Sooners Get Complete Performance From All Parties Against Tech
NORMAN, Oklahoma - There will be plenty of time to examine what the loss of Trey Millard means to the Oklahoma Sooners.
It's painfully obvious it will be tough for the Sooners to recover from this loss. It prevented them from being able to freely celebrate a fantastic win, one in which it appeared the offense finally found the identity it had been looking for all season.
But recover they must, and there's a way—albeit, not an easy one—for the Sooners to do that: have a complete performance like they did against Texas Tech Saturday night.
In the Sooners' 38-30 win over the Red Raiders, everyone contributed in some way. There was Blake Bell, the oft-questioned quarterback, throwing darts to his receivers and powering through defenders on the ground. There was Jalen Saunders, who had just seven catches for 65 yards in the two games prior to this, but broke out with six catches for 153 and two scores in the first half alone.
There was Damien Williams and the rest of the OU backfield dominating the Red Raiders on the ground to the tune of 277 yards and three scores. It was a different back on each drive in the second half, with Williams carrying for 72 yards on the opening drive of the second half and Roy Finch carrying for 40 of the 58 yards on the Sooners' final touchdown drive.
Then there was the Oklahoma defense, which once again delivered an impressive performance despite losing another starter to injury. Linebacker Frank Shannon went out in the first quarter and didn't return, leaving true freshmen Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander to man the middle of the Sooners' defense. It wasn't a perfect performance by the Sooners, but they held the Red Raiders below their season averages in total yards, points, passing yards and even rushing yards, even though the Red Raiders came in averaging just 131 yards on the ground.
It was as complete a team effort as we've seen from the Sooners this season, arguably more impressive than the Sooners' win over Notre Dame earlier this season (that is, if you consider Texas Tech better than the Fighting Irish).
Aristotle said the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Sooners proved that bit of wisdom to be quite true on Saturday. There's a lot of talent all over the field for OU, but when it's all working together like it was against Texas Tech, it's an impressive sight. In fact, the Sooners are a pretty good football team, believe it or not.
The problem is, we've only seen that team twice this year and if the Sooners want to win a Big 12 championship, they'll have to figure out how to be that team more often than every fourth game. Nov. 7 at Baylor would be a great place for that team to show up, especially on defense, because the Bears have simply shredded everyone they've faced this season.
Can the Sooners beat Baylor? Sure; nothing is impossible. However, the team that played Kansas would lose by about 40 and the team that lost to Texas would probably lose by 50. The team that beat Texas Tech and Notre Dame has to show up in Waco or else the Sooners won't have a chance.
It will be hard to replicate this performance without Millard in the lineup because Millard plays such an important role in the Sooners' run success. Without him, Aaron Ripkowski and someone else have to step up to pave the way for the OU tailbacks and Bell.
Recovery isn't easy, but continuing to play like the Sooners played on Saturday will certainly ease the pain.