No one expected Arkansas State to beat the Oklahoma Sooners. However, it might be said that they did not expect the Sooners to trounce them thoroughly. It is the largest margin of victory in an opening-season game for the Sooners since 1917. Also, it was the first shutout for the Sooners since coach Brent Venables took over the program.
New Sooners, New Attitude?
Last season, fans saw a team in transition or perhaps searching for their identity. Throughout last season, glimpses could be seen, but Oklahoma still struggled when they probably shouldn’t have. However, this season, there appears to be a new Sooners team ready to show the college football world why they are who they are. Oklahoma seemed to be a faster version of itself and showed athleticism and improvement in their defense.
Third Down Improvement
Although we are only one game in, the Sooners were here to show they are not the Sooners of last season. Last season, it was a struggle for both sides of the ball on third downs. Today, they converted 11 of 14 third downs and held Arkansas State to 2-of-12. The Sooners’ capability on third downs will no doubt be tested to the maximum as the season progresses. As of today, though, they are looking like they should have been all along.
The Offense is Looking Good
For a team attempting to replace players like Marvin Mims and Brayden Willis, Oklahoma had eight players rushing for yardage and ten players with receiving yards. The Sooners dominated the time of possession and racked up 642 total yards, with 422 passing and 220 rushing. Also, eight different players scored touchdowns for Oklahoma.
Dillon Gabriel completed 19-of-22 passes for 308 yards and two scores and had a five-yard rushing touchdown. He appeared to be more decisive in his actions and not hanging onto the ball as he was prone to do last season. Jackson Arnold made his debut at the QB position, completing 11-of-11 for 114 yards and a touchdown pass. He also showed his ability to run with five carries for 39 yards and a touchdown.
Oklahoma’s Depth on Display
The coaching staff wasted no time in rotating players into the lineup. It is a far cry from how the team looked last season. Throughout the offseason, the coaching staff talked about their improved competitive depth. According to Venables, 87 players were able to get on the field in the game. As mentioned previously, having eight different players score touchdowns for the team goes a long way to accentuating the difference between last year’s team and this one.
Oklahoma’s schedule does not get any easier. While the game against the Red Wolves looked like a walk in the park, the Sooners will face more formidable opponents at or above their level of skill and competitiveness. Then, fans can judge if the offseason was as productive as it appears to have been.
Oklahoma’s next opponent will be SMU on September 9.
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