Oklahoma football: Why has WR Marvin Mims been missing in action?

Marvin Mims led the Oklahoma football team in receiving last season as a true freshman.

He caught 37 passes for 610 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago. His nine touchdown receptions established an OU freshman record, and he became the first receiver in school history to Freshman All-America status in a vote by the Football Writers Association of America.

Great things were expected of Mims in his sophomore season, and he started off right on cue with a five-catch, 117-yard performance in the Sooners’ season opener against Tulane.

Since then, however, Mims has rarely been targeted. He has caught two balls in Oklahoma’s last two games for a grand total of 51 yards and none longer than 23 yards. Importantly, he has no touchdown catches in three games this season.

A year ago, Oklahoma attempted 57 deep passes and completed 29 of them, most going to either Mims, Theo Wease or Charleston Rambo. So far this season, quarterback Spencer Rattler has completed just six passes that have gone longer than 20 yards.

Last year, Mims lined up out wide on the boundary, but this year he has been moved inside in the slot along with freshman Mario Williams, with the outside spot now being manned by Jadon Haselwood and Mike Woods, a transfer from Arkansas.

It’s hard to say this early in the season if the move to the slot is affecting Mims more than Lincoln Riley and inside receivers coach Cale Gundy expected, but it’s clear that opposing defensive coordinators are paying closer attention to Mims based on his outstanding freshman year.

It’s also clear that Riley needs to find more ways to get the ball into Mims’ hands, even if it’s not on deep shots. Mims is too much of an offensive weapon to be underutilized or used as a decoy.

A good place to start is in the Big 12 opener with West Virginia on Saturday. The Sooners are going to need contributions from Mims as they begin a tough, three-game stretch of conference games against the Mountaineers, Kansas State and the annual Red River Showdown with Texas.