Sooners missed Mario Williams and Michael Woods
Kansas shocked the college football world by slowing down Oklahoma’s No.4 in the first half over the weekend in Lawrence, Kan.
In fact, the Jayhawks kept OU scoreless until halftime. It was the first time the Sooners had been shut out in the first half since Lincoln Riley became head coach and since the 2014 season.
It was also the first time in 32 straight games that Oklahoma had failed to score in the first quarter. That ended the Sooners’ best FBS streak in this department.
Oklahoma’s first-half possessions against Kansas went like this: five games and a punt in the first set. Caleb Williams was intercepted on the third snap of second possession. Then Oklahoma turned it around on the Kansas 33-yard line after nine games in the third and final offensive series.
Basically it was a mess. Williams completed just 6 of 9 passes for 71 yards and he was intercepted by Ricky Thomas Jr. of Kansas.
As a team, Oklahoma was dominated by Kansas in the first half 195-78. The Jayhawks chewed up the time in the first half and made 39 offensive games against 17 for Oklahoma.
At first glance, first-year wide receiver Mario Williams and senior winger Michael Woods missing the Kansas game with injury wouldn’t have seemed a big concern. After all, it’s KU who ranks 123rd nationally for total defense and 127th for scorer defense.
It didn’t turn out that way. Oklahoma seemed to have missed both Williams and Woods as the Sooners’ passing game was never completely on track.
Williams threw a few touchdown passes after halftime, a five-yard wide receiver Jadon Haselwood and an eight-yard redshirt Jeremiah Hall, senior H back.
Still, he only managed 178 yards. It was Williams’ lowest passing mark since taking over as quarterback.
Junior running back Eric Gray actually finished as Oklahoma’s main receiver with three receptions for 42 yards. A week after his three touchdown performance against TCU, Haselwood only scored all three receptions for 38 yards.
Junior wide receiver Drake Stoops had three catches for 30 yards and sophomore Marvin Mims and rookie Jalil Farooq each had one catch for a total of 19 receiving yards.
The OU’s wide receivers caught a total of eight assists. According to Pro Football Focus, Sooner’s wide receivers were only targeted ten times in the game.
When asked about Oklahoma’s slow start against Kansas, Kennedy Brooks was transparent with his thoughts immediately after the game against the Jayhawks.
âI mean, honestly, we just played down our opponent. We try to fight for our standard and play hard for four quarters and we didn’t do it today, so we just have to get back to work. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday for practice and just work and just strive to get there, âBrooks said.
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was pleased with his team’s reaction after halftime, but was disappointed that the 35-23 win over Kansas represented another game where OU didn’t. managed to organize for four shifts.
âObviously, proud of the victory and our fight in the second half. Not thrilled with the way we played in the first half. Just really bad football in the first half, âsaid Riley.
“So we obviously had to bow in the second half and we did,” Riley continued. âWe played better on all three sides in the second half. I give our team the credit for having risen. Again, I don’t care who you play, if you don’t get your momentum going at the start of a road soccer game you’re going to be in an aerial fight and we have been. I think Kansas deserves a lot of credit. They made some very beautiful pieces. I thought they were very effective offensively, that they did a few things that obviously gave us problems and that they had a good plan.
While there are staff on both sides of football, that’s what Riley said next about this Oklahoma football team that really resonated with who and what OU is right now.
âFor this team, we have understood our personality a little. Our personality is that we can finish with the best of them, but it’s frustrating for us how much position we get, I think, especially not playing our best early in the game, where we are. have to finish, âRiley said.
Riley added, âWe have to finish all the time, but where we have to finish well to win games. We will continue to fight with this. We had a good visit there right after the game. I think our guys know what we need to do, but it’s time for us to start, you know, close the gaps and play a little better here and more consistent. This is what it is. We are still a very competent football team. There is no doubt about it and we will be delighted to have the chance to get some guys back.
âIt has to be our spark here, it’s a combination of recovery from some of these guys. We’re obviously pretty thin in a lot of areas today. We have to get guys back. The guys who play have to play at a high level. We have to train at a high level. Our time is when we don’t play well, it’s near, but we’re tired of being close. We have to push him overboard. We come back here half the season. This is the time when we have to do it. Once again, proud of the victory, don’t take them for granted, know that we have to be much better.
Riley summed up his quarterback Caleb Williams’ play against Kansas and it reflected the team’s day overall.
âHe didn’t play very well in the first half. I thought more than anything that there was probably a little bit of frustration when we didn’tâ¦ you know, had few possessions, didn’t play well. Especially the interception, I mean we have a back that stays wide open in the flat, âsaid Riley.
âHe has to be a little calmer there, but he did it, he handled the second half well. I think he figured out what we were doing, obviously made some important plays, I thought it was pretty quiet in the second half and definitely more settled.
There was no injury update to Williams and Woods’ status after the win over Kansas. Hopefully Oklahoma gets some good news on the two soon as their absences matched the worst offensive first half of the Lincoln Riley era.
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