OU Handles Houston 49-31 Behind Massive Debut From Hurts

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.

Other Notes:

  • 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.

The Schooner Pod: Houston and Week 1 Picks

The regular season is back and The Schooner Pod is officially ready for season 2! In this episode, Bobby and Ty break down a wild Week Zero (0:00-10:00), look at a dangerous Houston Cougars team, discuss what they are looking forward to most from the Sooners in the season opener, make their predictions for the Week 1 slate and thank you all for a fantastic first year with an appearance from a special guest.

Make sure to subscribe to The Schooner Blog on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Stitcher or wherever you get your Podcasts!

Game Week: Houston

A preview of Oklahoma’s first game against Houston.

At long last, here we are folks: it’s football time in Oklahoma!

The off-season was a brutal one too: the Thunder took an early hammer to their roster, the last season of Game of Thrones sucked, and I graduated into a cold, unforgiving world.

But thankfully, football season is here to make everything right again*! And for Oklahoma, what a cooler way to start than with a Sunday Night Primetime game against a good opponent?

Meet the Cougars

After a brief two year hiatus from relevance, the Houston Cougars are looking to make another run at a New Year’s Six bowl. Former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorson is aiming to turn the program around after the massively disappointing Major Applewhite era. 

Much like 2016, this Houston team is an offensively scary team entering Norman with upset potential. All eyes will be on this game, as it is the only one on Labor Day Sunday. Once again, the Sooners must be ready to go from the first snap. No easing into this one.

Who to Watch For:

#4 D’Eriq King, QB

Talk about a tough first task for Alex Grinch’s newly implemented Speed D. D’Eriq King is coming into 2019 with Dark Horse Heisman hype, and it’s easy to see why. King is a duel threat QB with plenty of speed and arm strength to make this a long day for the Sooners. This is the perfect stage for a player like King to get placed directly on the college football map. 

As we have noted many times on both this blog and The Schooner Pod, OU is historically awful against mobile quarterbacks and King might be one of the best we see all year.

Why You Should Be Excited

Other than the obvious “it’s game one!”, this is an incredibly intriguing first game for the Sooners. 

Houston is a great first opponent and one that shouldn’t be a total pushover like most game ones tend to be. Add in the debuts of Jalen Hurts, Speed D and the fantastic New Wave ‘19 recruiting class, there is plenty of good football to be thrilled about. 

As for the atmosphere, the energy will be next-level stuff. From the ultra-rare Sunday game, to the White Out, to the debut of in-stadium alcohol and of course, A LATE KICKOFF, there is no reason this atmosphere shouldn’t be an all-timer. 

Series History (OU Leads 2-1)

Despite being pretty close in proximity, OU and Houston have a very limited history. While the Sooners two wins in the series are relatively uninteresting, the one loss still is pretty fresh.

That game of course was the 2016 season opener loss at the extremely cursed NRG Stadium. Fresh off a Playoff appearance the year before, Baker Mayfield and the Sooners came out flat with the offense never quite clicking. 

Houston and then-head coach Tom Herman seemingly got every break at every turn, while OU couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot. The turning point came when the Cougars brought back a kick-six in the third quarter. Immediately after, the Sooners coughed up the ball within their own 50 to give Houston prime field position for a score. 

OU got it together and made a small rally toward the end of the 4th quarter, but it was too little too late. This loss, along with the Ohio State L two weeks later, would lock the Sooners out of the Playoff despite going undefeated in conference. While Ohio State was a game that went decisively to the Buckeyes, this loss lingered as a major “what if?” as Houston would prove to be just mediocre at best. 

Tom Herman, Ed Oliver and Greg Ward Jr. might be gone, but this is a retooling, dangerous team. And while Dana Holgorson has yet to beat Oklahoma as a head coach, he’s gotten closer than most. The Sooners will need to show up if they want to avoid repeating history.