I fancy myself as being good with numbers. But, that being said, I haven’t taken a math class since my Senior year of high school, and I am still trying to process the barrage of numbers that rained down upon Jones Stadium Saturday night.
Those are just a few of the numbers that stand out when attached to various statistical categories. I’ll sum it all up rather succinctly: It was absolutely absurd. The offenses were incredibly impressive, but the defense may have been equally as unimpressive.
If nothing else, this game validated an opinion that I have had for much of the season: Joe Mixon is the best player on the football field at any given moment. The guy is absolutely incredible. He proved himself in a big way on Saturday. He showed that he can truly be the feature back rather than a “change of pace”, and that he can handle a heavier workload than 10-15 carries per game. This year, my magic number of combined touches for Joe and Samaje has been 35-40. With Samaje out, the question was how we were going to replace his production, especially in the between-the-tackles run game. Well, The answer to that question was “More Joe.” Mixon got 35 touches on his own last night, and made up for Samaje’s production and then some. The only question yet to be answered by this dude is whether he can be that guy week in and week out against better defenses.
I am definitely biased, but once again I gotta give my boys up front some love. 7 different guys played on Saturday. 0 sacks. 1 hurry. Over the past 3 games, the OL hasn’t given up a sack and Baker has felt pressure very few times. This is so much more important than people realize, because it gives Bake the ability to trust his OL and sit in the pocket. In the first few games, protection was actually pretty good, but Bake was antsy and it was apparent that he was anticipating pressure even when it wasn’t there. That translated to inefficiency on offense. Now, Bake looks very comfortable in the pocket, and that is a direct result of him being able to trust the guys up front to give him time.
Defensively, there isn’t much to say. Designed run wise, Tech was stuffed. The run yards they had were mostly off of scrambles by Mahomes. The pass rush was surprisingly effective for only having 1 sack in 88 drop back attempts. Through a couple of different methods, the Sooner rush men were winning up front, but either A. The ball was out by the time they got through or B. Could not get Mahomes on the ground. The real frustration was in the back end. Sometimes, we actually had tight coverage and Mahomes just threaded the needle. Other times, guys were running wide open down the field. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the secondary, but I did notice that West Virginia severely limited the Tech passing game by being physical with the Tech wideouts at the line of scrimmage and forcing Mahomes to hold the ball longer than he wanted to. I was expecting to see more of that from our squad. Nonetheless, the Sooner defense definitely has some work to do in order to bring home a Big 12 title. Thankfully, these next few games do not feature offensive juggernauts. But after the Sooners take on the Cyclones next Thursday, the defense will resume the task of trying to stifle potent offensive attacks.
A weekend in Logan, Utah
I myself was not in Lubbock on Saturday. Rather, I was in Logan, Utah, to watch former roommate/teammate Joe Palange and the Utah State Aggies take on the Fresno State Bulldogs. I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere and feel of Merlin Olsen Stadium, and walked away very much impressed by the facilities of the Aggie program.
As for the game itself, Utah State never trailed, and controlled the game throughout, coasting to a 38-20 victory. The following day, Fresno State fired their head coach after a disastrous start to the year. As the clock wound down, I relished watching my buddy Fingaz get sent in to help pound the ball down the field running power and split zone.
Aside from the game, I want to point out that the state of Utah was absolutely gorgeous! I greatly enjoyed the trip, and hope to perhaps return there for vacation one day.
Oh my Bama
In case we haven’t all figured it out yet, Alabama is really, really good. They soundly beat the Aggies on Saturday, and they look as close to unbeatable as any team I’ve ever watched. BUT!! Don’t write in any W’s yet! All it takes is one game of unpreparedness, and the Tide could fall! With LSU and a resurgent Auburn looming, Bama cannot be crowned just yet.
Take Me Home Country Roads
West Virginia is for real. Two weeks in a row, the Mountaineers have absolutely shut down two of the most lethal offensive machines in the nation. The offense is improving, and the defense is somehow stellar despite losing a ton of very good players from last year. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true: West Virginia is good y’all. I expect them to beat Okie St this week, and then home contests against the Sooners and the Baylor Bears will begin to loom large.
Big Ten Defense
As maligned as Big 12 defenses have been this year, I have looked elsewhere to watch solid defensive play, and I have found it in the Big Ten. Wisconsin and Iowa slugged it out for 4 quarters playing tough, physical football. Wisconsin has stifled nearly every team they’ve played on offense, and they’ve done it without maybe a single household name. Can you name any Wisconsin defensive players? I can only name two: Vince Biegel and TJ Watt. I played against Biegel in the Army All American game, and hung out with him all week. I think Watt might have a brother or uncle or something that is pretty good at football. Otherwise, Wisconsin is dominating with no names and I love it!
The key point is that playing good defense always gives you a chance to win. Case in point: Penn State vs Ohio State. Everyone knows the Nittany Lions had no business being on the field with the Buckeyes. It should’ve been a blowout. But Penn State played defense, and that gave them a chance for something wacky to happen at the end, and they won the game. They hung around and their defense kept them within striking defense, then a special teams play but them over the top. It’s not flashy football, but it’s awesome!
As always, it was an entertaining fall Saturday across America! As we head down the home stretch, I can’t wait to see which teams prove their worth, and which fold under pressure!