By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma’s best running back limped off Iowa State’s Jack Trice Field after three carries and never returned. Its starting left tackle played five plays — all extra point kicks.
Yet, the Sooners still rolled to a 35-20 victory over the Cyclones on Saturday.
How did it happen?
Defense deserves a big pat on the pack, but OU’s offensive diversity shined through in the victory.
Quarterback Landry Jones looked and threw the ball like the first-round pick he’s been projected to be for several years, throwing for 405 yards and four touchdowns.
“We played well as a group and really put it together,” he said.
What OU put together offensively was a team that truly took advantage of everything Iowa State gave them.
Brennan Clay rushed for 157 yards. A lot of those yards were set up because of the way the Sooners threw the ball.
They threw deep and spread the ball around. Jones completed 32 passes to nine different receivers. Justin Brown and Kenny Stills were the main targets, combining for 13 catches 202 yards and three touchdown receptions.
But Sterling Shepard had five receptions. Jalen Saunders had four. Durron Neal and Trey Metoyer even got in the act. Their production helped OU run 85 plays — 21 more than the Cyclones.
“Landry’s playing better because he’s playing better, but also because those guys are on the same page. They’re more precise, they understand the tempo, we played with some tempo, and nothing comes easy,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “Run game, pass game, there’s precision in everything you’re trying to do and it just takes time to build a pass game and the precision you need to be consistent.”
The receivers have become more reliable as the season has progressed. The difference was obvious on Saturday. Jones completed 71.1 percent (32 of 45) of his passes. That doesn’t happen unless receivers are snaring just about everything that comes their way.
Receiver coach Jay Norvell said the plan was to use more receivers against the Cyclones. The previous week against Notre Dame OU pretty much stuck with Stills, Brown, Shepard and Saunders the whole way through.
“We went into this game really trying to get all of those guys in a rotation and get them on the field,” Norvell said. “We’ve just got to continue to do that, and use all the weapons that we have, and then also get all the guys playing at the highest level that they can blocking when they don’t have the ball. That could be a good mix for us down the stretch, because we’re gonna have to play really hard to win these games.”
OU’s next three games — Baylor on Saturday, West Virginia on Nov. 17 and Oklahoma State on Nov. 24 — are against teams that can score a lot of points.
The Bears lead the country in total offense. The Cowboys are No. 2. The Mountaineers are No. 19.
The Sooners, who racked up 593 yards against Iowa State, are No. 14 in that category.
They, however, seem to be getting more potent as the season hits the stretch drive.
“We’re really excited with the way we played today,” Stills said.
OU should be. Even with a couple of injuries, it still has plenty of playmakers.
John ShinnFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.