Westbrook inks deal to stay in OKC

By Michael Kinney

Once again Russell Westbrook does it way.
After an offseason of Oklahoma City fans asking when the fiery point guard would sign the contract extension from the Thunder, he waited until no one was looking to pull out his pen and sign the papers.

Westbrook signed a 5-year, $205 million extension with Oklahoma City Friday afternoon. It occurred on a day when the Thunder had no practice and no media members were around.

However, according to a statement released by the Thunder, it was never in doubt.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no place I would rather be than Oklahoma City,” said Westbrook. “I am so honored to have the opportunity to continue my career here with the Thunder. From day one the support that Mr. Bennett, Sam, Troy and the entire organization have given me and my family has been incredible, and we are so grateful. When you play in Oklahoma City you play in front of the best fans in the world, I’m looking forward to bringing everything I’ve got, for them, this city and for this organization. WHY NOT?”

Many observers thought Westbrook would wait until after the 2017-18 season ended and sign next summer so he can see what other free agency moves General Manager Sam Presti could make.

However, after bringing both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the team this offseason, if Westbrook had any questions, they may have been answered.

For Thunder officials, there weren’t any questions. They knew they wanted Westbrook to lead the franchise into the future. Coming off an MVP, record breaking season, the fate of the organization seemed to rest on his decision.

Russell represents everything we could have ever hoped for when building a basketball team for Oklahoma City,” said Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett. “His character, integrity and relentless drive have been a great unifier that has deeply and positively affected the spirit of our fans inside our arena, in our classrooms and in our neighborhoods. We recognize and deeply appreciate Russell’s rare and unique abilities as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder, but also understand his presence and impact on our community will be felt for decades to come. On behalf of the entire Thunder organization, our ownership group and all of Oklahoma, I want to express my deepest appreciation to Russell and I know that the very best days for the Thunder are yet to come.”

Westbrook’s signing also means something else. He is the first major star in the NBA to resign with a small market in this new era of super teams. Other A-list, franchise level players have made their way to major markets such as Miami, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles and Oakland.

With Westbrook resigning with Oklahoma City, it shows small markets can keep their talent. When Kevin Durant left last year, that was not the consensus thinking around the league.

It also hasn’t gone unnoticed that Westbrook chose to sign the extension on Durant’s birthday.

Russell’s commitment to the Thunder organization since its inception in 2008 has helped propel us to great heights and stare down great challenges over our first decade,” said Presti. “We are extremely fortunate to have an athlete, competitor and person such as Russell wear the Thunder uniform. To have him cement his legacy as a leader as we enter into our 10th season in Oklahoma City is extraordinary. I am extremely grateful to Russell, his family and to our ownership for the commitment and support that they have demonstrated in supporting our vision for the Thunder.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Thunder notebook: Melo’s move to the 4 opens up OKC lineup

By Michael Kinney

One of the questions that surrounded the Thunder after acquiring the likes of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony was what positions they would play. Both have had to play both the small forward and power forward in recent years.

But in order to make the best use of the lineup, one of them was going to have to get major minutes at the four.

The answer came the first day of training camp when Billy Donovan said Anthony would be the starting four. Anthony co-signed on the move right away.

The move gives the Thunder a possible starting lineup of Russell Westbrook and Andre Robertson in the back court with George and Anthony at the forwards spots and Steven Adams at center.

This will not be Anthony’s first foray at playing power forward. In his early year in Denver, he often found himself closer to the basket guarding bigger players. He also played most of 2012-14 at the four while in New York.

However, the perception for most of Anthony’s career has been that he wanted nothing to do with the position. That seems to have changed.

“I have no problem with playing the four,” Anthony said. “None at all. I actually like that. I actually embrace that. I think for this team it would be better for me to play the four and more beneficial to everybody.”

WARM WELCOME

Paul George has only been with the Oklahoma City Thunder since the first week of July. However, in that time, the former Indiana Pacer has tried to get out into the community.

So far, George has been impressed with his new surroundings.

