No Kelly, big problems
For the second straight Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly was a non-factor. Kelly did not play Wednesday night after suffering a leg injury during the Sooners’ preparations for the game in Arizona.
Kelly suffered a knee injury early in last year’s Fiesta Bowl against Boise State.
The junior, who could leave school early to enter the NFL draft, hasn’t caught a pass in a bowl game since pulling down seven for 79 yards in the 2005 Holiday Bowl.
Kelly’s absence was noticeably felt by the OU offense. West Virginia crowded the line of scrimmage and dared the Sooners to throw deep.
OU’s receivers did a better job of getting open in the second half. Most of quarterback Sam Bradford’s yardage and all of his touchdown passes came after the intermission.
Other than Bradford’s 45-yard completion to Quentin Chaney to set up Garrett Hartley’s second first-half field goal, big plays were nonexistent by the Sooner offense.
Flags were flying
Wednesday’s game included the most combined penalties of any game this season. The Sooners were penalized 13 times for 113 yards. West Virginia amassed eight for 110 yards, including four personal fouls on two plays.
In the Sooners’ case, the penalties continued a trend over their last four bowl games. OU has averaged 7.5 in its last four postseason games.
It averaged 6.3 penalties for 53.2 yards a game during the regular season.
No Slaton, no problem
OU wasn’t the only team on the field missing an offensive star. West Virginia lost running back Steve Slaton, who had rushed for 1,053 yards and 17 touchdowns during the regular season, left the game on the Mountaineers’ second possession.
It didn’t affect them much. West Virginia had a more than adequate backup. Noel Devine averaged 8.6 yards per carry during the regular season and rushed 110 yards on just 13 carries Wednesday. He also scored two touchdowns.
Score one for the interim coaches
West Virginia interim head coach Bill Stewart became the first interim coach to win a game this bowl season. Prior to Wednesday, UCLA, Houston, Texas A&M;, Georgia Tech and Arkansas had all gone winless during the bowl season with interim leaders.
Stewart, who was given the tag after Rich Rodriguez bolted for West Virginia, might have provided the Mountaineers’ administration with reason to remove the interim tag.
New defensive starters
Dominique Franks started at the boundary cornerback position. He and Brian Jackson came to Arizona essentially battling for the position after Lendy Holmes had been ruled academically ineligible prior to OU’s trip.
Holmes was one of three defensive starters the Sooners were without Wednesday night. Cornerback Reggie Smith was held out with a broken toe and defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger was sent back home after being arrested for shoplifting Saturday.
Given the way OU’s defense was manhandled, it’s hard to believe their presence wouldn’t have made a difference.
Bradford adds to record
Bradford finished the season with the NCAA freshman record for touchdown passes with 34. He bested the previous mark of 29 set by Colt McCoy last season.
Let the jawing begin
The trash talk between OU and West Virginia started more than an hour before the game. West Virginia safety Quinton Andrews stood nose-to-nose with most of the Sooners’ wide receivers and defensive backs for a shouting match before the game.
A Mountaineers assistant coach dragged Andrews back to the other end of the field before the situation got too serious.
Broyles in uniform
Freshman receiver and former Norman High standout Ryan Broyles was in uniform for the first time this season. He had been suspended for the season after being arrested for attempting to steal gas in August. He didn’t play in the game, but OU had used him as the scout team quarterback.
One Norman High player did get in the game. Redshirt freshman running back Mossis Madu rushed for 43 yards on five carries.
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