Evaluating The Sooners After Non-Conference Play
Oklahoma’s football team is 3-0 after the conclusion of non-conference play produced a 52-38 win over Tulsa on Saturday, September 19.
There are plenty of positives, but also some glaring concerns for the Sooners three games into the season.
Baker Mayfield is a playmaker, period. Not getting great protection from his offensive line, Mayfield has shown the ability to elude pass rushers, escape the pocket, and either run for good yardage, or find receivers downfield and make a completion. His competitiveness and grit are his best strengths, but his athletic ability elevates OU’s offense and can bail the Sooners out of trouble.
OU receivers not named Sterling Shepard are stepping up and making plays for the first time in a couple years. Durron Neal is vastly improved from a year ago, while Dede Westbrook, Jarvis Baxter, and Mark Andrews have all made big plays in non-conference action and have shown themselves to be reliable pass catchers.
It’s easy to take for granted, but kicker/punter Austin Seibert has been an impressive special teams asset for the Sooners as just a freshman. Not many in OU history have been this steady this early at that position.
OU’s pass defense clearly still has issues. Tulsa runs a similar scheme to Baylor, and with lesser athletes, and they compiled 427 yards passing and 603 total yards on the Sooners. The defensive backs have been letting receivers too open, or clearly missed assignments, allowing big plays time and time again.
Penalties. OU has had too many of them in areas where discipline is required. Against Tulsa the Sooners had 8 for 85 yards.
The running game. Samaje Perine had 152 yards rushing against Tulsa, which has been OU’s best individual performance on the ground so far. But the Sooners can’t seem to get into a rhythm with their running game, and freshman Joe Mixon hasn’t made the huge impact he was expected to make. He’s been good, but finding time to work him in around the inconsistent carries to Perine seems to have kept Mixon’s opportunities limited. Finding a nice balance between those two, and between the running and passing game will be something that goes a long way to determining how good this Sooner offense can be.
Oklahoma has next weekend off, then opens Big 12 play October 3 at home against West Virginia.