OU football: ESPN's Matt Millen dumbfounded by Sooners' first-half gameplan
Like many OU fans watching the game on TV, ESPN analyst Matt Millen was dumbfounded at halftime. Why were the Sooners trying to throw the ball with an untested freshman quarterback when their line was outmanning Texas Tech in the game Saturday afternoon?
As the third quarter was about to start, Millen said, “They’ve got to continue to run the ball. They have been scared off it. I don’t know why. Pound the ball and they will win the game.”
Millen was prophetic as the Sooners’ running game led by an Earl Campbell lookalike and a running quarterback dominated the second half en route to the 42-30 victory in Lubbock, Texas,
Play-by-play announcer Bob Wischusen first compared Samaje Perine, who rushed for 213 yards and three touchdowns, to Campbell, the former University of Texas and Houston Oilers standout, in the third quarter. Millen, a former linebacker, later agreed with him.
“I played against Earl Campbell. He was really brutal to tackle and Perine runs a lot like him. He runs behind his pads. He’s nice and low. If you’re coming out of the secondary, you have to take him out at the ankles.”
Although Millen said Perine didn’t have great speed, Wischusen disagreed. “For a 243-pound back, I would call that great speed.”
Millen, a former Detroit Lions executive, implied Perine had the ability to leave for the NFL after his junior year. “Physically gifted, mentally mature, loves to compete, has all the requisite skills. They will have him two more years.”
Wischusen said Perine’s ability helped make OU quarterback Cody Thomas’ keepers so effective. “You’ve got 11 pairs of eyes in red and black all looking at one guy.”
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* Wischusen and Millen were shocked by OU’s pass on the final play of the first half when Thomas threw his third interception when the Sooners could have let the clock run out. Millen said, “That’s just called stupid.”
* The ESPN announcers, including sideline reporter Quint Kessenich, were surprised that the Sooners were flat to start the game. “This team is flat as a pancake,” Kessenich said. Later after a shot of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops screaming at defensive backs, Millen said, “If you have to rely on your coach to get you fired up, you shouldn’t be out there.”
* ESPN missed a Texas Tech extra point when it went to commercial too early.
* The OU secondary received a lot of criticism, including on the 47-yard touchdown pass to Devin Lauderdale for the third Texas Tech touchdown when defensive backs Ahmad Thomas and Jordan Thomas collided. “It was a Thomas affair, didn’t do them any good,” Millen said.
* On the Red Raiders’ first touchdown pass, Millen criticized OU safety Steven Parker for blowing his coverage. “When you’re in man coverage, stay with your man. Once you look back inside, you’re beat.”