OU Report Card: Tulsa

Sooners offensive players shine while defense still needs improvement

Every week Sooners Illustrated will break down a few players and a few units and assign them grades based on their performance.

Here are the Game 3 grades:

Defensive front– C-: Against Tulsa, the secondary was left out to dry a little bit by a defensive front that couldn’t find a way to get pressure. Granted, quick passes take away from just about any pass rush, but when the Sooners did have a chance to get to Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans, they didn’t.

Oklahoma managed just one sack and didn’t register a quarterback hurries against Evans. Only a week ago, the defensive front was so dominant that it made the secondary look nearly invincible.

Even Tulsa 176 rushing yards was the most allowed this season, and the Golden Hurricane averaged 4.4 yards per carry.

Dede Westbrook – A-: I specifically spotlighted Westbrook as a player who needed to have a good game against Tulsa, and he didn’t disappoint.

He had five catches for 81 yards, which was actually third on the team. He blew the top off the defense twice, though. Most importantly, he didn’t drop a pass.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield made a lot of his receivers look pretty good Saturday. Westbrook, Durron Neal, Mark Andrews and Sterling Shepard each hit season highs in yardage while Jarvis Baxter caught his first career touchdown.

Offensive line – B-: Already dinged up before the game with the loss of senior center Ty Darlington, a patchwork offensive line lost Nila Kasitati in the first half when the guard couldn’t fight through an ankle injury. Thus, Derek Farniok, who was the preseason starter at right tackle, and Jamal Danley both saw action at left guard. Jonathan Alvarez moved inside to center.

Alex Dalton saw his first real game action at right guard in place of Kasitati.

And an offensive line that struggled in the first two games didn’t buckle. They did allow three sacks – and probably a few more than Mayfield avoided – but helped Oklahoma to a 6.1-yard per carry average.

That’s the highest this season by almost double.

On effort, the offensive line gets an A. But we don’t grade on effort.

Zack Sanchez – C+: The secondary was going to be tested, and Sanchez is the leader in that secondary.

In straight man, he didn’t have too many problems – not allowing a pass of more than 30 yards and limiting his man to just five catches. He also played with a significant leg injury.

In zone coverage, he was a bit more left out to dry as the Sooners pass defense allowed 427 yards. Most of it came against freshman P.J. Mbanasor. Ultimately, Sanchez was solid. He registered the only pass break-up in the secondary and had five tackles as well.

Big-play defense – B: Oklahoma came into the game knowing that it had to eliminate big plays and slow Tulsa’s momentum. The Golden Hurricane was going to score and produced big numbers. The Sooners had to make sure Tulsa worked for it.

For the most part, Tulsa had to do just that.

Oklahoma limited Tulsa to just three plays of more than 20 yards, although it had two big plays called back on offensive penalties. Two of those registered big plays resulted in touchdowns – the Hail Mary at the end of the first half and a busted coverage in the fourth quarter.

A pass interference call in the third quarter negated a big reception by Keyarris Garrett, who Oklahoma had no answer for, that changed the game. Tulsa would have had the ball on the Sooners’ six-yard line with a chance to pull within one score.

Instead, Tulsa managed just one more touchdown.

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