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