The Oklahoma Sooners finished their season against the Florida State Seminoles in the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl. The Sooners managed to grab a bowl spot after one of its worst seasons since before Bob Stoops was the head coach. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the Sooners were on the losing side of the 35-32 score, making this their first losing season since 1998.
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So Close, Yet So Far Away…Again
In the games the Sooners lost this season, they were either blow-outs or close calls. This loss to the Seminoles is the fourth consecutive three-point loss of the season. Once Florida State went up by three, it left less than a minute for the Sooners to attempt to make it down the field for either a touchdown or a field goal. However, nothing went as planned for Oklahoma on that last drive, as they essentially shot themselves in the foot with penalties. Those back-to-back penalties stopped whatever momentum they had at pulling off a miracle.
The Future Looks Promising
Some fans might look at the game and see the same Oklahoma they’ve seen all season. Always coming close but are never able to finish what they started. However it looked, the Sooners played well despite being undermanned on the field. The Sooners had several players choose to sit out for the game, including Eric Gray, Anton Harrison, Wanya Morris, and Anton Harrison. Oklahoma’s secondary lost several to the transfer portal as well. So this became an excellent opportunity for the younger players to have a chance to show what they have.
Two players that stepped up for the Sooners in a colossal way were Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk. They accounted for 208 out of the 260 rushing yards the Sooners had. Barnes had spent most of the season behind Gray as the number two runner on the team, so it was no surprise he was able to get 108 yards. However, Sawchuk only had two carries for five yards in one appearance, so his 100 yards is a promising start to a bright future. However, Sawchuck has ways to go, and his fumble in the second half of the game proved to be a game-changer.
Jacob Sexton, Tyler Guyton, Robert Congel, and Savion Byrd were four fresh faces on the offensive line. However, Sexton was injured on the first offensive play for the Sooners and was replaced by Aaryn Parks. The lack of experience was evident during the game. Dillon Gabriel was sacked six times as the line struggled with pass protection. Despite that, Gabriel made 14 completions for 243 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
What Happens Now For the Sooners?
The coaching staff will need to evaluate where they stand with the roster. With several key pieces moving on in preparation for the NFL Draft and some players leaving via the portal, it is tough to know precisely how the roster will look next season. However, the staff needs to make sure players like Barnes and Sawchuk are evaluated and given a role next season if their play in just one game is a look at what might be. In addition, they will need to shore up their offensive line and strengthen their defense, which has been a central weak point all season.
Now, we have a waiting game until next season rolls around. We’ll get a glimpse of the future when spring comes, and hopefully, it will settle into something fans recognize as Oklahoma football.
Follow Liz Pendergraft on Twitter @lizzibear824
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