Paul Thompson redeemed himself after last year's shaky debut against TCU. This time, Thompson appeared to be in command of the huddle and not looking over his shoulder. He made some sharp throws, some good reads and kept the Sooners offense crisp most of the night. Despite some poor throws and tough luck in the second quarter, Thompson maintained his poise and helped the Sooners comeback in the second half.
After an 8-for-10 start, Thompson completed just six of his last 14 throws, but overall was 14-24 227 yards and two TDs. The two interceptions he threw were not entirely his fault, but he did miss a wide open Malcolm Kelly on what would have been a second quarter touchdown.
He ran enough to keep the defense honest and made a great play to avoid one sack, completing a pass. Expect him to gain confidence from the performance.
As far as carrying the ball goes, there was only one running back. Adrian Peterson got 24 carries, 15 of those in the second half, and collected 139 yards on the ground. He added 69 more and his second touchdown of the game on his only pass reception of the night. Peterson looked fresh, made some great moves and showed blazing speed on the touchdown pass.
His only flub of the night was a fumble where the defender stripped the ball right from his hands.
Matt Clapp played well as a lead blocker for AD. With OU's offensive possessions limited, Allen Patrick didn't see any action in the backfield.
Tight end Joe Jon Finley had a big first half, collecting all four of his receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. He also had a big block on Peterson's long touchdown run, even though it came as a result of a mistake. Coach Bob Stoops admitted after the game that Finley had run the wrong pass route, which ironically put him in position to make the block for Peterson. But Stoops also admitted they should have gone to the tight end in the second half.
Freshman Jermaine Gresham got his first collegiate catch and then promptly let the defender take the ball away from him. That can't happen when you're 6-6, 250.
Malcolm Kelly had three receptions as did Fred Strong, while Juaquin Iglesias grabbed two. The wide receivers also failed to haul in several of Thompson's on target passes, so it was a so-so night for them. Freshmen Pooh Tennell and Brandon Caleb made cameo appearances, but didn't see any throws come their way.
More will be expected from this group as the season goes on.
Stoops said he felt like the line played a physical game for the most part, but he admitted they did not do the best job of keeping pressure off of Thompson. Although they only allowed one sack, Thompson was hit on a couple of throws and made a great individual play to avoid another sack and complete a pass.
Chris Messner got beat on a block in the backfield that led to a rare loss in the backfield for Peterson. Duke Robinson had the only major penalty on the offense, a holding call early in the game on a Peterson run.
An OK performance that has room for improvement.
The Sooners lack of a physical presence in the middle was exposed by UAB in the second and third quarters. Several times, the defensive tackles were handled by the veteran Blazers line, opening big holes for quarterback Sam Hunt. Corey Bennett logged six tackles, but fellow starter Carl Pendleton was shut out. Backups Demarcus Granger and Stephen Coleman got a lot of playing time, but did not stand out.
At defensive end, supposedly the strong suit of the front four, players were guilty of crashing too soon on the option, leading to big UAB gains. Larry Birdine was active, making seven tackles including two for losses, but Calvin Thibodeaux and C.J. Ah You were non-factors most of the night. Ah You also moved inside to tackle on a number of plays when OU went to a five-man line with Demario Pleasant lined up at end.
A disappointing start for the front wall.
It took a while for them to get warmed up, but Rufus Alexander and Zach Latimer finally stepped up and showed some senior leadership down the stretch. They combined for 20 tackles and Alexander had the only sack of the night.
Pleasant got the start at SAM, but rotated with Curtis Lofton and a number of times the Sooners went with only two linebackers and inserted Nic Harris as the nickel back.
This group is expected to be dominant. They weren't in the opener.
They weren't challenged too many times, but when they were, they gave up some big plays. Three of the 11 completions by UAB went for 24 or more yards, and the Sooners were never close to an interception all night.
D.J. Wolfe got burned badly on a pair of sideline routes, and had a mix-up in coverage with Lendy Holmes that left another receiver wide open downfield. Fortunately, the receiver missed the ball with no one around him. At the other corner, Reggie Smith didn't see any balls thrown his way. Smith was solid against the run, making a half dozen tackles. Darien Williams whiffed on several tackles early, but did force a fumble and make one tackle for a loss.
The Sooner secondary didn't fare that well against a team that didn't come in looking to throw the ball. They will get tested even more next week by Washington.
The most solid area all night for the Sooners. The return game gave a hint of game breaking ability on both punts and kickoffs. Smith averaged more than 11 yards a return and had a 27-yarder, while Iglesias had three kickoff returns of more than 30 yards in his debut at that spot. The only miscue in the run game was an iffy call on Lendy Holmes during a Smith punt return.
Michael Cohen was solid on two of his three punts and had none returned for a net average of over 40 yards. Mike Knall was unsuccessful in his role as the pooch kicker, putting the ball in the end zone on his only attempt.
Garrett Hartley showed no effects of the weather, getting two touchbacks on his five kickoffs and hitting his only field goal, a 30- yarder. And, as usual, the Sooners kick coverage was solid.
Special Teams: A
Oklahoma-UAB Grade Card
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