NORMAN — Oklahoma improved to 2-0 this season with its 16-7 home win Saturday over West Virginia to open Big 12 Conference play.
Here’s a look at our coverage for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com, followed by a few quick thoughts:
* My game story: This time the defense bailed out the Sooners against West Virginia
* Berry Tramel’s column: Time to find out what Blake Bell can do
* From Ryan Aber: Sooners turn to Brennan Clay, Damien Williams after passing game falters
Other random thoughts, notes and observations:
* Last November, Jonathan Kimble — the West Virginia Mountaineer mascot — gave our Oklahoman crew a tour of Morgantown. Saturday morning, Berry Tramel and I returned the favor and showed him around Norman.
We drove by Barry Switzer’s house; Switzer was standing outside, so we pulled up and chatted with him for a while. Then we took Jonathan by the West Virginia RVs parked at the Lloyd Noble Center.
* I’m usually a traditionalist when it comes to uniforms, but I thought West Virginia’s white helmets were slick.
* As West Virginia’s players came down the tunnel for the first time during pregame, they and some Sooners started jawing at each other. For a second, it looked like there might be a problem, but the whole thing broke up fairly quickly.
* This sloppy game got off to a pretty sloppy start. On West Virginia’s game-opening drive, the Mountaineers picked up 24 yards on a pass from Paul Millard to running back Charles Sims. OU called a timeout. Then the teams returned to the field and West Virginia called a timeout.
* The Mountaineers handled time management pretty poorly all night. They were completely out of second-half timeouts with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
* Nila Kasitati started again at right guard, and Bronson Irwin again didn’t get on the field until the second quarter. Strange.
* The errant snap from Gabe Ikard to Trevor Knight on the second play of OU’s first drive sent Knight back to the 1-yard line, where he tried to throw the ball away. I think I understand what he was trying to do, but wouldn’t just going down with the ball yielded the same result without the risk? Knight was flagged for intentional grounding, with the ball placed at the spot of the foul.
* Brennan Clay gained 33 yards on the next play — a third-and-19 from the Sooners’ own 1-yard line — the first of several impressive runs from the senior Saturday night.
* OU’s opening drive stalled out, though, after Clay’s big run.
* West Virginia’s Dreamius Smith broke Corey Nelson and Gabe Lynn tackles, then outran the OU defense on a 75-yard touchdown that elicited memories of last year’s shootout. That play would be the only thing remotely similar to the 50-49 track meet in Morgantown last November.
As bad as that play was, though, Nelson and Lynn each ended with really good nights.
* That play felt like one Oklahoma’s defense might have struggled to recover from a year ago.
“We did put it behind us after a couple of plays,” Nelson said. “It was disappointing and it shouldn’t have happened, but we still put it behind us.”
* A Nick Hodgson kickoff failed to fly through the end zone for the first time this season early in the second quarter. All seven kickoffs last week against ULM were un-returnable, and both of his first-quarter kickoffs Saturday were through the end zone.
* Junior offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson was called for three penalties within the first 21 minutes of Saturday’s game — two false starts and an illegal formation infraction. Thompson would later leave the game with an apparent ankle injury.
* If Thompson is unable to go next week, that’d obviously be a huge loss for the Sooners’ offensive line. The unit is pretty deep at the guard and center positions, but still relatively thin at tackle.
* I’ve gotta believe OU coaches wouldn’t have sent Blake Bell into the game in the fourth quarter if they didn’t intend to start him against Tulsa next week.
* Bob Stoops said they originally intended to let Blake Bell throw the ball around some in the fourth quarter.
“We were going to but then the situation dictated it with where we got the ball and then we get the first down running it,” Stoops said. “I mean, why? At that point in the game, the clock is the enemy. You don’t mess with as they say the football gods. You do what you’re supposed to do and burn the clock so that if they do get it they have minimal time to get the chance.”
Bell ended up attempting only one pass, a screen that was dropped by Brennan Clay.
* Speaking of Clay, he had a heck of a night. He rushed for a career-high 170 yards, including several long, impressive runs.
* He and Damien Williams were both outstanding. Williams rushed for 96 yards. Those two are really living up to the high expectations people had for them in the preseason.
* Punter Jed Barnett and place kicker Michael Hunnicutt each had strong nights. Barnett averaged 44.6 yards on his five punts, and Hunnicutt hit 3 of 4 field-goal attempts. He missed his last one — a 35-yard try with about a minute left in the game.
* If Oklahoma loses Aaron Colvin for a significant amount of time, that would really, really hurt in a secondary unit that’s played very well through two games. Bob Stoops said he didn’t have an update on Colvin’s status.
“That was scary,” Mike Stoops said. “You’re taking virtually one of our best players against a team that can throw the ball. That made it hard. It was scary. We miss him. We miss his leadership. We miss he presence.”
* Oklahoma came out a few times in a two-tight pistol set, with fullbacks Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowski lined up as the tight ends. I thought that was interesting.
PEEKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK
Tulsa (1-1, 0-0 Conference USA) at No. 16 OU (2-0, 1-0 Big 12)
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman
TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28/HD 721, Dish 144, DirecTV 209, U-verse 606/1606)
Radio: KOKC-AM 1520, The Franchise-107.7 FM
* The Golden Hurricane lost in a blowout at Bowling Green to open its 2013 campaign, but got back on track with Saturday’s come-from-behind victory over Colorado State at home. The Rams led 20-14 at halftime and 27-17 after three quarters, but Tulsa scored 13 fourth-quarter points to earn the win.
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