Oklahoma finishes their non-conference schedule 3-0, with what ending up being a surprisingly dominant victory over Ohio State on their home field.
The Sooners get set to take on Baylor in their Big 12 Conference opener this coming Saturday, but here are a five things we’ve learned about this team coming out of the non-conference slate.
1. Baker Mayfield has progressed to another stage of excellence.
The questions never stopped during the preseason: Who was going to become Mayfield’s go-to receivers on this team?
Mark Andrews was an easy selection, but after that would it be Jeffery Mead? Nick Basquine? Mykel Jones?
No one could have predicted that Mayfield would be in a position where he was had thrown touchdowns to 9 different receivers coming out of the non-conference schedule. Lamb has emerged as a rising star. Andrews was great in the opener, but he’s been banged up ever since.
Jeff Badet played a huge role against Ohio State, but was largely forgotten against Tulane.
Now we’re seeing Marquise Brown emerge for this first time this season as OU gets set to visit Baylor in Waco.
Mayfield is the Heisman front-runner after the first three games of the season.
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2. OU’s running back situation seems to be clearing up.
I think we can safely say Adams is the guy you go with to start a game. He runs well early, he’s a patient running back and he sees holes develop by allowing his blockers to setup running lanes.
Trey Sermon has been great as a second act in this running back rotation. Let him clean things up after Adams gets going early.
And mixing in a little Marcelias Sutton seems to be a nice bit of spice to this lineup of runners.
Rodney Anderson will probably be needed at some point this season. But he still looks a bit rusty after taking almost two years off due to various injuries.
3. Parnell Motley is a star.
We saw it coming back in the spring when he batted away two Baker Mayfield deep passes that were intended for Marquise Brown. Motley is a game-changer at cornerback. And please, can we celebrate Motley without tearing down Jordan Thomas Crimson Corner? I bit my tongue today when I saw that thread going after Thomas.
Just try and enjoy it. Just because one guy is making plays, doesn’t mean the other is trash all of a sudden.
4. The linebacking corps isn’t a finished product, but I like what I’m seeing out of Kenneth Murray.
Murray finally looked like a guy that was getting it against Tulane. He was flying from sideline to sideline. He was also finding his way through the offensive line and getting into the backfield. He just flat-out missed tackles a few times, but he’s learning how to avoid offensive lineman which was a problem for him last spring and early this season.
I have complete faith in Emmanuel Beal. He’s a missile. He shows a burst and the ability to really make some huge plays from time-to-time.
If anything, I want to see more out of Caleb Kelly. Sure, he makes plays and he adds a more physical presence to the defense, but I’m expecting Kelly to dominate the game the way Obo Okoronkwo does at times.
I just haven’t seen that yet.
5. Don’t ever stop being offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.
OU is so much better with Lincoln Riley calling plays than they would be with 90% of college football doing it.
There are teams on this planet with offensive coordinators like Shawn Watson for Pittsburgh. LSU has struggled for a decade finding the right guy to run their offense.
What I think is really working for Riley are two things:
1) He values the run game. He’ll use Dimitri Flowers like few people would use him. He makes guys like that a weapon in the offense.
2) He thinks about how his offense is affecting his defense. He wants to win on offense, defense and special teams. One thing I didn’t think about with having Riley being the head coach and the offensive coordinator is that his decisions are based completely on winning football games.
He’s no longer an offensive coordinator moving up the ladder, trying to be the #1 offense in the country. If he has to slow things down, if he needs to grind some clock, if he needs to take the air out of the ball, he’s more willing to do that now that he’s the head coach and the man who is ultimately responsible for wins and losses.
I like how that really works in OU’s favor.