Oklahoma Sooners: Florida A&M Rattlers

Oklahoma wide receiver Justin Brown suffered what appeared to be a right shoulder injury after his second big punt return midway through the second quarter against Florida A&M. Wide receivers coach Jay Norvell, however, clarified Monday that the injury was chest bruise, and that he expects Brown to be good to go for OU’s next game in two weeks against Kansas State.

“I think he’s gonna be fine,” Norvell said. "He just kind of came down on the football and kind of bruised his chest plate a little bit. He looked like Mike Tyson punched him in the chest or something. He was really deflated after that. We took him out after that and let Durron (Neal) play. He just got a little chest bruise.”

Brown, who transferred in from Penn State, in August has already been a huge addition to the Sooners, both offensively and in special teams. He had a 51-yard grab earlier in the second quarter on third-and-long that set up the Sooners’ third touchdown. And he had punt returns of 62 and 43 yards that set up two other touchdowns.

“What a wonderful kid he is, just in every single way,” Norvell said. “He’s really affected his teammates just by his maturity and how he handles himself. Just talking about a kid being really respectful with his opportunity. He’s the greatest example of that. He’s a real blessing for us to have.

“The impact he’s making on special teams, and just being a solid guy and a great preparer has really affected our younger players.”

Blake Bell earns high marks from QB coach

September, 13, 2012
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Against Florida A&M, Blake Bell got his first extensive experience quarterbacking the base offense. Bell completed 4-of-5 passes for 61 yards, and added a 10-yard scramble. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel said he was pleased with Bell’s performance for the most part.

“It’s the first time you guys have had a chance to see him as a quarterback and not a quarterback slash running back in the Belldozer package,” Heupel said. “I think you can see why everybody in the program is excited about him and his development and where he’s going to be in the future.

“With Blake there were a lot of positives. He executed well when he dropped back and threw the ball. He was accurate with the football. A couple of mechanical issues and communication at the line of scrimmage that needs to be corrected. Also taking the two sacks is something he can’t do. For the most part he handled himself in a really positive way.

Coach: Landry Jones has played 'well'

September, 11, 2012
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Through two games, quarterback Landry Jones' numbers aren’t eye-popping. Jones has thrown for just 474 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, however, noted that Jones has graded out “well” in both games.

“He’s been accurate for the most part when he’s been able to set his feet,” Heupel said of Jones, who has completed 62 percent of his passes. “He is moving around better and he can play at a higher level. Week 1 he graded out really well and his numbers didn’t indicate that. He graded out well this week as well and his numbers are better.”

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiCoach Josh Heupel expects Landry Jones to improve as the offensive line gets more comfortable.
Jones started out the Florida A&M a little shaky. He was nearly picked off in the first quarter, then was intercepted in the second quarter on a pass that sailed over Kenny Stills down the middle of the field.

“You saw early in the ballgame last week, they changed up the coverage from what we had practiced. One of the guys busted his check-down route and (Jones) forced the ball and obviously he can’t do that.”

On the film, it’s unclear who busted the check-down route. Trey Metoyer, however, peeled off his route and was wide open coming across the field. Still, Jones bounced back and was sharp the rest of the half, tossing touchdowns to Stills and Metoyer.

“I would anticipate with our offensive line getting better week by week and his comfort level with the wideouts on the outside, it’s going to get easier,” Heupel said, “and he’s going to become more consistent.”

Film room: Five key plays from FAMU-OU 

September, 9, 2012
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Oklahoma got things back on track with a 69-13 win over Florida A&M at Owen Field on Saturday. Damien Williams showed his explosive speed for the second straight week and the Sooners defense dominated except for one bad play. Here's a closer look at five key plays during the Sooners victory:

OU receiver Kenny Stills' 23-yard reception with one hand in the first quarter

This play is important for several reasons.

  • It was eerily similar to the third-down drop against Baylor late last season when Stills didn’t extend for a pass against the Bears. On Saturday, the junior used one hand to secure the catch and take the punishment, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty against FAMU.
  • These are the exact type of plays Stills will have to make, every week, if he hopes to fulfill his goal of being considered one the nation’s top receivers.
  • It was another sign that Stills and quarterback Landry Jones are on the same page and starting to develop chemistry.

