Saturday’s game was not pretty by any means. The offense had their fair share of struggles, however the Red Raiders defense was just as poor. The team allowed OU to put up over 600 yards and 55 points despite playing many backups, and to top it all off had multiple back-breaking penalties that made it that much harder to keep up with the high powered Sooner offense. Here are the grades from this week.
Defensive Line: C
In watching film it looked like the defensive line had a decent game, however there were still a lot of moments where gaping holes opened for running backs at the line of scrimmage, and equally devastating there were crucial moments where the line could not get to Jalen Hurts. For the first time all year the pass rush looked decent, and despite only getting to Hurts once they forced a fair amount of throws that a normal quarterback would struggle to make. Unfortunately, Jalen Hurts is not a normal quarterback and made the defense look silly more time than not.
Arguably the best thing that occurred for the defense this week was the return of Lonzell Gilmore after injury. The end has been a large part of the Red Raiders’ culture over the last three years, and he will look to make a large impact in his final year at Lubbock.
The last player I want to touch on is Eli Howard. I was impressed with how he played and thought he was the best player on defense, but unfortunately I cannot give him player of the week due to the hit on Kennedy Brooks. While I do not consider Eli a dirty player in any way, I do think he should face hefty internal punishment for the hit. It was classy of him to apologize, however the consequences of that hit could’ve been severe for Brooks, and thus Howard still needs some sort of punishment.
Not really much for me to say about the linebackers play this week due to the scheme Patterson appeared to draw up against Oklahoma. He went for a more aggressive run defense that brought the backers towards the line, and as such the individual accomplishments of the linebackers (TFL) were largely a schematic move by Patterson that would backfire as the game progressed. As stated earlier the front seven got pressure on Hurts and also stuffed a few runs, however the running backs for OU got into the second level quite a lot and managed to evade quite a few tackles.
The pass coverage required was limited due to Tech lining up in a nickel package and blitzing at least one backer on most pass plays, however in limited opportunities the linebackers failed to contain underneath routes when in zone coverage. Jordyn Brooks and Riko Jeffers had decent games as a whole, but the missed tackles and long runs made for a long afternoon in Norman for the linebackers.
Defensive Backs: D-
Jalen Hurts had 400 yards passing on only 24 attempts. Giving up 17 yards per attempt to the starting quarterback might be the most staggering stat from this game, and unfortunately the game itself was as bad as the stat was. Damarcus Fields, Zech Mcphearson, Dadrion Taylor, and Des Smith all got bunred at least once on the outside, while Douglas Coleman and Adrian Frye (who left the game due to injury) struggled to contain the seams, specifically when in zone coverage. The one bright spot was Coleman coming up with another interception, however the secondary will need to be much better against Tylan Wallace and the stacked group of Oklahoma State receivers.
Player of the Week: Austin McNamara
Giving this award to McNamara is largely due to the poor defensive performance this week (and Eli Howard having an incident taking him out of consideration), however the freshman punter might be the best punter the Big 12 has seen since Michael Dickson was pinning people at the one yard line for the Longhorns. McNamara averaged over 48 yards per punt on a representative sample of six punts on Saturday, The Gilbert, Arizona native also booted a punt that traveled 66 yards, a season high for him. McNamara may not be all that important to the defensive success this year (mainly due to the rest of the team struggling), but in the next couple years it will be great to have a punter capable of flipping field position in an instance.