Probably Paul Thompson's worst job of executing the offense all season. Isn't it great to be able to say that after another road victory? OU's running success in the first quarter may have actually thrown off Thompson's rhythm, as he seemed uncomfortable in the passing game all night.
From a statistical standpoint, it was easily Thompson's poorest effort all season, but that 3- of-12 for 39 yards should have been at least a 50 percent mark with a touchdown to boot. There were several dropped passes, but also incompletions that were thrown behind receivers. Thompson did hit Malcolm Kelly on a 4th down play to keep the opening touchdown drive alive.
He also had two big runs in the game – the first quarter draw that was ruled a touchdown and the quarterback sneak where his second effort made it a moot point that the Aggies authored the ultimate 12th man joke. He did put the Sooners in danger with a lost fumble in between.
Instead of increasing, Thompson's numbers and performance have shrunk since the loss of Adrian Peterson, but so has the Sooners' reliance on the passing game.
It looked like Alan Patrick might set the single-game OU rushing record in the first quarter, as he became the 43rd OU player to rush for 100 yards in a quarter. He had some impressive runs after that and was robbed of an electrifying 78-yard touchdown run on a borderline holding call. But in the middle of the game, Patrick got stuffed, fumbled the ball away and seemed to be fading down the stretch.
He came back, however, to make his most important run of the game in the final two minutes. His eight yard gain on second down of the Sooners last possession made it possible for Bob Stoops to make his gutsy fourth down call and for OU to run out the clock. Patrick surpassed his season best for the third straight week, running for 173 yards on 32 carries.
Jacob Gutierrez was almost an automatic first down every time he touched the ball. Gute went for 52 yards on just seven carries, averaging over seven yards per carry.
Time to mention the blocking of Dane Zaslaw at fullback. His presence in the lineup has been another big change since the injury to Peterson.
Not much to talk about receiving wise, but Juaquin Iglesias could have changed that by grabbing a sure touchdown pass in the first half and by converting a difficult catch off a deflection on the opening drive.
Malcolm Kelly had a key catch on 4th down to keep the first touchdown drive alive, but that was it. He got called for holding on Patrick's 78-yard TD run in the third quarter.
Manuel Johnson had one catch and possibly should have had another on a third down attempt. The tight ends were shutout, as the Sooners only directed one pass their way.
What started out as a Hall of Fame performance turned into more of what fans were accustomed to in the first half of the season. Several times after the impressive first quarter, A&M defenders were allowed to go unblocked and the Sooners running game bogged down after that. Half of OU's total yardage came in the first quarter.
The few times the Sooners tried a straight drop back pass, there was heavy pressure from A&M, and so they went to the roll out for most of the contest.
For some reason, OU preferred running right in the second quarter, when they were getting stuffed every time. The Sooners had much more success going up the middle with left guard Duke Robinson pulling or just going to the left side.
Brandon Walker had a critical false start during a red zone possession, but the Sooners overcame to score the touchdown.
They only got one sack, courtesy of Stephen Coleman, but the Sooners front wall did an excellent job of containing quarterback Stephen McGee all night. The Big 12's top rushing quarterback had only 28 yards and averaged just slightly over two yards per carry. He also threw the ball away at least a half dozen times to avoid sacks.
The also did a good job of containing behemoth Javourskie Lane most of the night, but had less success with scat back Michael Goodson, who broke two long runs in the game.
Overall, they were tough when it counted, preventing A&M from capitalizing on two OU turnovers and forcing the Aggies to go for field goals twice deep in OU territory.
They started out slowly but provided some key plays down the stretch. Zach Latimer took himself out of the play on Goodson's early 58-yard run, but he made a huge play on Lane late in the game.
Rufus Alexander also had his down moments, but he was in McGee's face for much of the game and delivered some outstanding hits.
Curtis Lofton should get a game ball, though. His effort in running down the speedster Goodson on a late 26-yard run may have saved the game for the Sooners. A&M managed only a field goal as a result of that drive.
Another aggressive performance by the Sooners secondary. Lendy Holmes chased down Goodson after Brent Musburger had already proclaimed him gone. Marcus Walker stepped in front of a McGee pass for an interception that led to what proved to be the game-winning field goal. And Darien Williams, who had whiffed a couple of times previously, made a late-game hit that sent A&M running to the field goal unit on 4trh down.
Only three passes were completed to wide receivers during the game, just one to tight end Martellus Bennett who was a non-factor. The rest were dump offs to running backs.
McGee will never impress anyone with his passing ability, but holding a team that had to pass to 63 yards is an accomplishment that the secondary should be proud of. Many of the throwaways by McGee were prompted by good coverage.
What's new? Garrett Hartley hit another field goal and stayed perfect on extra-points, Michael Cohen boomed a 75-yard punt, averaged 50 per kick on the night, and Mike Knall had a 34 yard kick with no return.
Kick coverage was solid, with only one punt being returned for one yard. Two kickoff returns were held to under a 20-yard average as well.
Reggie Smith did a good job handling punts, although he never got much room to run. Juaquin Iglesias was almost able to find a seam on the only kickoff in the field of play all night, but was stopped after a 15-yard return.
Nothing spectacular, but no slip ups either.
Oh, and one more grade:
ABC's Technical Coverage of the Game
If I wanted to see coaches' tape of the game, I'd head down to Norman on Sunday and sit in on the tape sessions. It is unbelievable that a major network allowed the press box camera to stay as wide as it did all night. And they still missed plays.
Not to worry, there were replays, right? Well, the cracker jack camera operators missed about half of the action on those, so it wasn't much help.
I don't think they had a camera go out or their ace camera operator drop dead before the game started – at least they never made mention of it on the air. To provide a visual broadcast like that is unacceptable in this day and age of technology.
The warbly audio of the second half appeared to be a problem with local affiliate KOCO. I'll let ABC (which I may dub the "Always Bad Coverage" network) slide on that.
OU-Texas A&M Grade Card
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