Oklahoma Football: Some questions answered, a few remain

Last week we posed a series of questions going into the Sooners’ season opener against FAU.  Here’s a look at how Oklahoma football fared in answering them in its 63-14 season opening win.

Can Kenneth Mann, Neville Gallimore and Amani Bledsoe establish the line of scrimmage and hold it the entire game against what should be an overpowered Owls o-line?

Yes. The Sooners not only got held the line of scrimmage with Mann, Gallimorre and Bledsoe, but they went three deep. It was as good as we have seen in a long time from Oklahoma. The Sooners took better pursuit angles and engaged blockers, keeping the Owls off the board until the third quarter, by which time the team was already up 56-0.

On passing downs can the Sooners generate a disciplined rush against a mobile stable of Florida Atlantic quarterbacks?

Kind of. The Owls spent most of the game moving the pocket around to avoid the Oklahoma pass rush, but the Sooners were able to corral all three FAU quarterbacks and prevent any big runs. Still there is an unanswered question when it comes to who will pressure opposing quarterbacks especially now with Addison Gumbs lost for the season.

Can the secondary take a step forward and turn last year’s deflections and near-misses into game-changing interceptions?

Robert Barnes was there to get an interception and there were several more near-misses from the Oklahoma secondary. All in all it’s hard to find fault with a group that seemed like it might finally be on the same page.

Can Oklahoma linebackers show discipline in their pursuit angles against FAU’s Devin Singletary and keep him from busting long runs? Will the secondary be able to come up and make tackles in open space to save six yard runs from becoming 20?

This was a big yes – and a welcome one – there were some missed tackles and a few mistakes in the open field, but there was always another guy there to help wrap up. Tre Brown and Parnell Motley were the team’s two leading tacklers, showing an improvement in the secondary’s ability to make stops in the ground game.

Offense

First and second downs should be standard fare for the Sooners. Lots of RPOs, counters, pop passes and a few downfield shots. Third and long situations will be the litmus test for Murray and this passing game. Can the redishirt junior quarterback keep Oklahoma on the field with his arm when the passing windows shrink?

Oklahoma went extremely vanilla, but what we did see of Murray left us no reason to believe he can’t run this offense at a high level. He made short throws, he made intermediate throws and he hit a longball. Murray didn’t have to convert a lot of third and longs though withe Sooners hardly ever even getting to third down with the first team offense.

The Sooners will be the more talented team against FAU, but must avoid penalties that kill drives on offense and give new life to the Owls when on defense.

Oklahoma was so much better talent-wise this never became a factor, but aside from a couple of early sloppy penalties – most notibly Kenneth Murray’s roughing the passer on FAU quarterback Chris Robison – it was a clean day.

So what’s next?

Aside from an injury to Austin Kendall it was pretty close to a perfect day for the Sooners against FAU, but we’ve all seen success be a dangerous thing for Oklahoma in the past. We saw it last year when the Sooners folllowed up a win over Ohio State with lackluster performances against Baylor and Iowa State.

Step one will be matching this past week’s intensity in yet another 11 a.m. kickoff. UCLA has enough talent to be dangerous, but the game has little national luster after the Bruins’ 26-17 loss to Cincinnati in week one. Consistency will be the main talking point for Riley and his team all week, but can they continue to practice what they preach?