There isn’t a single play that can tell the story for Oklahoma in a 33-23 loss to Houston on Saturday, but you can start figuring it out when you look at the pieces.
That’s what we’re going to do at Sooners Illustrated.
What went wrong: OU vs. Houston
Lack of consistent rushing attack
Houston’s front seven was by far the strength of the defense, but the Sooners never stuck with the run long enough to know what could occur.
Despite having the combo of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, the duo combined for 12 carries for 71 yards. Twelve carries combined? Perine injured his shoulder early in the game and never seemed to be what he usually is.
Mixon? After scoring on a 32-yard run and adding a one-handed 60-yard catch, just sort of faded away. He had five carries for eight yards and four catches for 17 yards outside of those two major early plays.
Defense unable to get off the field
Seems like an obvious one, right? No matter what the Sooners defense did on first and second down, it never seemed to matter once third down came around.
Houston was 6-of-9 on third downs in the first half. What did that mean? Nineteen first downs. A 49-23 play advantage. A massive 337 yards of total offense.
No doubt the Sooners defense played significantly better in the second half, but the Cougars also had a comfortable two-score margin for nearly the whole final 30 minutes.
The second timeout
The one that might go up there with the re-kick to Tyreek Hill in 2014. OU was trailing 19-17 and Austin Seibert was about to attempt a 53-yard field goal.
There was massive confusion on both sides. OU didn’t know if it was punting or kicking a field goal. Houston didn’t know what personnel was coming out and how to defend it.
OU eventually has to call timeout, allowing the Cougars to catch their breath and set up the long field goal return if it could occur. And, unfortunately for OU fans, it absolutely did when Brandon Wilson caught it in the end zone and returned it for a score.
After such a strong first couple of drives to start the game, the OU offense really fell apart. Whether it was the offensive line not protecting Baker Mayfield or Mayfield bolting early because receivers couldn’t get open, things spiraled downward in a hurry.
The trust factor didn’t seem to be there. Everybody knew OU’s receiver situation was going to be a wait-and-see. It still is, even more than ever, following Week 1.
Or should we just say Houston receiver Steven Dunbar? He had seven catches for 125 yards and seemed to be toying with OU defensive backs all afternoon.
Dunbar forced OU to sit starter Dakota Austin for Parrish Cobb, but the true freshman didn’t fare that much better, either.
OU moved Jordan Thomas to cover Dunbar in the second half. Nope, didn’t matter with that matchup as well. OU is going to have to find a second reliable cornerback and do it in a hurry.
Numbers don’t tell the story here. OU had five penalties for 66 yards, actual two less infractions than the Cougars. But timing is everything. And when you’re trying to get off the field and commit personal fouls to extend drives, it all adds up.
OU looks to bounce back next week against ULM.