Advanced metrics that stood out in Oklahoma’s 73-0 rout

Advanced metrics that stood out in Oklahoma’s 73-0 rout

Eli Lederman: Many of the Week 1 takeaways should be taken with a grain of salt. Not these.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Sep 4, 2023, 2:27pm CDT

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Sep 4, 2023, 2:27pm CDT

The information at Pro Football Focus is no tell-all. 

But there is plenty to be learned from the exhaustive data and advanced metrics the service keeps on all 133 Division 1 FBS programs. We’ll try to do that each week diving into the numbers on the Sooners.

These are the notes that jumped out to me from Oklahoma’s 73-0 win over Arkansas State Saturday afternoon:

QBs dominate middle of the field: Many of the Week 1 takeaways should be taken with a grain of salt given the ease with which the Sooners tore through Arkansas State. 

“I thought they out-athleted us,” Red Wolves coach Butch Jones termed it afterward. “The speed differential is the most glaring I’ve seen in my career.”

But opponent aside, OU passers controlled the middle of the field to striking degree Saturday.

A shade under 50% of Dillon Gabriel’s 19 first-half completions came between the numbers accounting for 161 of his 308 passing yards before he exited the game at halftime. Gabriel went 5-for-5 on passes in the middle within 10 yards and 3-for-3 on those same passes inside 10-20 yards.

His 45-yard connection with Andrel Anthony marked Gabriel’s deep throw (20 yards-plus) over the middle.

Behind Gabriel, freshman Jackson Arnold picked up right where the veteran starter left off. From his 11 completions, Arnold went 7-for-7 over the middle for 77 yards in his debut.

All told, OU passers shredded Arkansas State in the middle of the field to the tune of 16 completions on 16 attempts for 238 yards without a single incomplete pass. That’ll do.

Raym and Mettauer locked in: These early weeks are meant for rotation. It’s why the Sooners played 15 different offensive linemen in Week 1.

But it’s worth noting those who saw the most time among OU’s first teamers and no one outside of Gabriel played more offensive snaps before halftime than center Andrew Raym and right guard McKade Mettauer.

These offensive lineman were out there for all 54 snaps before the reserves trickled in after halftime. The duo now shares 60 career starts between them as two of the most seasoned members on the Sooners’ starting unit up front alongside left tackle Walter Rouse (40 career starts).

The experience Raym and Mettauer carry is one of the assets of this OU offensive line in 2023. They got off to a good start next to each other on the right side of the unit in Week 1. 

Stogner and Smith in the run game: It was a quiet opener through the air for the Sooners’ tight ends. Austin Stogner wasn’t targeted once. Texas A&M transfer Blake Smith caught one pass for 28 yards.

But both were well-used and got similar opportunities to deliver in the run game.

Stogner took 17 snaps in run blocking situations while Smith was in for 14 run plays as OU continues to keep its tight ends involved in run blocking situations under offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

Stogner projects as the more likely threat in the passing game. Smith better fits into the second tight end role Daniel Parker filled a year ago, primarily in blocking situations. 

On Saturday, they got equal chances in the run game.

Defensive snap counts: Only five Sooners defenders played more than 25 snaps in Week 1.

Texas Tech transfer safety Reggie Pearson led all OU defenders appearing for 31 plays in his Sooners debut. Justin Harrington, who got the start in the cheetah linebacker spot, came in behind him at 28 snaps. Elsewhere on the back end, Woodi Washington led all OU cornerbacks with his 27 snaps.

Sophomore linebacker Jaren Kanak and Wake Forest transfer pass rusher Rondell Bothroyd played 26 snaps each. 

Rotation on the defensive line: We heard about the Sooners’ depth on the defensive line all summer. They made use of it against the Red Wolves.

All told, 18 different defensive linemen rotated in up front in Week 1 with Bothroyd pacing the unit. After Bothroyd on the edge, Ethan Downs (19 snaps) and Trace Ford (18) led the way ahead of Marcus Stripling (13), Adepoju Adebawore (11), Reggie Grimes (11) and Taylor Wein (4). 

In the middle, Jordan Kelley was OU’s most-utilized at 14 snaps followed by Da’Jon Terry (13), Jonah Laulu (13), Kelvin Gilliam (11), Isaiah Coe (10), Gracen Halton (10), Ashton Sanders (6), Davon Sears (5), Marcus Strong (4) and Phil Paea (2).

Bowen leads the first-year newcomers: Two freshmen saw more snaps than Arnold in the opener: wide receiver Jaquaize Pettaway (39) and offensive tackle Cayden Green (38). In an encouraging sign for the Sooners’ tight end depth, Kade McIntyre was on the field for 19 plays.

Freshman Peyton Bowen helped create OU’s first forced turnover of 2023 and played 24 snaps — more than any other first-year defender — in a promising debut from the five-star safety.

Mustang’s Jacobe Johnson was the next most active defensive back appearing on 14 plays. Of note for the depth at linebacker, freshmen Lewis Carter and Samuel Omosigho each took 11 snaps in Week 1.

 

 

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at [email protected].

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