Can we just say A and move on? That's how you silence critics. That's how you make a statement. Bell was incredible in his first start ever. He made big plays when they were needed most. He executed the simple things. He made big-time throws when the opportunities presented themselves. All said and done, Bell was 27-of-37 for 413 yards and four touchdowns. It is the most passing yards for an OU quarterback in his first start ever. Ever.
Welcome back to OU offensive relevance, Sterling. Not only was Shepard not a huge part of the OU offense the first two weeks, he admitted it was getting under his skin. Last week against West Virginia was the worst game he has played at OU. He followed that with his best one Saturday. Playing in the slot, Shepard was back at home. He had eight receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns, all single-game career highs. The only thing he didn't do was block downfield so his roommate Durron Neal could score. Shepard got the touchdown a couple of plays later.
Shawn Jackson and Trey Watts
It wasn't just OU putting on a show. Tulsa's Trey Watts and Shawn Jackson did whatever they could to keep the Golden Hurricane. Watts finished with 231 all-purpose yards that included a 77-yard punt return and a touchdown. He rushed for 60 yards and caught five balls for 65 yards. Jackson was a beast on defense. He registered 15 tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss. Obviously it wasn't enough but great individual efforts.
What a strange game for the OU secondary. During warmups it became clear senior cornerback Aaron Colvin was not going to play. Freshman Stanvon Taylor got his first start because of it. But then Taylor got hurt and Cortez Johnson came in. Safety Gabe Lynn recorded another interception but was injured on the return, leading to Hatari Byrd getting significant time. Tulsa had a lot more passing lanes in the second half, which wasn't a huge shock. OU can take its lumps now and be ready for more in the future.
It has been tough to find fault with OU's special teams under first-year coach Jay Boulware. But there was an audible groan following the first real punt return for an opponent. Punter Jed Barnett had been able to negate a return game the first two weeks. And he was only on the field one time Saturday, but it wasn't pretty. Watts returned a 45-yard punt 77 yards. Is Watts just a special talent? Or is there something more concerning regarding the coverage unit?