Oklahoma football: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma: Three tales from an OU victory that was a gift
This was not a victory for Oklahoma football that merits a party. In truth, the Sooners lost a game they should have won.
Though the Sooners are still unbeaten at 4-0, the manner in which they’re winning has clearly become a disturbing trend rather than an isolated incident. And at this point in the season, that is profoundly disturbing.
No. 4, Oklahoma defeated West Virginia, 16-13, thanks to a game-winning field goal by OU’s Gabe Brkic as time expired on the clock. Brkic’s kick was his third of the game.
“I don’t listen to them, they’re not on the field”
Oklahoma had a solitary lead throughout the game until Brkic’s game-winning field goal. For most of the game, the Sooners were in hot pursuit of the Red Raiders. To start the game, West Virginia went on a 17-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took nearly 10 minutes off the clock. It took the Sooners just three minutes to answer a West Virginia touchdown with a score of their own. West Virginia took a 10-7 lead into halftime with a 24-yard field goal, marking the Sooners’ first halftime deficit this season and their first in their previous 14 games. The score remained 7-7 until just before halftime.
The Mountaineers led 13-10 at the end of the third quarter after trading field goals with the Bears.
Two costly West Virginia mistakes deep in OU territory in the second half likely would have changed the outcome of this game.
Midway through the third quarter, the Mountaineers faced a second-and-goal situation from the Oklahoma one-yard line and the ball was sent back to the six-yard line due to a false start. West Virginia had to settle for a field goal after gaining only two yards and attempting a pass that was incomplete.
At the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter, maybe the most important play of the game occurred. West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege was unable to handle the center snap on second down at the Sooners’ 33-yard line, and the ball rolled all the way back to the Mountaineers’ 46-yard line before Doege was able to fall on it.
As a result of West Virginia’s vital error, the Cowboys were forced to punt and Oklahoma was given the opportunity to mount a thrilling game-winning drive from the Cowboys’ eight-yard line.
No matter how close it was, the Sooners won in the end thanks to a West Virginia turnover and not any home team heroics in the fourth quarter.
I’m not sure what it’s going to take for Lincoln Riley and the Sooners to wake up after this loss. Oklahoma is at a crossroads in its season, and who is the team that awaits them right at the end? The Sooner-killing Kansas State Wildcats, OU’s fiercest Big 12 rival, and they’re in Norman. Three weeks ago, no one could have predicted that K-State would be the favorite.
Rattler is being guarded by the offensive line, but it is a struggle.
Despite completing 72 percent of his passes on 36 attempts, Spencer Rattler was limited to 201 yards in the air for the second straight game.On Oklahoma’s first possession, he completed a 38-yard throw to running back Eric Gray.
Sooner fans were furious with Oklahoma’s former No. 1 QB in the 2019 class after their offense stalled for four straight possessions and produced only 91 yards of offense in the first half. OU back-up Caleb Williams was being chanted by the crowd as a possible replacement for Rattler.
After the game, Rattler informed Holly Rowe, an ABC sideline reporter,
“I don’t worry about that at all. I don’t listen to them. Their not on the field.”
He may say whatever he wants, but you can tell it has an impact on him. Even before the season began, many people predicted that Rattler would win the Heisman Trophy and be the first QB taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Five to eight defenders are being dropped, which forces the Sooner star to beat them with underneath throws instead. However, the veteran OU offensive line has failed miserably in protecting Sooner quarterback Tyler Rattler. Lincoln Riley’s play calling has been a contributing factor in the Rattlers’ inability to win.
The simple conclusion is that Rattler receives the majority of the blame for OU’s sluggish offense, but the issues extend far beyond that.
Against West Virginia, the Sooners’ rushing attack was nonexistent.
The Sooners’ rushing attack never got going, as they managed just 57 yards on the ground. On just 12 carries, Eric Gray racked up 38 yards. Gray and Kennedy Brooks were unable to gain more than 3.4 yards on each carry, and the squad as a whole gained only 2.0 yards on each carry.
Oklahoma’s sputtering offense is in large part due to the lack of an effective rushing game, which generates more throwing attempts.
Too many drives allowed by the defense.
One of the bright points in the Sooners’ victory over West Virginia was their defense. The Sooners held the Mountaineers to 226 total yards and an average of 3.6 yards per play. Oklahoma has now kept an opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards four times in a row. Leddie Brown, the Mountaineers’ star running back, was restricted to just 47 yards on the ground.
The Sooners’ overall defense is strong, but the team is committing the blunder of giving up too many extended, time-consuming offensive possessions, which keeps Oklahoma’s offense in check and reduces the quantity of offensive opportunities for Spencer Rattler and company.
To begin the game, West Virginia had a 17-play drive, followed by an 11-play drive and a nine-play possession later in the game. The Mountaineers had just two possessions end in three-and-outs throughout the game. When it came to third-down conversions, West Virginia was perfect on its first drive, going 4 for 4. However, the Mountaineers went 0 for 9 on their subsequent drives.
Despite their offensive woes, the Sooners must find a way to get off the field with fewer plays on defense and give the ball back to the offense. If you don’t have possession of the ball, you can’t score. Conversely, the more the opponents’ capacity to sustain drives, the greater the likelihood of a point surrender.