OU throttles Florida A&M
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Sunday, September 09, 2012
9/09/12 at 4:32 AM
Related story: John E. Hoover: Mismatches a blight on college ball.
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NORMAN - Two games into their season, the Oklahoma Sooners remain something of an enigma.
They beat Florida A&M Saturday night, just as they beat UTEP the previous week. The score was more decisive - 69-13 compared to their 24-7 escape from El Paso - but the mystery shrouding the nation's No. 5-ranked team remains.
The Sooners couldn't realistically use the overwhelmed FCS Rattlers as a measuring stick for progress. What they could do was try to improve on their performance from last week.
"I was pleased overall with our players in some areas we could have been cleaner in a week ago," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "For instance our run game ... You ought to have some nice creases, whereas a week ago we had some but should have had more."
The Sooners rushed for 349 yards and eight touchdowns. Damien Williams gained 89 on one play, one of his four touchdowns, and totaled 156 yards. His linemen throwing blocks could puff out their chests a little more than coming out of the Sun Bowl.
"We played a lot better than last week," center Gabe Ikard said. "We played more in the flow of the game and really made good strides."
"A lot of guys made plays," Stoops said. "Damien had a big night. Trey Metoyer and Sterling Shepard (freshman wide receivers) did some great things. I thought Justin Brown was great returning punts and getting the deep ball."
Let's not forget Kenny Stills. The slot receiver racked up big numbers Saturday night, with a career-high 10 catches for 120 yards and a score. He made OU's best catch of the season, a 23-yard one-hander in middle-of-the-field traffic to set up the Sooners' first touchdown.
With Stills' help Landry Jones was 19-of-28 for 252 yards and two touchdowns. But he overthrew an open Stills in the end zone, and he should have been intercepted twice (one was dropped, the other held by Florida A&M safety Devan Roberts).
The Sooners turned it over a second time in the first half when running back Dominique Whaley fumbled at his own 30. That led to the Rattlers field goal early in the second quarter, the first points surrendered by OU's defense this season.
"The turnovers, we've got to correct that and take better care of the football," said Stoops, who also noticed some costly penalties among OU's eight flags for 80 yards.
The Sooners' defense, as at UTEP, was stiff enough. However, as at UTEP, it gave up a big play. This time it cost a touchdown.
Rattlers receiver Travis Harvey ran by cornerback Demontre Hurst late in the first half, hauled in Damien Fleming's 25-yard pass and scored after outracing Hurst over the final 50 yards to the end zone.
"We still have some things we need to clean up," defensive end R.J. Washington said, "but I think we're getting better."
There were certainly highlights in all phases. Brown set up a pair of first-half touchdowns with punt returns of 43 and 62 yards. Metoyer made his first big play as a Sooner, a reaching 18-yard touchdown grab to give OU a 35-10 halftime lead.
It's just that something was occasionally amiss.
You could sense it when Whaley was benched after his fumble. Or when left tackle Lane Johnson committed a first-half personal foul to wipe out Stills' catch and run near the FAMU 10. Or when Tony Jefferson hobbled off the field on consecutive first-half series.
OU's starting free safety gave it a go after being injured during his tackle, but only seemed to aggravate it the next series.
"He just has an ankle sprain. They don't feel it's that significant at this point," Stoops said. "If it was a tighter and tougher game, he could have probably played."
That said, Jefferson's progress bears following between now and Sept. 22, the day a good-looking Kansas State team comes to Owen Field for the Sooners' next game.
You could say the same for the Sooners in general.
Said Stoops: "We're very aware we're going to see stiffer competition coming,"
OU UP NEXT
Vs. No. 21 Kansas State
TBA Sept. 22
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: Improved Sooners throttle Rattlers
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Oklahoma's Justin Brown (bottom) tangles with Florida A&M's Jonathan Pillow as Brown tries to make the catch. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Oklahoma's Damien Williams (left) stretches for the end zone under pressure from Florida A&M's John Ojo. Williams ran for 156 yards and four touchdowns. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World