Oklahoma football: What to like, loathe about win over Texas Tech

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 28: Running back Abdul Adams
NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 28: Running back Abdul Adams /
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NORMAN, OK – OCTOBER 28: Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb
NORMAN, OK – OCTOBER 28: Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb /

Oklahoma football the past two weekends has been the screaming example of the time-worn adage, “It’s now how you start but how you finish that counts.”

You can’t simply pass this one off by saying the end justifies the means. When the clock ran out at game’s end, it read OU 49, Texas Tech 27, but the final score belied the pre-Halloween scare that the Red Raiders dished out to the Sooners in the early going.

For the second straight game, the Sooners found themselves falling behind early on Saturday against Texas Tech, only to make defensive adjustments and comeback to win the game. That is a troubling modus operandi, though, moving forward, especially when perhaps the two biggest challenges of the season lie dead ahead in showdowns against two ranked teams in Oklahoma State and TCU.

Whether its a poor defensive game plan or the inability of on-the-field personnel to executive the plan, the inconsistency in the Oklahoma defense is unsustainable if the Sooners want to continue to win.

Several weeks ago we were talking about the travails of an Oklahoma team that got off to strong starts and then struggled to hold on. The Ohio State game – which continues to be the Sooners’ ace in the hole in their pursuit to remain in the College Football Playoff conversation – is the only one this season, that Oklahoma has come close to playing at a high level for a complete game.

Lincoln Riley and the Sooner coaching staff keep telling us that their turning a corner and getting closer to putting it all out there for a full four quarters. Only that’s not what we are seeing on the field, at least not on the defensive end.

The Sooners’ breakdowns in the back end of the defense has been a concern most of the season, but for the second week in a row, they have been gashed early by the ground game and given more than 200 yards of offense in the first quarter.

The Oklahoma defense began the game dropping eight defenders anticipating that Texas Tech would attack the questionable Sooner pass defense. But that just opened up the running game, wh

Texas Tech scored in its first three possessions on Saturday night in Norman. Fortunately, the OU offense matched that with three successive touchdown drives of its own. With just a little over a minute gone in the second quarter, Oklahoma led 21-20, and it appeared that we were into a repeat of the last-man-to-blink firestorm that took place between these two teams in the 125-point game of a year ago, won by the Sooners 66-59.

In the first quarter alone, Texas Tech ran 21 plays that produced 20 points and 211 total yards. The Red Raiders’ opening drive consisted of nine consecutive running plays that netted 55 of the 75 yards in the scoring drive. Texas Tech went to the air in its next two possessions, resulting in touchdown passes of 70 and 42 yards.

The good news in a not-so-good scenario, is that, once again, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was able to dial up adjustments that stemmed the hemorrhaging in the Oklahoma defense. After the first-quarter Texas Tech blitzkrieg, the visitors were held to 226 total yards and seven points the remainder of the game. The Red Raiders had five possessions in the second quarter, during which they gained a total of 66 yards and averaged just 3.0 yards per play.

Meanwhile, the Red Raiders were unable to find a way to slow down what is now the nation’s top-ranked offense. The Sooners rolled up 617 yard of total offense, more than half of that on the ground (336 rushing and 281 passing).

Here are four main takeaways from win number seven for OU on the season: