#12 Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns
Cotton Bowl – Dallas, TX
Score: Oklahoma (29), Texas (24)
Baker Mayfield is tough as hell
At one point in the second half, it looked as though Baker Mayfield’s day was done. Mayfield was fallen on after trying to twist out of a sack; his arm awkwardly extended away from his body. After a defensive lineman dropped himself over Mayfield, the senior passer gingerly walked off the field, pinning his throwing arm to his body.
But Mayfield never missed a snap. Instead, he uncorked a 59 yard game winning touchdown pass to TE Mark Andrews up the right sideline and made several other throws into tight coverage. The Sooners’ QB has made strides every season and he’s looking like the real deal. Toughness, poise and composure aren’t just hollow buzz words: they’re requirements for an NFL quarterback. Mayfield may not have a better “resume” game until the post-season, this was a terrific performance all around.
If Mayfield finds his way to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in 2018, I’d tend to lean he’d be the best QB in attendance.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo projects as a Day 2 pass rusher
Okoronkwo left it all on the field against the Longhorns. Although he missed finishing on a lot of challenges in the backfield, his pass rushing prowess was impressive and effective moving the QB off his platform.
Okoronkwo provided terrific effort at the snap and often won at first contact with his hands and natural power. The senior leadership in Oklahoma was the difference in this football game, and Ogbonnia deserves a ton of credit for gutting this game out.
So why a Day 2 rusher? His athletic profile doesn’t fit what the NFL needs to see from a first round player. Many of the needed functional traits are present but Ogbonnia is something of an outlier due to his lack of length. But I think he wins similarly to Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue, who was a Day 2 pick himself.
The Sooners’ secondary prospects are still a little too up and down
This is most directly referring to CB Jordan Thomas. Thomas’ footwork was loose again, as was his ability to process routes and get into a challenge position against receivers. We’ve seen this story before with a recent Sooners’ CB (Zack Sanchez). I’ve learned my lesson in that evaluation: you can’t be non-physical and prone to guess when to challenge routes.
I’ve seen a lot of the same problems from Thomas as I had in my summer work, so I’m very apprehensive about him as a prospect.
RB Chris Warren III has three down abilities, but needs to put it all together
One word to describe Warren? *BIG*. He didn’t get many opportunities to rush the football against the Sooners, but he contributed in other ways that caught my eye. Warren was effective as a receiver, catching 4 passes for 55 yards. And just as importantly, he showed effort, strength and ability as a blocker to physically challenge defenders and protect the pocket.
Warren III is a junior and not a player I’m expecting to see declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. But knowing him now is a good idea, as looking at him as a prospect at this time last year will give us an idea of where he may be in relation to his ceiling.
If Warren can find consistent production and continue to be a physical bruising back in all areas of the game, he’ll be a draft candidate.
Injured OT Connor Williams could’ve been the difference maker
The Texas Longhorns yielded massive amounts of pressure to Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and several other Sooners. Williams, Texas’ star LT, is out with a meniscus tear. Had he played, Williams and Okoronkwo would have been the main event NFL Draft prospect showdown of the weekend.
Instead, the Sooners blew by Texas’ protection schemes and disrupted the rhythm of the passing game. There were a lot of non-call offensive holding calls throughout the contest as well, which prevented this game from getting out of hand.