Apparently the boat is not sinking.
Oklahoma righted the ship on Saturday with a 41-20 win over Texas Tech at Jones Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Coming off one of the worst games of his career, quarterback Landry Jones played a superb game as he managed the Sooners offense and took care of the football. Defensively, the Sooners got three interceptions and held TTU scoreless in the second half until a garbage time touchdown from SaDale Foster with 56 seconds left in the game.
Here are five key plays in the Sooners' third win of the season:
13-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Justin Brown on OU’s first drive
Facing a third-and-10, OU was in four-wide formation with Brown and Kenny Stills to the right, Trey Metoyer and Sterling Shepard to the left. The key to the play was Jones holding the safety in the middle with his eyes after the snap. Brown was less than five yards off the line of scrimmage when Jones threw the ball, meaning Jones recognized the mismatch of the 6-foot-3 Brown against 5-9 Cornelius Douglas before the snap and trusted Brown to make a play even though the senior didn’t get a great release off the line.
Another key was the placement of Jones’ throw, right over the top of the defenders head. It was terrific field awareness by Brown who was against the sideline but didn’t allow Douglas to force him out of bounds and gave himself enough room to get two feet inbounds for the touchdown.
It was a early sign that Landry Jones was poised to play a solid game.
13-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Stills
This play is key because the Sooners scored their second touchdown on third down, while Texas Tech had settled for two field goals resulting in a 21-13 lead for OU.
On third-and-six, OU had trips left with Stills in the slot closest to the ball. TTU blitzed two defenders and the Sooners kept Brennan Clay and Brannon Green in to block. Each OU offensive lineman won his one-on-one battle while Clay and Green combined to pick up the other Red Raider. The best thing about OU’s pass protection on the play was zero missed assignments, each player understood his assignment and won his individual battle.
Meanwhile on the outside, TTU defensive back Jarvis Phillips had no hope against Stills who ran a corner route and caught the perfectly thrown pass from Jones. Once OU won the battle up front, it was no contest.
Aaron Colvin’s interception
It was a one-play glimpse at why the junior cornerback is special. He showed football IQ, awareness, terrific instincts and elite athleticism all on one play. With the Red Raiders looking to drive late in the second quarter, Colvin came on a cornerback blitz and snatched Seth Doege’s pass out of the air for his first interception of the season.
After lining up on Red Raiders receiver Eric Ward, Colvin slid inside just before the ball was snapped then blitzed. Doege and Ward recognized the cornerback blitz, so Ward simply stopped and waited for the throw. Halfway to the quarterback, Colvin realized what was happening and simply jumped up to intercept the ball.
NFL-level play. Mentally and physically. If Colvin continues to make plays like that, he'll open up all kinds of options for Mike Stoops as he devises schemes to stop the explosive offenses in the Big 12.
Frank Shannon’s fourth-down sack on TTU’s first possession of the second half
Chuka Ndulue, R.J. Washington and David King were the lone OU defensive linemen while Demontre Hurst, Corey Nelson and Shannon blitzed. Nelson, lined up on the right side of the field, attacked TTU right guard Le’Raven Clark, allowing Shannon to swing right behind him between Nelson and Ndulue, who was engaged with TTU right tackle Terry McDaniel. Shannon slipped by TTU running back Eric Stephens, who tried to pick him up.
A well-designed and executed blitz. And a gutsy call on fourth down.
A critical play because if the Red Raiders, who were driving, scored on that drive, the entire second half could have changed instead of OU having control throughout the final 30 minutes of action.
Javon Harris interception return for a touchdown
With a 31-13 lead and looking to force TTU to put together a long drive instead of a quick score, the Sooners rushed four defenders on the play. OU still got pressure on Doege thanks to Casey Walker who blew by Texas Tech guard Beau Carpenter at the snap and was right in Doege’s face mere seconds after the snap.
Walker’s pressure forced Doege to throw high to Ward, who was covered well by Colvin and saw the ball bounce off his fingertips into Harris’ waiting hands. The former high school running back used his speed and vision to weave through the Red Raider offensive linemen then outrace Doege to the end zone.
If OU can consistently get pressure with four defenders rushing, this defense could become dominant with the way its secondary has played through four games.