Carlson: OU football gets high marks from Spencer Rattler, defensive front against Texas Tech
OU's 62-28 domination of Texas Tech on Saturday had plenty to like. Way more treats than tricks. Lots fewer scares than some years in Lubbock. The grades reflect a good night all over the field for the Sooners:
Spencer Rattler: A
Easily the quarterback’s best game as a Sooner. He had eight incompletions in the first half, and he was oh-so-close to a perfect half. There was one throw away, one near TD where Drake Stoops almost got a toe dragged inbounds, two dropped passes that would’ve been touchdowns and two spikes to stop the clock. Rattler was still splendid, going 18-of-26 for 259 yards and two touchdowns before halftime. He only played one possession in the second half before giving way to Tanner Mordecai. Rattler finished 21-of-30 for 288 yards with a quarterback rating of 172.6.
Offensive line: A
Rhamondre Stevenson is going to get a lot of headlines for Saturday’s performance, and rightfully so. The Sooner tailback was electric in his first game back from an NCAA suspension. But the Sooner offensive line opened up some solid running lanes for Stevenson and every other OU ball carrier. The Sooners averaged 5.5 yards a carry, and that included using an offensive line in the second half that was largely made up of reserves. What’s more, the offensive line didn’t allow any sacks. Not the starters. Not the subs. Good stuff all the way around.
Defensive resiliency: A
That first Texas Tech drive was tough for the OU defense. The Red Raiders marched to a touchdown in seven plays with three passes, all completed, for 36 yards and four runs for 44 yards. The Sooners had to be thinking, “Oh, no, not again.” Instead, they said, “Not again.” Texas Tech’s remaining first-half possessions ended with punt, interception, turnover on downs, interception, punt, punt, touchdown, fumble lost, punt. That’s a pretty good change of momentum by the Sooner defense. And frankly, Saturday was a continuation of the change that we’ve seen over the past few weeks. This defense isn’t perfect, but it continues to show improvement that started in overtime against Texas.
Defensive front: A
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The Sooner secondary still has issues — Tre Brown got absolutely picked on early in the game — but the defensive line and linebackers are evolving into a force. They combined for two sacks, nine tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries Saturday. They also had 30 of the defense's 51 total tackles, a good percentage, with 10 defensive lineman and linebackers having at least two tackles. And while the likes of Isaiah Thomas and Nik Bonitto have become anchors up front, there was no doubt the return of Ronnie Perkins from NCAA probation was a huge boost Saturday. He was as good as any OU defensive lineman not named Neville Gallimore last season, and he looked good in Lubbock. He finished with three solo tackles, including two for loss, and had one quarterback hurry. His abilities will add another challenge for opponents and should free up others to make more plays.
Pass catchers: C
Not the Sooner pass catchers’ best day. Marvin Mims, the most dynamic receiver of the first half of the season, was uncharacteristically shaky. After dropping what would’ve been a sure and long touchdown mid-way through the second quarter, Mims dropped a couple more passes. He was targeted eight times, but only had four catches for 60 yards. Theo Wease had a drop in the end zone, too. The Sooners had such a cushion by then, those struggles didn’t kill them, but those drops marred what would’ve been an otherwise spectacular day. Eleven Sooners caught passes, including seven who had at least two catches.
The Sooners and Red Raiders didn’t wear costumes for Halloween, but they sure dressed up. This was a superb uniform matchup. OU’s crimson helmets with white jerseys and pants is a clean, crisp look all on its own. But Texas Tech went with an all-black look. It was a great yin-yang combination on the field. Teams don’t plan what to wear based on what their opponent is wearing, but it felt that way Saturday night in Lubbock, and it was awesome.