Analyzing the finer points of Oklahoma's 41-20 win Saturday over Texas Tech:
• Bob Stoops said it. Josh Heupel said it. Jay Norvell said it. The Sooners were adamant all the week that they were going to feature Damien Williams at running back. Saturday, they made good on that promise. Williams got his first career start and manned the position almost exclusively, and to sparkling results.
He rushed for just 48 yards on 14 carries, but caught six passes for 82 yards, including a 38-yarder down the sideline that set up OU’s fourth touchdown in the third quarter.
Even though the coaches told the media they planned to use Williams more, they didn’t actually break the news to Williams until just before the game.
“They told me last-minute, ‘You're gonna be the guy, be prepared to do your assignments,’ ” Williams said. “It feels great, just knowing that I'm gonna be that guy. They're putting more carries on me and letting me do more with the ball.”
• Cornerback Aaron Colvin has been stout throughout his career but might have had his finest game yet as a Sooner. On top of providing stifling coverage, he had a hand in two turnovers. On the first, Colvin came on a corner blitz and snagged an interception instead of batting down the ball. The turnover led to an OU field goal just before half that put the Sooners up 24-13 just before halftime.
In the second half, Colvin helped deliver the dagger. He tipped a Seth Doege pass in the air and into the arms of teammate Javon Harris, who raced 46 yards into the end zone, giving the Sooners a 38-13 lead with still eight minutes to play in the third quarter.
“He's got that ‘it' factor,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said of Colvin. “He shows up every game and is ready to play.”
Stoops brought more blitzes than usual to try to disrupt Doege's rhythm. Because Colvin and fellow cornerback Demontre Hurst stuck to their receivers like glue, the ploy worked beautifully, as Doege was under duress from the second quarter on.
“We tried to blitz a lot,” Colvin said. “So the corners were left out on the island, somewhat, a lot. Me and Demontre preached no deep balls, not making anything easy. Our preparation, I feel like, allowed us to play well today.”
Colvin has been OU’s best player through four games and should warrant All-America consideration if he continues to play this way. He will have plenty of chances to prove his mettle, especially on Nov. 17, when the Sooners travel to Morgantown, W.Va., and face Mountaineers receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.
“Aaron is a special player,” Bob Stoops said. “He’s one of the best corners that I’ve coached, and I believe in the long run, from now through whenever he leaves, he’s going to show that. He’s a real player.”
• Linebackers Tom Wort and Corey Nelson have played a lot of football. But they were outdone by redshirt freshmen Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin, who got the most extensive playing time of their careers. Shannon had six tackles and Franklin had four, as the Sooners opted to go with as much speed as possible.
Shannon was especially disruptive, coming through with a critical fourth-down sack in the third quarter. From the second quarter, the Sooners went almost exclusively with Shannon at middle linebacker.
“Frank had a heck of a game,” Stoops said.
It will be interesting to see how the Sooners rotate Wort and Shannon. Wort has had difficulty covering the pass and allowed a Kansas State receiver to cross in front of him for a first down on a critical third down late in the fourth quarter. He struggled covering Tech’s slot receivers early Saturday, too, prompting OU to make a change.
• By most accounts, freshman wideout Trey Metoyer was OU’s most impressive skill player of the spring. That, however, has not translated to this season. He finished without a single reception. He had a chance on OU’s opening drive, but couldn’t haul in a fade route in the end zone.
It’s puzzling that Landry Jones has not gotten in sync with Metoyer. During the off week, the two placed extra emphasis on completing the go route in bounds, which had been a problem through the first three games. But after Saturday’s incomplete pass, Jones is now 1-of-7 when targeting Metoyer on passes of 15 yards or more.
• Other than Metoyer, the Sooners did a fabulous job spreading the ball around to playmakers. Damien Williams, Dominique Whaley, Trey Millard, Brennan Clay, LaColtan Bester, Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard, Kenny Stills and Justin Brown all touched the ball. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel did an especially good job getting Millard involved.
Going into the weekend, Millard had touched the ball seven times for the season. Saturday, he got four rushes for 19 yards and two catches for 26 yards.
“We want those guys to have their catches and their carries, and time with the football,” Bob Stoops said. “Fortunately in today's game, with some of the drives we've got going, you get more opportunities to spread the ball around and you get it to people.”
The Sooners have even more firepower in the holster. Neither Metoyer nor Roy Finch got an offensive touch.
• Strong safety Javon Harris is quietly having quite the bounce-back senior season. He picked off Doege in the third quarter and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown that effectively put away the game. Harris now has two interceptions on the season, and five in his career -- more than anyone presently on the roster.
With Harris playing to this level, Colvin and Hurst blanketing receivers at corner, Tony Jefferson coming up in run support and Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson also making plays, this secondary is becoming formidable in its first year with Mike Stoops.
“I thought they did a great job,” Bob Stoops said. “I thought the secondary covered it really, really well.”
• The Sooners had been a disaster on opening drives. That wasn’t the case Saturday. After Texas Tech deferred on the coin toss, OU got the ball and went right down the field for a touchdown.
Heupel ordered tempo out of the gate using the same core of Millard, Williams, Stills, Metoyer and Brown without substituting. The Sooners went back and forth from two-back to one-back, swinging Millard from tight end to fullback. The game plan harkened to the days when the Sooners would go fast tempo, flipping DeMarco Murray back and forth from running back to the slot. The ability to run multiple formations with the same players is what allowed the 2008 offense to be so dominant. If these Sooners can do the same in spots, it will place substantial added pressure on opposing defenses.
“We just started the game off right,” Jones said. “We wanted to start fast, and whenever we got the ball, we wanted to go down and score. I think we had a lot of good plays on that first drive that helped us out for sure. The early offensive line did a good job in the run game loosening everything up, and that helped a lot throughout their entire game.”