Oklahoma-Western Carolina Observations: LIVE In-Game Blog

John Hoover, Ryan Chapman and Josh Callaway offer their real-time observations from the Sooners' season-opener against Western Carolina.
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The live blog will be updated throughout Saturday's contest between Oklahoma and Western Carolina.

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9:23 p.m.

FOURTH QUARTER

9:23 p.m.

Final stats:

Screen Shot 2021-09-11 at 9.20.38 PM

9:21 p.m.

Final score is 76-zip. Sooners are 2-0 heading into next week's clash with Nebraska.

—JH

9:19 p.m.

Lincoln Riley should have gone for the 2-point conversion. What good is a 76-0 win anyways?

—RC

9:11 p.m.

Bryson Washington adds to the turnover tally for the Sooners. The redshirt freshman picked off Carlos Davis, returning the ball 37 yards down to the Western Carolina 25-yard-line. It also appears Caleb Williams’ night has come to an end as third string quarterback Ralph Rucker takes over on this drive.

— RC 

9:07 p.m.

Welcome to Oklahoma Michael Turk. The Arizona State transfer logs his first punt of the season. Turk booted a 56-yard punt with a 16-yard return.

— RC

9:05 p.m.

Caleb Williams goes deep on first down after the turnover — up 69-0 — to old little league buddy Jalil Farooq. Farooq got to the ball, but it was well out of bounds down the right sideline. That would have made a nice little sidebar. Instead, Farooq almost slid into a sideline cooling fan.

— JH

9:01 p.m.

Ethan Downs strikes again! The freshman tracked down Western Carolina quarterback Carlos Davis to force a fumble. Davis slowed and tried to high-step by Jordan Mukes, but Downs was hot behind him on the pursuit and punched the ball out. Shane Whitter recovered. Sooners take over at their own 15-yard-line with 7:13 remaining in the contest.

-- RC

8:51 p.m.

Todd Hudson gets involved now, as he cashes in a 6-yard run to put the Sooners up 69-0 with 10:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.

— RC

8:48 p.m.

On to the fourth quarter, which will be set at 12 minutes. Never seen that before.

-- JH

THIRD QUARTER

8:46 p.m.

Third quarter stats:

Screen Shot 2021-09-11 at 8.47.17 PM

8:45 p.m.

On third-and-9, Caleb Williams fires a perfect strike to Jaden Knowles on a wheel route that covers 57 yards. Sooners end the quarter with a 62-0 lead.

— JH

8:43 p.m.

Oklahoma finished that last defensive possession with three true freshmen and one juco transfer from the 2021 class and four members of the 2020 class. That’s building young depth.

— JH

8:43 p.m.

Eric Gray was back to catch that punt and one can assume that he was under strict instructions to fair catch that ball. Just odd to put Gray back there when Drake Stoops is the listed backup punt returner… Why even risk it?

— RC

8:41 p.m.

For what it’s worth, Zach Schmit was the kicker who booted that kickoff for an easy touchback. Brkic isn’t the only one who can boom it off the kickoff.

— RC 

8:37 p.m.

It's now 62-0 Oklahoma. Late stages of the third quarter and the offensive line remains (L-R) Harrison, Swenson, Raym, Walker and Robinson. They clear the way for a 29-yard touchdown run from Jaden Knowles. I can’t remember, is he Thunder, or Lightning?

— JH

8:37 p.m.

Resulted in a pass interference, but man what a beautiful throw by Caleb Williams to Trevon West tot he far side of the field. The offense with Williams is going to be just fine next year.

— RC

8:30 p.m.

The loudest cheer of the night comes after the announcement of the Texas score at Arkansas: 33-7 Razorbacks late in the third quarter. The fans apparently don’t show the same affinity for Texas that OU’s administration did this summer.

— JH

8:28 p.m.

The announced attendance tonight is 83,538, which is the 135th consecutive sellout of a “regularly scheduled home game” for the Sooners, per the press box announcement.

—RC 

8:25 p.m.

Backup kicker Zach Schmit in instead of Gabe Brkic, but the result is the same. Drills a 46-yard field goal to put the Sooners up 55-0 with 8:15 left in the third quarter in this one.

— RC

8:16 p.m.

Interestingly enough, while there were wholesale changes on the first offensive drive of the second half, the starting defense returns to get things rolling on Western Carolina’s first drive.

— RC

8:13 p.m.

Caleb Williams and his merry band of backups engineer an efficient touchdown drive — 8 plays, 75 yards — and Weatherman J — walk-on RB Jayden Knowles — finishes it with a 1-yard touchdown run. Sooners lead is now 52-0. They’ve scored on every possession except the kneel-down.

— JH

8:11 p.m.

Williams’ fourth play is a 2-yard completion to walk-on Jackson Sumlin. Fifth one is an 11-yarder to Sumlin. Looked like his third read. He seems very comfortable in this particular moment. Then on first and goal, he sprints for the pylon … and trips.

— JH

8:09 p.m.

