Norman, OK (Sports Network) - Oklahoma needed to fine-tune its defense after
it floundered down the stretch last season, especially after losing its star
quarterback Landry Jones to the pros.
The defense stifled one of last year's giant killers in the season opener.
Oklahoma ran for 305 yards and held the Warhawks to 166 total yards in
the No. 16 Sooner's 34-0 thrashing of Louisiana-Monroe.
Oklahoma's defense allowed 37.8 points per game over its last five tilts a
year ago, including giving up a staggering 633 yards to Johnny Manziel and
Texas A&M in a 41-13 loss in the Cotton Bowl.
The Sooners (1-0), who outgained the Warhawks (0-1) 429-166, held ULM
to a 1-of-15 efficiency on third down. The Warhawks crossed midfield on just
two occassions and recorded only nine first downs
Freshman quarterback Trevor Knight, who beat out junior Blake Bell for the
starting job, tossed three touchdown passes, but completed just 11-of-28
passes for 86 yards with an interception for the Sooners, who went 10-3 and
8-1 in the Big 12 last year.
Knight also ran the ball 13 times for 103 yards, Damien Williams tallied 66
yards on 16 touches and Brennan Clay registered 43 yards and a score on the
ground in the triumph. Jalen Saunders hauled in two touchdowns.
The Sooners ran 50 runs as opposed to just 33 passes.
Senior quarterback Kolton Browning, who led the Sun Belt with 29 touchdown
passes a year ago, was 20-of-39 for 128 yards with an interception for the
Warhawks, who defeated then-No. 8 Arkansas 34-31 in an overtime thriller in
last year's season opener.
The Sooners attempted to bring Knight along quickly over their first four
possessions of the game. Nine of OU's first 14 plays were called passes,
but the freshman completed just three of them for seven yards. Oklahoma also
tallied three three-and-outs.
But then the Sooners turned to their ground game and the momentum shifted
toward their favor.
Oklahoma carried the ball 11 times for 66 yards on a 14-play, 78-yard drive
that bridged the first two quarters before Knight found Saunders for a 12-
Michael Hunnicutt booted through field goals of 41 and 33 yards, respectively,
as the Sooners took a 13-0 advantage into the break.
Oklahoma capitalized on back-to-back ULM turnovers to start the second half.
Julian Wilson intercepted a Browning pass over the middle to set the Sooners
up at the Warhawks' 47-yard line. Knight rushed for 17 and 15 yards,
respectively, on back-to-back quarterback keepers before Clay ran in
for an 8-yard score two plays later.
ULM was unable to convert a 4th-and-6 in its own territory at the 16-yard
line, which led to an Oklahoma score a play later when Knight hit Saunders in
the flat for an 18-yard touchdown and a 27-0 OU margin.
Knight hit Trey Metoyer for a 13-yard score late in the third to cap the
Knight is the first Sooner quarterback to rush for 100-or-more yards since
Jason White had 117 yards on Oct. 13, 2001 against Kansas ... Bob Stoops won
his 150th game at Oklahoma, which leaves him seven behind Barry Switzer on the
school's all-time list ... The Warhawks lost to Ohio, 45-14, in the
Independence Bowl last year ... The Oklahoma defense limited ULM to 38
yards rushing on 22 carries ... Oklahoma registered seven penalties for 78
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