The stadium was filled in a different color, the quarterback was new, the defensive scheme was overhauled and the game wasn’t even played on Saturday.
However, for as different as Oklahoma’s win over Houston felt, the result wasn’t much different from most home games over the past 125 years.
Oklahoma made a statement Sunday behind a record debut from transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts and encouraging defensive play from Alex Grinch’s freshly implemented Speed D.
Were there some flaws along the way? Of course. What opening game doesn’t have hiccups?
However, this is an OU team that looks at least on par with previous Lincoln Riley coached offenses and finally seems to be making progress on improving on the defensive side of the ball.
With that being said, let’s go into notes.
- This was an incredibly balanced receiving game. No receiver had more than three receptions and seven receivers got at least two catches.
- Interesting nugget: of the five star freshman receivers from last recruiting class, only Jadon Haselwood registered a reception.
- Most of the OU offense utilized the short game: small passes, short runs. Carving up a defense with short passes might not be as sexy as a barrage of Hollywood Brown long bombs, but it sure is effective.
- Hurts led the team in rushing by a large margin, but Sermon and Brooks had nice showings as well with a few long runs.
- I didn’t notice any glaring issues with the offensive line, so I guess they did a good job!
- One major issue though? The kicking game. Tooooough debut for Calum Sutherland, who went 0/2 on field goals.
- There is a clear improvement on defense. I know there are plenty of Gooners as well as even some rational fans who weren’t happy with the performance particularly towards the end of the game. However, an overhaul on the scale that Grinch is attempting to pull of is incredibly difficult and opening against Dana Holgorsen and D’Eriq King is tough. This unit is heading in the right direction.
- Kenneth Murray was on a tear, going for 13 total tackles and 7 solos. K9 might be the best fit on the team for Speed D as it compliments his attacking, “act first” approach to the game.
- No turnovers, which probably upset Grinch quite a bit. Thankfully, we didn’t really need them.
- This defense is AGGRESSIVE, which honestly is a complete breath of fresh air.
MVP: Jalen Hurts
I mean, how could it not be?
I think we all thought Hurts would be really good. However, dropping 332 passing yards, 172 rushing yards and running for six touchdowns is an absolute field day.
Sure, Houston’s defense is pathetic. However, Hurts’ yard production is something we have never seen before at Oklahoma; even Kyler never dropped 300+ passing and 150+ rushing.
Overall, the most impressive part of Hurts’ night for me is easily how efficient he was through the air. His throwing prowess has always been the most scrutinized part of his game (I’ll be the first to admit I often referred to him as a running back at Alabama), so seeing him go 20/23 is an incredibly encouraging sign.
I know, it’s just game one, but if Hurts can perform like he did Sunday night, then the over inflated hype around him might not be as inaccurate as I once thought.
LVP: Dana Holgorsen
Poor guy finally can get away from the Sooners now I guess. Hopefully, not having to worry about OU will help restore a bit of his hair.
- Being the only game on was a cool, yet strange feeling. Following the other games as the day progresses is such a staple of college football gamedays that it left something somewhat missing from the experience. However, being able to lock in on enjoying the full gameday experience was pretty nice.
- White out >>>>>>> stripe the stadium. The OU crowd bought in big time and it was a pretty cool sight.
- Drinking beer in the stadium was as good as I thought it would be, but the lines were an absolute nightmare. Only being able to buy beer at a few carts is a wild move that made any in game beer run require you to sacrifice a quarter of football. Hopefully they expand sales as the season goes on, otherwise I suggest getting in early, grabbing two beers and calling it good for the game.
- Best part about the in game experience? Not a single AT&T boyband commercial was played.
Up Next: South Dakota, aka a scrimmage where we all wait for Texas-LSU updates.