. Someone — either Metoyer or Stills — clearly got mixed up about who they were supposed to block.
* Jones has a couple seconds on third down before guard Bronson Irwin loses his man; Jones steps forward to avoid the sack and then has some time to find an open target. Instead, he rushed a dangerous throw to Stills across the middle. It didn’t look to me like Jones eyeballed anyone but Stills; I thought it looked like he had Millard to his left out of the backfield.
* The Miners bring the house, Richard Spencer blocks Tress Way’s first punt. Just an all-out assault on Way’s protection allows Jeffery to score on the 24-yard punt block return. With a full-on, everybody rushes type of punt block, I can see how it would’ve been tough to pick up. UTEP brought it again on the next OU punt, but Way got that and all other punts off Saturday.
* Soothsayer Pearson: UTEP coach Mike Price told him that, on special teams, “We’ve got a lot of things dialed up. If we get the right look, we’re not afraid to use any thing at any time.” They should’ve been afraid to use something in the fourth quarter.
* 3rd-and-5 on the ensuing possession, and Jones throws what absolutely should’ve been an interception. Looked to me like he telegraphed that pass all the way to Metoyer, and UTEP safety DeShawn Grayson couldn’t hold onto the sure pick. A problem Jones has had over the years is eyeballing the receiver he wants to throw to, and, judging from Saturday, he still has work to do on that front.
* On Jones’ 68-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, he really did have all day to throw the ball. He couldn’t find an open receiver, but did a nice job of staying patient and moving to the left, away from his linemen and the pass rushers they were blocking. Lane Johnson’s man got free after several seconds, just Jones made what can only be described as a beautiful throw, from one hash to the other, right into Stills’ arms. Stills said Jones’ ability to throw to the other side of the field isn’t anything he’s shown before.
* Justin Brown gives everyone a glimpse of those punt returning skills we’ve heard so much about with about 3 minutes left in the first. Folks, I’m still convinced this guy has a chance to really be special this season. On this return, he demonstrates great vision and awareness of his surroundings as he weaved his way through UTEP’s punt team. Later in the game, he makes some nice plays on offense on some swing passes. Once he develops a little more rapport with Jones and gets a better grasp of the Sooners’ offense, he could wind up having a great season.
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