“Unbelievable people,” new Thunder forward Paul George said. “Unbelievable as far as the fan support. Being out downtown, being out in the city in general, The love here, the excitement, I haven’t felt this, honestly.”

FIRST LOOK

Oklahoma City fans will get their first viewing of the new-look Thunder Sunday. The team has announced it’s 10th annual Blue and White Scrimmage will be held at 2 p.m. in the Edmond North High gymnasium.

In the past the event has been held at local Oklahoma schools such as Yukon, Westmoore, Bixby, Newcastle and Midwest City. But this is the first year it has been held in the Edmond area.

“We are extremely proud to tip off our 10th season with this great community tradition, and we’re grateful to the Edmond North community for hosting us,” said Brian Byrnes, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing for the Thunder. “We’ve played the Blue and White Scrimmage in a different location every year to show our fans across Oklahoma how deeply we appreciate their support and how much we value the connection they feel with our team.”

While it is a public event, tickets for the scrimmage are being passed out by the Edmond North High School officials. They will determine who gets into the scrimmage.

However, the team will also be hosting a Thunder Alley on the grounds of ENHS. That is free to the public.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Big 3 come together in OKC

By Michael Kinney

Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony came out of the tunnel first Monday afternoon. Surrounded by members of the Oklahoma City Thunder staff the two new teammates walked to the center of Chesapeake Arena floor laughing and joking with each other.

A few minutes later, Paul George joined Westbrook and Anthony as they prepared to take photos during the annual Thunder media Day. It was the first moment those outside the organization got the first full look at the new Thunder Big 3.

“Amazing, man. To be able to play with those two guys and the rest of the guys we have is amazing, man,” Westbrook said. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to making a great run, and I’m happy they’re here.”

While the addition of George and Anthony to the Thunder roster has been the talk of the NBA this offseason, many are skeptical they can pull their talents together in time to make a serious run at a title.

But Anthony, who came to Oklahoma City from the New York Knicks via trade Saturday, tried to disperse those fears in his first public comments.

“At the end of the day, it’s basketball,” Anthony said. “I didn’t want to come here to try to outshine Paul or Russ and vice versa. We’re trying to win basketball games, and by any means necessary, we’re going to do that. I’m going to bring my skill set to this team, to this organization, and that’s what I’m here for. I’ve always been kind of a product of my environment and being able to just be a chameleon in the sense of just blending into my situation and making that situation work, whatever it calls for, whether I was with the New York Knicks, whether I was on the USA team, and even here in Oklahoma.”

One of the reasons many believe this trio can work well together is that fact they seem to all want to be in Oklahoma City, at least for this season.

George had no say in coming to the Thunder since he was part of a three player trade from Indiana in the final year of his contract. But he’s saying all the right things to show he wants to help Oklahoma City return to being a title contender.

“We get criticized a lot for being friendly and not being able to do it alone. Honestly, in this league, it’s hard to do it alone,” George said. “You know, Russ averages a triple-double, and, you know, he couldn’t get out of the first round. That’s a special talent and a guy that did everything he could to win. But you just need, you know, you need guys of that stature and that level to be able to help and create something special. It’s just that era where you’ve got to face teams that are going to have two or three guys that can take over games and be iconic to this league. So, I do. I do think you have to have that to compete in this league.”

In Anthony’s case, initially he only placed one team on his list of franchises he would accept being traded to. But after a conversation with both Westbrook and George, he added the Thunder, along with Cleveland. A day later the trade was complete.

“We sold it. We sold the heck out of it,” George said. “I told him about the ponds that I’ve been on. The fish I’ve been catching out here. No, we’ve talked. We’ve had long conversations. Not even knowing this would be the destination we end up, but just speaking or talking about the possibility of playing alongside one another in the NBA. We’ve had these conversations being on the Olympic team of playing alongside one another.
“So when I got traded here and found out that he wanted to change his destination, and, you know, we reached out to one another,” George continued. “We started talking and trying to figure out how we can make this work to get him here.”

