Jenni Carlson’s Best and Worst from OU’s victory against SMU include a flop of a flyover and a finish that should make Sooners everywhere happy.
NORMAN — There was lots to like on the field during the game Saturday night in Norman.
Lots to dislike on the field once the game was over.
Disgraced Baylor football coach Art Briles was on Owen Field at game’s end, a guest of his son-in-law and OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. How exactly Briles, who was wearing OU gear, landed a field pass is unclear, but according to a statement from OU athletic director Joe Castiglione, Briles’ presence on the field was unexpected.
“I was just as disappointed as many of our fans when I learned of the postgame situation tonight,” Castiglione said in a statement. “It shouldn’t have happened and it was my expectation it never would, based on boundaries we previously set.”
The whole thing was bad, bad, bad.
The worst of the worst.
The remainder of the Best and Worst from OU’s 28-11 victory over SMU is way less serious.
Best pregame moment: Seeing OU’s stadium striping come together. There were a few sections with outliers, but for the most part, a strong, strong striping effort. Well done, OU fans.
Worst pregame moment: The flyover. Many of you know that I’m a huge fan of the pregame flyover. It’s just so darn cool. But Saturday’s planes flew behind the press box, which meant a large portion of fans seated in the upper reaches of the west side couldn’t see the flyover. Total bummer.
Best player: Tawee Walker gets my vote, but since I wrote an entire column about the OU running back’s emergence, I’ll go with Danny Stutsman here. The Sooner linebacker had 17 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. He was aggressive and active. Frankly, he played the way OU has needed its linebackers to play for a long time.
Best play: OU’s first touchdown was nifty. SMU sent a blitz, overloading the left side of OU’s line. But Walter Rouse and Savion Byrd held their own long enough to give Dillon Gabriel time. The blitz left Andrel Anthony wide open, and the Sooner quarterback found him wide open for a 29-yard touchdown.
Worst play: A bunch of bad defensive penalties prolonged an SMU possession that ultimately ended with a touchdown and cut OU’s lead to 14-11 early in the fourth quarter. The worst of them? A sideline interference penalty called on the Sooner bench. After the game, OU coach Brent Venables identified himself as the guilty party. All these new staff members at OU, and the Sooners don’t have a get-back coach for Venables? Seems like a big oversight.
Best stat: 14-0. That’s how many points OU scored and allowed after SMU cut the lead to 14-11. Last season, the Sooners struggled to finish. (See: five losses by a touchdown or less.) But Saturday when they found their backs against the wally, they bowed up. The offense finished the game going touchdown, touchdown, end of game, while the defense went turnover on downs and interception. Impressive.
Worst stat: Nine for 88. OU had nine penalties for 88 yards. Bleck. That many penalties didn’t cost the Sooners against the Mustangs, but as opponents get better, so does the need to cut back the penalty yards. The Sooners aren’t trending the right way.
Best reason to feel good about this team: Playmakers are emerging on both sides of the ball. Tawee Walker and Andrel Anthony look like big-time skill players on offense while Danny Stutsman and Justin Harrington are doing great things on defense. A team doesn’t need stars to be good, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
Best reason to want to pack it in: Where is the pass rush? OU’s defensive front seemed to get more pressure as the night went on, but officially, it only recorded one sack and five quarterback hurries. SMU quarterback Preston Stone didn’t make OU pay as much as some other quarterbacks will, but still, he threw for 250 yards.
Worst speak: OU softball coach Patty Gasso and OU women’s gymnastics K.J. Kindler were on the field in the first half to be recognized for their teams’ national championships this past academic year. Softball won its third consecutive crown, women’s gymnastics its second consecutive. But Kindler was introduced as “K.J. Kind-ler,” instead of “Kihnd-ler.” She’s won six national titles — her name should be pronounced correctly.
Best speak: OU coach Brent Venables on Peyton Bowen, the freshman safety who had four tackles, one pass breakup and one punt block: “He’s just so innocent. He don’t know what he don’t know yet. But he makes plays, and he’s super coachable. I love his humility. He has no ego whatsoever, and that’s what’s going to allow him to become a great player.”