Kansas State vs. Oklahoma: Postgame Grades from the Sooners' Loss vs. Wildcats
Kansas State pulled off the upset in Norman Saturday night, knocking off the Oklahoma Sooners with a 24-19 victory. So ends Bob Stoops' 14-0 record in facing ranked games at home, and so goes the national championship hopes of the Sooners.
Collin Klein engineered three consecutive fourth quarter drives that helped impact in the final outcome. The Sooners gave up 213 yards on the ground, and weren't able to get Klein and his offense off the field when it mattered the most.
Kansas State improves to 4-0, (1-0) on the season while OU drops to 2-1, (0-1). Kansas State should be a top 10 team in the AP college football rankings next week, while Oklahoma will see a considerable drop.
Here's a look at the final grades for Oklahoma, with a complete look at each set of positions and how that impact helped shaped the upset victory for the Wildcats.
Landry Jones — C-
Jones just couldn't put together consecutive drives of being the elite QB he's shown flashes of at Oklahoma. Crucial turnovers led to the first Kansas State touchdown of the evening, and even after positive drives, it turns out OU needed those points late in the game.
It seemed like he was out of sync with receivers all night. He missed two throws to Metoyer in the end zone, where he sailed them out of bounds, and an easy completion to his tight end that would have been a touchdown on the first drive. A step back for the senior, which is terrible news heading into a stretch where Oklahoma faces teams like West Virginia and Texas.
Blake Bell — D
A QB in his position can't fumble the football in that position, even if it was his first snap of the season. He's in to score right there, and his fumble was one of the key plays in the game. That one play could have given the Sooners seven more points, which mathematically would have given them the victory.
The third quarter score is the only reason Bell doesn't get an F.
Dominique Whaley — B
I was confused as to why Whaley wasn't the featured guy all night long. Some of it has to do with OU's depth at the position, but he was running hard all night.
It looked like he had something to prove, but wasn't able to finish the job. His 5.7 yards per carry are a nice stat, and none of his carries came in garbage time or when OU was trying to push the pace against a nickel or dime defense.
Damien Williams — C
Williams had a couple of nice runs, including a scamper around the outside that was negated by a Justin Brown holding penalty. I thought he danced around too much against the physical K-State defense, especially on his first carry, which I though Whaley might have scored on.
Still, he's explosive when getting to the outside, and should be a major part of the offense in the coming weeks. Williams finished with 10 carries for 34 yards and no touchdowns.
Trey Millard — B
Millard can be a real weapon in the passing and running game, but he was used sparingly tonight, mostly just as a fullback. He got one chance on a screen and another near the goal line, but his job tonight was to open up holes for running backs — which he's one of the best in the country at accomplishing.
Kenny Stills — B
Six catches and 60 yards aren't bad numbers, but Stills was supposed to be the go-to guy in his third year in Norman, and he's been anything but so far. Where was Stills on the pivotal third downs that OU didn't convert?
Justin Brown — C
Brown looks to be a stable pass-catcher that's still getting used to this offense. I'd love to see him break something in the punt return game, but he hasn't really had an opportunity. Not a bad game, but his holding penalty helped force a three-and-out in the fourth quarter.
Sterling Shepard — A+
I might be the only one who saw this, but Shepard was running some of the same routes Ryan Broyles and Jones used to connect on during their heyday. If he continues his progress, I think OU will consider moving Stills back to the outside and using Shepard and Brown in the slot going forward.
Trey Metoyer - B-
There's some obvious ball-skills with Metoyer and some things he needs to do a little better. He couldn't hook up with Jones on two balls to the end zone, both of which he had the last man beat.
The feeling from the press box was that he was too close to the sideline on his route, but Jones had bad placement, too.
Brannon Green — B-
Green had a chance to haul in Landry Jones' pass in the end zone on the game's opening drive, but it was not to be. It would have been a SportsCenter Top 10 play nominee, but Jones has to give his tight end a chance after being that open.
