Oklahoma Sooners GIF Study: Trevor Knight and Caleb Gastelum Pave the Way against Tulsa


The Sooners waltzed into Tulsa and grabbed a 52-7 victory in dominating fashion, just as they have in each of their last eight meetings against the Golden Hurricane. Just like Louisiana Tech a week ago, it’s important to not get too high or too low after a game against a middling opponent like Tulsa, even when the game is on the road. But there were till plenty of interesting notes following Saturday’s demolition of Tulsa.

Trevor Knight

Knight once again threw 34 passes on Saturday, but this time he completed more of them (21) and he didn’t see much action in the fourth quarter. There were a couple of times when Knight appeared to be slightly off in timing with his WR’s (more specifically Durron Neal) but he looked crisp most of the time when throwing short and intermediate routes.

However, Knight did struggle to throw the deep ball with accuracy. It seemed like Heupel was dialing up the deep pass more than normal against TU, but that could have also been a product of Sterling Shepard being able to consistently beat the opposing DBs. In any event, there should be optimism that TK9 worked out the kinks on his deep ball because it certainly didn’t look good early:

Both of those plays would have likely gone for touchdowns, and they’ll need to be converted on later in the season against quality opponents. Later in the game, Knight was able to connect with Shepard on a couple passes, which is part of the reason for optimism.

Knight was able to hit Shepard on this bomb, but it was still under thrown by a good amount:

And finally, a successful TK9 deep ball:

It wasn’t all disappointing for Knight, who still completed 21 passes for nearly 300 yards on the afternoon. He also scampered for a 31 yard TD, but let’s look at how it was set up first:

This play sets up like a potential swing pass to Ross, much like the one that we saw in the opener several times against La Tech. Knight does a good job to read man coverage and uses his legs to gain a few yards.

Now here’s the TD run:

The play sets up similarly with Ross heading towards the outside ready to receive a pass. But in this case, the play is a draw, and possibly a read play for TK9. Before the ball is even snapped, the ILB for TU follows Ross towards the sideline, vacating the middle of the field for Knight. If that linebacker stays home, it’s probably a 15 yard gain on a swing pass to Ross. Brilliant play call by Josh Heupel and good execution by Knight.

The Offensive Line

The offensive line was great on Saturday for Oklahoma, once again springing Keith Ford and Alex Ross for big gains (and one huge play). The TV broadcast pointed out that Oklahoma’s OL has a higher average weight than the Dallas Cowboys, so it should come as no surprise that they were able to handle Tulsa. Still, it’s nice to see such good excecution so early on from that unit.

The OL does a great job of sealing off the hole on this play, particularly Ty Darlington and Adam Shead. Ross could have done a better job of picking his hole once he got to the second level, but that’s not something that the OL can control.

Here’s another example of the OL clearing the way, this time for a Keith Ford TD:

You could have driven a car through that hole! This time it was Daryl Williams and FB Aaron Ripkowski combining to give Ford plenty of room before the end zone. The OL continues to be a strength for this team, and it will be as long as that unit stays healthy.

Caleb Gastelum

Don’t lie, your heart sank when you realized that it would be Gastelum, a walk-on, to replace Jordan Evans for the final three quarters against Louisiana Tech. At first it seemed to be a testament to how paper thin Oklahoma is at ILB, but Gastelum proved that he is more than up to the task to play at this level. In fact, you could say that he played a much better game than Evans on Saturday.

One play after Jordan Evans had come out of the game in the first half, Gastelum stood up a ball carrier near the goal line. He showed tenacity, quickness, and athleticism against Tulsa, all of which should translate well against tougher opponents.

Here he is getting after the QB from the ILB spot:

Granted, this was Tulsa. But Gastelum moved right past the RB’s attempt to pass block and was on top of Dane Evans before he could even react. If that’s what is going to become the norm, Oklahoma will be just fine at ILB.

Plays of the Game: 

A couple things to note on that Ross play: first, this is just another example of the OL dominating in the trenches. Secondly, wow, Alex Ross can move. He’s done this before in a Jenks uniform on this very field, but not against fellow D1 athletes. I’d still say that Ford is Oklahoma’s best option at RB right now, but I think Ross may have the higher ceiling.

GIF of the game:

That’s all for this game. I expect Oklahoma to open up its playbook on both offense and defense as it deals with its first true test of the season with Tennessee.