Each team recorded four turnovers on Saturday night, but one of the big takeaways from the Oklahoma – West Virginia game is that both programs are still trying to find their offensive firepower after losing their longtime starting quarterbacks to the NFL.
Last season, the teams combined for 1,440 yards of total offense as the Sooners squeaked by with a 50-49 win. This season, OU came away with the victory in a decidedly different fashion.
The Sooners relied heavily on senior running back Brennan Clay, who had a career-high 170 rushing yards, and kicker Michael Hunnicutt, who contributed three field goals.
A year ago, kicking was an afterthought, not the Sooners’ main method of scoring. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones lit up the scoreboard with 554 yards and six touchdowns, while West Virginia’s Geno Smith added another with 320 yards and four touchdowns.
Jones broke or tied nearly every passing record at OU during his years as a starter there, while Smith did the same for the Mountaineers. The teams’ new quarterbacks still have quite a way to go if they think they’re going to catch up to their predecessors.
Oklahoma’s freshman quarterback Trevor Knight had a shaky start last week, but he finished with solid numbers before exiting the game during the third with the Sooners leading comfortably.
OU fans were initially unimpressed by the team’s new starter, but he made some huge plays with his legs and led the team in rushing with more than 100 yards on the ground. With his running back carrying the ball against WVU, Knight had to focus on his passing, and he struggled again this week. He was just 10-of-20 passing for 119 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, and he was only 1-of-5 to start the second half before being replaced by experience backup Blake Bell at the start of the fourth quarter.
His West Virginia counterpart, junior Paul Millard, wasn’t much better. He passed more than Knight but only completed 21 of his 42 attempts, and he had one interception and no touchdowns.
Combined, the two quarterbacks threw one touchdown and three interceptions, and they each completed exactly 50% of their passes. Bell, who came in for Knight in the fourth, didn’t make a case to take over as starter, either. He had two carries for 21 yards and his lone pass attempt fell incomplete.
It certainly wasn’t the “air it out” approach we’ve seen from both these teams in recent seasons, but with running backs like Clay and Damien Williams, who had 95 yards on 21 carries, Oklahoma has been able to buy some time for new QB Trevor Knight to get up to speed.
At WVU, though, either the rushing attack or the passing game will need to improve if the Mountaineers want to get back into the win column.