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OU football mailbag (West Virginia): Did fans’ booing turn away visiting recruits? Plus, o-line, rushing struggles; Rough Riders cursed?

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Jadon Haselwood

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jadon Haselwood during the game against West Virginia on Sept. 25.

The Sooners drove down the field and kicked a winning field goal as time expired in their game against West Virginia. Here are our best shots from the 16-13 game:

Filmed by Collin McDaniel and Justin Jayne

Edited by Collin McDaniel

No. 4 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) defeated West Virginia (2-2, 0-1) 16-13 on Saturday in a chaotic game that saw Sooners fans booing Spencer Rattler and clamoring for Caleb Williams to supplant him.

Despite the outside noise, Rattler led OU to a game-winning drive capped by redshirt junior kicker Gabe Brkic’s field goal as time expired. The Sooners escaped their Big 12 opener unscathed and will head to Manhattan for a showdown with Kansas State next weekend.

Following the game, The Daily accepted questions from fans on Twitter and Facebook. Here are responses from our sports desk on the home crowd’s booing and more:

Did the embarrassing booing and chanting from the home fans turn off future recruits, especially the defensive recruits who were at the game?

OU did have a number of key defensive targets in house this weekend, the foremost being four-star defensive lineman Marvin Jones Jr. of Ft. Lauderdale, who was on an official visit. Fellow four-star pass rusher Chris McClellan from Owasso was also present officially and four-star defensive back Micah Tease from Booker T. Washington made an unofficial visit.

Booing aside, the atmosphere at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium was perhaps the best it's been all season. It's fair to assume the recruits weren’t impressed by Sooner Nation’s assault of Rattler and the OU offense, but I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker. 

If anything, I think the overall experience should’ve endeared potential Sooners to the university. There’s not many places that can sell out 137-straight games and pack a palace with flashing lights and roaring spectators.

What is wrong with the offensive line? In years past, teams could not get away with dropping seven or OU would gash them on the ground. This year, it seems any team can drop seven and OU can’t make them pay on the ground.

The Sooners’ offensive line has yet to find a consistent group of five players, which plays a part.

Sophomore left tackle Anton Harrison was replaced by Tennessee transfer Wanya Morris in the third quarter against West Virginia, and sophomore center Andrew Raym started at center after Arizona transfer Robert Congel started the previous three games. Even redshirt senior Erik Swenson has gotten some time here and there. 

I think it’s very telling that senior Tyrese Robinson, who started OU’s previous two seasons at guard, was moved to offensive tackle this season. No one has solidified themselves at either tackle spots.

Perhaps the offensive line struggles contribute to Rattler and the offense failing to create big plays. Rattler looked like he was running for his life against the Mountaineers on Saturday night, and the running game being nonexistent certainly didn’t help.

Why can’t OU get Marvin Mims more involved in the offense? He’s so dynamic, they need to find more ways to get him the ball.

While Mims isn’t having the same explosive start this year as he had in 2020, I don’t think his dip in production is due to personal regression. I think it’s because of the emergence of those around him.

Redshirt sophomore Jadon Haselwood, who’s finally free of injury, has quietly become the Sooners’ reception leader, and looks like the receiver he had the potential to become. Additionally, freshman Mario Williams has excelled this season and senior Mike Woods burst onto the scene in OU’s win over West Virginia.

But outside of that, I believe it’s just a matter of time before Mims — and the Sooners’ offense as a whole — figures out what else is slowing him down.

With a lot of teams playing two quarterbacks, do you think Lincoln Riley will use Caleb Williams in some type of package? He did it against Tulane, why not now?

Riley isn’t one to succumb to outside pressure. Bringing in Williams last night would’ve given the unfaithful crowd exactly what it wanted, and signaled a lack of confidence in Rattler.

But, as the season moves along, I do expect Riley to use Williams more often in special situations, as he did with Chandler Morris last season. It can’t happen too often or it becomes predictable, but a well timed option for the backup often catches opponents off guard, like Williams’ touchdown run against Tulane did.

Williams has a cannon arm and exceptional speed, so anything OU can get out of him to help spark its offense is a bonus. I don’t see Oklahoma drastically going to a two-quarterback system like West Virginia has with Jarret Doege and Garrett Greene, though.

Why did Kennedy Brooks only get five carries when Eric Gray got 12?

OU had nine possessions on Saturday. With Gray appearing to be the team’s starter, it makes sense for him to get more carries. But 12 to Brooks’ five? That is strange.

Both running backs had 29 combined carries, Gray with 15 and Brooks with 14, in the Sooners’ 23-16 win over Nebraska. One could point to Riley’s use of Gray in OU’s passing game as the reason why he’s on the field more, but how does that fully explain the team’s 57 rushing yards on the night?

Perhaps it was a perfect storm of Oklahoma’s offensive line struggles mixed with West Virginia’s talented defensive front. Even so, for the Sooners’ offense to improve, figuring out a more balanced running back situation is a place to start.

What is OU’s record and performance level with alternate jerseys?

We’ve got Sooner Tracker to thank for the breakdown on this one. Yesterday’s win included, Oklahoma is now 13-3 all time in its Rough Rider alternate jerseys.

However, the combination of white helmets, red jerseys and white pants the Sooners sported against West Virginia is their second-worst alternate uniform, as OU is 2-2 in those colors. Entering Saturday’s contest, Oklahoma’s point differential while wearing that package was -1.3, and it’s safe to say that figure probably didn’t improve much with a three-point victory.

Maybe it’s time to scrap that uniform pairing and hang onto the rest. Either way, we all know the anthracite or black jerseys are what people really want.

Sports Editor

Mason Young is the OU Daily's sports editor and covers OU football. He was previously assistant sports editor and has covered women's gym, wrestling and former Sooners in the NFL. Email Mason at masyoung@ou.edu and follow him on Twitter @Mason_Young_0

Chandler Engelbrecht is a journalism senior and the Daily's assistant sports editor. He currently covers OU football and has previously covered OU men's basketball, volleyball and men's gymnastics.

Austin Curtright is a journalism junior and one of The Daily's assistant sports editors. He covers OU football and has previously covered OU men's basketball, softball and soccer.

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