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Sunday, November 4, 2012
Film review: OU 35, Iowa State 20

By Brandon Chatmon

Oklahoma got back on track with its 35-20 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. Landry Jones' trust in his receivers was clear as the Sooners quarterback threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Here's a closer look at some of the key plays in the win as OU strives to keep its BCS hopes alive.

Sterling Shepard’s 20-yard touchdown reception

Sterling Shepard
Freshman wideout Sterling Shepard has 25 catches and three touchdowns this season for the Sooners.
This was a key play for the Sooners for several reasons.
  1. OU had already seen two lengthy drives end without points.
  2. It was a third-down conversion deep in ISU territory.
  3. It allowed them to play with a lead despite not finishing those first two drives.

Looking to force the Sooners to settle for a field goal, the Cyclones rushed three defenders and dropped eight into coverage. Jones made a great read to find the one-on-one matchup and gave Shepard a chance to make the play with a great throw into tight coverage.

Shepard, a freshman receiver, did a terrific job attacking the ball when it was in the air. He’s been a bright spot throughout the season with his competitive nature and playmaking ability. He should be a part of the foundation of OU’s offense for the remainder of his career.

Third-down, red-zone stop after Jones’ first interception

With the Cyclones looking to tie the score at seven on third-and-10 at OU’s 15-yard line, the Sooners rushed four defenders. It was a terrific omen for the game as defensive tackle Casey Walker and defensive end David King each won their one-on-one battles to get pressure on Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz.

Jantz dumped the ball off to ISU receiver Jarvis West, who was well covered by OU nickelback Gabe Lynn, for a six-yard gain. Cyclone kicker Edwin Arceo kicked a 27-yard field goal on fourth down.

The play and how the Sooners defended it was a good example of the entire game for OU's defense. The Sooners finished with three sacks, didn’t need to blitz to get pressure on Jantz and covered well throughout the game.

Third-down stop after Jones' second interception

Frankly, both ISU possessions after Jones interceptions were highlight moments for Mike Stoops' defense. In both scenarios, OU responded well to being thrown back onto the field and both times OU forced third-and-10 plays, a sign they had performed well on the first two downs.

ISU was facing third-and-10 at OU’s 33-yard line and the Sooners again rushed four defensive linemen. And, again, Walker put pressure on Jantz with a terrific move at the line of scrimmage to get immediate pressure on the Cyclones quarterback. He forced Jantz to throw high to receiver Chris Young,who was blanketed by cornerback Demontre Hurst on the play.

The way the Sooners shut down both drives and didn’t allow the turnovers to turn into touchdowns kept the momentum from completely switching to the Cyclones’ side.

Justin Brown’s 40-yard reception

The offense stepped on the field with 1:04 left in the first half, then showed absolutely no urgency after Brennan Clay’s five-yard run on first down. On the next play, the Sooners running back gained nine yards and ran out of bounds to stop the clock with 26 seconds left. Both plays were run out of OU’s three-back formation.

At that point, OU’s approach changed.

On the third play of the drive, the Sooners were in their four-receiver formation and Jones found Brown for 40 yards. Brown was the lone receiver on the right side of the formation and the Iowa State secondary shaded toward the three receivers on the left, giving Brown a one-on-one opportunity. The senior used superior ball skills to make the reception. Jones found receiver Kenny Stills on the next play for a 21-yard touchdown.

It’s a terrific sign for Brown moving forward because the play showed how much Jones trusted him to make a play. After throwing interceptions on back-to-back possessions, Jones was willing to risk another one while giving Brown a chance to make the play.

Just that quickly the interceptions -- and the momentum the Cyclones gained from them-- were forgotten.

Clay’s third-down conversion after ISU scored its first touchdown

Facing a third-and-1 at the ISU 32-yard line, OU didn’t go to the Belldozer. Instead, the Sooners had two running backs and three receivers in the formation. Solid blocks from tackle Tyrus Thompson and fullback Trey Millard secured the hole, then Clay ran over Cyclones safety Jacques Washington, who met him in the hole, right at the first-down marker.

Clay scored on an 18-yard touchdown run two plays later.

Clay’s conversion was critical because it was a swift and immediate answer after the Cyclones scored. The Sooners also sent a message with the drive, essentially running the ball down ISU’s throat with Clay recording 18-, 12- and eight-yard runs on the drive. Clay had five carries for 41 yards on the drive. His physical run for a first down on this play mirrored the entire drive, which was built upon physical domination by the Sooners offense.

This drive was also showed that OU can take a tough, physical running approach within its current offense system. The Sooners just need to show they can do it against anyone, anytime they want to. That hasn’t been the case this season, particularly in their losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame.