Every play matters but some end up giving you a better idea of the game than others. Either for what they represented in the contest or as a look to what could be coming in the future.
Sooners Illustrated looks at the five plays that told the story of Oklahoma’s victory.
OU 59, ULM 17
No. 1: Kelly arrives
The Sooners were already up 28-0 early in the second quarter when you started to get a feel of the wave of the future of the defense.
Former five-star linebacker Caleb Kelly entered the game and immediately made a difference. With ULM facing a first-and-10 at its 19 yard line, Kelly generated a nice pass rush that led to a three-yard tackle for loss by Jordan Evans.
ULM went three-and-out, and the Sooners scored on their very first play from scrimmage after getting the ball back.
This play gives you an idea of what OU saw in Kelly, a true freshman making his debut for the Sooners and why the future seems to be incredibly bright for OU at linebacker.
Kelly was pretty sound throughout the game and showed his athletic ability time and time again.
No. 2: Walk-ons hook up
That defensive stop led directly to quarterback Baker Mayfield throwing his final touchdown of the contest and third of the first half.
OU took over at its 38 yard line, and Mayfield did a couple of things that we didn’t see last week in the Sooners loss to Houston.
First of all, he went down the field to somebody not named Joe Mixon or Mark Andrews. Secondly, he targeted a receiver not named Dede Westbrook.
It all worked. Mayfield hit walk-on receiver Nick Basquine for a 62-yard touchdown. It was the first catch of Basquine’s career so obviously his first touchdown as well.
Who knows if Basquine will have any more days in the sun, but it was a sign we saw throughout Saturday of Mayfield allowing some of those other guys to make plays.
No. 3: Carolina connection
OU led 42-0 at halftime, which meant it was time for the second unit to make its way onto Owen Field. And what that meant for the offense was the North Carolina connection of freshman quarterback Austin Kendall and running back Abdul Adams.
No play showed it more than when Kendall found Adams for a 16-yard completion where Adams showed his athletic ability on a terrific catch to set up OU in the red zone. The Sooners would notch three more later in the drive.
Adams did about as good as you could expect in that environment with 18 carries for 91 yards to go with that catch. Kendall ended up 12-of-15 passing for 108 yards and his first two career touchdown passes.
No. 4: Austin strikes back
Nobody epitomized OU’s struggles more against the Cougars than senior defensive back Dakota Austin. A starter heading into the game, Austin was demoted in Saturday’s win.
Jordan Thomas, Parrish Cobb, Parnell Motley and Michiah Quick all saw time before Austin took the field in the third quarter.
Austin only finished with one tackle, but it was a play that was reminiscent of why OU believed he could be the guy. One-on-one, Austin made a 2-yard tackle for loss and was fired up.
OU is going to need Austin mentally and physically capable of providing a punch again in the secondary. It looked like a little with the score 45-14, but Austin needed a little something to get right again.
No. 5: Gallimore, DeBerry make mark
The final three quarters were all about the young guys on defense. Several members of the 2015 and 2016 classes were on the field together.
And the two Scout 100 defensive prospects combined for a big play in the fourth quarter. Defensive lineman Neville Gallimore sack-stripped ULM quarterback Will Collins with linebacker Ricky DeBerry recovering the fumble.
Gallimore saw time against the Cougars, but it was the first action for DeBerry as a Sooner. Gallimore finished with eight tackles, including three for loss. DeBerry also had a nice stop to go with the recovery.