No other tight ends really got involved tonight, and Green finished with a catch for 9 yards.
Offensive Line — B-
As a unit, the group performed well, with the exception of two Landry Jones sacks on the night. The one proved costly on the initial turnover, but Jones was partially to blame with his happy feet in the pocket, not giving the lineman a fair shake.
They did enough to help the Sooners gain 386 yards of total offense. The 3.3 yards per carry were hurt by Jones and Bell's fumbles, which added up to (-17) rushing yards.
There wasn't much of a push all night, which begs the question as to why the running game wasn't used more Saturday night.
Defensive Line: C+
While the push up front wasn't consistent to the end of the game, the early part of the contest saw OU's front four dominate the line of scrimmage and help keep Klein in check for the first three quarters.
That fell apart with poor tackling and not as much push towards the end of the ballgame, which proved critical in the outcome. David King had a big night for the Sooners, and was disruptive in the middle in keeping John Hubert and Klein bottled up when he had his hands on either.
There's a lot of blue-chip talent on the D-Line, but maybe finding some depth for grind-it-out games like Texas and Iowa State don't come back to haunt the Sooners again at the end of a game.
Tom Wort - F
The middle linebacker had his troubles in space against the Wildcats. He was matched up against the slot, and Kansas State took advantage all game long with Tramaine Thompson.
He wasn't particularly effective on the run, either, with most of OU's damage coming from their front line and fellow linebacker Corey Nelson. It wasn't a good night for Wort, and part of that was leaving him in the dime package, even with Kansas State spreading the field out to five wideouts on key third downs.
Corey Nelson - B-
Nelson was active in run support and made some big hits on Wildcat ballcarriers. He wasn't as active during passing downs, but likely would have been a better option than Wort, who was too slow to keep up with the receivers.
Aaron Franklin - D
He wasn't on the field much, but it seemed like OU stopped the run better when their third linebacker was on the sidelines. He got pushed back and wasn't effective in getting off blocks in space, which likely led to more time with Wort on the field with six DBs.
Defensive Backs — B+
Klein's numbers (13-of-21 for 149 yards) don't reflect the coverage that OU put on the Wildcat receivers. The majority of his completions came in the flat and over the middle, where Wort was abused all night long.
Tyler Colvin and Javon Harris both had big pass break-ups. The lone exception was a long gain by Thompson, who ran a simple out from the inside slot and confused OU's three corner coverage on the strong side. It looked like a mix-up between Colvin and Gabe Lynn, and it cost the Sooners a chance to get the ball back.
Overall, though, the safeties were extremely active in run support, and helped at least slow down the rushing attack. Playaction was effective early in the second half, but this veteran OU secondary took some positive things away from this game.
Special Teams — A-
The field goal game went well, with Hunnicutt doing his job. Nothing really to report other than a nice couple of Brennan Clay runs. I would have liked to see Justin Brown do something in the return game, but the punting was so solid for K-State that it really forced OU to move the ball from their own end.
A key play in the fourth quarter almost gave the Sooners a big boost when it appeared Kansas State touched a punt and Jo Ibiloye recovered, but replays showed Corey Nelson touched the ball first.
It wasn't obvious, but I think in the finer aspect of the game, OU got outcoached tonight. They did some good things, including effectively spying Klein in passing downs and using Blake Bell even after his costly fumble.
But Kansas State used their half-time adjustments to their advantage, and OU didn't. The Wildcats came out with a myriad of playaction passes, and they got some big plays with the OU secondary creeping up in man coverage.
Again, I go back to consecutive completions to the tight end Tannahill on what looked like the exact same play. He kept drives alive in the fourth, and when OU had three chance to get a third down stop, they missed assignments and couldn't get their defense off the field.
On offense, why did they shy away from the ground game, especially with Jones struggling in his rhythm? They weren't down by double-digits until seven minutes to go in the game. You'd expect a game like they had against Florida A&M to help encourage the run, but the only used it as a change of pace.