By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – For a quick minute, it looked like Oklahoma was going to allow Tulane to make a game of it. When it was tied 14-14 in the second quarter, the Sooner faithful inside Memorial Stadium and watching on Pay Per View Saturday probably thought OU was in serious danger.
But then the Sooners unloaded 42 unanswered point to close out the game.
And it all started with what may have been the play of the game. With the Wave driving deep into Oklahoma territory, they looked like they were set to take the lead again.
But sophomore cornerback Parnell Motley jumped a pass route near the Oklahoma sideline and picked off the Tulane quarterback.
But Motley wasn’t done there. He ran the interception back 77 yards for a touchdown that gave OU a 21-14 lead that they were not surrender the rest of the night.
The play set the tone for the rest of the game for the Sooners.
“It was huge for our defense because you know we haven’t had many turnovers in the past couple of games,” Jordan Thomas said. “That ignited it all. He got that interception and took it to the house. He put points on the board for the defense and that was huge. That took our offense out of one possession and we put up points for them. It was a 14-point swing.”
It was the second straight weekend Motley, a Washing D.C. native, has come up with a key interception. In fact, against Ohio State, he had a chance had two pick offs, but the second one was wiped away.
Regardless, Motley’s teammates have noticed the job he is doing.
“Parnell Motley, he has done a fantastic job,” said senior Steve Parker. “He’s basically locked in that other corner spot. He is making plays, everyone sees it. And he’s going to continue doing that.”
Thomas was once in the position Motley is now. Getting acclaim for his play in secondary, making big plays and being hailed a shutdown corner.
But on Saturday, he took a secondary role as he helped lead Motley into the endzone. The matured Thomas couldn’t have been happier.
“It was huge. I’m so proud of Parnell and how he’s grown from last year to this year,” Thomas said. “Every time he has a ball in his hand and I have anything to do with him scoring or him getting more yards I want to do that. It’s not just Parnell but the whole team. Any way shape or form that I can help out our defense then I’m going to do that.”
In past seasons, the Sooners were limited in the number of players on defense who could make plays. Thomas, Steven Parker, Jordan Evans and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo were the only ones who had a knack for it.
But now with the addition of Motley, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is able to see a difference when his unit takes the field.
“I just think you see the result of another playmaker on the field,” Stoops said. “You have to have playmakers and dynamic players. Everyone can’t be perfect all the time. Some guys have to make plays and Parnell is a playmaker and you’re starting to see that. We desperately need playmakers, especially out on the edge and that gets us encouraging hope as we move forward.”
What coach Lincoln Riley likes most about what Motley brings to the team and to every game his his hunger.
“He’s just a hungry kid. He just loves to play, loves to compete. He was like that last year as a freshman even though he wasn’t really ready to be playing like this right now,” Riley said. “He was always confident and always energetic and hungry and when you get a talented guy who stays with it even through some ups and downs that he had last year – you just see a different guy. His body is more developed, mentally he was ready and I just think you see a guy with a lot of confidence right now.”
The Sooners travel Waco, TX. Saturday to take on the struggling Baylor Bears. It will be Oklahoma’s first Big 12 Conference game of the season.
Despite the Bears record (0-3) and struggles, the Sooners do not believe they will be sucked into overlooking Baylor.
To mark the occasion, the Sooners will be wearing their alternate uniforms for the first time this season.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com