With a new quarterback, a new offensive line, and a whole new defense scheme, the 4th-ranked Sooner’s had a ton of question marks heading in to the 2019 season.
After an impressive 49-31 win over Dana Holgorsen and the Houston Cougar’s, Sooner fans finally got some of the answers they were waiting for. Yes, Jalen Hurts can be just as effective as Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Yes, this offensive line will be great as they continue to get more snaps and experience playing together. And yes, this new defense looked tremendously improved.
The defense forced Houston to three 3-in-outs in Houston’s first four drives. This had all the makings of a shootout, but Oklahoma had 16 first downs to Houston’s one first down, and was up 21-0 in the first half.
Oklahoma was rolling, but just when they looked to be running away with it, they shot themselves in the foot with a couple of stupid penalties and costly turnovers. The mistakes allowed Houston to catch their breath and creep back into the game late in the first half at 21-10.
Oklahoma’s offense continued to roll in the second half while the defense remained steady while OU jumped out to a 42-17 late in the third quarter. The game was never really in doubt from then on, despite Houston putting up a pair of scores late.
Oklahoma failed to cover the spread, but they played a lot better than the score shows. There are things to work on though. They lost the turnover battle. The kicking game needs work as they missed a couple of field goals. They also need to be more disciplined with the stupid penalties. Nothing gives an opposing momentum like gifting them yards and keeping drives alive for them.
Make no mistake though, if they can play to their capability, this is a playoff team. The offense and defense will get better and better, and with Jalen Hurts leading this team, they looked capable of their 8th National Title.
Key Plays of the Game
14:00 1st [HOU 3rd & 7 at HOU 20] – Kenneth Murray dropped D’Eriq King for his first sack of the game. The 3-and-out set the tone for the defense for pretty much the rest of the way and immediately let the nation know that this isn’t the same unit for a year ago.
12:21 1st [OU 1st & 10 at HOU 14] – Jalen Hurts found Jeremiah Hall for a quick, 14-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
5:30 1st [HOU 3rd & 12 at OU 41] – After two 3-and-outs on Houston’s previous drives, the moved the ball into Oklahoma territory. Ronnie Perkins got to King in the backfield to push Houston back to their side of the field and forced the punt.
14:10 2nd [OU 1st & Goal at HOU 1] – Jalen Hurts rushed one yard for his first rushing touchdown in Norman. The score gave the Sooners a bit of breathing room at 14-0 after Oklahoma had missed a field goal the previous drive.
8:09 2nd [OU 3rd & 7 at HOU 45] – Jalen Hurts found a WIDE open CeeDee Lamb for the easiest 45-yard touchdown you will ever see. The score gave the Sooners a 21-0 lead.
12:38 3rd [OU 3rd & 5 at OU 44] – Coming out of the half, Jalen Hurts hit Charleston Rambo underneath and Rambo did the rest of the work for a 56-yard touchdown. Houston had gained some momentum before the break. The quick-strike score swung the momentum back fully with the Sooners as they took a 28-10 lead.
8:25 3rd [OU 2nd & 12 at HOU 45] – Jalen Hurts found Jadon Haselwood for a 42-yard gain to set up first and goal on Houston’s 3-yard line. Hurts would punch it in himself on the very next play to take a 35-10 lead. After that, the game wasn’t ever in doubt.
Key Stats of the Game
167 Passing Yards – Oklahoma shut down a Houston passing attack that returned 83 percent of their production which was 7th in passing and 9th in passing efficiency last season. This stat has to get OU fans fired up. Houston has a great receiving corps and the Sooners did a great job of slowing them down.
0 Turnovers – Alex Grinch preached turnovers over the off-season, but his defense did not force any. Grinch showed his disappointment in the post-game press conference, so expect this defense to come out next week looking for their first turnover of the year.
686 Total Yards – Lincoln Riley showed Sunday that this offense is not the air raid. This offensive scheme is an ever-changing offense that shows balance in the run and pass game. Lincoln is genius enough to mold his offense and play calling to benefit the player’s skills sets. We saw more of a quarterback run game mixed in with similar run-pass options we have seen in previous years. This offense is gonna be deadly and will contentiously get better as these players get more accustomed to each other.
7 Penalties – Oklahoma showed their first game issues by committing seven penalties for a total of 94 yards. Seven is not a terribly large amount of penalties. More so, it was the timing of the penalties. Some of these penalties resulted in drive killers, and a lot resulted in Houston getting easy first downs when they could have gotten off the field. It’s something Sooner Nation will want to see cleaned up in the weeks to come.
Oklahoma Players of the Game
- Jalen Hurts, QB (20-23 for 332 YDS, 3 TDs, 98.7 QBR, 16 CAR for 176 YDS, 3 TDs)
- Kenneth Murray, MLB (13 TOT, 7 Solo, 0.5 Sacks, 2.5 TFL)
- Ronnie Perkins, DE (7 TOT, 5 Solo, 1 Sacks, 2 TFL)
- Charleston Rambo, WR (3 Recs, 105 YDS, 1 TD
- CeeDee Lamb, WR (2 Recs, 46 YDS, 1 TD)
5 Remaining Thoughts
The offensive line played solid, but still has some work to do. Bill Bedenbaugh proved again that he is one of the best in the nation with his blocking schemes. The line did allow too much penetration at times which led to too many negative running plays, but the did not allow Jalen Hurts to get sacked. Bedenbaugh and this group has a lot to work on but this group showed that there will not be much drop off.
Jalen Hurts played one of the best games in an opener in the history of college football. He made some great throws off the run and looked very natural in the pocket. There really isn’t too much to complain about his performance on Sunday, but he did miss some throws to Ceedee Lamb on a back shoulder throw and the deep ball on the flea-flicker. He did make a mistake with the fumble that costed them, but Jalen holds himself and his team highly accountable, so I am not worried about this being an issue. The thing I loved most about Jalen was what he said to Holly Rowe after the game. He did not care about the stats, he was focused on getting better and holding this team to a higher standard.
The receiving corps proved that they are one of the top corps in the country. Coaches Dennis Simmons and Cale Gundy really have an arsenal of players that they played. You saw a lot of guys get catches and make plays. Hurts does not have to rely on one receiver to make a big time catch. One thing is clear, if Jalen Hurts gets those guys the ball, they will make plays.
Kenneth Murray and Ronnie Perkins made tremendous jumps from last year. Kenneth Murray was all over the field Sunday night. You did not see missed tackles or poor coverage from him that sooner fans have seen in the past. Ronnie Perkins proved that he can play in the NFL for a long time. He was very vicious at the line of scrimmage and made King uncomfortable in the pocket.
Oklahoma might have a kicking problem. One of the most unknowns about this team was who was going to do the place kicking. Calum Sunderland got the call to do the place kicking and did not perform well. His first college kick of his career was a 49 yard attempt which is a tough kick. But he did miss a 36 yard field goal to end the first half. He looked good on PAT’s, but he needs to start making make able field goals.