Texas Tech might not be great team, but it would be wrong to downplay this big road win at a place where OU has struggled recently. It would not shock me if the Red Raiders go bowling and upset someone in Big 12 play down the line.
Even so, the biggest positives from this game came from OU's level of execution and adjustments.
*Landry Jones' overall level of play, poise and command, in particular, were excellent. In this game, he was comfortable and confident. Jones has always had the ability to make every throw with his NFL arm. His sideline throw to Damien Williams was elite. In addition, he hit a number of WRs, and was close to hitting some big passing plays downfield. It's a work in progress, but that level of effort can beat most teams on OU's schedule (excluding West Virginia, where OU is going to need a great offensive effort).
*While the game was in doubt, Josh Heupel did a great job of mixing things up. He got Jones comfortable and Williams involved in the offense. OU threw some new wrinkles out there, and the pace of the play-calling was right. Things got kind of conservative after the Harris interception, but OU had the game in hand. I do wish Heupel had pushed to get Bell in sooner. The Belldozer would have been a better formation in the fourth quarter to close the game out.
*Running game stats were not great, but it was the effectiveness of the running game in the first half that set up the Sooner offense. The yards per carry dropped while trying to run out the clock in the second half, and Tech overplayed the run. Ignore that. The Sooner running game was a key part of this win.
*Damien Williams' overall game at RB. He was close to breaking a number of big runs and his receiving skills are elite. He's the next Sooner NFL running back and the starting RB for this team.
*Trey Millard had his best offensive game. OU finally was able to integrate him into the game. It must continue. He's OU's best mismatch weapon, and a huge running play is out there for him. He was close Saturday.
*The offensive line is doing a good job of giving consistent running lanes and time for Jones. It's not a great OL, but it's an effective, competent unit that is getting better week after week.
*Franklin Shannon's breakout game could not have come at a better time. His speed and physicality at LB was a big plus. He made plays that this defense has been missing. He led OU in tackles and seems like a much better fit for this scheme than Tom Wort. In addition, Shannon's seemed to raise Corey Nelson's level of play as well.
*Aaron Colvin's level of play in coverage and playmaking was huge. His INT on his blitz was a great athletic play and his pass deflection set up Javon Harris' return that essentially ended the game. If OU has a true playmaker on defense, it's Colvin.
*Mike Stoops, who maybe played things too tight versus Kansas State, did an excellent job with adjustments and player changes to change the game. Shannon's stop on 4th-and-5 was the second biggest play of the game behind Colvin's first INT. OU got pressure on Doege while confusing him with excellent coverage. Mike will have OU's D back to the ranks of the elite if the talent upfront can be upgraded/replenished. Thirteen points in three quarters was a good defensive performance. So far, Mike's stopped the big-play trend that infected the Brent Venables defense of the last couple of seasons.
*I've been questioning Bob Stoops' level of passion for the game, wondering if 14 years at one place is about the max. But Bob showed an energy that reflected the importance of this game. OU needed this game to right things going into UT. A bad loss to Tech, and it's not hard to imagine the wheels falling off the wagon. Now, OU goes into Dallas with some confidence. Win in Dallas and OU should be 5-1 facing ND at home to end October.
*First half run defense. When OU gets spread out, teams are having too much success running the ball out of the shotgun. OU is not getting any tackles for loss. It got better as the game wore on, so I'm hoping that the linebacker changes will have some impact here.
*Some very mysterious pass interference calls on Sooner defensive backs, and then a horrible offensive PI call on Durron Neal. In addition, there were any number of holding calls just ignored by the officials, especially on Casey Walker's interior pass rush.
*Jamarkus McFarland's fumble after the great play for an INT was demoralizing. It looked like that play was going to symbolize OU's season. I appreciate J-Mac's desire to get a TD, but take care of the football. That play could have started the snowball effect on Tech earlier. OU's not talented enough to give away a chance for seven free points.
Nothing. On to Dallas…