Oklahoma-Houston Grade Card

Sooners Illustrated Editor Jay C. Upchurch grades Oklahoma's 63-13 win over Houston. Freshman running back Adrian Peterson (pictured left) scored two touchdowns and became just the third Sooner in the school's history to rush for 100 yards in the first two games of his career with his 117-yard performance against the Cougars.

NORMAN — It may not have measured up to mid-season form, but Oklahoma's Week 2 performance against Houston featured plenty of polish and very little rust Saturday. The second-ranked Sooners scored touchdowns on their first six possessions en route to a 63-13 demolition of the Cougars.

A pair of 1-yard scoring runs by Kejuan Jones gave OU the lead at 14-7 and that was only the beginning of what turned into an offensive clinic for the hosts the rest of the half. Mark Bradley scored a 51-yard reverse, Jason White hooked up with Travis Wilson and Brandon Jones on TD passes and Antonio Perkins returned a Houston punt 41 yards to paydirt.

Looking much more mobile than he did during his 2003 Heisman season, White scrambled away from pressure on several plays and helped the hosts pull away early by throwing his two TD passes within a span of 2:09 early in the second quarter. That put the Sooners in front 35-7.

"He's pretty special," OU coach Bob Stoops said of White's effort. "That's a major understatement. I thought he was exceptional tonight.

"I like the balance we had offensively — running and passing the ball. From top to bottom, just the way the guys executed and played was really solid."

While White connected on 14 of 18 passes for 257 yards in just over two quarters of action, much of the evening's spotlight belonged to running back Adrian Peterson who became the first true freshman to begin his career with consecutive 100-yard rushing games. After racking up 100 yards in OU's season-opening win over Bowling Green a week ago, the rookie sensation led the Sooners with 117 yards on 25 carries vs. Houston.

"That's all fine, but it's not really something I'm thinking about," explained Peterson, who scored on a 7-yard run in the second quarter and added a 1-yard TD run with 7:44 remaining. "My focus is on making the most of each opportunity and helping our offense be as productive as possible."

So far, so good for Mr. Peterson.

For a closer look at OU's performance let's check it out via our weekly report card:

The jury may still be out on Peterson, but it is well on its way to giving him a unanimous stamp of approval. The freshman from Palestine, Texas, wowed most of the 84,280 jammed into Memorial Stadium, as well as a national television audience, with his elusive stylings.

Jones started at the tailback spot and got the Sooners off and running with a steady first-quarter effort that included a 26-yard run that helped set up his second TD of the evening. But he exited midway though the second quarter, setting the stage for Peterson and fellow freshman D.J. Wolfe.

And of course the talented duo did not disappoint.

"It's fun to see the young tailbacks get in there and make such a strong impact," said Stoops. "Adrian really just keeps coming along and D.J. has really done well. When he was in there, he made some nice runs and is strong as well. It was all positive."

The Sooners rolled up 276 yards and 11 first down on the ground. Each of OU's top four ball-carriers had single runs of at least 26 yards, including Peterson's long of 38. And Bradley's 51-yard scoring run did more than jump the lead to 21-7, according to offensive coordinator Chuck Long.

"There are certain tricks that you pull out that do open you up for the future — (opponents) have to work on and worry about," said Long. "The play to Mark was one of those."

Even though White sat out much of the second half, the senior QB still managed to put up impressive numbers, including 257 yards and a 78 percent completion rate. Through two games, White has looked more mobile in and around the pocket, and his rediscovered maneuverability only serves to make OU that much stronger.

"If feels great to run again and to be able to throw on the run. I think it helps out the offensive line and helps out the backs and receivers," offered White, who now has 51 career TD passes, two shy of Josh Heupel's school record.

Long is quick to agree.

"When he's out of the pocket, he has great vision down the field and he's so dangerous. It was good to see that old form tonight," added Long.

As good as White was, his overall numbers suffered due to his early departure. Of course, everyone knows big numbers ultimately sway Heisman voters the most. But Long isn't worried about it.

"We're not going to try to build stats up," said Long. "I believe over the course of a season that part will iron itself out and the people who vote for individual awards will see that."

One of the most impressive numbers that won't show up next to White's name — OU's third-down conversion percentage. The Sooners cashed in on 10-of-12 tries during White's stint and then turned things over to Tommy Grady, who was 3-of-4.

"We were great on third-down all night. Anytime that happens, you've got a chance to be productive on offense," added Long.

Grady helped cap off OU's scoring by marching the second-team offense 97 yards for a touchdown. The 12-play drive consumed over five minutes of clock. Earlier, Grady connected with Travis Wilson on a 9-yard scoring toss.

"I thought he did well. It was Tommy's first game out there — he was very good with his decision-making and he didn't turn the ball over," said White. "Those are positives. Tommy has a lot of room to grow and an experience like that is going to help him." v
Perkins' 41-yard punt return for a score allowed him to equal the NCAA career mark of eight. His zig-zagging jaunt was aided by a Mark Bradley block that cleared the final 10 yards.

"Mark blocked his heart out. I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but Mark made sure I got there," said a smiling Perkins.

Earlier in the game, Jejuan Rankins showed off some nice moves during a 56-yard kickoff return, after Houston had jumped out to a surprising 7-0 lead.

Kicker Trey DiCarlo missed a 47-yard field goal, but he was perfect on point-after kicks and displayed a strong leg on most of his kickoffs, producing six touchbacks.

The Sooners also covered kicks and punts very well.

The Cougars managed to scratch and claw their way for 61 rushing yards, most of which came long after the game was decided and OU had pulled its starters. There simply wasn't much running room.

Brodney Pool and Rufus Alexander provided plenty of run support on the corners and the Sooners' front four did a nice job of controlling the trenches.

"Our guys up front are good against the run or pass. Getting pressure like we did makes all the difference in the world. They were the difference tonight, I thought," said co-defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.

Brandon Shelby turned in another solid effort as OU's nickel back. The little guy with a nose for the ball finished with six tackles, one less than both Pool and Alexander.

Much Better.

"Our goal every week is to go out there and try to apply as much pressure as possible and have fun doing it," said defensive end Jonathan Jackson, who recorded two OU's five sacks against quarterback Kevin Kolb.

It was obviously a fun night for Jackson and Company.

"It was an unusual offense we were facing. We had a couple of busts early, but overall we weren't too bad," said Pelini. "I thought our guys stayed cool and made their adjustments and played pretty good. The things we missed we can easily correct, so I'm not overly concerned."

Lynn McGruder and Larry Birdine played well up front, as did Dan Cody and Dusty Dvoracek, who had a sack and a fumble recovery. Linebacker Lance Mitchell closed the game with one sack and backup Remi Ayodele added two in mop-up duty.

"We felt a little more comfortable out there. Houston threw a lot of different stuff as us that we had to make adjustments to. We still had a few mistakes, but it's stuff we can fix," said Alexander.

Overall, it was a good day for Oklahoma, which improved to 2-0.

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