On the play, Stills was in the slot and faded toward the sideline early in his route, creating the needed space in the middle of the field behind the linebackers and between the safeties. Jones read it immediately and anticipated Stills being open by the time he completed his drop and fired a perfect pass above the linebackers and between the safeties.


Brett Deering/Getty Images
Safety Javon Harris was solid for the Sooners against Florida A&M.


Jones was protected well on the play and trusted Stills, who made him look good by making a terrific play on the football. Sooner fans should be excited about the progression of the Jones-to-Stills connection.

OU safety Javon Harris’ interception

The Rattlers had three receivers lined up in a bunch formation on the right side of the field on 3rd-and-9. Sooners defensive end P.L. Lindley, returning from injury, stunted inside and got into the face of FAMU quarterback Damien Fleming, who just threw the ball up toward the right side of the field.

Harris was waiting to make the catch at the 50-yard line.

Lindley’s pressure was the key to the play as it forced Fleming to throw early and under duress. The Sooners coverage was excellent as well as cornerback Demontre Hurst and Harris were both in the area where the ball was thrown. Hurst played it particularly well, allowing a FAMU receiver who was not in position to catch the ball and get the first down to go free so he could eliminate the Rattlers deep receiver on the play.

It was a terrific example of understanding down and distance by the Sooners secondary.

OU receiver Justin Brown’s 51-yard reception in the second quarter

With the Sooners facing third-and-10 at their own 25-yard line, Jones found Brown along the right sideline after drawing the Rattlers offside prior to the snap.

The Sooners quarterback had ample time in the pocket and, like a veteran should, took a shot deep knowing that the Rattlers had been flagged for being offside. Brown was not open, and yet he wanted the ball more than the two FAMU defenders. He used his size to outmuscle the cornerback, then used his athleticism to out-fight the safety for the football.

It was a great sign for the Sooners because of the competitiveness Brown displayed on a single play. Without question, his name will be among the top newcomers to the Big 12 Conference in 2012.

Travis Harvey’s 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter

With the Rattlers facing 3rd-and-7 at their own 25-yard line, Harvey got behind Hurst and outraced the rest of the Sooners secondary to the endzone.

The play was made at the line of scrimmage thanks to Harvey’s terrific release. The Rattler receiver was already past Hurst within four yards of the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, safety Jesse Paulsen -- who had subbed for Tony Jefferson because of Jefferson’s ankle injury -- was caught in no-man’s land. As Fleming released the ball, Harvey was already past Paulsen, who hesitated just after the snap, dooming his chances to make a play.


Brett Deering/Getty Images
Roy Finch got his first action of the season and scored on a 15-yard touchdown.


At that point, the Sooners lone hope was that Harvey dropped the ball. He did not. Fifty yards later, OU’s defense had surrendered its first touchdown of the season.

It was one play, one major mistake in a game full of good defensive play by OU. Nevertheless, the Sooners know one play can cost them a game in the future.

Williams' 89-yard touchdown run

After a penalty had pushed the Sooners back to their own 11-yard line, Williams cruised untouched into the endzone.

Much like last week’s long touchdown, the rest of OU’s offensive unit deserves the credit for Williams scoring jaunt. Guard Bronson Irwin and tackle Tyrus Thompson took care of the linebackers, tight end Geneo Grissom joined center Gabe Ikard and guard Adam Shead to create a huge hole on the left side of the formation. And fullback Trey Millard took care of the safety and Williams’ speed did the rest.

Another extremely well blocked touchdown. Ikard said it best early last week when he stated: “Anytime I look up and see someone running for a long touchdown, I think we did a pretty good job.”

Well said.

Bonus section: Early glimpses

• Sooners fans got a look at what could be the OU’s next quarterback-receiver connection when Blake Bell found true freshman Sterling Shepard for a 28-yard gain across the middle. Shepard lined up in the slot on the play, attacked the safety’s cushion then broke wide open across the middle. If Bell had put a little more air under the ball, Shepard could have scored on the play.

• On running back Roy Finch’s 15-yard touchdown run, freshman receiver Durron Neal pancaked his man with a ruthless block on the perimeter. It’s a sign that Neal is competitive and hungry to earn more playing time.

• Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Marquis Anderson recorded a sack by collapsing the pocket and spinning off a double team. A solid move by Anderson who will have to rely on his quickness to emerge as a playmaker during his career.

