September 12, 2004

Sooners make strides in blowout of Houston

The Sooners opened things up with a 51-yard reverse to Mark Bradley and pulled away quickly en route to a 63-13 domination over the Houston Cougars.

With the Sooners up 14-7, Dusty Dvoracek recovered a Houston fumble on their own 49-yard line. The Sooners went to the reverse and put themselves up 21-7. The Cougar defense was never the same again and the rout was officially on.

"We knew we wanted to run it early in the game," said offensive coordinator Chuck Long of the reverse to Bradley. "In fact, it was really going to be in our first six or seven plays but we got into an early third-and-long and we couldn't do it. Teams want to pursue hard and it negates that."

"We knew going into the game they were a tough defense," said OU wide receiver Mark Clayton. "They swarm to the ball really well. I saw that early. We thought that would work at that time of the game and it really did."

The Sooners put things on cruise control.

But the Sooners still had plenty to accomplish even though the game was all but over. Afterall, this was only the second game of the season.

But the OU coaches didn't let any past scrutiny affect their decision to go on.

When Houston turned the ball over on downs after throwing an incompletion on 4th-and-4 with only 1:09 left in the game, Long tried to put the ball in the endzone once again.

"You're just playing ball," said Long. "You're not concerned about the score at that point."

And the Sooners weren't concerned about bringing Jason White back into the game to open the second half.

"It was time to drill the two-minute drill and time to work the ball coming out of the half," said Long of both situations. "It was too early to worry about the score at that point."

But White did give way to freshman for the first action of his Sooner career. The Sooners lead 49-7, but Tommy Grady was able to do more than just mop up the victory. He completed 8-of-9 passes for 50 yards before all was said and done.

"Tommy was solid. He just was very poised out there I thought. He handled the situations in a great way and threw the ball well. He's a talented guy," said Bob Stoops.

Grady even lead the Sooners on 12 play, 97-yard drive which put OU up 63-7

"He played well. He threw the ball well. We got behind the chains and we had to convert," said Long. "The backup guys went on a 97-yard drive. We're really proud of that because it's tough to do. He hadn't played much and here's a guy who's only a freshman and did well."

Grady failed to log any game time last week when Bowling Green made a game of things as the Sooners were prepared to blow things open.

But the offense wasn't the only story on Saturday. The defense stepped up and provided constant pressure all night. Sooner fans were concerned when the Sooners failed to log any sacks against Bowling Green a week ago.

But all those concerns faded before Houston fell hard on Saturday evening.

"It makes a huge difference. The guys up front are good and they were the difference. It changes the whole game when that happens. It really restricts a team that wants to spread you out and throw the ball down the field. I thought that's what happened," said co-defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.

And the front four provided plenty of pressure. The defense logged five sacks on the evening. Even newcomers such as Remi Ayodele got in on the action.

"We gave the entire front four game balls because we felt their pressure - they played well all day," said Stoops.

The only negatives in this one were some early busts by the OU secondary. There were a couple of busts due to several formations which confused the Sooners at times.

"I'll put it this way, the things we missed we'll get them corrected this week. I thought overall it was a good effort. I'm not overly concerned. I'll put it that way," said Pelini.

On the day, the Cougars leave with 282 total yards of offense. And the Sooners are certainly glad to have the offenses for both of their opening teams in their rear view mirror.

"We've played two unusual offense," said Pelini. "They are what they are. It's unusual. They were all over the place. They substituted - they did everything that's not ordinary. We're just really looking to Oregon now and that's all we're going to focus on."

And the Sooners will now head into an even heavier favorite role next week. Their impressive second round performance combined with Oregon's shocking loss to Indiana at home will create even more anticipation for another OU blowout.

But if the offense and defense continue to improve at this rate, there may only be one or two teams in the country who have a chance against the Sooners.



 

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