MOT­LEY CREW

OU starts slow, even­tu­ally rolls Green Wave, 56-14 WR Lamb has ca­reer day be­fore be­ing ejected May­field stel­lar with 331 pass­ing yards and 4 TDs

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - OSU POSTGAME - Jenni Carl­son jcarl­son@ ok­la­homan.com

Mot­ley is mak­ing a name for him­self

Par­nell Mot­ley goes by a va­ri­ety of names.

P-Mot, a cool short­ened ver­sion of his al­ready cool full name.

D.C. Is­land, a nod to his home­town of Washington, D.C., and his soli­tary po­si­tion at cor­ner­back.

But frankly, through th­ese first few weeks of the sea­son, it’s pretty clear that there’s an­other nick­name that the Ok­la­homa de­fender should add to the list.

Game Changer.

On a night when OU’s even­tual 56-14 vic­tory was in doubt longer than any­one ex­pected, Mot­ley pro­vided the play that per­ma­nently swung the game in the Soon­ers’ fa­vor. He spied a pass com­ing to the flats and stepped in front of the re­ceiver, snag­ging the ball and scur­ry­ing all the way to the end zone.

“Once we got that in­ter­cep­tion re­turn,” Sooner coach Lin­coln Ri­ley said, “we got our con­fi­dence go­ing and we played more ag­gres­sively.”

With Tulane rolling up more rush­ing yards Satur­day than Ohio State a week ago, you have to won­der – did Mot­ley’s light­ning bolt mo­ment blind us to de­fen­sive is­sues that

weren’t ob­vi­ous through the first cou­ple weeks?

That play, af­ter all, was a bril­liant mo­ment.

A week af­ter Mot­ley had ar­guably the big­gest play at Ohio State – a fourth-quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion that al­lowed OU to seal the deal – he did the same against Tulane. But this time, Mot­ley didn’t need the Sooner of­fense to con­vert his take­away to points.

Af­ter he stepped in front of the Tulane pass, he took off down the Sooner side­line. See­ing wouldbe-tack­lers com­ing for him, Mot­ley cut across the mid­dle of the field. Tulane quar­ter­back Johnathan Brant­ley looked to have a line on Mot­ley, but Jor­dan Thomas caught up to Mot­ley and pro­vided a pun­ish­ing block on Brant­ley.

That was all the space Mot­ley needed.

His 77-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a touch­down was the first de­fen­sive score of the sea­son for the Soon­ers.

Even though Mot­ley is be­com­ing known for big moments, he has been equally solid on the cor­ner op­po­site Thomas. Mot­ley isn’t let­ting re­ceivers run free. Isn’t get­ting beat. Isn’t be­ing over­whelmed.

And frankly, it wasn’t that long ago that Mot­ley play­ing like this would’ve been as un­ex­pected as Baker May­field be­com­ing a wallflower.

Mot­ley was just a guy last sea­son, play­ing pri­mar­ily on spe­cial teams even though the Soon­ers had great need for able corner­backs. Even as in­juries and per­for­mances made Mike Stoops and Co. search for an­swers, Mot­ley never fac­tored in.

But those in­side the pro­gram felt he had the per­son­al­ity to be a dif­fer­ence maker.

“He’s just a hun­gry kid,” Ri­ley said. “He just loves to play, loves to com­pete. He was even like that last year as a fresh­man, even though he wasn’t re­ally ready to play like this right now. He was al­ways con­fi­dent.

“When you get a tal­ented guy who stays with it even through some ups and downs … I just think you see a guy with a lot of con­fi­dence right now.”

And it has changed the en­tire de­fense.

How the de­fen­sive front works. How the safeties cover. Ev­ery­one can play a lit­tle dif­fer­ently be­cause the Soon­ers now have two corner­backs in Mot­ley and Thomas who can hold down their men. They don’t need a ton of help. They won’t wilt if left on that is­land alone.

“You have to have play­mak­ers,” Stoops said. “Ev­ery­one can’t be per­fect all the time, so some guys have to make plays, and Par­nell’s a play­maker.”

Speak­ing of not be­ing per­fect, the Soon­ers cer­tainly weren’t early Satur­day. Tulane scored on its first two drives, march­ing right down the field and do­ing it with lots of up-the-gut runs. The Green Wave was at it again when Mot­ley in­ter­cepted that pass.

Granted, Tulane runs an op­tion of­fense, which is tough for de­fense’s cal­i­brated for pass-happy op­po­nents.

“You card up ev­ery­thing that you see,” Ri­ley said of scout­ing Tulane’s of­fense, “but they do it 365 days a year. Our scout team does it for four days a year. It’s hard.

“I think just the speed of it ini­tially, then you don’t stop it the first time then you try to start do­ing things on your own. That’s when you re­ally, re­ally get in trou­ble.”

Maybe the prob­lems Satur­day were all about that, but frankly, there were some moments that seemed to go be­yond scheme. Missed tack­les. Poor ex­e­cu­tion. Re­ceivers run­ning be­hind de­fend­ers, most no­tably Thomas.

That stuff will kill you re­gard­less of who you’re play­ing.

But Par­nell Mot­ley has shown that he can kill an op­po­nent’s hopes. Call him what­ever nick­name you want, but Game Changer has to be on the list.

[PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Ok­la­homa’s Par­nell Mot­ley re­turns an in­ter­cep­tion for a touch­down dur­ing the Soon­ers’ 56-14 win over Tulane on Satur­day in Norman. Mot­ley also had a tackle for a loss in the win.

[PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

OU’s Par­nell Mot­ley (11) is con­grat­u­lated af­ter in­ter­cept­ing a pass and re­turn­ing it for a touch­down Satur­day against Tulane.

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