OU football report card: Sooners' grades reflect kooky victory
OU’s wild 42-41 survival of Iowa State was full of crazy performances and discouraging trends for the Sooners, and the grades reflect a kooky game.
Jalen Hurts decision-making
As usual, Hurts put up monster numbers – 273 yards on 18-of-26 passing, with three touchdowns, plus 68 yards rushing on 22 carries. And Hurts’ read-option decisions were mostly solid, but Hurts twice failed to see Cyclone defenders on short patterns in the first quarter. Defensive back Greg Eisworth in particular had an easy pick-six, had he not dropped the sure interception. And Hurts’ overthrow while scrambling late went straight to ISU defensive back Lawrence White, whose interception set up the Cyclones at the OU 35-yard line with 2:43 left in the game, with a chance to win.
Iowa State freshman tailback Breece Hall hurt the Sooners. Hall had 47 yards on seven first-half carries, included gains of 10, 16 and 16. Then Hall carried on the first four plays of the third quarter, gaining 10, 8, 16 and 20 yards. He finished with 110 yards on 18 carries, but the Sooners threw Hall for a nine-yard loss on a third-and-goal option pitch from the OU 4-yard line, with the Sooners leading by 14 midway through the fourth quarter, setting up a stop.
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After OU tailbacks combined for just six carries in a 48-41 loss at Kansas State, a renewed emphasis seemed necessary. Count Lincoln Riley as mostly successful. Kennedy Brooks gained 132 yards on 15 carries, and three other tailback carries totaled 28 yards. That’s 18 runs for 160 yards. In the first half, OU tailbacks carried 10 times; only once did those plays produce less than five yards, and four went for double-digits. Then Brooks had 26- and 48-yard runs in the third quarter.
Containing tight ends
Iowa State uses three big and talented tight ends, led by Charlie Kolar of Norman North. Kolar, Chase Allen and Dylan Soehner each had a touchdown catch, and they combined for six catches and 85 yards. Kolar also induced a defensive holding that gave ISU a first down.
Another game, another empty performance for the OU defense in causing its opponent to commit a turnover – until Parnell Motley’s interception on ISU’s 2-point conversion attempt with 24 seconds left. It doesn’t count as an official takeaway, and an interception wasn’t needed – a knockdown would have sufficed – but still. A huge play at a huge time. Not since Texas Tech on September 28 have the Sooners come up with a takeaway. Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy overthrew a short pass on the Cyclones’ second snap of the game, and Motley had an easy interception. But he dropped it. So consider that crime well paid.
CeeDee Lamb is the best football player in the Big 12, and Lincoln Riley seems to becoming more and more aware of it. Jalen Hurts targeted Lamb 11 times; he caught eight for 167 yards, including two spectacular touchdowns. Lamb did fumble in the fourth quarter, giving Iowa State life.