First off, this game was epic. Not only was it epic, it was determined by only a couple of plays. Had the plays gone in the other team's favor, the results would have been different. Congratulations to the Oklahoma Sooners for having a terrific gameplan coming into this match. They added new wrinkles that OSU hadn't seen yet from them and for the most part, it kept the OSU offense and defense (particularly the offense) in check for most of the game. And without being too much of a homer, I have to give it up to the OSU players that played with an immense amount of heart and determination. They were dominated in most stats but they stayed in this game up until the very end because they refused to give up. They weren't afraid of the sticker on the side of the helmet and that is more than I can say for OSU teams of the past. With all of this said, there was a lot more than went wrong than what went right for OSU. So let's get to the recap and figure out exactly how OSU lost this winnable game.
I have one stat for you and it is all you need to see. Kendall Hunter: 55 yards on 13 attempts. What. The. Fuck. Thirteen attempts? Are you kidding me? This is one of the best (if not the best) backs in the nation and he only carried the ball 13 times all game? In fact OSU only rushed the ball 23 times and that is usually Kendall's average by himself. For some reason, Holgorsen decided to completely abandon the run and it absolutely killed the offense (especially in the first half). OSU only completed 5 of 15 third downs. That won't get it done. And a lot of that had to do with the fact that OSU was staring at 3rd and long instead of 3rd and 2 because they decided to throw on both first and second down.
The offensive line was getting beaten up because the play calling became predictable. Blackmon couldn't stretch the field like he usually can because of his bum ankle. The offense wasn't running the ball so OU brought pressure from everywhere...and I mean everywhere. Twists, stunts, corner blitzes, etc. They threw it all in there. The O-line did the best they could (they didn't allow a single sack) but Weeden was pressured constantly and what resulted was a ridiculous amount of three and outs and three interceptions.
Sprinkle in some dropped passes and not-so-great clock management and there you go. A subpar offensive output. I don't care what you see in front of you, Holgorsen. You have to run the ball against the Sooners. If you let them make you one dimensional, the game is over...especially when the passing game isn't working very well in the first place.
The defense played as well as could be expected...up until the final two series of the game. Then what happened was about as shocking as anything I have seen all year long. The worst two defensive breakdowns back to back. Let's start with some positives though and then get back to that.
Shaun Lewis is going to be the best linebacker that has ever played at OSU. The kid is just a stud. Plain and simple. How many true freshmen linebackers are good enough to see a route coming, jump it, make the INT and take it 50 yards for a touchdown....against OU? While everyone in the stadium was cheering, I stood there staring in disbelief. He finished with 12 tackles, 11 of which were solo, 1 for a loss, and two interceptions. He was extremely fast to the edge all game long and hit hard at point of contact. That kid is going pro.
Brodrick Brown had a solid game with a hand in two interceptions (it should have been three but we'll get back to that). Shaun Lewis's second INT was due to the circus acrobatics of Brown. Watch the video. If that doesn't make you tingly in the private area, then you're a plant. His coverage downfield (for all but one play--again, we'll get to that in a second) was also pretty solid as well.
Orie Lemon had his usual game. Twelve solo tackles. He anchored the defense and many times was the difference between a 5 yard gain and a 10 yard gain.
Ok, let's get talk about the two horrible defensive stands late in the 4th quarter. Simply put, they shouldn't have happened. First of all, Brodrick Brown should have caught the INT that went right through his arms on the long pass attempt to Ryan Broyles. If that happened, I may be writing a celebratory article instead of a defeated one. To make matters worse, Brown then botched his assignment on the next play by taking a bad angle on the pursuit and what resulted was a 80 yard touchdown. My opinion of Brodrick Brown in this game is very hot and cold. He did a couple of really incredible things and then followed it up by incredibly stupid things. Finally, the play action fake. First off, great call. OSU thought run the whole way. But even then, somebody has to be accountable for backfield. In this instance, two OSU players miscommunicated and thought the other was supposed to play back. In result, OSU was burned for the second consecutive time. Heartbreaking especially since Justin Gilbert just returned a kickoff for a touchdown that renewed OSU's hopes.
Those three instances pretty much sealed OSU's fate. It just goes to show that you can play great for most of a game but if you let up or make stupid mistakes just a few times, the rest doesn't matter.
I find it so utterly ironic that the players that made such huge plays in this game were also responsible for the most ridiculous errors. Justin Gilbert, I'm looking at you. Rule number one when trying to block a punt: DO NOT LEAVE THE GROUND! Sure enough, he jumped, couldn't control his flight and fell right into the kicker. Negate the punt, first down Sooners, eventual touchdown.
On the other side, the stadium is shelled into silence. Hope is lost. The Sooners just scored on an unbelieveable 80 yard play late in the 4th. The game is all but over...until....a true freshman put on his Flash costume and ran back one of the most clutch returns I have ever seen. My gosh, Gilbert has speed. When he shot through the gap, I was convinced that his body was turned nearly at a 45 degree angle to the turf and the only thing keeping him up was his pure velocity. Redemption for his earlier play was his. The stadium roared. Hearts sang. And it was all a part of one of the most epic games I have ever seen.