We should be celebrating a quality, big win over a quality opponent — but Sooner Nation isn’t because the early vibe is that we may have lost running back Rodney Anderson for the year.
The official latest word from Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is that there is nothing definitive and that they’re hoping for the best.
I knew it as soon as he grabbed his knee, and I have a time-stamped tweet to prove it, not to congratulate myself but to note that, to me, it was pretty obvious. I’ve seen it all too often, an awkward plant and the reach-and-grab.
Damn you, football gods!
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Oh, yeah. Oklahoma beat UCLA 49-21 Saturday afternoon in a game that felt a little flat in parts. The Bruins are not yet close to a good team, especially offensively. However, they improved this week. I should note that as part of my recent vacation to southern California, Kristi and I went to the Rose Bowl to watch Cincinnati beat the Bruins, 26-17. The Bruin offense lacked imagination, and it looked like Chip Kelly was in search of a system that would fit his players.
Last week: Oklahoma 63, Florida Atlantic 14
They still scored more points against the Sooners on the road than they did against Cincinnati at home. Mind you, 14 of those points came in the final frame.
The final score could have just as easily been 63-7, especially if Rodney Anderson hadn’t gotten hurt.
Flashes of Oklahoma brilliance were spotted, first by Hollywood Brown on a 58-yard Sooners’ touchdown to make it 14-7, Oklahoma.
CeeDee Lamb had a pair of eyebrow-raising grabs, one for a touchdown and one that didn’t even count. That “non-catch” was one of the best grabs I’ve ever seen in my years watching football.
It wasn’t Lamb’s first eye-opening moment of the afternoon. Check out this catch he made in the first quarter:
And then how about his 35-yard touchdown grab from Murray to make it 42-7, Oklahoma.
In all, Lamb caught seven balls for 146 yards. In my estimation, he just became a millionaire today because every NFL scout in the country will have their eyes on him for the League. Brown had a pretty good game himself, catching four balls for 88 yards. At one point, he too appeared injured, although the response of trainers stretching him made you think it was just a cramp.
The football gods taketh away, and sometimes they have mercy.
Murray improved, I thought, as the game wore on. He floated some balls early but was crisp and made good decisions late. He ran for two scores and accounted for five touchdowns in all, finishing the afternoon 19 of 33 passing for 306 yards. Murray was also the team’s leading rusher with 69 yards on ten carries.
Defensively, Oklahoma shined for the most part, finishing with six sacks for the afternoon, five of them in the first half. Neville Gallimore and Curtis Bolton were standouts, and Kenneth Murray Jr. was outstanding.
So far, I’ve got nothing but praise for Mike Stoops’ side of the ball. They played with energy, aggressiveness and were smart. Special teams have been terrific thus far, too. After UCLA took an early 7-0 lead, Tre Brown put the Sooners in business with an 86-yard kickoff return.
What you might not know from all this Boomer Sooner talk is that I’m actually a UCLA fan, too. Oklahoma is my alma mater and my passion, but I like other teams as well. I’m just a sports fan, truth be told. My thoughts on UCLA is that the Bruins are headed for a losing season, maybe as bad as 2-9. I’d guesstimate 4-7 is the more likely record for the Bruins.
However, freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson was significantly improved over last week, and that has to make UCLA fans encouraged, at least a little.
Also, they matched up with OU for much of the game quite respectably. Oklahoma is far superior, no doubt. However, UCLA had some periodic success, especially when Kelly focused on the ground game with Bolu Olorunfunmi and Kazmeir Allen. They combined for 98 yards and kept some key drives alive.
UCLA’s biggest success came when Thompson-Robinson was able to find tight end Caleb Wilson, as he did over the middle for a big gain to set up their first touchdown. Wilson finished the day with 92 yards on four catches. I should note that Caleb is the son of 1980s sooner Chris Wilson.
The Bruins host Fresno State next Saturday from the Rose Bowl at 9:30 p.m. CT. I’m counting on that being UCLA’s first win of the year.
Oklahoma heads to Ames, Iowa, to try to exact revenge on the Iowa State Cyclones, who beat the Sooners in Norman last year. I think the Sooners will have their hands full, especially without Rodney Anderson. Ames is a tricky, tricky place to play.
From an Oklahoma perspective, no real complaints: today’s win over UCLA was a workman-like whipping — but sure feel bad for No. 24 if he’s indeed out for the year. We need him badly.
From a UCLA perspective, we saw improvement although we also saw no real indication as to anything that resembled a Chip Kelly-esque system. Not yet. I’d also say, definitively, that the Bruins also didn’t get embarrassed. They had a couple of moments to shine.
And as to Oklahoma’s place atop the college football pecking order, what I’d say is that I’ll take a Sooners team with a much-improved defense and maybe a little bit less of an offense than the alternative. Very encouraged by what we’ve seen so far on defense.
Next week at Iowa State will be a good test for the crimson and cream.
Featured photo credit: By Bobak Ha’Eri – Own work, CC BY 3.0