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 9 grades:
Baker Mayfield– B+: Great start, average middle, a great end: It was a bit of an up-and-down night for Mayfield, who still finished 23-for-31 for 342 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked four times, but probably all but one as his fault.
Mayfield was a little wild at times and missed some opportunities, but he struck for a couple big plays – showing great patience on the opening play for a 75-yard pass. Still, the biggest issue with Mayfield is his burning and sometimes overwhelming desire to make big plays. He ran out of bounds again for a sack. He has to make better decision with is legs.
Although if you ask most fans the worry before the season was Mayfield’s decision-making with his arm. He hasn’t forced any throws yet.
Defensive line – A-: Iowa State running back Mike Warren needed just 46 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark. He came up three yards short. The Cyclones were the worst pass-protection line in the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma got to Cyclones’ quarterback Joel Lanning four times.
It was a great performance from the front four, and even provided a couple of really great individual plays. Jordan Wade crashed through on fourth down to stop a conversion. Charles Tapper spun off and pick up two sacks – making it five sacks in six quarters.
Charles Walker, who is surprisingly playing on the Sooners’ second unit, continued to show his potential with an athletic run stop. Oklahoma will need its front line next week.
Dakota Austin/Jordan Thomas – B: The Sooners’ cornerbacks helped shut down the Cyclones’ passing attack, which had been averaging 227 yards per game. Through three quarters before the first-team defense came out of the game, Oklahoma allowed just 183 yards through the air.
Austin and Thomas were a big part of that, but they were also victimized by the toughest one-on-one matchup they’ve seen all season. 6-foot-5 Allen Lazard won a handful of battles with the two cornerbacks. Being four inches taller than Thomas and eight inches taller than Austin helped his cause: He finished with eight catches for 101 yards.
It was the first time Oklahoma allowed a 100-yard receiver in Big 12 Conference play – and only the third of the season. Oklahoma expects Zack Sanchez to return next week for a matchup against Baylor’s duo – KD Cannon and Corey Coleman.
Lincoln Riley– C+: Riley showed some huge cojones calling a double reverse flea flicker on the first play from scrimmage. Although that should be no surprise: Neal said recently that Riley does a great job of getting the Sooners’ open – not just open but wide open.
A lot of the credit for Oklahoma’s 21-point first quarter has to go to Riley and the offensive coaching staff, like Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. By that reasoning, a lot of blame for the second-quarter struggles has to go to Riley too.
With the competition in mind, it should have been much easier to succeed than fail. After all, Iowa State did come in to the game in the bottom half of the league in run defense, total defense and pass defense. During the next three weeks, Riley can’t afford lulls in offense – five-straight drives without points and only 59 total yards.
Riley did scheme for seven different players to score a touchdown.