Yesterday’s dominant win over the Florida Atlantic Owls showcased just how much talent remains at Oklahoma in the post-Baker Mayfield era.
With so many sexy box scores and a plethora of players who participated in the contest, why not take a dive into the interesting, the weird or the off-the-wall numbers and factoids.
Kyler Murray’s Debut Compared to Other Sooner QB Debuts
Murray only played until the 4:17 mark of the second quarter when he found Marquise Brown for a 65-yard touchdown. Six drives resulting in five touchdowns with a 53-yard missed field goal the only scoreless campaign. The new Sooner quarterback finished nine completions on 11 attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
Not the most explosive debut, but it was efficient. Murray even brought his running ability to the forefront, rushing for 23 yards on four attempts.
Everyone will remember this one though:
Where does this debut rank among other Sooner quarterbacks? Will only include the first game each player started.
Cale Gundy (10/20/1990) – Completed 10 of 16 passes for 113 yards and 1 interception in a 33-31 loss to Iowa State.
Josh Heupel (9/11/1999) – Completed 32 of 41 passes for 353 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception in a 49-0 win over Indiana State.
Jason White (10/20/2001) – Completed 32 of 44 passes for 343 yards and 1 touchdown in a 33-17 win over Baylor.
Sam Bradford (9/1/2007) – Completed 21 of 23 passes for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 79-10 win over North Texas.
Baker Mayfield (9/5/2015) – Completed 23 of 33 passes for 388 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 41-3 win over Akron.
Make Special Teams Special Again
Much has been written, Facebooked and Tweeted about the disappearance of Oklahoma’s special teams in recent years. Outside of a few timely Jalen Saunders punt returns in Bedlam, and some other stand-alone examples, Sooner special teams have been quite average. It seems that ever since Reggie Smith’s muffed punt in Boulder, Colorado in 2007, Oklahoma opted to make special teams a bridge to the offense/defense rather than an equal third of the three-phased equation that makes up a football team.
Yesterday’s blocked punt for a touchdown was the first score after a block since 2002 (also their first blocked punt since 2013 against Kansas) in a 60-15 win over Texas Tech. 2002 featured another punt return for a touchdown a few weeks earlier when Seneca Wallace’s Heisman campaign came to die at Owen Field.
Ever since 2008, it seems that the lack of special in the special teams have come back to bite Oklahoma more times than not. While special teams cannot be counted on every week to win you a football game, it certainly helps your chances when it becomes a point of emphasis. Conservative play calling on punt coverage, field goal coverage and kickoffs/punts have doomed the Sooners in multiple big games. (If you didn’t see, each individual word is a separate link at the beginning of the paragraph)
After last year’s Rose Bowl, Lincoln Riley emphasized special teams as something Oklahoma needed to be better at. Assistant coach Jay Boulware and new addition to the staff Shane Beamer wasted no time in showing that Riley’s emphasis was heard throughout the team.
Random Lincoln Riley Greatness Stat
Everyone knows Riley is a wizard when it concerns scoring the football. Game one of the 2018 season showed that in bunches despite the Sooners going vanilla late in the second-quarter.
According to the game notes from SoonerSports.com, the FAU game became the 10th-time since 2015 that a Lincoln Riley offense has rushed for over 300 yards — they ended up with 316 yards. This was Riley’s 41st game as the primary play caller for Oklahoma.
Let’s put that in perspective.
Barry Switzer became the Sooner’s offensive coordinator in 1966 for head coach Chuck Fairbanks. It would be 49 games from the opener against Oregon in ’66 until Kansas in 1970 that a Switzer-led offense rushed for over 300 yards 10 times.
But let’s cut the King some slack. The Wishbone wasn’t installed until the 1970 season when Fairbanks famously allowed Switzer to change their pro-style attack to the wishbone two weeks prior to the annual Texas game in Dallas. Once the ‘bone was installed, it took the Sooners only 16 games to reach 10 300-yard rushing performances.
Of course, since we made a caveat for Switzer, we might as well do the same for Riley.
In those 16 games from 1970-71, Switzer’s Sooners passed the ball for a grand total of 1272 yards. In Riley’s first four games as the offensive coordinator in 2015, the Sooners passed for 1433 yards. Last season, the Sooners went on a three-game stretch from October 28th to November 11th which saw Oklahoma pass for 1212 yards.
Riley showing that times continue to change but that tradition still reigns supreme at Oklahoma.
Watch This Video
Madysson Morris and I had a little pregame fun. For those that aren’t fortunate enough to be in Norman for a game day, here is a little taste: