Carlson: OU football report card has high marks for Ronnie Perkins, offensive variations in Bedlam rout
The Sooners dominated Bedlam, and to do that, lots must go right and lots did Saturday night. The grades reflect a mostly stellar performance by OU in a 41-13 victory over OSU.
Ronnie Perkins: A
The Sooner defensive end looked like a man on a mission. He was disruptive. He was dominating. On the OU defense’s first snap, Perkins got into the backfield and forced OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders into an intentional grounding penalty. It put the Cowboys in a hole that they didn’t recover from and allowed the Sooners to build on the momentum they already had. OSU punted, OU scored quickly, and the Sooners scored again. Perkins finished the first half with four tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss. He added only one tackle in the second half, but when the Sooners were putting the Cowboys at arm’s length, Perkins was a big reason why. He was the best player on the field Saturday night.
Offensive variations: A
No surprise with Lincoln Riley at the helm, but the wrinkles he put in the offense for Bedlam were stellar. On the Sooners’ first touchdown, for example, quarterback Spencer Rattler faked a handoff to T.J. Pledger with the whole Sooner line pulling right. Rattler ran left, and with open field in front of him, he only had to make one Cowboy defender miss to get into the end zone. Riley also put Mikey Henderson in the backfield a few times, handing it to the halfback once, throwing it to him another time out of that look. Riley also had receivers in motion almost constantly, including at least one play where Drake Stoops went across the field, then doubled back all the way back to the other side of the field behind the Sooner backfield. The Sooners saved their best variation for the touchdown that put the nail in the Cowboys’ coffin — a little trickery on a fourth-quarter touchdown. The snap went to Rhamondre Stevenson, who handed off to Rattler who faked a hand off to Marvin Mims for a reverse. Instead, Rattler kept the ball and hit a wide-open Jeremiah Hall for the touchdown.
Defensive penalties: D
Woof. The Sooner defense dominated, but it gave the Cowboys hope because of all the penalties. OU had seven penalties for 87 yards, and all of them were committed by the defense. Worse, all resulted in OSU first downs. And if that wasn’t bad enough, several of them were completely unnecessary. Brendan Radley-Hiles got whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty when he taunted Cowboy receiver Dillon Stoner at the end of a third down play. If not for Radley-Hiles’ taunt, OSU would’ve faced a long fourth down. Instead, the drive stayed alive, and the Cowboys scored a touchdown the next play. There was also a push of Chuba Hubbard when he was out of bounds and a wicked facemask grab on Hubbard by Perkins. Don’t do that stuff, and the rout might’ve been even bigger even sooner.
Downfield blocking: A
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The reasons for the Sooners’ great offensive production are many, but their downfield blocking shouldn’t be undervalued. It started right away. On OU’s first possession, Stevenson took a short Rattler pass for a 45-yard gain, but it wouldn’t have happened if not for Adrian Ealy’s downfield block of Tanner McCalister. Offensive linemen weren’t the only ones blocking. On the Sooners’ second possession, Henderson scored a 20-yard touchdown, but he was able to get around the edge and scoot to the corner of the end zone because Stoops and Mims took Cowboy defenders out of the play.
Second-down offense: A
The OSU defense came into the game allowing opponents to convert only 23 percent of the time on third down. The OU offense was only slightly better than that, converting four of 12 third downs Saturday night, but that didn’t matter too much because of how good the Sooners were on second down. They got a majority of their chunk plays on second down. In the first quarter alone, they had second-down plays of 45, 27, 12 and 28 yards. They also had a 9-yard second-down touchdown pass from Rattler to Theo Wease in the first quarter. All told, the Sooners had seven plays of more than 10 yards on second down and moved the chains 10 times on second down.