WVU – Oklahoma Football Notebook

WVU – Oklahoma Football Notebook

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When it came to Oklahoma’s 59-56 track meet win Friday, slow and steady definitely did not win the race.

The Mountaineers had a host of big plays, but OU coach Lincoln Riley thought the Sooners did just enough to force WVU into several sustained drives, which, in effect, set his team up for success.

West Virginia wide receiver David Sills snares a touchdown pass

“I felt like other than two or three big plays, we made them earn it,” Riley said. “We made them drive; they had to convert. They were 12-of-18 on third down so they had 21 third and fourth downs. It gave us the opportunity to make some big plays and we made two of them that were game changers.”

The Sooners, who entered the game on pace to set an NCAA single-season record by averaging 8.8 yards per play, averaged 10.3 per play Friday. The Sooners’ longest drive lasted 4:33 and ended came on drives of  2:44.

The trend began in the first half as WVU dominated the time of possession but was behind 35-28 on the scoreboard. By intermission, WVU had run 56 plays to Oklahoma’s 26; the Mountaineers had 20:36 in possession time while the Sooners held the ball for just 9:24.

“When our defense gives up a touchdown, we take pride in answering,” said Sooners’ receiver Marquis Brown, who had 11 catches for 243 yards, including touchdowns of 25 and 45 yards.

Oklahoma ranks 108th out of 130 FBS teams with just 65.5 offensive plays a game, but it ranks first nationally with its 576.1 yards per contest. Hawaii holds the single-season record, averaging 8.6 yards per play in 2006. The Sooners averaged 8.3 yards per play last year, behind quarterback Baker Mayfield, the first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns.

“We try to do our best to score every time we’re on the field,” Brown said. “We feel it’s another opportunity.”

TROPHY-WINNING PERFORMANCE? Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray left the field to chants of “Heis-man” from the few hundred Oklahoma fans who made the trip to Mountaineer Field.

It’s not hard to make a case for the redshirt junior. Murray threw for 354 yards and ran for 114 more. He threw three touchdowns and ran for a fourth.

No FBS player has ever averaged at least 300 passing yards and at least 60 rushing yards per game for an entire season. Coming into Friday’s game, Murray was averaging 300.9 and 67.2.

“He’s been doing it all year,” Brown said. “I think he’s the best quarterback in America.”

LB SHUFFLE: Zach Sandwisch got the start at middle linebcker Saturday, as neither Dylan Tonkery nor Shea Campbell dressed.

“We just found out about ten minutes before we played that we wouldn’t have Shea,” WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said.

Sandwisch, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound redshirt sophomore, finished with three tackles.

OFFENSIVE LINE TOO: WVU made a move with its starting offensive line, starting Kelby Wickline at tackle and moving Colton McKivitz in to guard. The coaching staff liked the results, but all too soon it collapsed into a welter of injuries.

Wickline went down, negating the McKivitz move, and later Yodny Cajuste was felled with what looked like an ankle injury. Josh Sill was then flexed out to tackle, with both Chase Behrndt and Isaiah Hardy seeing time at guard.

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