Sellout’s rapid reaction to Oklahoma’s 66-17 victory in Tulsa

Sellout’s rapid reaction to Oklahoma’s 66-17 victory in Tulsa

OU needed a definitive performance headed into Big 12 play and got one Saturday in Tulsa.

Mike Sherman

By Mike Sherman

| Sep 16, 2023, 6:02pm CDT

Mike Sherman

By Mike Sherman

Sep 16, 2023, 6:02pm CDT

TULSA  — Here’s the Sellout Crowd’s rapid reaction from the Sooners’ big win Saturday.

Interceptions make for a rout 66

Berry Tramel: Tulsa coach Kevin Wilson did his old pal Brent Venables a big solid Saturday in what became a 66-17 Sooner victory at Chapman Stadium. Wilson didn’t insert quarterback Cardell Williams until the second quarter.

Williams is suffering from a hand injury, and with opening-day TU starter Braylon Braxton sidelined by an ankle injury, the Golden Hurricane resorted to third-teamer Roman Fuller.

It did not go well. Fuller threw three first-quarter interceptions, the Sooners zoomed to a 28-0 lead and the rout was on.

Then Wilson decided Williams was OK to play after all, and the redshirt freshman from Houston came on and started throwing the ball to blue-shirted teammates instead of white-shirted Sooners. Williams took TU on two long touchdown drives, then within two yards of yet another TD to open the third quarter. The Hurricane settled for a field goal, but the Sooners were sufficiently sweating, with Tulsa within 38-17.

All of a sudden, OU’s defense looked a little shaky heading to Cincinnati, which has impressed enough to make Fox declare its Big Noon Kickoff Show will set up shop on the Bearcat campus next week.

Then the Sooner defense stiffened and started bothering Williams. Safety Key Lawrence intercepted a Williams deep ball, then defensive end Trace Ford picked off a screen pass, and OU’s defense regained its control. But those three straight impressive drives by the outmanned Golden Hurricane gave the Sooners plenty to shore up as they head to the Queen City next week.

The Sooner offense was in fabulous gear all game, with Dillon Gabriel’s numbers ridiculous — 28 of 31 passing, 421 yards, five touchdowns. Gabriel had three 100-yard receivers. 

But Williams carved up the OU defense enough to make you wonder how Cincinnati – short on interior strength but long on playmakers — will fare in the Bearcats’ historic first conference game as Big 12 members.

Sooners take care of business early

Eli Lederman: The Sooners let an AAC opponent hang into the early minutes of the fourth quarter in Week 2. They didn’t let similar questions linger Saturday. OU was all over the Golden Hurricane from Minute 1 in front of the capacity crowd and led 35-7 by the 9:32 mark of the second quarter with help from Danny Stutsman’s pick-six and Dillon Gabriel’s four first-half touchdowns. 

There was nothing timid about it, either. The Sooners attacked Tulsa downfield over and over. The trio of first-half interceptions courtesy of Stutsman, Gentry Williams and Kendel Dolby helped OU maintain the distance and forced Kevin Wilson to swap Roman Fuller for a less-than-100% Cardell Williams under center.

The Sooners needed a definitive performance before diving into Big 12 play. They delivered one and did it early. 

Play time is over

Guerin Emig: The Sooners scheduled two cream puffs and a Group of Five opponent for their 2023 nonconference. Whatever happened against Arkansas State, SMU and Tulsa, however those three final scores registered, this was always going to be a self-evaluation for Brent Venables. He needed to feel much better about this team than the one that limped home 6-7 last year, the one that gave fans a false sense of hope by starting 3-0 against two cream puffs and lousy Power Five opponent Nebraska. 

Here’s how that stacks up exiting Saturday’s toying with Tulsa…

Gabriel looks crisper than he did his first year as OU quarterback, but keep in mind he had 96 passing yards through three quarters against SMU. The more encouraging difference in this OU passing game isn’t the thrower but the catchers. Gabriel has more receivers making competitive one-on-one catches than he did last season, and doing so more often. 

This becomes more important considering the Sooners rushed for 312 yards in their third game a year ago, when Eric Gray, Jovantae Barnes and OU’s offensive line controlled Nebraska’s defensive front. The Sooners hardly controlled Tulsa’s front Saturday, and didn’t consistently move SMU’s front last week until the fourth quarter.

Big 12 defenses are bigger and stronger than what OU has experienced thus far. Gray has gone pro. That leaves Gabriel and his receivers with a lot of responsibility ahead. 

The Sooners got some takeaways at Tulsa. They eventually mustered a pass rush to affect TU quarterback Cardell Williams. They tackled well. They rotated in reserves without a widespread dropoff. 

Again, though, fairer fights are coming, beginning next week in the Big 12 opener at Cincinnati. Emory Jones is a more talented quarterback and Corey Kiner a more productive running back than anyone the Sooners have defended. 

Like with the offense, stay tuned.

Big offensive shots build confidence entering Big 12 play

Jenni Carlson: Lots to like from the Sooners. Not perfect, but OU looks like a team ready to start Big 12 play.

Here are three things I liked about OU’s performance at Tulsa:

*Offensive shots. I know there was a lot of hand-wringing by Sooner fans over how vanilla the OU offense was a week ago. That changed at Tulsa. A couple of big plays opened the game, and it was just the beginning I didn’t get too hung up on the Sooners not stretching the field against SMU. You don’t want to show every card in your hand before conference play starts. Hold a few things back. But getting a few downfield shots against Tulsa will help the confidence as Big 12 play begins.

*Danny Stutsman: OK, OK, I’ll admit I’ve had reservations about the Sooner linebacker. Could he take big enough steps to truly be a leader and a difference-makerBut through three games, he’s shown himself capable, stacking one good game on top of the other. His first-quarter interception and return for a touchdown was big time. He read the route perfectly, stepping into the lane and snagging the pass so cleanly that you’d have thought it was intended for him. Then Stutsman showed his speed, beating would-be tacklers to the end zone.

*Bob Stoops in the radio booth: I know the legendary Sooner coach is part of the Sellout Crowd team, but if you haven’t had a chance to listen to him with the radio crew during games, check it out. I heard him for the first time in the car on the way to Stillwater for OSU’s game, and Stoops was honest and open and funny. He happened to be in the box when son Drake caught his second touchdown pass of the day.

“Touchdown for Bob’s boy!” Sooner play-by-play man Toby Rowland exclaimed.

“That’s Carol’s son,” Stoops replied.

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Mike Sherman is the director of content for Sellout Crowd. He spent the majority of his 39 years in journalism at The Oklahoman, first as a sportswriter and then as the sports editor. His staff routinely produced award-winning coverage of the Sooners, Cowboys, Thunder, high school sports and major events. Mike is a past president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. His career includes tenures as the sports editor with the Tampa Bay Times and Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch, an assistant city editor with The Tennessean in Nashville and a reporter for the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa. More recently, he spent three years as executive editor for Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit investigative news organization in Oklahoma City. Mike and his wife, Cathleen, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they raised four children. Email Mike at mikesherman@selloutcrowd. Follow him at @MikeSherman on X/Twitter.

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