Offense leads the way: 3 Stars from Oklahoma Sooners win vs. Arkansas State

Oklahoma’s 73-0 win was an excellent step in the right direction for this team on the heels of last season. The biggest hurdle the team needed to clear to be better than last year was to be better on defense.

It’s hard to read exactly what that looks like, but not allowing a point to Arkansas State is an excellent step in the right direction.

Saturday’s performance should provide optimism about the defense to a degree. Still, a much more potent test awaits them this week as they turn their attention to SMU. They have better talent at every single position group on offense than Arkansas State offers.

Despite not being the root of their issues a year ago, Oklahoma’s offense still had room for improvement. Against the Red Wolves, the Sooners saw encouraging things to believe that their work in the offseason should net better results this season.

In our first look at the three stars from Oklahoma’s dominating opening week win, offense leads the way.

Up Next: 3 Stars of the Game

No. 1 Star – Offensive Line

Instead of singling out one individual, it’s only fitting to heap praise on the entire unit because it wasn’t just one player who played well. The whole line did.

Tyler Guyton and Savion Byrd had the two highest-rated pass-blocking performances per Pro Football Focus’s metrics. The offensive line gave up just five pressures on 37 dropbacks, according to PFF.

Bill Bedenbaugh entered fall camp with his starters in mind, and that never changed. He stuck by Walter Rouse, Savion Byrd, Andrew Raym, McKade Mettauer, and Tyler Guyton, and they put on a masterclass.

The youngsters that followed looked comfortable and confident and also delivered solid performances.

The Sooners rushed for 220 yards, and the quarterbacks never hit the ground when they dropped back to pass. That’s a great day for an offensive line.

Up Next: A standout wide receiver

No. 2 Star – Jayden Gibson, WR

Jayden Gibson needed a breakthrough this season before he risked getting buried by two different recruiting classes. While the spring game didn’t help infuse confidence in the eyes of others, his coaches and teammates believed things would turn in his favor.

On Saturday, he rewarded their belief with two outstanding catches, one of which ended up being Jackson Arnold’s first career touchdown pass.

For Gibson, maybe his most significant opposition was the man he saw when he looked in the mirror. Whatever it was, Emmett Jones helped unlock something that could become a substantial factor for Oklahoma throughout the season.

Gibson’s speed and size can’t be taught. His ability to win 50-50 situations unlocks something the Sooners didn’t have last year. A guy they could simply throw the ball to regardless of the coverage and he’d make a play. If he can consistently contribute, Jayden Gibson will get more playing time.

Up Next: Deadly Accurate Quarterback Performance

No. 3 Star – Dillon Gabriel

When listening to Dillon Gabriel speak at Big 12 Media Days, it was apparent that he realized he still had room to grow as a player to help elevate Oklahoma.

Saturday gave Gabriel the floor to do just that.

He was surgical, completing 86% of his attempts for over 300 yards and two touchdown passes. He also added a score on the ground. All in one half of play.

Over the middle of the field, Gabriel was perfect. Between the hash marks, Gabriel was 9-of-9 for 161 yards and a touchdown. That was an area that seemed to be an issue for Gabriel in 2022. If Saturday was any indication, he’s taken a strong step to improve throwing to that area of the field.

Murmured chatter about Gabriel not being the guy seemed foolish then and seems foolish now as he gives Oklahoma the best chance to win. He has experience and knows the offense like the back of his hand.

Much stiffer tests await, but seeing the improvements in accuracy should provide every Sooner with fan something to smile about.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire