Among College Football Playoff contenders, this flaw may keep the Sooners from greatness

·3 min read

It’s been a rough start to the season for the Oklahoma Sooners offense. Sure, they scored 76 against Western Carolina and 40 against Tulane, but a deeper look at the game against the Green Wave reveals some deeper issues.

The Sooners settled for five field goals against Tulane. Even in a 23 point second quarter, the Sooners couldn’t always capitalize on short fields provided by the defense. Against Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Sooners struggled after an incredible 14-play drive to start the game.

The Sooners still have a lot to prove when heading into a tough matchup with a stout West Virginia defense. Paul Myerburg of USA TODAY Sports took a look at each of the College Football Playoff contenders to identify the fatal flaw that could create some difficulties as these teams get into the heart of the schedule.

For the Oklahoma Sooners, if it isn’t evident by now, the passing game has been a significant issue.

Spencer Rattler had five touchdowns and no interceptions in Oklahoma’s 76-0 rout of Western Carolina but has been pedestrian in the Sooners’ sloppy, borderline troubling wins as heavy favorites against Tulane and Nebraska. In those two games against the FBS, Rattler is averaging 7.1 yards per throw — a full two yards below his average against FBS teams a year ago — with just two touchdowns and two interceptions, erasing the early-season hype around his push for the Heisman Trophy. – Myerburg

Rattler’s struggles have been well documented this week here at the Sooners Wire as well as other publications, but it’s always interesting to get a national perspective as well. Rattler, to his credit, owned the inconsistencies of the offense and vowed to be better as Oklahoma enters Big 12 play.

Myerburg also understands there’s context to the discussion focused on the Oklahoma Sooners starting quarterback.

Some blame can be attributed to an offensive line that hasn’t bulldozed opponents and reliably opened up lanes for Kennedy Brooks and Tennessee transfer Eric Gray, which has allowed defenses to exploit Rattler’s eagerness to make the splash throw instead of opting for safe plays that can extend drives, frustrate defenses and open up the full swath of coach Lincoln Riley’s playbook. Sometimes for better but not infrequently for worse, confidence has never been an issue for Rattler. – Myerburg

The running game has been pretty good, and I think the offensive line has had some good moments. Same with a wide receiver group that is making plays but not creating a ton of separation (per the broadcast view). However, each of these things can still get better, and so can the quarterback. Getting more decisive with the football and getting it out of his hand quicker can help all involved.

The offense hasn’t been an issue for Lincoln Riley in his tenure with the Sooners, and it’s hard to imagine the early season inconsistencies continue to plague them as they look to defend their Big 12 title in 2021.

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