If you are a betting man, and didn’t bet on Oklahoma to cover the spread, I am going with you to Vegas. The Oklahoma Sooners played extremely sloppy against an amped up UTEP Miners. It looks like the Sooners will start the season the same way they started 2011, slow.
From the moment of the first snap, the Sooners were completely out of sync. Every attempt at trying to build a momentum on offense was answered with a Miner defense were on the ready. There were some shining moments on the offense; Landry Jones connected with Kenny Stills for a 68-yard touchdown and Penn State transfer, Justin Brown had a great 25-yard kickoff return, but that was about it during the first half. The Sooners were a terrible 2 of 8 on third downs. What really was the main momentum turning point was the first drive of the game for the Sooners. A three and out, which then resulted in a blocked Tress Way punt that was ran in by Nathan Jeffery. This would be the Miners only time to get on the board, but not from lack of effort. Stills stepped up to Jones main target and did a pretty decent job of it last night.
They had 3 missed field goal attempts by two separate kickers and an attempted fake punt that the Sooner defense was completely ready for. The fake punt set up Jones and crew with great field position which resulted in a touchdown to tight end, Brannon Green. This pushed the Sooners to a 17-7 lead. Jones footwork looked to me like it was much improved from last season. He seemed quicker and more aware of his surroundings.
The Sooner defense actually played a decent game. After the opening drive wake-up call, they quieted the Miners offense, holding them to just the one touchdown. Tom Wort and Tony Jefferson both had interceptions slip out of their hands on more than one occasion. Considering they were missing 3 out of 5 starting DT’s, it was a semi-fair showing.
The offensive side of the ball needs improvement. Jones ended the night with 222 yards and 2 touchdowns. Stills led the receivers with 121 yards on 6 receptions, one being 68 yards, with 1 touchdown. Damien Williams led the Sooners on rushing, with 104 yards on 9 touches and had an impressive 65 yard run. Williams also scored the final touchdown of the game, bringing the game to a final of 24-7.
The Sooners have a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks before they get into conference play. Jones and his weapons need to work on chemistry, while the defense needs to fix the holes in the line and get a better grip on opposing teams run game. Once the defense gets some key players back on the field, I think the defense will not be as big of a concern as the offensive line. The biggest thing I took away from last night was the lack of strength on the OL. Unless improvements are made, Jones will be running for his life for a second year in a row.
This wasn’t the opening game Sooner fans envisioned for this season, but barely escaping El Paso may be what the need to set them off in the right direction.
We can only hope.