OU 11: Game 2

Defense stands out in victory against Tennessee, offense shows up late to secure win

Each week Sooners Illustrated will rank the top 11 players from Oklahoma’s past week’s performance.

Players are assigned a point value equal to the rating given by Bob and Justin. (Top player on either list gets 11 points, 11th player gets 1). That makes for a maximum of 22 points.

Here’s the OU 11 for Game 2:

1. Devante Bond – (22 points): It was back-to-back stellar games for the former junior college linebacker, who has developed into an incredible complement to Eric Striker. Bond nearly picked off a pass in the first quarter and finished the game against Tennessee with five tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a team-high two sacks.

2. Baker Mayfield – (18 points): Silent for much of the game, it’s impossible not to take note of what Mayfield did in the final quarter for Oklahoma. Maybe more so than leading Oklahoma to a touchdown on its final four drives – two in overtime and two to end regulation, the mentality for Mayfield to be ready to do that after 45 minutes of struggles is impressive.

3. Sterling Shepard – (18 points): Four big plays by Shepard changed the game for Oklahoma. You could say the quartet won Oklahoma the game. He had a big catch on the sideline to convert a late third down – his favorite of the game. He had a catch-and-run to start overtime after hauling in the game-tying touchdown in the final minute. He then scored the eventual game-winner after leaping over a Tennessee defender. Shepard finished with seven catches for 74 yards.

4. Zack Sanchez – (17 points): Sanchez ended the game with an interception, but it was his play throughout that helped him climb this list. Sanchez was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for the performance that included six tackles, one tackle for loss and a big-time interception. He made three big-time plays on a red-zone stand that forced a Tennessee field goal early.

5. Steven Parker – (15 points): In one of his better games as a Sooner, Parker very nearly made the game-winning play. Ask any Oklahoma fan, and his strip-sack that would have gone for six had it not been for a quick whistle. Parker was beat for one touchdown but was otherwise sound in coverage.

6. Samaje Perine – (8 points): The talk of Perine’s performance against Tennessee wasn’t about his team-high 78 rushing yards. Instead, the focus was on Perine’s fourth-down block in overtime that allowed Mayfield to sneak into the end zone to tie the game. A truly heads-up play by a player who talent with the football is unquestioned.

7. Charles Walker – (8 points): It just so happens that Walker is the one player singled out from a defensive line that might have been the most important cog in Oklahoma’s victory. Playing arguably his best complete game, Walker totaled four tackles and a quarterback hurry. He was ultra-disruptive for a defense that finished with six quarterback hurries, three sacks and eight tackles for loss.

8. Austin Seibert – (7 points): Big stage: It was no problem for the true freshman. Seibert hit all of his kicks, even after missing his final extra point in warm-ups and giving his head coach a bit of a stir. He also averaged almost 45 yards per punt – allowing just three return yards total.

9. Eric Striker – (6 points): Striker backed up all the pre-game talk with the win. He would have been crucified had it gone any other way. Striker helped his own cause in the win by racking up half a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.

10. Ahmad Thomas – (5 points): A quietly impressive game for Thomas who was vital in run support against the Volunteers’ daunting rushing attack. He had a team-high 11 tackles (seven solo) and wasn’t caught out of position in coverage all night as Tennessee didn’t complete a pass longer than 20 yards.

11. Joe Mixon – (4 points): A little bit of Wildcat at the end of the game showed just another wrinkle of how Oklahoma will get the talented player the ball. Mixon had 12 touches in the game and 51 all-purpose yards. His decision-making in the Wildcat formation helped Oklahoma tie the game late.

Honorable mention: Dominique Alexander, Ty Darlington, Charles Tapper, Jordan Wade

Sooner Nation’s top choice: Tie between Baker Mayfield and Sterling Shepard with Devante Bond one vote behind.

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