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One week removed from their worst performance of the year to date, Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners played perhaps their best game of the season. In every facet, the Sooners were better than the Texas Tech Red Raiders. For a team that came in hoping to play inspired football following the firing of the head coach, one may wonder if it had the opposite effect.
Nonetheless, this is hardly about the psyche of Texas Tech and more about the Sooners’ finally putting together a complete performance. In a 52-21 victory, everyone had to put their best foot forward. Let’s go through the different position groups and discuss the performances from each unit.
Oct 30, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Our first A+ of the season goes out to the most important position group.
Caleb Williams dazzled all game with his arm en route to a six-touchdown pass and no interception performance putting him in rare Oklahoma air that only Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield can breathe.
Those guys won Heismans in their time at Oklahoma. And it may be only a matter of time before Williams gets one.
Williams distributed the ball to a plethora of receivers and made great decision after great decision dissecting Texas Tech’s secondary like a high school biology experiment.
After Williams sat down, with Oklahoma leading 45-7, Spencer Rattler came into the game and very casually threw a 42-yard bomb to Brian Darby for a touchdown.
He was mobbed by his teammates and coaches (notably Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams) meaning that Rattler has not checked out yet and that’s major considering the Sooners would immediately go back to Rattler if anything bad were to happen to Williams.
Running backs/H-backs: B
It would be completely unfair to knock the Sooner backs for not producing when they didn’t get many opportunities.
Between Kennedy Brooks, Eric Gray, and Marcus Major the Sooners running backs had 15 carries for 69 yards. The running game has shown to be capable during the season and it was one of those games where the air attack was the way to victory.
With the weather changing and the Sooners needing to maintain balance, look for the running game to get back to its usual effectiveness in the coming weeks.
Jeremiah Hall, Eric Gray, and Marcus Major all got in on the pass-catching with at least one reception of their own.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A+
Oct 30, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Drake Stoops (12) celebrates with wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) after catching a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Much has been made about Caleb Williams’ performance and rightfully so but his receivers and tight ends made plenty of plays to deserve a high mark as well. Marvin Mims and Mario Williams each had 100 or more receiving yards, six different players caught a touchdown pass, and twelve different receivers had a reception.
It was the type of game that can the Oklahoma position receiver corps with immense confidence as everyone got in on the fun.
While Mims and Mario Williams led the way, Jadon Haselwood, Drake Stoops, Austin Stogner, and Brayden Willis also stood out with their performances.
Offensive Line: A-
While they didn’t open too many lanes for the running game, part of that was Lincoln Riley feeling as if he didn’t need the running game as much. Riley used this game as a de facto seven vs. seven and let his quarterbacks and skill players throw, run and catch.
Regardless, the line stood firm allowing just a single sack while Williams threw for over 400 yards. This line is starting to gel week in and week out.
My only knock was Andrew Raym not starting because he was disciplined for being late to a meeting earlier in the week. Robert Congel isn’t the same player as Raym, and it showed. Other than that, this unit rocked for 80 to 90 percent of this game.
Defensive Line: A-
Oct 30, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas (95) causes Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Donovan Smith (7) to fumble during the second half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah Thomas, that’s it.
Thomas was the standout for this unit in this game with two pass deflections (one leading to an interception) and a forced fumble. Thomas moved back outside with the return of Jalen Redmond who held his own with his first snaps back into the fold.
Perrion Winfrey continued to disrupt at the point of attack and helped eliminate a solid Red Raider running game before it ever hit full speed.
Reggie Grimes, Clayton Smith, LaRon Stokes all chipped in with disruptive performances as well. The Sooners went deep into their defensive line depth chart and the guys continued to deliver.
For much of the season, the linebackers have played average football. Not horrible, but not great.
They did a very good job of running sideline to sideline, making plays. Danny Stutsman, Shane Whitter, David Ugwoegbu, and Brian Asamoah were flying around. Nik Bonitto was Nik Bonitto.
After a horrible showing against Kansas, Brian Odom lit a fire under his backers, and they responded in a big way.
Can they continue to play like this as Oklahoma looks to stop some physical run-first football teams in their pursuit of their seventh-straight Big 12 title? That’ll be a major story to watch.
Defensive Backs: B+
Oklahoma’s Pat Fields (10) runs after an interception during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK
I’m not entirely sure I’ve given the secondary this high a mark this season, and it may be a tad hyperbolic to do so, but after what we’ve watched over the last month and a half? They earned a break.
Key Lawrence is morphing into the most dynamic player in the Sooners’ secondary, showing off his versatility as he made multiple plays at cornerback. He’s been trending up for several weeks now, and his transition to cornerback made a considerable impact on the game. Sooners Wire covered his transition to corner and how seamless it looked for him.
Delarrin Turner-Yell was back and healthy and stabilized the back end. Senior Pat Fields got a pick on a deflection from Isaiah Thomas. Justin Broiles got himself an interception in the second half, and DJ Graham came back and had a solid game technique-wise.
Damond Harmon, a talented freshman, even got some reps in this game.
Special Teams: A
Gabe Brkic and Michael Turk continue to do their thing in the kicking and punting games respectively. Brkic nails 50 yarders with ease now and seems like he’s on track to win a few postseason awards for his ability. Turk has been fantastic, flipping fields all season for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler (7) throws a pass during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
BRYAN TERRY/The Oklahoman
To conclude, this was a very clean win for Oklahoma. They handled their business and now get to rest up with their bye week as their toughest month looms heavy.
More complete performances like these will be needed if they are to get through this month unscathed and come out in contention for the Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff berth.