• Fellow redshirt freshman Jordan Phillips made several plays on inside runs. He will be tough to move out of the middle once he gets comfortable with the expectations of playing defensive tackle in OU’s system.

Roundtable: Three thoughts on FAMU-OU 

September, 9, 2012
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After Oklahoma's game every week this season, the SoonerNation staff will look at the most impressive thing from the game, the biggest concern from the game and an interesting storyline moving forward.

On Oklahoma's 69-13 win over Florida A&M:

What impressed me most: Damien Williams running the football. Yes, it was Florida A&M. But Williams now has five touchdowns in two games. Most impressively, Williams is getting it done in a variety of ways -- running through defenders between the tackles and breaking off long runs to the outside. So far, Williams has been as good as any player on the roster.

[+] EnlargeKenny Stills
Brett Deering/Getty ImagesReceiver Kenny Stills and 16 catches and two touchdowns through two games for the Sooners.
What concerned me most: Dominique Whaley is not quite back to form. He put the football on the ground for the second straight week, which earned him a benching until the fourth quarter. It should have been expected that Whaley would be a little rusty. But the Sooners are going to need him, and with Kansas State on deck, quick.

The most interesting storyline going forward: In the immediate future, how the Sooners stack up against the run. Specifically, K-State's running game. The Wildcats rolled over Miami 52-13, and might be better than pundits projected them in the preseason. The onus will be on OU's defensive line to hold up against the Wildcats and Collin Klein, who is playing as well as any QB in the country.

- Jake Trotter

What impressed me most: The play of Justin Brown. The Penn State transfer showed his competitiveness on multiple long punt returns and a long reception from Landry Jones. Brown's size allows him to be physical on punt returns in a fashion that Ryan Broyles was unable to match in previous years. Brown's early punt return, in which he stepped out inside the five-yard-line, showed toughness and balance. His confidence when returning punts is obvious and could be a game-changer in close games this season.

What concerned me most: Not winning the turnover battle. Playing against an inferior opponent, OU was minus-1 in turnover margin. Dominique Whaley's fumble and Landry Jones interception accounted for the Sooners' two turnovers. For this to be a championship season in Norman, the Sooners must win the turnover battle consistently.

The most interesting storyline going forward: Damien Williams. The junior running back has gotten his OU career off with a bang, averaging 13.96 yards per carry. He simply brings a unique combination of toughness, versatility and athleticism to the Sooners backfield. Williams will be fun to watch as his role on the offense expands in 2012.

- Brandon Chatmon


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3 up, 3 down: Oklahoma 69, FAMU 13 

September, 9, 2012
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NORMAN, Okla. -- A look at positives and negatives from Oklahoma's 69-13 win Saturday over Florida A&M.

THREE UP

1. Kenny Stills. The junior slot receiver has quickly established himself as Landry Jones’ go-to receiver with back-to-back 100-yard games to start the season. Stills gashed the Rattlers with 120 receiving yards on 10 catches and a 16-yard touchdown grab.

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Postgame wrap: OU 69, Florida A&M 13 

September, 9, 2012
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Analyzing the finer points of Oklahoma’s 69-13 win Saturday over Florida A&M:

• What an addition junior-college transfer Damien Williams has been. You could make the argument that he has been OU’s best overall player through two games. Williams rushed for 156 yards and scored four touchdowns on his first eight carries. "Damien's a strong, powerful guy with excellent speed. So it's exciting to see him play the way he is,” Bob Stoops said. “He looked great out there tonight.” With Dominique Whaley struggling to hold on to the ball, Williams could be in line for even more work in two weeks vs. Kansas State.

• OU’s other two backs rushed the ball well, too, including -- that’s right -- Roy Finch, who ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on just five carries during the fourth quarter. Stoops cut off his postgame press conference before a Finch question could be asked. But there’s no doubt that Finch is capable of helping the offense. The only question is, will he get the chance to? Brennan Clay was sharp, as well, with 62 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.

Damien Williams
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiJuco transfer Damien Williams rushed for 156 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first game in Norman.
• The Sooners might have something special in punt returner Justin Brown. Twice, Brown set up the Sooners with short touchdown drives off huge returns. Stoops compared Brown to former OU returner J.T. Thatcher because of the way he runs through tackles on returns. "He can run through some people,” Stoops said. “He's not a guy you get ahold of his jersey and sling him down.” The Sooners haven’t been a strong return team in recent years. With Brown, they could be a very strong return team this season.

