OU game notes and analysis: special teams

Notes and analysis on the Horns' special teams performance in OU's 14-3 win:

In a game dominated by defense, special teams also played a role in the outcome. Obviously, Oklahoma's pooch punt and subsequent decision by UT's Nathan Vasher to catch the punt at the three played a role in the OU D's interception and score on the next play, sealing the game for the Sooners. Aside from the fake field goal/pooch punt, the only highly notable special teams plays on either side of the ball came on missed and blocked field goals. Although he atoned later with his punt, OU kicker Tim Duncan missed field goals of 42 and 24 yards. UT's Dusty Mangum had his first attempt of the game, from 35, blocked by a leaping Andre Woolfolk. Mangum simply kicked low, according to Brown, on the second quarter attempt. Replays seem to show Mangum probably deserves less blame than Woolfolk deserves credit. He jumped practically out of the stadium to block it. Mangum, who made a 27-yarder in the second quarter for the Horns' only points of the game, has now missed three of his last four attempts after starting the season a perfect seven-for-seven.

David Pino for the second consecutive game handled the kickoff duties, but he only kicked twice due to the UT O's scoring ineptitude. Pino sent his first attempt 60 yards to the five where Antwone Savage caught and returned 33 yards to the 38. To open the second half, the true freshman pooch kicked the ball to the OU 21, where the Sooners fell on the ball for no return.

Brian Bradford punted five times for a 37.2-yard average and a net of 34.6. The punt coverage team in general and gunner Michael Ungar in particular did a fantastic job, limiting Oklahoma to returns of five, four, three and one yard(s) plus a fair catch. Likewise, the Sooner punt team completely shut down Vasher, who tried to return four of OU's seven punts but wound up with no return yards. Sooner punter Jeff Ferguson did a great job punting away from Vasher and forcing him to the sideline to catch the punts he was able to chase down, allowing the coverage to swarm the sophomore return man. Ferguson averaged 42.5 yards per punt and had a 38.7 net, four yards better than his UT counterpart.

Victor Ike and Ervis Hill started the game in deep receive, but Duncan sent the opening kickoff to the back of the end zone for a touchback. After OU's first TD, Hill had his only return of the day, taking the Duncan kick at the 12 and making it out to the 20 before being swarmed by Sooners. After Oklahoma's fourth quarter TD, Hill and Vasher teamed up in deep return, with Vasher taking the kick back 19 yards.

Mack Brown called the kicking game "a wash," but, just as on defense, the Sooners get the slight nod in my analysis despite a strong effort on UT's part.

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