Oklahoma Football: Landry Jones, Defense Scalp Florida State Seminoles
The highly anticipated rematch of the 2001 Orange Bowl national championship game between Oklahoma and Florida State was all that it was hyped to be.
With two high powered offenses going against defenses that had question marks, a shootout was predictable. Long drives, big plays, and a plethora of points were the order of the day and it didn't disappoint.
Each team took their opening drives the length of the field for a score and fans settled back, ready for a shootout.
And then the Seminoles discovered their equipment manager had left the spare ammo back in Tallahassee.
While Oklahoma continued to fire away with a .44 magnum, scoring at will, Florida State emptied their clip and tried to fight back with a potato gun.
While there were plenty of points scored, they were all racked up on the home team's side. OU's offense continued to hum along like a well-oiled machine while FSU's offense sputtered and backfired, virtually grinding to a stop while the contest was decided.
Oklahoma scored the final 27 points of the first half to squash the hopes of FSU and send the dejected visitors into the locker room knowing the game was over before the third quarter had even started.
What Are the Odds No Heisman Voters Saw the Game?
Florida State came into the game with a highly regarded Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Christian Ponder, looking to show the nation why many experts have tabbed him as a likely No. 1 QB prospect in next spring's NFL draft.
After an efficient opening drive, Ponder looked lost for the remainder of his time on the field. His throws were forced and off target. At one point, he threw interceptions on back-to-back attempts.
He finished his regrettable outing with a stat line that read 11 completions in 28 attempts, for 113 yards, two interceptions and, most importantly, no touchdowns. Not exactly Heisman worthy numbers.
This was Ponder's first game since 2008 that he completed less than half his passes. He was harassed by a Sooner front four and blitz package that chased him from the pocket, frequently forcing him to throw off balance. The Sooners produced four sacks against Ponder and deposited him on his back on numerous other occasions.
This cannot be blamed entirely on Ponder as his veteran offensive line did little to help him out.
For his final two-and-a-half quarters of playing time, Christian Ponder had to deal with an Oklahoma defensive effort that played like they were listening to the FSU play calls. It appeared the Sooners had set up camp in the Seminole backfield, starting a fire, roasting weenies, and making S'mores.
OU spared them the ghost stories though, as the reality of the situation must of been horrifying enough for the Seminoles.
Meanwhile, Landry Jones quietly (or not) went 30-40 for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Somebody tell me again, who is the Heisman candidate?
Ambition Should Be Made of Sterner Stuff
The offenses of both teams were supposed to be the stars of this show. Could either defense stop the other?
FSU came into Norman hoping to re-establish their fearsome reputation and put an end to the Sooners' dominance at home under Bob Stoops.
Based on respective first week performances, Florida State seemed to be coming into Norman with the spotlight brightly shining on them like opening night on Broadway.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, had an opening night that more resembled an unscripted and under-funded community theater performance that had made everyone involved regret the three hours it had wasted of their lives.
After trading touchdowns, the Sooners promptly marched down the field for an encore. Then they did it again. And again. Oklahoma scored on their first four possessions with a botched extra point as the only flaw in the performance.
Florida State, after their first drive on the other hand, ignored the applause and declined any curtain calls. The Seminole offense would not score again until the drama was over and the plot was clear.
By intermission, the spotlight had burned out. Oklahoma led 34-7 going into halftime. Elvis had left the building.
Only a fluke score on the final play kept this from being the worst loss FSU has suffered since at least 1992. Even so, OU ended up winning by 30 points with the final score of 47-17.
No Matter What, A Stoops Brother Would Win
This was the first ever meeting of the Stoops brothers in a head-to-head matchup. Could the eldest, Bob, hold off the challenge from his precocious little brother, Mark?
After leaving middle brother Mike Stoops' staff at Arizona last spring, he became the newly designated CEO of Florida State's defense, joining new head coach Jimbo Fisher to try and resurrect the Seminole program.
Mark is a rising star in the coaching ranks. Taking over a defense that finished last year as one of the worst in recent school history, Mark quickly had FSU fans thinking of better times with a dominating performance in Tallahassee in the first game.
However, playing Samford at home isn't the quite same as playing in Norman where the Sooners boast the nation's longest home field winning streak, now 32 games and counting.
Well, this went about as well as most challenges from a little brother have gone. It ended with Mark, held by Bob, upside down with his head in the bowl, getting a turbo swirly.
Oklahoma scored early and often, leaving the stunned Seminole defense searching for answers they may still not even find in the film room.
Don't be too hard on Mark Stoops, FSU fans. Considering the circumstances and location, it is too early to pass judgment based on this performance.
Game Report Card and the Big Picture
Okay, one big game down. Now only 10 more to go.
Offense and defense both score A's, along with coaching.
The receivers and tight ends, along with the running backs, caught everything thrown in their general direction.
The offensive line did a fine job of pass protection and even run blocking, for the most part, when it was needed.
The defensive line and linebackers blew up the run and bubble screens.
The secondary was locked on like a Cougar on the pool boy.
It's hard not to give straight A's across the board for this game, but special teams will only score a solid B in this outing. A missed field goal and extra point keep them from earning the top grade.
That said, Tress Way and his booming leg almost pulled the special teams to an A by himself. Watching Tress kick a football almost makes me feel sorry for the ball.
However, the Sooners cannot afford to let this game go to their heads.
Oklahoma still has numerous tough games left on their schedule and cannot afford to look at this as anything more than it actually was: a good victory at home over a rebuilding Florida State team with a new head coach and a young defense.
Games against Iowa State and Colorado, who both lost badly over the weekend, may be the only breathers OU will face the rest of the year.
With a competitive Air Force team coming to Norman next week and a trip to Cincinnati the next game, OU still has some stiff competition left in the OOC portion of their schedule.
Add in road trips to Dallas against Texas, to College Station to take on another high powered offense in Texas A&M, in Columbia versus Missouri, then Waco for Baylors' dynamic dual threat QB Robert Griffin, and at Stillwater against in-state rival Oklahoma State.
They also face Texas Tech and new head coach Tommy Tuberville in Norman this year.
This could be a recipe for a long season if the Sooner players don't put this game into perspective and concentrate on one game at a time.
Yeah, But They Can Play Even Better
After a blowout in a game matching two storied programs, it is easy to bask in the glow of victory and savor the fruits of your labors.
Such thinking can often turn around and bite a team if it begins to think too highly of itself. Most Sooner fans are aware of quotes after the USU game when Sooner players said they thought they "were on top of the world" before that game.
While Oklahoma may have performed at a higher level than most anticipated for this game, what could they have done better?
No matter the margin of victory, there is never a time a team cannot identify and learn from the mistakes that are inevitably committed during the course of a game.
Missed tackles and blocks. Dropped passes and interceptions. Throws into coverage when another route is open. A running back hitting the three hole when he should have bounced it outside. Even blown coaching calls occur during games like this.
So, while most everybody knows what went right for the Sooners, the tougher question to ask is, what went wrong?
After the first drive of the game and the numerous missed tackles on the very last play, a 47-yard FSU touchdown, not much stands out.
Florida State got "pantsed" on national television and they had come into Norman going commando. So, where do fans start the critique?
No, seriously, what did go wrong?
Can anyone help out here?
If you were Bob Stoops and his staff, what would you point out that needs to be improved upon?