By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – Even though the Oklahoma receivers didn’t talk about it a lot, they had heard all the talk about how they were the Sooners weak link. They took it as a sign of disrespect.
With their first chance to show the Oklahoma fans and the rest of the nation what they can do, the OU wideouts made the most of the opportunity
No. 7 Oklahoma defeated UTEP 56-7 in their season opener Saturday at Memorial Stadium. While the performance of Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma defense will get the lion share of attention, it was the 14 receivers who caught at least one pass that made the biggest noise.
“There are so many guys that are very explosive,” said tight Mark Andrews who totaled 7 receptions for 134 yards. “Their are a lot of young guys. I thought everyone stepped up. There were a lot of doubts about this receiving core. I thought it was big for us to come out and catch the ball and play real well.”
In Lincoln Riley’s first game as head coach, Oklahoma (1-0) racked up 676 total yards while holding UTEP (0-1) to167. Not a bad way to earn a first win.
“We enjoy winning here,” Riley said. “We will never take that for granted.”
It didn’t take long for Oklahoma to show what their offense has the potential to do this season. On the first drive of the game, they ran off six plays in 2:16. Abdul Anderson scored from two yards out to put the Sooners up 7-0.
Unfortunately for OU, their defense quickly displayed resemblances of last season when UTEP walked down field and tied the game at 7-7 on their first possession. It was not the perfect start for a unit that was maligned throughout 2016.
But the Sooners would only allow 85 Yards in the final three quarters.
“After that first drive we tried to do some stuff to slow it down and get back to playing Oklahoma football,” Parnell Motley said.
The Sooners kept on rolling on offense. A touchdown run by Dimitri Flowers and a touchdown pass from Mayfield put Oklahoma up 21-7 with 9:48 left in the first half.
The Miners didn’t have the horses on defense to slow down the Oklahoma running or passing game. With OU’s offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage, UTEP was helpless.
The play of the day may have come midway through the second quarter when Mayfield heaved a pass downfield to Jeff Badet. The ball was under thrown and Badet had to fight a UTEP defender to keep it from being intercepted.
The ball was popped into the air and as Badet was falling to his back, he hauled the catch. The very next play Mayfield connected with Andrews for a touchdown.
Mayfield then hit true freshman Ceedee Lamb for a score that put OU up 35-7 at halftime.
“Me and the receivers made some plays, a couple great plays. Mark (Andrews) had a catch that should’ve been a touchdown, my pass was a little high,” Mayfield said. “The young guys made some competitive plays. CeeDee Lamb made a great catch and took a shot from the safety and held onto the ball. Plenty guys made plays today, Jeff Badet with the long post ball, went up and made a play when the ball was underthrown. Receivers played well.”
Mayfield didn’t play in the second half as Kyler Murray took over the QB duties. Mayfield threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns on 19 of 20 passing. Murray was 10 for 11 for 149 yards, but was overshadowed by Mayfield’s afternoon.
“I didn’t really notice it until like the third quarter, that he was 19 for 20” Andrews said. “He is such a great player, he makes it look easy, You don’t even notice stuff like that.”
Led by Adul Adams and Marcelias Sutton, the Sooners ran for 180 yards to help open up the offense.
“I feel like we’re The best unit in the nation right now,” Sutton said. “Across the board, we’re all strong. We have our own strengths and weaknesses. Together as a unit, we feel like we’re strong.”
OU didn’t get much time to celebrate. They know they will get a much stiff test next Saturday when they travel to Columbus, Ohio to face the third rank Ohio State Buckeyes.
“Regardless of who we play next, I think we know more about our team now,” Riley said. “We’ll know even more as we get a chance to get back and study the tape. We’ll know what we’re going to become, and seeing the start of that and starting to find out where your strengths are and where your holes are and you’ve got to get better, and that’s kind of all part of this process. Again, regardless of who we play, we definitely learned a lot in that first game and we’ll find a lot of good and find a lot of things we need to get back to work on.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content writer with Eyeamtruth.com