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Roundtable: Three thoughts on OU-UTEP

9/2/2012

After Oklahoma's game every week this season, the SoonerNation staff will look at the most impressive thing from the game, the biggest concern from the game and an interesting storyline moving forward.

On Oklahoma's 24-7 win over UTEP:

Jake Trotter:

• The most impressive thing from OU’s 24-7 win over UTEP was the secondary. The Sooners gave up some yards on the ground. But they gave up almost nothing through the air, holding UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison to 39 yards passing on 23 attempts. Cornerbacks Aaron Colvin and Demontre Hurst were stingy in coverage, and safeties Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris were aggressive without letting anything get behind them. The secondary has the potential to be the strength of this team, and they sure looked like it Saturday.

• The biggest concern is the running game. Yes, the Sooners finished with 205 yards on the ground, but most of that came in the fourth quarter after the UTEP defense got worn down. For the Sooners to resemble an offensive juggernaut, they have to run the ball more consistently. And you better believe they’ll face tougher run defenses than UTEP’s.

• The most interesting storyline going forward is how quickly the newcomers at receiver can assimilate into the passing game. Landry Jones looked out of sync with his new targets, Penn State transfer Justin Brown and true freshman Trey Metoyer. Both players have big-play potential and figure to make this offense more dangerous once they get more comfortable in the scheme.

Brandon Chatmon:

• The most impressive thing from the Sooners' 24-7 win over UTEP was their pass defense. OU allowed 48 passing yards as Miners quarterback Nick Lamaison finished 6 of 23 for 39 yards and was sacked twice. Poor numbers for a player who had eyes on outplaying Landry Jones on Saturday. While the Sooners allowed 207 rushing yards, OU's defense didn't allow a point, thanks in large part to its pass rush and secondary. The Miners were 3-of-16 on third-down conversion attempts, which speaks to quality pass defense.

• The biggest concern after the season opener should be OU's special teams. The Sooners allowed a blocked punt to be returned for a touchdown and nearly had a blocked field goal returned for another score. And you can't blame youth because there were several veterans on those special-teams units. Special teams can often be the difference in big games so OU needs to shore up those units in a hurry.

• The most interesting storyline moving forward for the Sooners is their passing attack. The Sooners never really got into a rhythm and their offensive line deserves a share of the blame. Jones never seemed comfortable and confident in his receivers and had to move around in the pocket a lot more than most would have anticipated against the Miners. Don't be surprised if there are some changes for OU's offense -- winning a starting job out of preseason camp doesn't mean you've secured your starting spot. The competition never stops. And, based on Saturday night, it shouldn't.

Bob Przybylo:

• The most impressive thing from OU's victory was Kenny Stills. All during preseason camp, people have wondered how Stills would react to being the new No. 1 wide receiver. If he has more games like Saturday, they won't have to question him anymore. He had six catches for 121 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown reception in the first half. But it was more than that. It was his attitude on the field. He looked sharp, looked ready and wasn't tentative at all. The OU passing game certainly wasn't clicking on all cylinders against UTEP, but Stills was a bright spot.

• The biggest concern moving forward has to be the middle of the defense. UTEP running back Nathan Jeffery torched the defense for 177 yards on 21 carries. Is OU's run defense that bad or is Jeffery that good? The obvious answer is a little of both, but Jeffery had a lot of success simply running straight up the middle against the Sooners. Tony Jefferson (10) and Javon Harris (8) led the team in tackles, primarily because Jeffery was able to get to the second level of the defense.

• The most interesting storyline moving forward is running back Damien Williams. In the second half, the junior college product didn't look like a running back playing in his first big-time college football game. He was comfortable and punctuated a solid debut with a 65-yard touchdown run to give the Sooners more breathing room against the Miners. Williams finished with 104 yards on nine carries. It's not that Dominique Whaley had an off game, but Williams should definitely see more touches moving forward if he keeps playing like he did Saturday.