Sunday, October 21, 2012
Film review: Oklahoma 52, Kansas 7
By Brandon Chatmon
It would have been easy for Oklahoma to suffer a letdown against Kansas. Instead, Jayhawks fans wish the Sooners would would have let up in OU’s 52-7 win at Owen Field on Saturday. Quarterback Landry Jones was superb, the OU defense was dominant and the special teams did something that had never been done in program history.
The Sooners' first touchdown pretty much sums up the game. After a play-action fake to running back Damien Williams, Jones threw a beautiful pass to Stills right over the shoulder of KU cornerback JaCorey Shepherd. Three of Stills' six catches came on that scoring drive.
A closer look at the play shows why this game turned into a blowout:
Defensive tackle Casey Walker scooped up a fumble and ran it 45 yards.
Shepherd gave Stills a 10-yard cushion and still got beaten deep.
Jones made an terrific throw right onto the hands of Stills with Shepherd in position to make a play if the throw had been underthrown.
KU rushed four and didn’t get within four yards of Jones as offensive linemen Gabe Ikard, Adam Shead and Lane Johnson each won one-on-one battles with relative ease.
Both KU safeties were in no man’s land when the ball was thrown, having allowed Stills behind team but neither was in position to make a play if the ball was thrown to receivers Jalen Saunders or Justin Brown.
The fact KU would leave Shepherd, who is listed as a backup cornerback, one-on-one with Stills is a curious decision, as Stills easily beat him with a double move and his speed.
Basically, OU sent a simple message to KU on this play: Our players are better than your players.
The play was also an example why OU could create problems for Notre Dame this week. Williams, Brown, Saunders and fullback Trey Millard joined Stills as receiving options on the play. It will be very difficult for any defense to matchup with all five of those players and expect to win every individual battle in OU’s final six games.
OU rushed four defenders against KU’s seven blockers. The Sooners still got pressure on KU quarterback Dayne Crist thanks to defensive end Chuka Ndulue, the lone Sooner who was not double teamed within three yards of the line of scrimmage. The sophomore defensive end flushed Crist to the right and linebacker Tom Wort showed terrific acceleration with a big hit to force a fumble.
Walker, who would have sacked Crist if Wort hadn’t been there, scooped up the fumble then rumbled 45-yards to the KU 28-yard line.
It was a sampling of the play of Walker since he returned to the lineup after missing two games due to personal issues. He beat two different Jayhawks to be in position to pick up the fumble. If OU’s defensive line continues to make plays like this one, the Sooners defense could be a nightmare for future opponents.
Brown’s 90-yard punt return
It would be great to talk about all the great blocks by his teammates to get Justin Brown into the end zone... but it was pretty much all Brown.
His combination of vision, quickness and change-of-direction created the big play. Brown started right then cut back to the left after a key block from Brennan Clay to secure the crease. Several other Sooners wisely held off and didn’t block in the back although they were beaten by Jayhawk defenders.
Once Brown got by the first wave, he was surrounded by a circle of four Jayhawks at the OU 30-yard line but shook one defender and cut back to the right again. At that point he somehow found the speed and stamina to outrace the rest of the Jayhawks to the end zone with a dive to cover the final five yards.
Quite simply an NFL-level play by Brown. Clay and Jesse Paulsen had key blocks to help create the crease that allowed Brown to get by the first wave and the Penn State transfer did the rest after Aaron Franklin made the final key block that helped him get to the end zone.
Brown has a proven ability to change games with his 19-yard average on 16 punt returns this season.
On 3rd-and-4 at Kansas' 43-yard line, the Sooners made it clear they didn’t think the Jayhawks could pass on them. Every Sooners defender except Javon Harris OU was within five yards of the line of scrimmage at the snap and OU blitzed Frank Shannon, Corey Nelson and Julian Wilson.
Shannon beat a block to get pressure on KU quarterback Michael Cummings, who just threw the ball up for grabs. Harris made the easy interception after he made a good read and closed on the ball to secure the interception.
While Harris got the interception, Shannon was the key to the play. The redshirt freshman continues to prove he’s one of OU’s best blitzers as he continually slides by guards and centers on middle blitzes with relative ease. Shannon is quickly becoming a staple within OU defensive schemes in passing situations.
This was exceptional blocking by the kickoff return team to start the second half even though it was their first time on the field. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski destroyed his man, tight end Brannon Green got two different Jayhawks and Millard had a solid block to create the initial hole to spark the touchdown return that combined with Brown’s to make school history as the first time with kick and punt returns for touchdowns in one game.
The return was blocked so cleanly Finch didn’t have to make a move on any unblocked Jayhawk at all and their was no KU player within five yards of him as he passed midfield. Finch got the credit, well-deserved credit because his vision played a key role, but his teammates did the dirty work. Franklin, Jaydan Bird and Eric Striker also had key blocks that allowed Finch to go untouched after he got by the first wave of KU defenders.
OU’s ability to change games with all three phases --offense, defense and special teams-- was on full display in the win over Kansas. If OU continues to play like they did on Saturday, there’s no reason to think the Sooners can’t finish the season with one loss and make an argument to earn a BCS title berth if the college football landscape falls in their favor.