NORMAN — Oklahoma leads West Virginia 27-7 at halftime of Saturday’s game on Owen Field. Here’s some first-half thoughts, notes and statistics as we head into the third quarter.
WHAT STOOD OUT
* Defensive backs attrition
Oklahoma’s defensive backfield has taken a beating today. Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin was suited up, but didn’t start and still hasn’t played. He’s still recovering from a head injury last week against West Virginia. True freshman Stanvon Taylor started in his place, and played pretty well for the most part, but had to leave the game in the second quarter with an apparent ankle injury. OU senior safety Gabe Lynn was called for targeting and ejected from the game before officials reviewed the play and determined he hadn’t targeted. On Tulsa’s next drive, Lynn intercepted a pass and returned it 31 yards, but was apparently injured on the play. He left the field for a while, and has since returned to the sideline.
* No Damien Williams
When we were walking around the field during pregame, there was a noticeable absence in the running back group. Senior Damien Williams, last year’s leading rusher, was no where to be seen. He rushed for 95 yards last week against West Virginia. Still no word on exactly what is keeping Williams out of today’s game, but it sure seems disciplinary.
* Oklahoma’s offense with Bell in the game
This looks like last year’s offense. Blake Bell has completed 15 of 21 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns, and the Sooners have only rushed for 65 yards as a team after posting back-to-back 300-yard rushing performances to open the season. OU has dialed up a few read option plays for Bell, but has been far more spread out than it was in the first two games. If the offense with Bell continues to revert back to last year’s look, it could still be very effective and different because of Bell’s mobility. He scrambled a few times to keep plays alive or pick up yardage, something you almost never saw Landry Jones do.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN THE SECOND HALF
* Kendal Thompson
Bell’s play was so effective in the first half — allowing OU to take a 20-point lead — that I doubt he’ll finish the game. That will give everyone an opportunity to see what Kendal Thompson can do. Thompson has missed the first two games because of a foot injury suffered early in training camp.
* Keith Ford
True freshman Keith Ford had two carries for 14 yards in the first half, but I’d expect him to see a lot more time after the break. OU coaches love him, and seem fully intent on making him a big part of the offense as the season rolls on.
* Young defensive players
Hatari Byrd entered the game after Lynn was injured, and linebacker Dominique Alexander has played lots so far. But I’d expect to see lots of other freshmen defensive guys get in the game as it progresses. Linebacker Jordan Evans, cornerback L.J. Moore and all of the young defensive linemen are guys to keep an eye on.
Offense: QB Blake Bell; HB Brennan Clay; WR Jaz Reynolds; WR Lacoltan Bester; WR Sterling Shepard; WR Jalen Saunders; OT Tyrus Thompson; OG Nila Kasitati; C Gabe Ikard; OG Adam Shead; OT Daryl Williams.
Defense: DE Geneo Grissom; DT Jordan Phillips; DE Charles Tapper; LB Eric Striker; LB Frank Shannon; LB Corey Nelson; CB Stanvon Taylor; FS Gabe Lynn; SS Quintin Hayes; NB Julian Wilson; CB Zack Sanchez.
HALFTIME STATISTICAL LEADERS
Passing — OU: Blake Bell 15-21, 281 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; Tulsa: Cody Green 9-17, 98 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT.
Rushing — OU: Brennan Clay 11-32, 1 TD; Tulsa: Trey Watts 8-27, 1 TD.
Receiving — OU: Sterling Shepard 6-86, 1 TD, Jaz Reynolds 1-82; Tulsa: Trey Watts 5-65, Jordan James 3-30.
Tackles — OU: Frank Shannon 8, Charles Tapper 3, Stanvon Taylor 3, Corey Nelson 3; Tulsa: Shawn Jackson 8, Michael Mudoh 6.