Berry’s OU report card: Sooner pass rush excels against Texas

Berry’s OU report card: Sooner pass rush excels against Texas

Berry Tramel: The Sooners overcame numerous disasterous fourth downs with the help of a relentless pass rush, three takeaways and Jeff Lebby's innovations.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Oct 7, 2023, 6:36pm CDT

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Oct 7, 2023, 6:36pm CDT

(Editor’s note: Sellout Crowd’s coverage of the Oklahoma-Texas game in Dallas is Sponsored by Modelo – The Official Beer of Fans with the Fighting Spirit (https://www.modelousa.com))

DALLAS — The 2023 OU-Texas game was another for the ages, with the Sooners winning 34-30 on Dillon Gabriel’s three-yard touchdown pass to Nic Anderson with 15 seconds left. OU didn’t play a perfect game, but the Sooners played hearty and earned a glittering report card.

Pass rush: A. The Sooners got after Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers. Pressure produced at least one of OU’s two first-quarter interceptions, and a hard hit by safety Peyton Bowen on a scrambling Ewers forced a fumble recovered by the Sooners. OU got sacks from Ethan Downs (two), Jaren Kanak, Jacob Lacey and Da’Jon Terry. Downs, P.J. Adebawore and Jordan Kelley each were credited with a quarterback hurry. Ewers had monster numbers – he completed 31 of 37 passes for 346 yards – but his three turnovers were huge factors in the game.

Line of scrimmage: B. The Longhorns reputedly had the edge in the trenches. Maybe that was true going in, and maybe it’s true coming out. But OU’s goal-line stand after UT had first-and-goal from the Sooner 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter makes up for a variety of sins. The Longhorns otherwise converted six of eight short-yardage situations. Meanwhile, OU converted just seven of 12 short-yardage plays. Texas played much of the game without injured center Jake Majors. OU played most of the fourth quarter without injured guard McKade Mettauer, who was replaced by true freshman Cayden Green. Texas gained 170 yards on 32 designed running plays (5.3 yards per play). OU gained 163 yards on 73 designed running plays, but 64 of those yards came on four quarterback draws.

Jeff Lebby: A. The OU offensive coordinator had his finest moment running the Sooner offense. Lebby had all kinds of innovations, including a two-back set that included a wide receiver — often Drake Stoops, out of which the Sooners scored two touchdowns and set up another. Lebby’s use of the quarterback draw mortally wounded the Longhorns.

Kicking game: D. Parts of the kicking game were disastrous. Texas blocked a punt recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Josh Plaster also shanked a 26-yard punt. Worse, Zach Schmit was alarmingly short on a 45-yard field-goal try that would have given the Sooners a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, UT’s Bret Auburn nailed three field goals, two from 45 and 47 yards, respectively. And Jalil Farooq’s long kickoff return off a reverse was negated by an illegal-forward pass penalty —  the pitch to Farooq was ruled forward. OU’s only redeeming special teams were the kickoff team; the Longhorns returned four kicks, none of which went past the 27-yard line and two were contained within the 20. 

Fourth downs: D. Texas gained 20 yards on Jordan Whittingham’s run off a fourth-and-5 fake punt. Ewers hit tight end Gunnar Helm with a 25-yard gain on a fourth-and-1. The Longhorns blocked a Sooner punt for a touchdown on a fourth-and-14. All in the first six minutes of the game. Fourth downs had nowhere to go but up for OU, but they didn’t go up much. Ewers threw a 22-yard TD pass to Helm on a fourth-and-1. OU’s Drake Stoops failed to grab a fourth-and-1 pass that was behind him. But the Sooners did cap off a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter when safety Billy Bowman quickly bulldogged Texas receiver Xavier Worthy to the ground, inches shy of the goal line, on a fourth-and-1 slant pattern.

Midfield logo: B. AT&T no longer sponsors Red River. Allstate is the title sponsor, so a new midfield logo was in order. The new logo is solid — a golden hat atop AllState RED RIVER RIVALRY, with a cool black background, and OU and Texas logos underneath.

Red zone: A. OU penetrated the Texas 20-yard line on six drives. The Sooners produced four touchdowns and two field goals out of those opportunities. The Longhorns penetrated the OU 20 on three drives. UT produced a lone field goal from those chances. Ballgame. In addition to the goal-line stand, the Sooners got an interception from Kendel Dolby when Bowman jarred tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders. OU defensive end Rondell Bothroyd made a big play limiting Texas to a field goal when he dropped Whittingham for a four-yard loss on a second-and-goal reverse.

 

Share with your crowd
Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • Feb 25, 2024; Stillwater, Okla, USA; Oklahoma State coach John Smith, left, and associate head coach Coleman Scott, right, react on the sidelines at a wrestling match against Iowa in Gallagher Iba Arena . Mandatory Credit: Mitch Alcala-The Oklahoman

    Lessons from Iowa loss: What should OSU’s postseason expectations be?

  • Oklahoma catcher Kinzie Hansen (9) rounds first for a double during an NCAA softball game between Oklahoma (OU) and Liberty on opening day of Oklahoma softball stadium Love's Field in Norman, Okla., on Friday, March 1, 2024.

    Love’s Field, Oklahoma’s new, $47.1 million ‘palace’, got the opening day it deserves

  • Miami infielder Jenna Golembiewski (2) celebrates hitting a home run during an NCAA softball game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Miami University on opening day of Oklahoma softball stadium Love's Field in Norman, Okla., on Friday, March 1, 2024.

    Meet Miami (Ohio) slugger Karli Spaid, the answer to an OU trivia question

  • Nov 19, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables speak before a game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports

    How Brent Venables and Mike Gundy play the portal game | Mind Games with Guerin Emig

  • Jan 4, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Mike Muscala (33) shoots a three point basket against Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

    Why the Thunder is bringing back sharp-shooting center Mike Muscala

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • Feb 25, 2024; Stillwater, Okla, USA; Oklahoma State coach John Smith, left, and associate head coach Coleman Scott, right, react on the sidelines at a wrestling match against Iowa in Gallagher Iba Arena . Mandatory Credit: Mitch Alcala-The Oklahoman

    Lessons from Iowa loss: What should OSU’s postseason expectations be?

  • Oklahoma catcher Kinzie Hansen (9) rounds first for a double during an NCAA softball game between Oklahoma (OU) and Liberty on opening day of Oklahoma softball stadium Love's Field in Norman, Okla., on Friday, March 1, 2024.

    Love’s Field, Oklahoma’s new, $47.1 million ‘palace’, got the opening day it deserves

  • Miami infielder Jenna Golembiewski (2) celebrates hitting a home run during an NCAA softball game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Miami University on opening day of Oklahoma softball stadium Love's Field in Norman, Okla., on Friday, March 1, 2024.

    Meet Miami (Ohio) slugger Karli Spaid, the answer to an OU trivia question

  • Nov 19, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables speak before a game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports

    How Brent Venables and Mike Gundy play the portal game | Mind Games with Guerin Emig

  • Jan 4, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Mike Muscala (33) shoots a three point basket against Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

    Why the Thunder is bringing back sharp-shooting center Mike Muscala