The Sooners weren't perfect, but they played a superb game in winning 40-21 in Lubbock for the first time since 2003, and the grades reflect it.
MIKE STOOPS: A
The OU pass defense hadn't been tested, but now it has, and it was superb. Stoops' game plan included frequent blitzes, which didn't always get to Tech quarterback Seth Doege but kept him on the run. Doege completed just 22 of 36 passes, with three interceptions, for 203 yards. And OU's commitment to stopping Doege – who torched the Sooners a year ago – didn't come at the expense of stopping the run. Tech tailbacks gained 107 yards on 29 carries, an average of 3.7 yards per carry.
JOSH HEUPEL: B
Heupel produced a solid game plan, and the Sooner offense was superb most of the first three quarters, which is all that mattered on this day. Heupel used a balanced offense – OU ran 30 plays out of a one-back formation, 25 plays out of two-back, eight plays out of the three-back and seven plays out of the Belldozer. But a few quibbles. Heupel returned to his passing rut early – 10 straight pass plays overlapping the first and second series of the game. Heupel also was over reliant on the Belldozer – twice Blake Bell ran on 3rd-and-3. One worked, one didn't. And finally, Heupel had Landry Jones throw seven times on an eight-play possession midway through the third quarter, when OU was just trying to run out the clock. Yes, Tech's defense was stacked on the line, but Jones threw three incompletions on the drive and subjected himself and OU receivers to potential injury.
KICKING GAME: A
Michael Hunnicut was golden on two field goals, of 33 and 42 yards. Tress Way had four punts for a 45.2-yard average, including a 71-yarder into a fairly stiff wind. Neither team's return games did much, which on this day was just fine with the Sooners.
The Sooner receivers had just one drop — Justin Brown's bobble on an end zone dive, and even that play would have been a good catch or might have been a catch anyway, had replay reviewed it. Additionally, the Sooner offense had just one fumble (Sterling Shepard, who recovered). And best of all, OU's defensive hands were the most active they've been in a long time. R.J. Washington had two tipped passes. Aaron Colvin intercepted while blitzing, leaping to corral a pass just a few yards after it left Doege's hands. The only poor hands belonged to the guy who's not supposed to have good hands – defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland fumbled after a 13-yard return of an interception, and give the 288-pound McFarland credit for picking it off in the first place.
OU FANS: C
The Sooner throng is usually good for 7,000 to 10,000 strong in Lubbock. But not this time. Only about 4,000 Sooner fans made the trip, after the disappointing loss to Kansas State.
RUN GAME: B
I know it seems like the running game was more efficient, but it wasn't so. OU tailbacks combined for 91 yards on 21 carries, a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. That's half a yard less than against Kansas State. But the run game was effective enough and used enough to keep the Tech defense partially guessing.
ROAD PRESSURE: A
In a place the Sooners had lost three straight, including two straight dismal performances, OU handled itself well. The Tech crowd was announced as a record 60,800, and the Red Raiders staged a blackout, urging everyone to wear black. Plus, the weather turned shrewdly, with a north wind and 50 degrees. Yet the Sooners played with poise. Any timeouts squandered were due to confusion caused by Tech alignments. OU committed just five penalties, none on offense. OU's penalties were an iffy pass interference, a defensive holding, a false start on a punt, a kicking-team illegal block and a defensive offsides in the final two minutes of the game.
NEW FACES: A
The Sooners used an abundance of six-defensive back alignments and used athletic backup linebackers Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin more than ever before, to chase Tech's multitude of receivers. The new guys shined. Safety Julian Wilson and Shannon matched Colvin and Corey Nelson for a team-high six tackles. Franklin had four tackles. Tackles on receivers don't always mean good defense. Better to create an incompletion. But a key to stopping Tech's offense is taking down a receiver soon after a catch, and OU did that well.