OU rolls in se­cond half, routs Tu­lane

Soon­ers over­come a sleepy start against op­tion of­fense; May­field throws for 331 yards and four TDs Or­di­nary night be­lies ex­tra­or­di­nary po­ten­tial

Tulsa World - - Gameday - By Eric Bai­ley Guerin Emig Sports colum­nist guerin.emig @tul­saworld.com

NOR­MAN — Some Ok­la­homa fans ex­pected Satur­day night's game against Tu­lane sim­ply to be a one-week an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of the Ohio State vic­tory.

After the first quar­ter, the score­board dis­played a 14-all tie and Me­mo­rial Sta­dium's at­ten­tion im­me­di­ately shifted to a pesky Green Wave foot­ball team.

Par­nell Mot­ley's mo­men­tum-chang­ing in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a se­cond-quar­ter touch­down fed an avalanche of points, and the Soon­ers cap­tured a 56-14 vic­tory in its fi­nal non­con­fer­ence game.

Lin­coln Ri­ley tried steer­ing Ok­la­homa's fo­cus away from the Ohio State vic­tory im­me­di­ately after the fi­nal sec­onds ticked off in Colum­bus.

But hu­man na­ture is a tough foe. OU be­came the talk of col­lege foot­ball and

NOR­MAN — Lin­coln Ri­ley is hu­man and so is his foot­ball team. This we learned dur­ing Ok­la­homa's 56-14 ex­er­cise against Tu­lane on Satur­day night at Owen Field. Ri­ley, the hereto­fore un­flap­pable rookie head coach, be­came very flap­pable when he saw a re­play of CeeDee Lamb's se­cond-quar­ter tar­get­ing penalty. Ri­ley saw it as a

clean, if vi­cious, block and raced over to an of­fi­cial to protest. Then he called time­out and protested some more.

It wasn't Bob Stoops threat­en­ing to hurl his head­set onto the field, the sig­na­ture fit of Ok­la­homa's old coach, but at least Ri­ley has it in him to de­cry an of­fi­ci­at­ing controversy like the rest of us.

His play­ers let down like the rest of us.

The Soon­ers' lethar­gic start Satur­day night felt in­evitable, given the level they reached last week at Ohio State. It trans­lated into a 14-7 deficit after four se­ries, leav­ing 86,290 fans a lit­tle rest­less.

A team that comes out flat once has the po­ten­tial to do it again — say, at Kansas State on Oct. 21, the week after OU-Texas. That would not be ideal.

But then that feels like seek­ing worry, like won­der­ing if re­ceiver Mark An­drews is go­ing to hob­ble around on that knee of his the next sev­eral weeks.

Ba­si­cally, if we're nit­pick­ing over a team's mun­dane frail­ties three games into a sea­son, that team has shown us its spec­tac­u­lar po­ten­tial.

The come­down from Ohio State not­with­stand­ing, OU re­mains spec­tac­u­lar.

Ri­ley, Baker May­field and the line are the clearly-de­fined stars of the of­fense, but what a sup­port­ing cast. It deep­ened Satur­day night.

Trey Ser­mon, the break­out ball car­rier at Ohio State, gave way to Abdul Adams and Marcelias Sut­ton against Tu­lane. OU still av­er­aged more than 6 yards per carry.

And while An­drews and Lamb had their mo­ments, Mar­quise Brown caught six passes for 155 yards and showed some of the quick­est feet on the re­ceiv­ing corps this side of Jeff Badet. Brown, a four-star signee from Cal­i­for­nia's Col­lege of the Canyons, had three catches com­ing in.

In Week 1, May­field threw passes to An­drews like he trusted they would be caught. Now that can be said of new­com­ers like Lamb, Brown and Grant Cal­caterra, An­drew's un­der­study.

All that does is make May­field, and Ri­ley's of­fense, more dan­ger­ous. OU's ro­ta­tion of run­ning backs makes the of­fense less pre­dictable.

And here Big 12 de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors thought they were get­ting a break with the de­par­ture of Sa­maje Per­ine, Joe Mixon and Dede West­brook.

De­fen­sively, the Soon­ers showed some cracks Satur­day night. They got shoved around early, and didn't snap to at­ten­tion un­til Par­nell Mot­ley's 77-yard pick-6 in the se­cond quar­ter.

Mot­ley dropped Tu­lane quar­ter­back Johnathan Brant­ley to snuff out the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion. If you weren't con­vinced OU had a bona fide dif­fer­ence-maker at cor­ner­back, a back-end com­ple­ment to pass-rush­ing men­ace Og­bon­nia Oko­ronkwo, that did it.

That's of tremen­dous com­fort and value head­ing into the spread-the-field-and-throw-it Big 12.

“We des­per­ately need play­mak­ers, es­pe­cially out on the edge,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Stoops said, “and that gives us en­cour­ag­ing hope as we move for­ward.”

There's no hop­ing when it comes to OU's at­tack. There's just do­ing. That, too, is es­sen­tial when you re­al­ize you're go­ing to have to win some Big 12 shootouts re­gard­less of the con­di­tion of your de­fense.

“We're still fig­ur­ing out what all we've got and how we need to use them,” Ri­ley said.

You can see that, as plain as you can see his ex­cite­ment in learn­ing week to week what he has and how to use it.

Reads to Lamb and An­drews one minute might go to Badet or Mykel Jones the next. May­field, in his third year with Ri­ley and his fifth play­ing col­lege foot­ball, sees every­thing and is will­ing to use ev­ery­one.

He has Ser­mon, Sut­ton, Adams and Rod­ney An­der­son to hand to. He has Dim­itri Flow­ers, OU's most valu­able of­fen­sive player not named May­field in Colum­bus, to check down to.

It's star­tling that Flow­ers didn't touch the ball once on a night the Soon­ers ripped off 49 straight points. It isn't a mat­ter of if that changes on OU's Big 12 route, but when. Or how of­ten.

Ri­ley will spread it around, get ev­ery­one in­volved. His play­ers all want a piece of the ac­tion. They're hu­man that way. Ri­ley is hu­man enough to take their feel­ings into ac­count, which also ex­plains his com­ing to Lamb's de­fense.

The Soon­ers are or­di­nary in that sense, with the po­ten­tial to do ex­tra­or­di­nary things. Satur­day night didn't change that a lick.

IAN MAULE/ Tulsa World

Ok­la­homa run­ning back Abdul Adams (right) gets knocked out of bounds by Tu­lane cor­ner­back Parry Nick­er­son on Satur­day night in Nor­man. Adams rushed for a team-high 93 yards and caught a touch­down pass.

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