Oklahoma football: More thoughts on the close call at Baylor

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 23: Zach Smith
WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 23: Zach Smith /

The Oklahoma football team came into Waco brimming with confidence and quite sure of themselves.

After barely escaping with a hard fought 49-41 victory, the Sooners face some immediate questions as they enter the meat of their Big 12 schedule

Even though the tussle with Baylor turned into an unexpected scare, not all was bad news for the Sooners, who continue to develop their identity.

Here are some random thoughts:

Freshman receiver CeeDee Lamb once again played like a veteran. And even though his stats were nothing spectacular (caught three passes for 68 yards and no TDs) it’s becoming increasingly evident that teams are going to have to game plan to account for Lamb moving forward.

It helps having a guy like Baker Mayfield throwing the ball, but Lamb simply has the tools needed to become OU’s next great receiver. He is a good route runner with breakaway speed and has great hands to boot. Lamb has the complete package, and he will get even better as the season progresses. A good story indeed.

Trey Sermon is a beast. The Oklahoma running game was the key factor in helping OU pull off the escape act at Baylor. The Sooners rushed for 342 yards, paced by spectacular performances from sophomore Abdul Adams (11 carries for 164 yards and a TD) and true freshman Sermon (12 carries for 148 yards and two TDs).

Adams’ numbers are a bit padded due to his record-setting 99 yard scamper from the 1-yard line, which quickly got the Sooners out of bad field position deep in their own end zone.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Sermon’s performance was arguably more spectacular than everyone else’s in the OU backfield because it all happened in the fourth quarter. Right now, Sermon is making a rock-solid case for becoming OU’s every-down back. He has the power and size to break tackles and also has the deceptive speed needed to break away into the secondary and beyond. To think this fellow is just a freshman and will get better, faster and stronger is music to the ears of Sooner Nation. Sermon is that special.

The secondary gets savaged. The Oklahoma defense held the Baylor rushing attack to a measly 60 yards. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends for Mike Stoops’ defense, because the Sooner secondary allowed Baylor to go airborne for 463 passing yards. Sooner fans must have thought it was Bryce Petty again throwing lasers all over the field and not the same Zach Smith who looked overmatched and lost against teams like Duke, UTSA and (gasp!) Liberty.

Throughout the game, it seemed like the Oklahoma defense couldn’t get off the field on third down: Baylor was 9 for 21 in third down efficiency, an area where the Bears struggled throughout their first three games. And OU’s best cornerback, Jordan Thomas, was absolutely abused by the Baylor passing attack, giving up three touchdowns to three different Baylor wideouts for 71, 72 and 41 yards. It was simply an awful outing for the secondary.

Moving forward: The Sooners get a bye week next, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Oklahoma coaches – especially the defensive coaches – have a ton of issues to correct after Saturday’s subpar defensive outing. To make matters worse, Jordan Thomas was helped off the field with a leg injury late in the Baylor, depleting an already thin secondary. But the key focus needs to be on correcting the defensive issues that have once again reared their ugly head.