Caleb Williams gets the nod to start the second half, but he wasn’t the only newcomer. The offensive line from left to right is now Harrison, Swenson, Andrew Raym, Brey Walker and Robinson.

— RC

8:07 p.m.

Caleb Williams with a read-option that covers 59 yards. Yep. The kid can run and throw.

— JH

8:04 p.m.

The teams are back from the locker rooms and Spencer Rattler is wearing a ballcap. It appears his day is done. He finishes 20-of-28 for 243 yards with five touchdown passes. Brace yourself for a lot of Caleb Williams this half … and maybe a little Ralph Rucker.

— JH

7:45 p.m.

Halftime:

SECOND QUARTER

7:44 p.m.

First half stats:

Screen Shot 2021-09-11 at 7.44.29 PM

7:41 p.m.

You’d have to think that will be it for Rattler in this one. Great response from the QB1 after a mixed bag in game one. Would finish with 20-of-26 passing for 243 yards and five touchdowns. Of course, he didn’t feel any pressure all night, but that’s exactly what you want to see against an opponent of this caliber.

— RC 

7:38 p.m.

Rattler to Jadon Haselwood in front of the left pylon for Haselwood’s second TD of the night. OU takes a 45-0 lead and has two timeouts left. If the opportunity presents itself, I think Lincoln Riley will try to score again. I’ll call a 54-yard field goal by Brkic at the buzzer.

— JH

7:36 p.m.

Rattler finds Brayden Willis again for a big play over the middle. Last one went 23 yards, this one covered 28. Willis is such a weapon. Sooners threatening again.

— JH

7:34 p.m.

First real offensive line shuffling of the evening here on this drive. Erik Swenson checks in for the first time at left guard and Wanya Morris getting work at right tackle. Up until this point, the only change along the front was rotating Morris and Anton Harrison at left tackle.

— RC

7:32 p.m.

I just gotta say, it’s a lot of fun watching true freshmen Danny Stutsman and Ethan Downs sprinting full speed everywhere chasing guys down. Both guys are madly chasing someone on just about every play. You know Alex Grinch has to love that kind of effort.

— JH

7:32 p.m.

And with that sack, Perrion Winfrey has officially tripled his entire 2020 sack output (0.5 sacks for the season) in one half of football (1.5 sacks tonight). It’s just Western Carolina, but finishing off plays in the backfield was the next step for him.

— RC

7:30 p.m.

DB Justin Broiles is having a nice series. Made a tackle earlier on this drive and has had tight man coverage from the nickel spot (Turner-Yell is back at safety).

— JH

7:26 p.m.

The defensive rotations have made a lot more sense tonight along the defensive line. Mixing in one or two backups with the starters on third downs. That time, Reggie Grimes got the call alongside Redmond, Thomas and Winfrey (though a Jaden Davis offsides negated the play anyways).

— RC

7:25 p.m.

CB Josh Eaton gets the double-whammy: a holding penalty on a quick slant his way, then apparently re-injured his right hand/wrist, which is heavily taped. Came off the field in a lot of pain.

— JH

7:21 p.m.

Mario Williams lays it down to bring in a 10-yard TD catch from Rattler. This is just too easy. Sooners now lead 38-0, 8:11 til halftime.

— JH

7:19 p.m.

Kennedy Brooks runs like he’s racing a motorcycle. One of those Ninjas. Just leans to the left and picks up speed, leans to the right and picks up speed. He’s up to 48 yards on five carries so far tonight as the Sooners are threatening again.

— JH

7:16 p.m.

Cody Jackson gets his first career catch in the second quarter, a 12-yard grab on the OU sideline from Rattler — right in front of all his teammates. Cool moment.

— JH

7:09 p.m. 

Sooners start the ensuing drive with a sack. Reggie Grimes and Perrion Winfrey meet at the quarterback. Rogan Wells never had a chance to find a receiver. 

— JH

7:05 p.m. 

Rattler with the deft RPO to Mike Woods, who jukes and cuts inside a couple defenders for his first OU touchdown. Just feel like Woods is gonna have a big year. OU takes a 31-0 lead, 12:58 to go til halftime. 

— JH

7:03 p.m. 

Theo Wease is on the sideline rolling around on a leg scooter. Has a hard black cast on his right leg from his toes to just about halfway up his shin. Not a protective boot but a full on cast. Riley previously said he’d miss a good chunk of time, likely the first half of the season. 

— RC

7:02 p.m.

Western Carolina goes for a fourth-and-2 and Ethan Downs took on his blocker and the ballcarrier like the rest of us take on a sandwich. What a play.

-- JH

6:59 p.m. 

NG Jordan Kelley makes his return to the field as the Sooner defense takes the field to start the second quarter. It’s been reported that Kelley missed last week for COVID-related reasons. 

— JH

6:58 p.m.

Well scratch that, after a review it was deemed that the wide receiver never had possession of the football. Catamounts retain possession.

— RC

6:55 p.m.

