Graham started out well, aside from the one early interception. However, the defense bailed him out and gave us the ball right back, and he marched down the field to score, which put us back on the right track. However, as the game wore on, he started to revert to his ways of old by telegraphing his throws too much and relying heavily on the right side of the field in the absence of Jarrett Hicks. The defense figured him out in the second half, much like they did against the rest of the team units. Graham's effort didn't lose us the game, but it didn't win it either. It was a team loss that came from a lack of focus after halftime.
The Sooners did the best job of any opponent that we have faced in shutting down Shannon. He only had 74 yards rushing/receiving, which is far below his season average. However, Shannon did manage to accrue five yards per carry in the rushing game against a talented Sooner defense, so that is commendable. While Woods' production was not as impressive as it has been, from what I saw, he appeared to be making the most out of the touches that he was getting. His blocking was also impressive for the most part, and made things easier on Harrell. Unfortunately, his overall effort, while respectable, didn't get it done like weeks past.
It's official. We need Jarrett Hicks in the game to play well on offense. It's obvious that Harrell doesn't have a connection with the X receiver unless it's Jarrett Hicks. The only receiver who really showed up to play was Robert Johnson, and even he disappeared in the second half. Danny Amendola had that one great catch, but that was basically all of his production. Joel Filani returned to 2003 form of inconsistent hands. Eric Morris was impressive, and seems to be deserving of some more playing time. Adrian Reese also had a big catch, so at least the young guys showed us some hope for the future. Still, Saturday was no AFROS.
The offensive line was the best and most consistent unit of the day. Harrell had all the time in the world for most of the day. There were two sacks on the day, but one of those came on a CB blitz from Harrell's blindside, which is not the OL's responsibility. (Side note: Harrell impressed me by not fumbling on that play, as most quarterbacks fumble from hard blindside hits.) Had it not been for a few costly false starts, the offensive line would have played a great game overall. Their play on the field during the actual action was fine, so all that they need to change for next week is minimizing the penalties.
Dek Bake and Seth Nitschmann played well, making some key tackles. Keyunta Dawson was also in regular dominant form. (And no, he didn't rough the passer on Parker's INT.) The unit as a whole shut down the running game well, save one big run. If you had told me that we would only allow 152 yards on the ground, I would have assumed that we would win the game. That said, we didn't put much pressure on Paul Thompson at all, and that allowed him the time to actually look like a decent passer. We have to have more penetration from the unit if we expect to limit anyone's passing game.
The only thing that I can recall the linebackers doing were a few costly pass interference penalties. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but the unit seemed to not be making any plays against OU. They were doing a decent job of run support, but seemed to be absolutely no help in the passing game. Half of it was a scheme issue, as the linebackers were stuck for much of the game in no man's land, being both too shallow to cover the passing game and too deep to put pressure on the backfield. We must blitz them more, as that seems to be a largely successful endeavor when we actually try it.
It's hard to give a poor grade to a unit that forces multiple turnovers in the game. However, our coverage was shaky at best in the game. If I had to pick one play that cost us the game, it would have to be the deep pass for a touchdown that OU had to close out the first half and completely ruin our momentum. There was 11 freaking seconds left on the clock. The last thing that we should have done in coverage is let one of their receivers get behind the secondary. Still, props to Antonio Huffman for forcing two big turnovers in the game, and returning one for a TD. Well done, Antonio.
This grade is skewed down by missed FGs and penalties. We were "short bus" special on a false start that negated a made FG, which we followed up by a miss. Then, an unfortunate miss on a short field goal cost us late in the game. We will need Keith Toogood back on kickoffs if we want touchbacks as well. However, our coverage units did a "gold star" special job, forcing fumbles and limiting any potential OU KR and PR big plays. Daniel Charbonnet, L.A. Reed, and Blake Collier are playing extremely well on special teams this year. Alex Reyes also did a great job with his punts.
Overall, the team played well the first half, and poorly in the second half. We have had five games in which we haven't scored a point in the third quarter, which is beyond ridiculous. This falls directly on the coaching staff, as we absolutely must work on preparing for our opponents' adjustments. It wasn't a particularly unimpressive effort overall, but it was disappointing and infinitely frustrating to see us squander a lead once again. Until we learn to finish games, our record won't reflect our talent or abilities, and that is unfortunately the case for this season.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com.)