Eventually, it seemed, someone would make the play that turned the game. Every defensive player watched drive after drive as Patrick Mahomes refused to let the team surrender. The crowd could sense it and some of the miraculous throws and catches warranted it, but that play never came.
Mahomes was incredible Saturday night, and his effort should never be forgotten. The unprecedented numbers he put up and the never-die attitude he showed weren’t for nothing, no matter what the scoreboard said after the game. He needed help that never came, and don’t hold that against him or the rest of the offense. This loss is squarely on the defense.
Defensive Line: D-
Breiden Fehoko made a tackle on a 4th and 1 play that all 60,000+ people in attendance saw coming, and he deserves credit for that. The rest of the game wasn’t nearly as impressive, as this unit was pushed around by a bigger and stronger OU offensive line. In several cases, Oklahoma ball carriers were forced to stretch plays outside, but nobody could consistently finish the play. The pass rush was virtually nonexistent and some players even hesitated while rushing the quarterback.
There’s breaking arm tackles, then there’s running past people trying to arm tackle. Running back Joe Mixon did a whole lot of both. He got the ball 35 times Saturday night and averaged over 10.5 yards on those touches. It was a tackling nightmare as defenders routinely took bad angles and over pursued ball carriers. Tech was actually lucky that Oklahoma didn’t try to feature Mixon more in the passing game, where he took three of his four catches to the house. Tech linebackers had no answer for the Oklahoma freight train, and it’s scary to think that the Sooners’ power back didn’t even play.
Defensive Backs: F
Perhaps the most inexplicable play of the season came at the end of the 1st half. Tech had just scored and had the chance to enter halftime with a lead before Mayfield completed essentially a Hail Mary for 52 yards that led to an Oklahoma touchdown on the next play. This sucked the life out of the stadium and erased what had ultimately been a successful half for the Red Raiders. Mayfield went on to set a school record for TD passes in a game and averaged 15 yards per attempt on the night. Part of the second half struggles were due to coaching risks as Gibbs tried to contain Mixon and send more pressure, but overall it was not a strong performance at the back end of the defense.
Overall Grade: F
This grade would be higher if the team had somehow won, which doesn’t make sense in a vacuum but probably does here. Had they come up with even one second half stop or turnover, Mahomes probably would have done the rest. When a storied program like OU sets multiple school records against you on your home turf, it stings. It will take a lot of courage for this team to get back up and keep fighting after this one, but there’s still a lot of football to be played.