OU gets strong performance from defense to overcome struggles moving the ball versus the Mountaineers.
A walk-off field goal from 30 yards out by kicker Gabe Brkic helped the Oklahoma Sooners pull out a 16-13 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday night at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium. The thrilling finish in OU’s first Big 12 game of 2021 won’t brush away the mounting concerns over the team’s underwhelming start, however.
The OU defense played a spectacular game, limiting WVU to 3.9 yards per offensive play. The Eers went with the fashionable game plan against OU of milking the clock when they had possession. They ran 63 plays in 33:00, which works out to an average of more than 30 seconds per play. WVU’s opening drive of the game, which gave the visitors their only touchdown, covered 75 yards in 18 plays and drained more than nine minutes off the clock.
The Sooners needed every single stop they could get as their offense continued to move in quicksand. They gained 313 yards on 64 plays for an average of 4.9 yards per play. Of utmost concern for head coach and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, OU ran the ball 28 times for 57 yards. After putting up 23 points versus Nebraska a week ago, it’s impossible to deny OU’s offense needs a jumpstart.
Riley may want to start with figuring out what is going on with OU’s offensive line. Riley and OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh will have to give significant thought to what the five players up front should look like the rest of the way – the current starting five generated little push in the ground game against WVU. Quarterback Spencer Rattler’s pocket presence also suggests he has doubts about the big uglies’ ability to protect in the passing game.
Speaking of which, the OU QB shook off a damaging interception in the second quarter to put together a solid overall effort. Rattler completed 26-of-36 passes for 256 yards, one touchdown and an INT. On the game-winning drive, he hit on all six of his throws for 54 yards.
Rattler’s favorite target on the evening: Mike Woods. The Arkansas transfer hauled in eight balls for 86 yards, including crucial grabs late in the game. Running back Eric Gray finished second for the game with 52 yards on three receptions.
Brkic also made field goals of 28 and 35 yards in the second half prior to floating his final attempt through the uprights with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter.
Now sitting at 4-0, the Sooners head on the road for the first time this year in their next game against the Kansas State Wildcats on Oct. 2. The date with the 3-1 Wildcats will have OU looking for revenge after suffering consecutive losses to KSU in 2019 and 2020. Getting out of town also might help the Sooners loosen up after surviving three nerve-wracking finishes in Norman in their first four games.