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?
THIRD DOWN OFFENSE: B
The Sooners got off to a rocky start, only converting 2 of 6 in the first half, but in the second half, they were nearly automatic. They were 5 of 8 on third down after halftime. And even though it was against a less-than-stellar Kansas defense, that 7 of 14 mark was a big-time improvement over last week. OU was a woeful 2 of 13 against Texas.
THIRD DOWN DEFENSE: A
A week after the Sooner defense got abused on third down — the Longhorns even scored their first offensive touchdown on a third-and-long — OU stood tall on third down. It only allowed Kansas to covert 2 of 11 third-down attempts, and the Jayhawks had no third-down conversions after the first quarter. Stout, stout play by the Sooners to get off the field when they had the chance.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
This one is tough to figure. The Sooners were decent both covering and returning kickoffs, but after that, it's a mixed bag. They blocked a punt that led to a safety, then an immediate touchdown, but they also got a punt blocked that led to a quick Kansas touchdown. Michael Hunnicutt missed an extra point on what looked like a bad snap, but then the Sooners blocked a Kansas extra point that Aaron Colvin returned for a safety. We'll call it a wash and give special teams a C.
Things looked dreary before kickoff with Memorial Stadium barely half empty, but as the day wore on, the crowd filled in a bit. It made for a much better scene on what turned out to be a beautiful day, sunny and 70 degrees. A pregame flyover by eight small planes with pink smoke trails — pink is the color of breast cancer awareness month — was a cool and unexpected treat.
One of the best looks in all of football — the Sooners' road uniforms of crimson helmets and white jerseys and pants — did battle with one of the uglier ones. The Jayhawks had blue helmets and pants, but their gray jerseys were hideous. I'm all for gray uniforms — heck, I'm all for changing it up a bunch if you don't have a traditional look — but these jerseys looked like practice gear. Worst, they were impossible to read in the stadium.