• For the first time since being named the No. 2 QB, Blake Bell got extensive experience operating the base offense, and did well with it. Bell was 4-of-5 passing for 61 yards and led the Sooners to their last touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. On the key play of that drive, Bell showed off his arm strength and hit Sterling Shepard 28 yards down the middle of the field. Bell will need to relish this experience, because it might be awhile before he gets to quarterback the base offense again with Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas on deck.

• Save for one big play, Mike Stoops’ defense played well again. The Sooners limited Florida A&M to 2.2 yards per carry on the ground, and sacked Florida A&M QBs five times. The only blip was a 75-yard touchdown catch by Travis Harvey late in the second quarter. Harvey blew by cornerback Demontre Hurst, but Hurst was expecting help that never came from safety Jesse Paulsen, who had replaced Tony Jefferson. "I thought we played pretty well if you take out the one big play, and that was disappointing,” Stoops said. “We had a breakdown in, obviously, our coverage. Our safety went the wrong way and got mixed up in which way we were rotating in the secondary. We didn't have a deep middle player. We made a couple of mistakes on way play that cost us a touchdown. It is a great learning situation.”

• Other than the busted coverage, Paulsen actually played well relieving Jefferson, who left the game in the first quarter with an ankle sprain. Paulsen was especially impressive coming up to help against the run and finished with three tackles. "Tony has been playing well, and it is disappointing. I know his family was in town to watch him -- he twisted his ankle, so that part was disappointing, but Jesse got an opportunity,” Mike Stoops said. “I am really proud of the way he came up and tackled well. Made a mental mistake on the rotation, but overall, very pleased with the way he played." One of the big questions of the defense has been the depth of the secondary. So Paulsen’s play was encouraging.

• OU’s defensive line of the future got playing of action in the second half. Several times, the Sooners played four freshmen on the front with Mike Onuoha and Charles Tapper at end, and Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson at tackle. Phillips led the way with three tackles. "I thought for sure I saw Jordan really do a nice job inside. He's so big and powerful, he was doing a lot in there,” Bob Stoops said. “Marquis Anderson I saw do well. The young D-ends I thought looked pretty good. A good job of being ready to play." It will be interesting to see how much any of the four contribute to the rotation in crunch time. All four players have tons of potential, Phillips especially. None played when the game was on the line at UTEP.


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NORMAN, Okla. – After a shaky opener in El Paso, Texas, the Sooners bounced back Saturday to trounce Florida A&M 69-13.

It was over when: QB Landry Jones hooked up with true freshman wideout Trey Metoyer in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. The score put the Sooners up 35-10 with 36 seconds left before halftime.

Game ball goes to: Justin Brown, who was a playmaker as both a receiver and a punt returner during the first half. Two of his punt returns -- 43 and 62 yards -- led to OU touchdowns. A leaping 46-yard grab on third-and-10 set up another OU score.

Stat of the game: Junior-college transfer Damien Williams scored touchdowns on four of his first eight carries. He punched the ball into the end zone on his first two runs. Then on his first carry of the second half, Williams dashed 89 yards down the sideline for another score. In two games, Williams already has five touchdowns.

Unsung hero of the game: Wide receiver Kenny Stills had another big night, hauling in 10 catches for 120 receiving yards and a touchdown. Stills also finished with more than 100 receiving yards in OU’s first game and has quickly asserted himself as Jones’ No. 1 receiver.

What OU learned: That Williams is the team’s best running back, at least for the moment. Starter Dominique Whaley, who’s coming back from a broken ankle, sputtered before getting benched for fumbling for the second time in as many games. Williams, meanwhile, rushed for 156 yards on 10 carries and the four touchdowns.

What it means: Saturday’s performance wasn’t perfect. But the Sooners should feel reasonably confident going into their next game, a Big 12 showdown in two weeks with Kansas State. The Wildcats rolled past Miami 52-13 Saturday, but have not won in Norman since 1997.
NORMAN, Okla. – Despite some shaky moments, the Sooners are in complete control with a 35-10 lead over Florida A&M at halftime.

