Big-play chances there for OU receivers
OU wide receiver Sterling Shepard
OU wide receiver Sterling Shepard
Sooners Illustrated
Posted Sep 5, 2013


OU rushed for more than 300 yards in Week 1, which has opened the door for wide receivers to make big-time plays down the field. The Sooners realize they need to capitalize on this.

It was there. Second series of the game. Oklahoma redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight had senior wide receiver Jaz Reynolds for a big gain down the sideline, but Reynolds couldn’t corral it.

Knight’s uneven performance could be attributed to some first-game jitters but also to wide receivers not making plays for him.

It was there. Midway through the second quarter. A beautiful screen was set for senior Jalen Saunders. Nothing but green grass ahead of him. Saunders dropped it.

“I was looking at it, and I looked at the field, and I looked back at the ball and dropped it,” Saunders said. “I had seen a lot of green grass, but I was really upset. I went home, watched film, I did a hundred push-ups alone. Man, I just hate dropping passes.”

Knight threw for three touchdowns in a 34-0 victory over ULM to start the season, but it still felt like it could have been so much more. Later in the game as OU got its rushing attack rolling, Knight had LaColtan Bester open for a touchdown but overthrew him.

The chances are going to be there. If OU is able to rush for numbers like it did Saturday with 50 attempts for more than 300 yards, the receivers are going to be able to make huge plays. There won’t be many chances so when it comes along, it’s going to be crucial.

“We had some big plays that we could have had down the field,” OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell said. “We have got to do a better job. The thing that happens in this style of offense is that plays get extended way longer than you are used to so we have been doing it in practice.

“The quarterback breaks the pocket, and you’re still playing 10-15 yards down the field. That’s a little different for our team, and I think we’re learning quickly and we have got to improve quickly.”

Nobody could have envisioned an OU game where the Sooners run for more than 300 yards and throw for less than 100. Senior center Gabe Ikard said he had to do a double-take when he looked at the scoreboard to make sure it was really happening. But as the zone read option becomes a bigger part of the offense, the run-to-pass ratio will be something to watch.

The passing numbers shouldn’t reach the 40s or 50s this season, but it might actually help the receivers in the long run.

“Yeah, it’s putting a lot of corners on the island and having the safety to play the run,” Saunders said. “Our offense is looking way better with the style we have switched to. I am really excited for it.”

With the safeties down in the box, it’s one-on-one on the outside. That’s all playmakers like Saunders ask for. Against West Virginia it will be up to the Sooners to take better advantage of those opportunities.



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