Every play matters but some end up factoring into the game’s outcome more than others. Sooners Illustrated looks at the five biggest plays from the week that was.
Play No. 1: Neal wakes up the crowd
The final score wouldn’t have many believing it, but the first quarter was rough for OU. With less than five minutes left in the quarter, it was still scoreless.
The Sooners had been unable to make something happen until senior receiver Durron Neal made a leaping 35-yard reception that showed a couple of things.
One, it’s that confidence by quarterback Baker Mayfield and his belief in his guys to make a play. And two, it’s Neal, now a senior, being able to make a play like that when in the past he hadn’t really been able to do so.
“I’m just trying to do my part as one of the leaders of the receivers,” Neal said. “We want to do little things that are going to lead to big things.”
Neal’s reception led to an OU field goal and the first points of the season.
Play No. 2: Akron hits the upright
The what if game for the Zips happened early in the second quarter. Akron kicker Robert Stein missed a 21-yard field goal that would have tied the game at 3-3 with 12:50 left in the second quarter.
If Stein makes that kick, Owen Field would have started to get a bit restless being tied as a 31-point favorite early in the second quarter.
The angle on short field goals like that is tough, for sure, but that’s one Stein had to put through if Akron had any hopes of staying in the game.
Play No. 3: Westbrook comes alive
OU was up 10-0 when it took over with 3:29 left in the first half. To that point, wide receiver Dede Westbrook hadn’t made a big imprint in his first game.
That all changed in a hurry as Westbrook snagged a 29-yard touchdown to push the margin to 17 points as OU’s offense started to find its groove.
There were a couple of important things on this play. One, Mayfield had time to throw after being forced to rollout often in the first quarter. Staying in the pocket, Mayfield stepped up in the pocket and delivered a dart.
Two, Westbrook was so wide open but showed nice concentration by tipping the ball with one hand to himself to be able to corral it in. A drop there would have forced a third-and-8, but instead, it was 17-0 heading into halftime.
Play No. 4: Mixon arrives
The first half was rough for OU’s running backs. Akron keyed on stopping the rushing attack, while OU couldn’t get them involved in the passing game.
One play into the second half, and the story was changed. Mayfield found redshirt freshman running back Joe Mixon for a 76-yard touchdown on a beautifully designed play.
“It’s a play-action, roll-out. Samaje starts the tone with the backer, getting the block off the edge,” Mayfield said. “Really, our route’s backside. We’re supposed to take the guys out. They did a great job and Joe got the ball. He was wide open, but it wouldn’t have finished without Dede Westbrook. He made a huge block down-field and he was 70 yards down-field so that’s huge to see those guys playing for each other.”
Mayfield brings up a great point because even though Mixon was wide open on the wheel route, it was all because of Perine’s block to allow the play to happen and Westbrook’s blocking down field to make it smooth sailing into the end zone.
Play No. 5: Seibert perfect on the day
Not much more freshman kicker/punter Austin Seibert could do in his first game as a Sooner. Seibert averaged just under 50 yards per punt in six kicks and nailed both of his field goal attempts.
It was crucial for Seibert to get off to a good start for his confidence and for OU to have confidence in him going forward.
The Sooners are most likely going to need a big kick from Seibert next week, and he showed he can make some vs. the Zips.