Oklahoma football report card: Sooners' trick plays, pass defense earn high marks

by Jenni Carlson Published: October 19, 2013
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A better result for the Sooners this week means better grades. Still improvement is needed in a couple areas, most notably run defense and play calling.


CHANCE TAKING: A

A punt block that led to a safety. A wide receiver pass that worked like a charm. The Sooners were so good at the trickeration against the Jayhawks that it begged a question — where was it a week ago? Sure, the Sooners might've thought they were in a more desperate situation when they found themselves trailing early to the lowly Jayhawks, but they were losing to the hated Longhorns a week ago. Why not take a few chances then?

RUN DEFENSE: C

It's one thing for the Texas run game to go up and down the field. But the Kansas run game? The Jayhawks had 118 yards rushing at the end of the first quarter. Sure, the Sooners shored some things up and held the Jayhawks to only 67 yards rushing in the last three quarters, but that's why the Sooners earned a C instead of something worse. Had they been playing a more capable team Saturday, their poor run defense early might've cost them.

PASS DEFENSE: A

Kansas had 16 yards passing. Enough said.

BLAKE BELL: B

Not perfect, but not bad either. The Sooner quarterback was 15 of 25 for 131 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He threw the ball better, but he stood in the pocket too long a couple times and missed some open guys, including a painfully wide open Aaron Ripkowski on a play that resulted in an interception. But perhaps the best sign for Bell was that he ran the ball well, picking up 53 yards on 10 carries. He showed that he's still able to pick up some yards with his legs, and that might give offensive coordinator Josh Heupel more confidence in calling his number.

PLAY CALLING: C

The wide receiver pass was a smashing success, a 49-yard touchdown pass from Lacoltan Bester to Sterling Shepard that swung momentum permanently in OU's favor. Heupel also called several shorter passes that got, then kept Bell going. But Heupel still had some not-so-good moments. OU's second possession was three consecutive passes and punt. It was bad enough that former Sooner receiver Kenny Stills said on Twitter, “Horrendous play calling.” And on short yardage situations, there is still no use of the Belldozer. Even though the Sooners were solid on third down Saturday, why not use the power package and try to pick up a few more?

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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