Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Oklahoma at the quarter pole
By Brandon Chatmon
Oklahoma is off to a terrific start with wins over Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa to start the season. Yet, what do we really know about the Sooners? OU can silence its doubters with a win against Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday.
Corey Nelson and the Oklahoma linebackers have played a big role in the Sooners' defensive success through three games.
Best game: OU’s 51-20 win over Tulsa on Sept. 14 was the first time the Sooners looked like a team that could win a Big 12 title. Blake Bell brought superb play to the quarterback position, the offense was relatively balanced and the defense continued to look like a much better unit than 2012. Bell’s record-setting 413-yard, four-touchdown performance took the Sooners’ offense and the squad as a whole to another level.
Best player: Corey Nelson. Before the season began, All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin was touting Nelson as the Sooners’ potential breakout player. The senior linebacker hasn’t disappointed through three games, leading the squad with 20 tackles including three tackles for loss, three pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and one sack. He has been all over the field for Mike Stoops’ defense.
Best performance: No player has had a better individual performance than Bell did during his first collegiate start. He was poised, accurate, confident and efficient. Before he took the first snap against Tulsa, there were questions abound about his ability to throw the ball due to his success as OU’s short-yardage runner during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Those questions have disappeared since his Sept. 14 performance.
Best surprise:Charles Tapper. The sophomore defensive end has come into his own and will be a force to reckon with during his OU career. He has brought, strength, quickness, athleticism and relentlessness to the Sooners’ defensive front while leading all defensive linemen with 14 tackles, two quarterback hurries and half-a-sack. If he consistently wins his one-on-one battles during Big 12 play, it opens up all kinds of possibilities for Stoops’ blitz schemes.
Biggest disappointment:Damien Williams. The senior running back was expected to be a major part of the Sooners' offense but hasn’t been a difference maker so far. Brennan Clay has replaced him as the Sooners’ feature back while Williams’ 4.35 yards per carry is fourth on the squad behind Clay (5.8), Roy Finch (7.3) and Keith Ford (6). If he hopes to match preseason expectations, Williams have to turn things around quickly because OU’s depth at running back makes it unlikely he will be missed if he doesn’t.