Grading the Sooners against the Jayhawks
On a night Oklahoma walloped Kansas 56-3, pretty much everything went right. The grades reflect it:
Baker Mayfield: A
The Oklahoma quarterback continues to play superb football. Coming into the game, he had completed 76 percent of his passes in Big 12 play, and while his 16-of-24 performance was slightly off that clip, he still had 236 passing yards and four touchdowns. "He's just really settling in well," Sooner offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. "He's settling into games faster. And he's just throwing the deep ball so well right now." His 41-yard touchdown pass to Dede Westbrook was proof of that; Mayfield might not have been able to place the ball in the receiver's hands any better than he threw it there.
Bounce back: a
The Sooner defense was beaten and battered a week ago, but after giving up 59 points and 854 yards at Texas Tech, OU showed some resiliency Saturday. Sure, Kansas was the opponent. Yes, the Jayhawks stink. But the Sooners held them to one first-quarter field goal and 170 yards of total offense. The OU defense actually scored more points than the Kansas offense, thanks to Jordan Evans' interception return for a touchdown. Considering the heavy rotation of reserves used in the second half, keeping the Jayhawks out of the end zone was an even bigger accomplishment for the Sooners.
Third-and-long conversions: a
When the starters were still in the game, the Sooner offense was actually better on third-and-long than third-and-short. When it needed 8 yards or more for a first down, it was 3 of 5. When it needed less than 8, it was 1 of 2. The Sooners actually had some of their biggest plays of the night on third-and-long. Mayfield to Joe Mixon for 22 yards. Mayfield to Geno Lewis for 17 yards. Dede Westbrook running after a lateral for 24 yards.
homecoming hoopla: a
A good show surrounded the game Saturday. With homecoming, an alumni band played with The Pride, and nothing is cooler than seeing a more, shall we say, mature crowd marching around the field. Then, a massive men's glee club joined the band for the national anthem. It's not every day you see dozens of men in tuxedos on a football field. But perhaps the best part of homecoming was the honoring of veteran Oren Lee Peters. He's served as an usher at OU football games since 1948, but the 95-year-old served in World War II and was an inspector general for the Oklahoma National Guard. He was honored for his military service and showed up in his dress uniform.
Early game flow: f
"Fits and starts" doesn't even begin to describe how this game started. Only two plays into the game, OU called a timeout because its defense was out of sorts. Three plays later, Kansas called a timeout to talk about a third-and-long play call. Then after OU's ensuing possession ended with a punt, there was a media timeout. At one point, there had been two punts, three timeouts, four penalties and eight non-punt plays. Only about three minutes had expired off the game clock, but it had taken the better part of half an hour. Brutal.
Pass rush: b
I'll acknowledge again that, yes, I'm aware that the opponent was lowly Kansas, but the OU defense was more consistent getting to the quarterback Saturday than it was a week ago. The Sooners managed three sacks and four quarterback hurries. Considering the Jayhawks ran only 65 plays, getting to the quarterback a tenth of the time was solid.