Oklahoma's Balanced Offense Wins the Day

Richard BowlerSenior Analyst ISeptember 10, 2006

IconThe University of Oklahoma found a passing attack and blew out the University of Washington in the second half on Saturday. This game was an extremely physical match-up between two programs in very different places. The Sooners achieved balance in their offense and regained a bit of the swagger they might have lost in the season opener against UAB, while the Huskies proved to themselves that they can go into the house of a top-fifteen team and compete. In the end, both of these proud squads walked away with something to be optimistic about.
The Huskies began the game with a bang, with running back Kenny James going 52 yards for a touchdown on the team's first play from scrimmage. After that, Washington was successful running the ball with James and fellow running back Louis Rankin, but not with quarterback Isaiah Stanback, who was stymied all day. Stanback did not have a good day passing the ball either, hitting on only nine of his attempts as he fought to stay upright against the OU pass rush.
On defense, the Huskies played pretty well against Adrian Peterson and the excellent OU running game, even though they seemed to wear down in the second half. With most of the focus on Peterson, the Oklahoma passing attack flourished by exploiting UW's single coverage in the secondary. The Washington special teams units acquitted themselves admirably — especially punter Sean Douglass, who had two 80-plus yard punts on the day.
The Sooners' offense has a leader and his name is Paul Thompson. The fifth-year senior looked incredibly poised, running the team as if he'd been the starting quarterback for years. Thompson seemed to be able to hook up with wide receiver Reggie Kelly at will, and was very effective throwing the deep ball. Adrian Peterson started slow but got stronger as the game wore on, proving that a great back will eventually get his yards if you keep giving him the rock. The OU defense did a great job containing Washington's dual-threat quarterback Stanback. A lot of the credit for that needs to go to linebacker Rufus Alexander, who was in Stanback's hip pocket all day. Cornerback Reggie Smith was a disruptive force both on defense and in the return game. All in all, the Sooners posted a solid team effort that should propel them on to better things.
Final analysis: the Sooners were tested early and ran away with the game late, while the Huskies put up a fight at first and then faded down the stretch. The key to this game was talent. Oklahoma is a program loaded with athletes, and Washington just isn't there yet. Whether coach Ty Willingham can get them where they're trying to go remains to be seen.