The full spectrum from the Oklahoma Sooners’ 31-24 win over the Utah State Aggies in the season opener:
Um, what was that?
All the talk coming out of camp in the preseason had OU’s sophomore quarterback elevating his game from an up-and-down season in 2009. Instead, Jones looked like the same old confused kid against a defense that no one will mistake for the Purple People Eaters.
In his defense, Jones shouldn’t be blamed for the last of his two interceptions, which was deflected at the line of scrimmage into the waiting arms of linebacker Junior Keiaho. Even so, the Sooners’ signal caller way way off-target all evening and indecisive in the pocket. He locked on to one receiver all night, and if that wasn’t there, it likely meant a wasted play, or worse
Whether he’s having trouble making his progressions or dealing with the pass rush, Jones simply has to improve at getting the ball out quickly. There will be talk in Norman of making a move under center, but that may be premature.
How else to describe the two 15-yard penalties drawn by linebacker Tom Wort in the span of five plays during the second quarter?
While OU seemed to play a crisper game overall than it usually did last season, the brain locks that plagued the team last year did rear their head on occasion. Wort’s post-play personal foul giving the Aggies an automatic first down on what would have been fourth down and a mile to go late in the second quarter was the most egregious example.
Second and Third Quarters
It’s a familiar story if you’ve paid close attention to the Sooners in the last decade: The Sooners play with their hair on fire to start, then let down as a game wears on. OU went up 21-0 before surrendering 24 points combined to the Aggies in the second and third periods.
Maybe it’s a matter of just being too high to start the game. Maybe it’s a problem with adjustments. Whatever it is, the rhythm of an OU game is as predictable as…
Nothing new here.
To a degree, the defensive backs probably deserve a bit of a pass. If a quarterback has enough time, he’s going to find open receivers. USU QB Diondre Borel did a great job Saturday night eluding the rush and scrambling to find open receivers. Demontre Hurst, Quinton Carter and Jamell Fleming all came up with interceptions as well.
However, when a WAC squad throws for 340 yards on you, it kinda suggests there’s a problem. Fleming, in particular, provided his fair share of WTF moments. Standout Jonathan Nelson also had a somewhat rough night, which was very surprising.
The Offensive Line
The front five weren’t lining up across from Ndamukong Suh and Michael Strahan. Still, they paved the way for 247 yards rushing (net 205), which was far better than anything last year’s group mustered.
Landry Jones was sacked three times, but I don’t recall any that weren’t of his own making.
Just making it on the field for the first game was a huge accomplishment for OU’s most experienced defensive tackle.
Generally the newbies acquitted themselves pretty well Saturday night.
With OU going with five DBs in its base defense, safety Tony Jefferson got a start in his first game and ended the evening with four tackles. Kenny Stills snagged three balls for 34 yards in his debut. When OU went out of the I formation, fullback Trey Millard proved to be a strong lead blocker for Murray.
Didn’t sound like there were any of signficance.
DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles
Judging by Saturday’s action, these two veterans are going to have to carry the offense for a bit.
If Broyles keeps this up, he will stake his claim to being the best wideout in the nation. The Norman native caught everything in his vicinity against USU and simply could not be stopped.
As for Murray, I’ve made my skepticism about his ability to be the focal point of OU’s offense pretty clear. His performance last night went a long way towards silencing those doubts. For a little perspective, 35 carries is nine more than his previous career high.
Even better, Murray hit the holes with confidence and finally displayed some of the burst that has been missing from his game for a while now.