Oklahoma-MTSU Grade Card

See inside for Tony Sellars' position-by-position breakdown of OU's 59-0 win over Middle Tennessee. Junior running back Adrian Peterson (pictuerd) reached the century mark in rushing yard for the fourth-straight game this season and 20th in his career. (AP Photo)

Oklahoma – Middle Tennessee Report Card

Quarterback

Another stellar performance by Paul Thompson, who set a career high with his three touchdown passes. Over 70 percent completion rate, no interceptions, and a near-flawless job in directing the offense.

Middle Tennessee challenged Thompson to throw the ball and he did it early and often, showing again that teams are picking their poison if they try to stack the line of scrimmage to stop Adrian Peterson.

Even though he had only five incompletions, his night could have even been better. He did overthrow two open receivers and had two other potential touchdown passes dropped. Malcolm Kelly failed to haul in a perfectly thrown fade route in the corner of the end zone and Fred Strong let a possible score slip through his hands, getting lucky that the ball wasn't picked off. Still, Thompson continues to make a case for being the best quarterback in the Big 12 to this point.

Joey Halzle saw his first action and got his first completion at OU in mop up duty.

Grade: A

Running Back

It was all Adrian Peterson for the first two plus quarters and that actually held back Peterson's numbers. He had an uncharacteristic 21 yards in losses, eight of them on the opening drive when OU was determined to let him carry it on every play of the drive.

If some variety were mixed in to the offensive play, Peterson probably would have fared better than his net total of 128 yards on 27 carries. Still it was a night that probably had no bearing on his Heisman chances and Bob Stoops did the right thing by hustling AD to the bench early in the third quarter.

Alan Patrick got a good amount of work for the first time and showed his rust, fumbling the football away twice. It was also good to see Jacob Gutierrez get some carries and he showed that he still has some quickness after off-season surgery, as he made a nice run late in the game.

Grade: B

Receivers:

Big day for Malcolm Kelly, who set a first-quarter Sooner record with his 134 yards of receptions. Kelly might want to invest in some ballet slippers, as he just tiptoed out of bounds on what might have been a long touchdown for the second week in a row.

Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias give the Sooners a potent 1-2 punch on the outside, with Iglesias also turning in some fine catch and run plays. The Sooners are still searching for the third consistent wide out. Fred Strong missed a potential touchdown and almost turned it into a turnover. Manuel Johnson may be close to overtaking strong and moving back into the starting rotation.

Pooh Tennell picked up his first reception as a Sooner, and Quentin Chaney proved that he still exists by getting some mop up playing time late in the game.

Fans finally got to see freshman tight end Jermaine Gresham show his receiving talents, as he grabbed a touchdown pass and watched a defender bounce off of his 255 pound frame. Expect more of that as the season progresses. The big mystery continues to be the disappearance of Joe Jon Finley after his fine opening week game.

Grade: A-

Offensive Line

No penalties and no sacks during the time when the main unit was on the field, a good sign as the Sooners head into conference play. It still a mystery as to why the offensive line is doing so well on pass protection and not being as consistent in blocking for the running game.

The blowout allowed coaches to experiment with younger players on the offensive line. Trent Williams saw significant action at right tackle, and Chase Beeler did well filling in for Jon Cooper at center. Chris Messner also got work at center as Williams and Brandon Braxton handled the tackle positions. Brian Simmons got his first action at guard, while coaches pulled a surprise by lifting the possible redshirt of Corey Brandon and giving him fourth quarter action at left tackle.

The Sooners now have two weeks to work on their run game in preparation for Texas, and should be at full strength by that time.

Grade: B

Defensive Line

Only one long run up the middle allowed and good pressure on the MTSU quarterbacks all night. Granted, no one expected much out of the Blue Raiders offense, but Oklahoma's aggressiveness and intensity appeared to be much better. The 19-yard run allowed early in the game came with the second unit in, and Carl Pendleton appeared to overrun the play, leaving a gap up the middle.

Even though the Sooners substituted freely in the second half, they still managed to hold Middle Tennessee to less than a yard per carry and less than a hundred yards for the game, which will help improve their 97th national ranking heading into the game. Alonzo Dotson and John Williams got some work at defensive end.

Probably a morale builder as the Sooners continue to work on improvement heading into the conference schedule.

Grade: A-

Linebackers:

Top-notch performances by seniors Zach Latimer and Rufus Alexander led the way. Latimer, apparently stinging from last week's "hands of stone" comment, secured an early interception and took it to the house. It was the first interception of his career.

Latimer also recorded two sacks and help cause another.

Alexander tied a school record with five tackles for losses, recovered a fumble and forced another one as he led the Sooners with eight tackles. Curtis Lofton saw considerable action in the middle late in the game and he provided some solid hits there and at the outside backer position. Lewis Baker also played well in second half duty.

Senior leadership will be key as OU takes on Texas in two weeks.

Grade: A

Defensive Backs

Those who were calling for Lendy Holmes to replace D.J. Wolfe may need to backtrack. Holmes was victimized on back-to-back plays early in the game, forcing coaches to yank him and put Wolfe back in the lineup. Wolfe looked solid after sitting out the previous week against Oregon, where Holmes also was beaten early. Coaches may have been premature to bench Wolfe, but that's easy to say now in hindsight.

The move of Reggie Smith to safety appeared to work. Marcus Walker played well at his starting corner spot and Darien Williams looked comfortable, despite missing a tackle early. Nic Harris continues to be around the ball, picking up his third interception in the past two games.

Overall, the coverage was sold all night, as MTSU completed just six of 20 passes. They will get a much stronger test in two weeks.

Grade: A-

Special Teams

Reggie Smith finally got a chance to break one for a touchdown and he provided more excitement on a kickoff return that netted only 15 yards, but took him from sideline to sideline. The Sooners only got one chance at a kickoff return all night – the one to start the second half – and coaches kept Adrian Peterson off the field for that one, but he will return against Texas.

As usual, OU's kick coverage was excellent, although they did allow DeMarco McNair to break one for 34 yards, the longest return allowed by the Sooners this year. Overall, though, MTSU averaged just 18 yards per kickoff return, and the OU coverage team also forced them to cough up one return deep in Blue Raiders territory.

Punter Mike Knall only appeared twice late in the game and averaged just 28.5 yards on his kicks, but both were on the MTSU end of the field and were downed near the goal line, one by the punt returner at the two.

Garrett Hartley was perfect on all extra-points and field goals and spent much of the night kicking off, getting four touchbacks on his 10 kickoffs.

Grade: A


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