Shane Whitter’s footsteps forced the fumble there for the Sooners. Much needed for him after Alex Grinch’s interesting comments about him this week.

— RC

6:51 p.m.

FIRST QUARTER

6:50 p.m.

First quarter stats:

Screen Shot 2021-09-11 at 6.49.17 PM

6:47 p.m.

Something for Riley and Dennis Simmons in the film room on Monday — below par blocking from Mims and Woods on a couple of plays here in on this drive to close the first quarter.

— RC

6:42 p.m.

Obviously just a quarter in so take this with a grain of salt, but I think Danny Stutsman has been OU’s most consistent inside linebacker so far. Been very consistent in both coverage and triggering on run plays. Very much appears that it will be a four-man rotation at that position this season.

— RC

6:39 p.m.

Welcome to the party Eric Gray. Rattler finds the running back wide open over the middle for a 20-yard TD strike. Brkic remains perfect on PATs, and the Sooners now lead 17-0 with 5:04 left in the first quarter.

Drive was three plays for 58 yards, only ticked 57 seconds off the clock.

— RC

6:37 p.m.


Tennessee transfer Wanya Morris making his OU debut at left tackle on drive No. 3 for the Oklahoma offense.

— RC

6:34 p.m.

I’m seated right in the end zone just off set from the goal post, I can say with strong confidence Brkic’s field goal from earlier would have been good from 65. It made it, against the wind, easily. What a weapon he is for the Sooners. 

— JC

6:32 p.m.

Williams, the Western Carolina receiver, was open on that third-down play as Broiles slid over on the coverage. Better throw and the Catamounts would have had a chance. Broiles was present ready to bring the wood though, so by no means would it have been an easy first down for anyone.

— RC

6:26 p.m.

Wide receivers Cody Jackson, Mario Williams and Drake Stoops all see their first action of the evening. Rattler flushed out of the pocket twice, and the Sooners have to settle for a 56-yard field goal from Gabe Brkic, which would have been good from about 60 yards.

10-0 Oklahoma with 6:56 left in the first quarter.

— RC

6:20 p.m.

With Bowman out, Delarrin Turner-Yell opens this drive at nickel (he was playing press coverage on the snap against a double-stack formation), and Key Lawrence is in at strong safety. 

— JH

6:20 p.m.

6:19 p.m.

Rattler was 4/5 for 43 yards on that opening drive. Efficient, decisive. Gray carried three times for 27 yards. I’m gonna try not to read too much into the stats tonight. 

— JH

6:17 p.m.

Drive went by in a flurry but here’s your official starters:

Harrison-Hayes-Congel-Murray-Robinson (same starting line as last week)

Haselwood-Stogner-Mims-Woods

Rattler-Gray

--RC

6:15 p.m.

Jadon Haselwood cashes in the Sooners' opening drive with a touchdown pass from Spencer Rattler. 10:28 on the clock. It's on.

-- JH

6:14 p.m.

Oklahoma opens with a fast, furious offensive possession. Eric Gray has a little more space this week and looks much more confident. Mims and Woods with early catches.

 -- JH

6:12 p.m.

Danny Stutsman gets in on the decisive third down, doesn’t get caught watching the ball and correctly picks up the running back out of the backfield, something the LB’s failed to do in the first quarter on the goal line last week.

-- RC

6:06 p.m.

Latrell McCutchin does indeed start at right corner. Also, Billy Bowman is at nickel again. Two true freshmen start in the Sooner secondary.

Both guys come out later in the drive, but a third freshman, LB Danny Stutsman, gets on the field for WCU's opening possession.

-- JH

6:03 p.m.

Lincoln Riley asked for Sooner Nation to come out in full force this week. They have responded. The hype video opened with "Sooner Nation ... WELCOME BAAAAAAACK!"

It's mostly full and I get the feeling this week's crowd is gonna be ready to roar.

-- JH

6:01 p.m.

Newly minted captain Isaiah Thomas dapping up the recruits who line the tunnel entrance for the Sooners on his way to the coin toss. 

A.B.C. — Always Be 'Crootin 

-- RC

6:00 p.m.

Freshman CB Latrell McCutchin is announced as a "projected" starter.

-- JH

5:59 p.m.

South wind of 10-15 mph, and it's 90 degrees in Norman. 

-- JH

5:57 p.m.

National anthem on 9/11 with that flag waving is pretty powerful. Also, OU had what looked like a passenger jet fly over.

-- JH 

image0-2

5:43 p.m.

Western Carolina has finished warmups. They brought a full contingent of 70 players.

-- JH

5:38 p.m.

The press box PA just announced that "about 25 Fletcher's Corny Dogs" had been brought to the press box ... and there was nearly a stampede. 

Led by me, of course.

-- JH 

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5:08 p.m.

About one hour to kickoff. Both teams are on the field for warmups. I'm counting a total of 34 players from Western Carolina. 

Last week Oklahoma played 31 players on defense alone.

-- JH