Oklahoma would not have even been in this game without the play of Paul Thompson. The numbers weren't glittering - 13-23 for 173 yards and a touchdown – but time and again, Thompson's composure helped avoid big losses and especially in the second half, he made big plays to keep drives going. And he eliminated the turnovers that had plagued the offense in the first two games.
There were times in the first half that Thompson misfired when he had open receivers, and that is the part of his game that still needs improvement. It appears that Thompson is more comfortable and more accurate on roll outs and that is something offensive coaches should use more in the future. Still, for the third straight week, Thompson was the best quarterback on the field.
For his first road start, Thompson was up to the challenge. It's unfortunate that he wasn't rewarded with an official win on the scoreboard.
The fourth quarter performance of Adrian Peterson is the stuff Heisman Trophy winners are made of. Peterson looked mortal in the first half and super human in the second half.
In spite of turf burns, neck tackles that looked like they could have personally injured him and a lack of blocking most of the game, Peterson put on one of the best performances of his career. His 211 yards moves into position to become the Sooners all-time rushing leader by mid-season and right now he is on pace for a 2,000 yard season.
Another running back finally got a carry this year, as Alan Patrick replaced Peterson for one play on the final drive. Ian Pleasant got the start at fullback and caught two passes. Matt Clapp apparently is still too injured to play.
Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias were the focal points of the receiving game Saturday and both responded with big plays. Kelly got away with a patented Rashaun Woods move to score his only touchdown of the day and was tough in traffic all day.
Iglesias had a touchdown wiped out by an unexplained illegal formation call and he made a tremendous run that almost resulted in a touchdown after Thompson found him wide open on a key third down play in the third quarter.
Joe Jon Finley was a no show, but Brady Eldridge recorded his first catch as a Sooner and almost turned it into a score.
Even though the Sooners put up 33 points, the offensive line did not play a good game. Numerous holding penalties, procedure penalties and missed blocks forced OU to settle for field goals four times and on at least two of those drives, the Sooners should have scored touchdowns.
Thompson was often scrambling for his life and escaped from at least four potential sack situations. Center Jon Cooper limped off the field during the final drive. No word was available immediately after the game on his status, but the Sooners cannot afford to lose him for any significant amount of time.
For the most part, the Sooner defensive line was out of position all day. Oregon averaged over five yards per rushing play and missed tackles were again the order of the day.
The rush on Dennis Dixon was lacking most of the afternoon and was non-existent during Oregon's two late scoring drives. Larry Birdine got the first sack of the season against an Oregon quarterback, but other than that, the OU front rarely had their name called.
Three games in and coaches still aren't any closer to figuring out what their best defensive line combination is.
The best part of the defensive effort came from the linebacking corps, which isn't saying much on Saturday.
Rufus Alexander forced a key fumble but he did nothing to intimidate the Oregon offense. Zach Latimer showed hands of stone in pass coverage, failing to grab two easy interceptions and getting lucky when one of them that bounced off his hands wound up in the mitts of Nic Harris. Latimer also had a number of missed tackles on the day.
Lendy Holmes proved not to be the answer very quickly on Saturday, giving up two long pass plays and giving far too much ground to Oregon receivers all afternoon. Overall, the Sooner secondary was chewed up for 341 yards by an average passer.
Whether it was the so-called prevent defense or fatigue late in the game, the secondary was nowhere to be found on Oregon's final two scoring drives. For the third straight game, missed tackles in the secondary were also a sore spot.
Harris wound up with two interceptions, but was also victimized on occasion. The brightest spot was the resurrection of Marcus Walker, who had tight coverage all day but who had to leave the game with cramps. If he can return to freshman form, he would appear to be a better solution to the corner problem than either Holmes or D.J. Wolfe.
Almost the savior again for the Sooners, the special teams were solid in all phases.
Garrett Hartley could have put his name beside Uve Von Schamann with one of the most memorable kicks in OU history, but couldn't deliver on the final play. Still Hartley was dead solid perfect on his four prior efforts and was good on kickoffs much of the day, except for an out-of-bounds misfire that gave Oregon their best field position of the day.
Punter Michael Cohen was outstanding and saved a potential disaster in the first half by scooping up a bouncing snap. He helped the Sooners win the field position battle when they took the lead in the third quarter.
Kick coverage was stout again, as the Sooners held Oregon's return game far below their season totals and to less than 20 yards a return on kickoffs.
The Sooners unveiled Adrian Peterson on kickoffs, a move that didn't really add anything to what had been a solid return game all season. Reggie Smith didn't get much of a chance on punt returns, but he almost won the game for OU with his 55-yard kickoff return in the final seconds.
A couple of slip-ups, but overall another good game for the special teams.
Oklahoma-Oregon Grade Card
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