The Oklahoma Sooners vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks game ended in a 34-0 shutout, and while OU did score 34 points, it was mostly the defense that won the game for OU. That isn’t to say that the offense was bad, as they did put up 429 yards of total offense, but it wasn’t the kind of offense that Sooners fans are used to and was downright ugly at times.
However, that doesn’t mean that there were not positives on the offensive side of the ball. The thing to remember is that, when the tougher games on the schedule arrive, the offense will have to be more consistent if the Sooners want to finish the season in a quality bowl game.
Here is a look at the Players of the Game after the big Oklahoma vs. Louisiana-Monroe win.
Yeah, I said that the offense wasn’t great, and that really lies on the shoulders of their redshirt freshman quarterback. Knight was really bad in the passing game, completing 11-of-28 (39.2-percent) for 86 yards. Reserve quarterback Blake Bell came in for one quarter and finished with a better completion percentage and more yards per completion.
However, the numbers are there if you look closely. Yes, Knight only had one good quarter of play in the three that he played in. He threw three touchdowns and ran for 112 yards in the game. His 7.9 ypc was better than all but one Sooners player who had more than two carries in the game. His legs moved the chains and allowed Oklahoma to boot two field goals in the second quarter to put OU in the lead.
He was not great passing the ball, but he did what he needed to do to give OU the win.
With such bad passing numbers, it is clear that no receiver had a great game, but Jalen Saunders did what was asked of him. Saunders caught three passes for 30 yards and scored two touchdowns in the game. You can’t ask for much more, outside of not dropping a pass early in the contest.
The Sooners Running Backs
It’s better not to just single one man out here. Damien Williams carried the rock 16 times for 66 yards (4.1 ypc), Brennan Clay had eight carries for 43 yards (5.4 ypc) and a touchdown, and Roy Finch had four runs for 42 yards (10.5 ypc). Combined the three Sooners tailbacks had 151 rushing yards for an impressive 5.3 yards-per-carry. All three men have different skill sets and it looks like the running back by committee approach is how the Sooners will put points on the board early in this season.
One disappointing thing was Trey Millard, after all the talk of getting him more involved in the offense, only carried the ball once for four yards and caught two passes for 11 yards.
The youngsters got into the act in the fourth quarter, with Keith Ford getting the surprise call to play over Alex Ross. Ford finished the game with four carries for 20 yards (5.0 ypc) while Ross did get one carry for a nice eight yard pickup before a boneheaded slap to an opponent’s head cost the Sooners a 15-yard penalty and probably sent Ross to the doghouse that Roy Finch just escaped from.
Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon
The biggest complaint last year was that the Oklahoma Sooners linebackers were non-existent in the grand scheme of things. Not one linebacker finished in the top five in 2012 in tackles. At a school known as Linebacker U, it was not what fans were accustomed to and allowed, as Mike Stoops said after this week’s win, a chance for teams like West Virginia to embarrass the Sooners.
That made the fact that two linebackers led Oklahoma in tackles on Saturday night so refreshing. Corey Nelson finished the game with eight tables, five solo, while Frank Shannon ended up with seven tackles, four solo. They also combined for three tackles-for-loss and Nelson had the only Sooners’ sack as well. It was a nice return for Linebacker U.
Charles Tapper finished the game with three tackles, two solo, and one quarterback hurry. However, the Sooners’ defensive end was a house of fire on a line that came into the game full of question marks. The only starter with any experience was suspended for the game and that gave Tapper a chance to show his talent. This was a nice performance by the player and it looks like the d-line might not be as tattered as people thought.
Follow Shawn S. Lealos on Twitter @sslealos.