Stat of the half: Junior-college transfer Damien Williams scored touchdowns on his first two carries. He also scored a 65-yard touchdown in his final carry of OU’s first game at UTEP, giving him touchdowns on three consecutive rushes. Williams added a 15-yard scoring scamper in the second quarter.

Player of the half: A pair of big Justin Brown punt returns -- 43 and 62 yards -- has led to two OU touchdowns. Brown also sparked another touchdown with a leaping 46-yard reception on third-and-10 to put the Sooners on the Florida A&M 29-yard line. Williams scored four plays later.

What’s working for the Sooners: OU’s defensive front has overwhelmed the Florida A&M pocket on almost every play, forcing Rattlers quarterback Damien Fleming to unload the ball early. Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland has two of OU’s four sacks.

What’s NOT working for the Sooners: Despite scoring four touchdowns, the Sooners have been sluggish again offensively. Running back Dominique Whaley fumbled for the second consecutive week and Landry Jones threw his first pick of the season. Take out Brown’s punt returns, and this one might still be somewhat interesting.

What OU needs to do in the second half: With this game firmly in hand, the Sooners need to get some of their key backups such as true freshman receiver Sterling Shepard and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jordan Phillips some valuable experience before Big 12 play begins in two weeks.

Video: Florida A&M vs. Oklahoma preview

September, 8, 2012
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Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon preview Oklahoma's game against Florida A&M on Saturday.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Count Tony Jefferson and Demontre Hurst among the many Oklahoma players disappointed about the fact Florida A&M will not be bring its band to town Saturday. FAMU’s band was suspended for the 2012-13 school year after a hazing death in 2011.

“I was looking forward to it, a lot of people were,” Hurst said. “Unfortunately they can’t come. If they were up there, I would have been nodding my head, I can’t let that go by.”

Nonetheless, Jefferson still has fond memories of the FAMU band.

“When I was younger -- I have family in Florida -- we used to always go to Florida just for the band, not the football team, just for the band,” he said. “We would go to Florida A&M; it’s a sight to see, I was hoping they would come here.”

The FAMU band is part of a culture at historically black colleges and universities that puts the spotlight and high expectations on band performances during football games, and the band program overall. The culture is well-depicted in the movie “Drumline” featuring Nick Cannon and Zoe Saldana.

“If you haven’t seen the movie 'Drumline,' it’s similar to that,” Jefferson said. “It’s amazing to see the effort they put into that, it’s like being at a concert.”

So people come to watch the band and leave at halftime?

“We did,” Jefferson said with a chuckle.

Five storylines: Florida A&M Rattlers 

September, 6, 2012
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Storylines for the Rattles as they face Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday:

1. The Rattlers are looking for respect. They haven’t fared well against FBS competition recently, getting thrashed by 70-17 by South Florida in 2011 and 45-0 by Miami in 2010.

2. If the Rattlers are going to compete, they’ll have to do it without their best player, cornerback Devonate Johnson, who was suspended for the OU game along with wide receivers Lenworth Lennon and Dewayne Harvey and Daniel Lennon, a backup offensive lineman.

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Five storylines: Oklahoma Sooners 

September, 6, 2012
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Storylines for the Sooners as they face Florida A&M on Saturday:

1. The Sooners struggled in their opener against UTEP. FCS opponent Florida A&M presents an opportunity for OU to get on track before Big 12 play begins on Sept. 22 against Kansas State.

2. Because of the closeness of the UTEP game, several of OU’s true freshmen did not get to play as expected. Should this game get out of hand as predicted, true freshmen cornerback Gary Simon, linebacker Eric Striker and defensive ends Charles Tapper and Michael Onuoha should get ample playing time.

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Staff predictions: Florida A&M vs. OU 

September, 6, 2012
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Oklahoma 49, Florida A&M 3
Unlike UTEP, the Rattlers make all their field goal attempts. All one of them. The Sooners post their second strong defensive effort under Mike Stoops and keep their touchdown-less streak alive. The offense still sputters at times, but looks crisper against a more inferior opponent.

- Jake Trotter


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First glance: Breaking down Florida A&M 

September, 3, 2012
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Campus location: Tallahassee, Fla.
Nickname: Rattlers
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Record: 0-1
All-time record vs. OU: 0-0

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