The Sooners played mostly fantastic Saturday, but some areas need work, and the grades reflect it. But that's good news, too, for OU, that it could win so decisively without a pristine performance.
PASS RUSH: A
The Sooners ended up with only one sack, shared by Jordan Phillips and Corey Nelson, but they constantly harassed Notre Dame quarterbacks. Jordan Phillips and Nelson tipped passes at the line of scrimmage, Charles Tapper and Eric Striker each had two quarterback hurries, and Striker's created the interception that Nelson returned for a touchdown.
SHORT-YARDAGE OFFENSE: D
The Sooners seven times faced third down with either one or two yards needed. They converted only twice. Damien Williams made a hard-earned first down with a physical run on 3rd-and-1, and Blake Bell threw to Jalen Saunders on a 3rd-and-2. OU tried a variety of things. The Belldozer. Old-style option play. Short passes. Little worked. And OU also settled for a field goal after first-and-goal at the Notre Dame 2-yard line. However, the Sooners did turn a 3rd-and-3 into a 54-yard touchdown pass from Bell to Sterling Shepard.
From early in the week to after the game, Notre Dame could not have been more welcoming. The manifestations Saturday included golf cart rides for Sooner fans walking to various campus attractions, to inviting OU bands director William Wakefield to direct the Irish band on the national anthem, to ushers talking football with Sooner fans, to a standing ovation for Bell when he left the game with a cramp in the third quarter.
RELIEF PITCHING: A
When Bell went out, who knew what to expect when Trevor Knight entered? Not the Irish. The Sooners immediately reverted to their shotgun option offense; Knight scooted 30 yards on his first snap, and OU quickly reached first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. The drive stalled and the Sooners settled for a field goal, but the sequence offered up tons of possibilities for future uses of Knight as a change-of-pace quarterback.
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