OU vs. UTEP: Report card

EL PASO, Texas — Sooners Illustrated provides the grades for OU's season opener.

Quarterback Landry Jones: A-

Considering he was under the gun for most of the contest because his offensive line hung him out to dry, Jones throwing for 222 yards and two touchdowns while completing 21-of-36 passes seems pretty impressive. He showed his escapability that head coach Bob Stoops has raved about in the offseason. Jones was also extremely sound in the pocket and didn't throw any picks with the pressure he was under.

Special teams: D-

Hunnicutt converted a 38-yard field goal or this would have been an F hands down. The Sooners surrendered their first blocked punt return for a touchdown in nearly 10 years--the last time it happened was against Alabama on Sept. 7, 2002--in the first quarter when UTEP's Nathan Jeffery did so and took it 24 yards to the house. UTEP also blocked a field goal and nearly blocked two other punts.

New coaching staff's debut: B-

Granted the guys up front defensively struggled under new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops' scheme for the first half and some of the second, but overall it wasn't that bad. The secondary play was fantastic, as it allowed just 48 passing yards. The linebackers, now coached by Tim Kish, weren't terrible, though they could have snuffed out the running game better. But it's hard to critique too much a defense that didn't give up any points.

Trench play: D+

The defensive line, though it wasn't even close to good, picked up the slack late in the game to pick up a couple of sacks in the contest. But things on the other side of the ball were way too dicey and weigh this grade down. Jones never really had any protection because the UTEP D-line blew the OU O-line up a lot of the time. They weren't in a rhythm with their blocking at all, and thus OU's signal caller was running for his life some of the time and sacked on three occasions. Early on, struggles like that took place on the defensive line as well.

Defensive backfield: A

As previously mentioned, one of the brighter spots in the contest was the secondary's play. Limiting an opponent to 48 passing yards, no matter who the opponent may be, is impressive. And that's just what they did. Safeties Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris were pretty good, as was cornerback Demontre Hurst and opposite corner Aaron Colvin might have had the play of the game when he chased down Jeffery on his 71-yard burst in the third quarter.

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