Houston-Oklahoma grades: Cougars secondary flusters Baker Mayfield
Houston Cougars 33, Oklahoma Sooners 23
Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from Houston’s 33-23 victory over Oklahoma:
QB Greg Ward Jr. excels through the air
Ward may not be known as much of a passer, but give him time and he’ll shred you just the same. He floated in a handful of gorgeous passes down the field. On throws targeted 10-plus yards downfield, Ward was 7-18 for 176 yards along with two drops.
Top offensive grades:
WR Steven Dunbar
QB Greg Ward Jr.
WR Isaiah Johnson
WR Linell Bonner
TE Tyler McCloskey
Houston head coach Tom Herman proves why the hype is real
Saturday’s game was an absolute masterclass in play calling from the Houston head coach. The Cougars offensive line was completely dominated from play one and their final grades are dreadful all the way down the line. That didn’t stop him from manufacturing a run game and pass protection where one shouldn’t have existed. Misdirection, bootlegs, options — you name it, Herman employed it. The goal was to put the ball in hands of the playmakers, who could hold their own against the Oklahoma defense, and the plan worked perfectly.
Top defensive grades:
CB Howard Wilson
DT Ed Oliver
DE Cameron Malveaux
OLB Tyus Bowser
CB Brandon WIlson
Secondary flusters Baker Mayfield all day
Houston’s defense held Baker Mayfield and company to only 23 points isn’t getting nearly the attention that it deserves. Making only the fourth start of his college career, junior cornerback Howard Wilson locked down the outside Saturday, allowing nine yards on 45 coverage snaps. The name to remember though is true freshman nose tackle Ed Oliver. He had two sacks, but his real impact came against the run, racking up four stops on only 11 run snaps.
QB Baker Mayfield really struggles compared to last year’s performance
This was not the same playmaking Baker Mayfield we saw for much of the 2015 season. The ability to break the pocket was still there, but the Sooners quarterback rarely made much of anything out of it. Mayfield’s average time to throw was a leisurely 3.47 seconds — 0.55 seconds higher than his average in 2015. His stats may have looked nice at the end of the game, but it helps that half of his 24 completions came behind the line of scrimmage.
Top offensive grades:
RB Joe Mixon
TE Dimitri Flowers
WR Dede Westbrook
LT Orlando Brown
WR Mark Andrews
No advantage for Sooners along offensive line
While Oklahoma’s defensive line had the drastic athletic advantage over Houston’s offensive line, the Sooners offensive line did not share that same edge. The holes were not easy to come by as Oklahoma never strayed too far from their base running concepts on offense. They held up fairly well in pass protection, yielding seven total pressures on 47 pass blocking snaps, but it still wasn’t enough.
Top defensive grades
DE Charles Walker
ILB Tay Evans
DE Matt Dimon
CB Will Johnson
FS Ahmad Thomas
New-look secondary takes a beating
While Zack Sanchez was far from a dominant cornerback in college, his playmaking ability was still going to be difficult to replace. On Saturday that rang all too true. Dakota Austin was thrust into a starting role and responded by giving up 66 yards on 3-5 targets. He wasn’t the only one getting toasted though. The entire defense failed to break up a single pass all day and there were a handful of big plays left on the field either through drops or inaccuracy on Houston’s part.