OU-Texas Grade Card

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By Tony Sellars
Posted Oct 6, 2007
Copyright © 2007 OU Insider


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DeMarco Murray
Tony Sellars' gives his position-by-position breakdown of OU's 28-21 win over Texas. Redshirt freshman DeMarco Murray (pictured) carried the ball 17 times for 128 yards in his Red River Shootout debut.

Quarterback - Sam Bradford looked like he was playing at home in his first OU-Texas encounter. I can’t recall a bad decision he made all day. He found open receivers, took a sack when he needed to and ran when he needed to.

Once again, he was victimized by dropped passes or his percentage would have been over 70 for the game. Still, it’s hard to argue with three more touchdown passes, no interceptions and MVP of the game in his first Red River shootout.

The most impressive part of his game-winning touchdown pass to Malcolm Kelly wasn’t the fact that he put the ball right on target, but rather the fact that he stood tall and delivered the ball a millisecond before being karate chopped by an oncoming blitzer. Unfazed, Bradford popped right up and ran downfield to celebrate. Now that’s the mark of a true champion.

Grade: A

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Running Back - The pecking order for the Sooner backfield may have gotten closer on Saturday. We may now be looking at 1 and 1a. 

For the first time this year, Alan Patrick spent more time going backward than forward, suffering losses on three different carries. He also left the game with a slight injury, opening the door for DeMarco Murray to show his play-making abilities yet again.

Murray’s 65-yard hop and sprint to paydirt was a thing of beauty, and it was only part of a stellar day that saw him get his most carries and his most yards as a Sooner. He is also showing improvement on the tough inside carries as well. And don’t forget his value as a kick returner.

Chris Brown had some important carries and gained some tough yards as well, but his most important appearance was probably as a decoy near the goal line when Texas was expecting to see him try to bull in from two yards out. Instead, Bradford’s play fake to Brown set up the easy score to Jermaine Gresham.

Grade: B+

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Receiver - We now know what we suspected last week – that OU didn’t try hard enough to get the ball to Malcolm Kelly. I don’t care if it’s cover two, cover three or Cover Girl, if you throw the ball his way, he will most likely catch it. Or as his coach said Saturday, if you throw it within 10 yards of him he’ll catch it. He had three superb plays against Texas – the opening quarter 41-yard grab, the 35-yard TD that proved to be the game-winner and possibly the most important, the reach back and duck under catch that provided a crucial late first down.

Juaquin Iglesias doesn’t care if it is thrown forward or backward, he’ll grab it and run. He was robbed of a 100-yard receiving day by the fact that two of his catches on the day were actually counted as laterals (correctly, I might add).

Jermaine Gresham made the most of his limited opportunities. Two catches, two scores.
The backup receivers again bring the grade down slightly. Manuel Johnson had a couple of catches, but dropped an important pass late. And Quentin “Oops” Chaney killed Bradford’s consecutive completion run with the drop of an easy toss.

Grade: A-

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Offensive Line - Tough to say that the o-line didn’t play well when you put up 28 points and over 400 yards, but holding penalties negated two long plays, they had trouble moving the ball on the ground in the first half and they didn’t dominate what has shown to be an overmatched Texas defense.

Still, they protected Bradford well all day and OU did have three lengthy touchdown drives. Eliminate the penalties, become more consistent in run blocking and maybe the accolades will return.

Grade: B-

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Defensive Line - Colt McCoy had all day to throw for three quarters, but the defensive line played well down the stretch. Texas was unable to run the ball for the majority of the day and they were held right at 100 yards if you take out McCoy’s sacks.

Auston English never gave up and his perseverance paid off late in the game. He was fortunate not to have been nailed with a personal foul in the first half, but as many times as he’s been hit this year, Colt McCoy should know to throw the ball down when he hears a whistle.

Alonzo Dotson, Demarcus Granger and Gerald McCoy had their moments. There needs to be more consistency along the way.

Grade: B-

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Linebacker – Ryan Reynolds again proved to be a liability in pass coverage, but the coaches were able to adjust their schemes at halftime. Curtis Lofton also got burned by the tight end once in the first half. However, he came back to make an impressive drop in the second half. Lewis Baker spent more time in coverage in the second half, but he, too, was a little late in reacting on occasion.

The linebackers again proved they can stick the ball carrier. That’s never been in doubt. With Chase Daniel and two talented tight ends coming in next week, the Sooners will probably face more attempts to expose the pass coverage of the linebackers.

Grade: B-


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Secondary - Texas threw for 324 yards, but most of that was the fault of the underneath coverage on the tight end (aka the linebackers) and the lack of a forceful pass rush.

For the most part, OU’s secondary coverage was better than it was against Colorado the previous week. Reggie Smith stepped up and made plays and the Sooners kept Limas Sweed and Quan Cosby quiet almost all day.

As usual, the secondary played well in run support. Nic Harris always seems to be around the ball.

Grade: B

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Special Teams - I didn’t think this area could be any worse than it was at Colorado, but I was wrong. They just did it in a different way.

Missed tackles on kickoffs, penalties on runbacks, another bad decision on fielding a kickoff, a missed field goal and short kickoffs. These were the unpardonable sins committed by the so-called special teams.

Michael Cohen did a good job punting. Not great, but good. But in this game, that was worthy of a mention. And DeMarco Murray had a good runback that was cut in half by a penalty.

Even though there wasn’t a turnover or a runback allowed for a touchdown, the coaches can’t be happy with the special teams performance.

Grade: D

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Updated: 11/03/2007 7:53

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