Yes, I know – I suck. With the holidays and all, I slacked big time in covering the Inisght Bowl.
Frankly, I think my coverage adequately reflected Sooner fans’ overall level of interest in OU’s 31-14 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. About as soon as we reached the fourth quarter of the Bedlam game, Sooner Nation had already turned its attention to overhauling the coaching staff and spring practices.
Despite my dereliction, we should at least acknowledge that the game did take place. A few observations:
*The win provided a positive end to an otherwise disappointing season for the Sooners. Despite all of the controversy and signs of internal strife that have swirled around the team late in the season, the short-handed squad got it together and gutted out a win over an Iowa team that generally comes correct in bowl season.
It’s definitely not a win to go woofing about, but it was a nice display of resolve by a group that many critics accused of quitting late in the season.
*Brennan Clay’s performance gave reason for hope that he can turn the corner on the physical ailments that have dogged him throughout the last two years. Clay ended the game with 44 yards on 9 carries, which is nothing to write home about. He did run harder in the second half than he has since the beginning of the season, though.
If Clay can stay healthy – that’s a big if – he’ll probably see about 25 percent of the snaps at running back in 2012.
*Given the depth issues at tight end, some have speculated that Trey Millard could make the switch there from his H-back role. Honestly, I don’t see why you’d want him doing anything differently at all. All in all, No. 33 was the best offensive player on the field for the Sooners Friday night. It wasn’t really all that close.
If Millard isn’t already the best fullback in college football, he will be in ’12.
*Hate to do the broken record thing, but the offensive line just isn’t cutting it. OU’s most effective running plays this season have required lining up in some quasi-Wing-T formation and getting two additional blockers out in front of Blake Bell. Those gimmicks have a shelf life, and the Belldozer’s effectiveness doesn’t excuse the fact that OU still struggles to run the ball with consistency from its base offensive sets.
At some point, Bob Stoops has to address this.
*In contrast, the defensive line looked sharp. Jamarkus McFarland showed flashes of being the force OU hopes he can be next season. R.J. Washington played arguably the best game of his career at defensive end, too.
*Freshman wide receiver Kameel Jackson picked the right time to play his best game of the season. Jackson had a couple catches on key third downs to keep drives alive and finished the night as OU’s leading receiver. (Granted, he only had 45 yards; work with me here.)
Given the defections from OU’s roster and the loss of Ryan Broyles, there will be plenty of reps up for grabs among the Sooners receiving corps next season. Jackson’s play Friday night offered a clear sign that he should be in that mix.
*One story that probably hasn’t received the attention it deserves is the emergence of Michael Hunnicutt as OU’s placekicker. Hunnicutt has kicked well since he replaced Jimmy Stevens earlier this season. He buried a clutch field goal late in the fourth quarter that all but sealed OU’s victory over Iowa. For the season, he hit on 21-of-24 attempts.
*I really don’t see Landry Jones leaving school early for the NFL. Games like the one he played against Iowa show why he could probably benefit from another year in school.
After losing Ryan Broyles for the season to injury, Jones never really got back in sync. He played great in stretches, such as the second half of the Baylor game. Yet, on the whole, he never settled in with the new group of pass catchers. That raises fair questions about ‘Stache’s reliance on Broyles and whether the quarterback is really a product of playing with such a great receiver.
Clearly, Jones can make all the throws NFL scouts want to see, and there are no questions about his arm strength. He still makes those befuddling decisions, though, and displays a general uneasiness in the pocket.
All in all, I suspect Jones can raise his value and prospects for success with another year at OU. If he wants to go pro, however, I wouldn’t blame him, as the consensus is that he remains a likely first-round pick in April’s draft.