Sooners' offense is elevated with new run game
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley expressed their intentions to improve the running game and get more explosive plays out of their running backs last week. Prior to Saturday’s matchup against Texas Tech, running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon combined for just eight runs that have gone for 15 yards or more. Stoops and Riley had to be satisfied seeing that the two players added nine such runs on only 39 carries against Texas Tech.
Coming into Saturday’s game the Oklahoma offense lacked balance for most of the season due in large part to the lack of contribution from their running backs. Mixon and Perine ranked 52nd and 64th in elusive rating across running backs in the nation. Mixon graded out at +1.7 at No. 110 among running backs, while Perine was at No. 125 with a grade of +1.0.
However, if Saturday is any indication, the Oklahoma offense just got a lot more dangerous. Both running backs finished with top-six grades this week as Perine graded out at +4.2 and Mixon earned a grade of +3.9. The two players combined to break 10 tackles on their way to picking up 355 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
It makes this offense even scarier that the passing game is led by one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Baker Mayfield is currently our third-highest graded quarterback in the Power-5 conferences with a grade of +27.2. Although he was asked to do less against Texas Tech, he yet again got the job done and earned an overall grade of +3.2.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard also provides a large boost to the passing game. Shephard is currently at No. 11 among wide receivers in Power-5 conferences with a grade of +13.2. It is however even more impressive that quarterbacks have a passer rating of 154.9 when targeting Shepard, which leads all wide receivers.
The Sooners offense will need to continue to be firing on all cylinders as they prepare for a brutal three-game stretch in November when they face Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State within three weeks. They still face Kansas and Iowa State until then, which seem to provide a good opportunity to prepare for the shootouts in the second half of November. If Oklahoma can pull of those three tough wins to finish the season, then nothing is off the table.