Without ever having thoughts of being a teacher, passing out bad grades doesn’t seem like a fun time. The Oklahoma Sooners won against West Virginia but it wasn’t pretty and most notably one side of the ball struggled immensely.
At the end of the day, a win is a win. However, things must change offensively if the Sooners are to seriously contend for any trophies this season.
Let’s pass out some grades.
This grade is the lowest grade I’ve handed out to this position group this year. It needs to be said that all quarterback grades are products of the offensive line play in front of them.
Spencer Rattler’s offensive line was not good but he has also had moments when he answered the call. Rattler, upon further review, missed a few throws that really would have given Oklahoma some chances to open things up.
He’s still struggling to make better decisions throwing vertically. A contested deep ball to wide receiver Michael Woods could have been intercepted had the defensive back not prematurely celebrated.
He threw an interception as he was targeting Drake Stoops late in the first half, focusing on Stoops the entire route and letting the ball float in the air too long.
At times, he continues to not set his plant foot and drive off of it causing balls to sail or not have the accuracy they need.
At the end of the game, he was 6 for 6 and orchestrated the game-winning drive to lead his team down the field and get them in a position to win. He has to be better and Lincoln Riley has to coach him better.
Up Next: The Offensive Line
Offensive Line: D
This offensive line has to play better. Simple as that. This team can’t put together a run or show signs of improvement if the offensive line is not playing better.
If the offensive line play improves, so does the quarterback play. This team has too much talent at running back, wide receiver, and tightend/h-back for it not to. Anton Harrison had a rough game and was replaced by transfer Wanya Morris in the second half. That will be something to monitor as they get ready to play a Kansas State team that is unafraid of them.
The Kansas State team doesn’t present the level of talent the West Virginia defensive line does but they will be well-coached and ready. Morris was a two-year starter at Tennessee. He’s played a lot of football and was very highly recruited. Is he going to be the one to solidify Rattler’s blindside?
Much like Rattler, the final drive allowed them the opportunity to salvage an otherwise abysmal performance. They answered the call and will hopefully take that as a building block into this week
Up Next: The Backs and Pass Catchers
Running Backs/H-Backs: B-
It’s really hard to grade these guys because the offensive line play in front of them hasn’t been as good as it needs to be. Riley can’t afford to keep trying to run the ball when the front seven of the opposing defense is living in the backfield.
However, Eric Gray made a huge play on 4th down on the first drive of the game that went for 38 yards where he showed his agility and got the Sooners in position to score.
Kennedy Brooks finished with five carries for 17 yards. The Sooners need both backs to have an impact on the game. They’ve had some good moments this year despite the offensive line play.
Unfortunately, they were unable to make something out of nothing on Saturday against a talented West Virginia front. On a more positive note, there hasn’t been. a fumble by either Kennedy Brooks or Eric Gray. And that is very worthy of praise.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B
The receivers on this team haven’t been spectacular but they’ve been reliable and steady. The Sooners finished another game with another name atop the box score to lead the team in receiving.
This week it was Michael Woods, who made some excellent contested catches and made plays after the catch for the Sooners all night. Austin Stogner got the Sooners going with a touchdown catch in the first quarter on a nice 5-yard dart from Rattler. Mario Williams continues to make plays. Brayden Willis continues to make plays in limited opportunities and has graded out as the top tight end in the Power Five according to Pro Football Focus through the first four weeks of the season.
These two units as a whole have played pretty well despite the lack of explosive plays. We’re still waiting on those but they’ve become reliable with a new face stepping up weekly. That bodes well if the entire offense can stabilize itself and the QB play returns to the standard that OU has become known for.
Up Next: Grading the front seven
Defensive Line: A-
The defensive line continues to be the most consistent and dominant unit week to week. This week, after a rough first drive in which the Mountaineers methodically worked their way down the field the defensive line settled in and stymied the West Virginia run game.
Leddie Brown was held to 15 carries for 56 yards, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. They pressured quarterback Jarret Doege and along with the rest of the defense held him to 160 yards passing. For a unit missing a starter like Jalen Redmond, guys like Isaiah Coe, Josh Ellison, and LaRon Stokes all filled in admirably.
The Linebackers are a conundrum. They play well coming downhill in the running game but every week a team can maneuver and find spots in the middle of the field.
Part of that is scheme but it will make you wonder do they have any linebackers that they trust entirely in coverage. Teams like Iowa State with massive tight ends could exploit that more.
It’ll be something to monitor.
They continue to fit well in the running game and blitz well too. The only knock is trying to assess who their best coverage guys are.
Up Next: The Defensive Backs and the Special Teams
Defensive backs: B
Another week and another game where the safeties and the cornerbacks didn’t get bombed over their heads. Despite the loss of Woodi Washington, the corners are playing well.
D.J. Graham started alongside Jaden Davis this week. Latrell McCutchin saw plenty of action as did Joshua Eaton. Billy Bowman returned and reclaimed his starting spot at nickel back.
Veteran safeties Delarrin Turner-Yell and Pat Fields remained steady. Turner-Yell recorded an interception but unfortunately would injure his hamstring Lawrence played well filling in for Turner-Yell in relief and may have a lot more on his plate as he may be the starter against Kansas State.
Special Teams: A-
Gabe Brkic is well on his way to an All-American nod and probably a few other awards as well. He nailed three field goals including the game-winner against West Virginia.
Punter Michael Turk played his role well helping Oklahoma pin the Mountaineers deep and allowing the Sooners to control the field position battle.