NORMAN – The Oklahoma Sooners coaching staff graded the offensive line out with the best performance after the season-opening loss to Houston. The unit might have been even better against Louisiana-Monroe.
The big difference?
Well, asking redshirt freshman Bobby Evans who made the start at right tackle, the first of his career, and it was him. Evans started at right tackle, and Dru Samia shifted down to right guard. The left side of the offensive line remained the same: Orlando Brown-Cody Ford-Jonathan Alvarez.
Whether by communication or talent, Evans made a difference and his blocking tandem with Samia was seamless.
“You can’t be too happy,” Evans said. “There’s always something to improve on. I know that. I have to just continue to work hard and get better.”
Oklahoma’s offensive line allowed no sacks in the first half against Louisiana-Monroe after allowing five against Houston.
“You just have to go out there and work every day. Just keep practicing hard to make sure you get on the field,” Evans said.
No Dimon. No Roberts. No Johnson. No Dahu.
Oklahoma was missing a small handful of players. Defensive ends Matt Dimon and Austin Roberts were suspended from the game for violating team rules last week.
Will Johnson was injured, but Bob Stoops said he could have played if needed. But Stoops offered no time line on the return of receiver Dahu Green.
It turned into the first career start for Kapri Doucet and a start for D.J. Ward, who was injured during the game as well.
There was the pre-game hype video for the stadium itself, and the sound system hype video that sounded – and looked – like a movie theater preview.
For the first time, Memorial Stadium was a “complete circle.”
A record 87,037 fans were on hand for Oklahoma season opener – a record for the school and the most people ever to witness a sporting even in the history of the state.
“It’s exciting and just walking through there it looks spectacular,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “I think it enhances the environment and (Saturday) was a warm-up for next week where it’ll be a different atmosphere when Ohio State comes in. The scoreboard, the sound: It’s all beautiful. It’s only going to get better for us when everything is completed.”
From walk-on to end zone
Oklahoma receiver Nick Basquine hadn’t scored a touchdown before Saturday. He hadn’t even hauled in a reception. He did both on one play in the second quarter.
The walk-on from nearby Norman North had played his way into the rotation over the last two years and came open in the Louisiana-Monroe secondary. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, a well-documented former walk-on, found him.
“I just keep saying surreal,” Basquine said of the touchdown reception. “It’s kind of like your first varsity game, your first catch, your first touchdown. You don’t really know what you just did until you get on the sideline. That has been my dream.”
Russell in attendance
The Sooners had a little bit of a surprise guest Saturday evening. Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook attended the game and watched from the sideline.
He was shown on the Sooners’ new video board above the south end zone and was received with a loud roar. Shortly after his presence was known, a fan was shown holding up a sign thanking Westbrook for staying in Oklahoma.