The recruitment of Anthony, 33, took place on when no one thought it could happen. Yet, Sam Presti found away to land one of the best scorers in NBA history in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second pick.

Thunder fans can thank Westbrook, like with most things, in the end for landing the 10-time all-star getting the Big three together.

“You know, Russ doesn’t really do the convincing. He came to New York and played pick-up at my gym. I saw him in Paris at fashion week,” Anthony said. “Me and Russ became close over the years. He was a big part. He was a big reason why I wanted to come here. To see his loyalty to the city, to this organization, what he was able to do on the court. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Thunder go all in with Anthony trade

By Michael Kinney

If Sam Presti ever wants to give up his job as General Manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder, their is a seat waiting for him on the No Limit poker tour. Or some grand master chess champion.

For the second time since the 2016-17 season ended, Presti has seemingly pushed his chips all in to the center of the table to acquire talent when no one thought he had the cards to do it.

The latest move came Saturday afternoon when multiple outlets reported Oklahoma City had finalized a trade with the New York Knicks that would bring 10-time All Star Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder. This all happened 24 hours after Presti held his annual state of the Thunder press conference and gave no hints this type of move was in the works.

“I think it’s also important to say that with respect to the season that we have, obviously in a few days, on Tuesday we’ve got to put our attention on just that day and understand that we have to take care of each day, day by day, but I also think that we’re really excited about the potential for this team over the long-term,” Presti said Friday. “We feel that this team is kind of at a launching point to continue to grow and get better, as I said before, due to the age of the team, the versatility of the group, and the upside that we think the team has over time. We’re going to go and kind of focus in on the day and the season, but we also feel like there’s an incredible platform and opportunity for the future of the team, and we’re really excited about both the season and beyond.”

When Presti made that statement, no one seemed to know he had been in talks with New York for at least two weeks about bringing Anthony to Oklahoma City. It wasn’t until late Friday that news of Anthony adding the Thunder to his short list of teams he would agree to be traded to hit the wires. That came after Russell Westbrook and Paul George acted as recruiters and convinced him Oklahoma City was good for him.

Then by Saturday morning, the deal was complete, according to reports, and the NBA world was knocked on its heals once again. The smallest market in the league had taken on Anthony and his $54 million contract over the next two years.

In exchange for Anthony, the Thunder had to part with a 2018 second round pick, forward Doug McDermott and center Enes Kanter.

Even though Kanter was seen as a liability on defense, he was Oklahoma City’s best interior scorer.

But in losing Kanter, the Thunder also lose the one player on the team who seemed to really want to be in Oklahoma City. He made it known how great the city and state was constantly. That is not something any of the other members, new or old, can be counted on to do.

Yet, what the Thunder do gain is a 33-year old that may be past his prime, but is still a proven scorer. In his last season with the Knicks Anthony averaged 22.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

Anthony has long been tagged as only numbers player who can’t win a championship. He has never come close to playing for an NBA title.

However, Oklahoma City will be the best roster he has played on in his career. That includes his years in Denver.

Bringing in Anthony, George, Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton in the same offseason shows the Thunder are in a win now mode. Presti and his staff don’t have the luxury acting like they have years in front of them like they did in 2012. This year’s $134 million payroll shows that.

None of these moves guarantee Westbrook will sign the 5-year, 207 million contract offer from the Thunder by the Oct. 16 deadline or that George will stay with the team when the season is over.

But during Presti’s press conference Friday, he may have gave a little hint of where his mindset is. While talking talking about making the trade for George, he could easily have been saying the same thing about Anthony.

“It’s hard to acquire a player like that, and I think when you have a chance to do that, I think you have to be decisive,” Presti said. “I think there’s no way to do that in trade unless you’re willing to take on some risk. But I think we go into that eyes wide open because it’s rare to get a player that caliber with where our team currently is and with the fact that if things go well, it could be the continuation of or extension of a very long run of success in Oklahoma City, starting in 2009, ’10, so to speak. But I just think you’ve got to be willing to act when a rare opportunity comes along because if you don’t, you know, you’ll be waiting.”

The Thunder are no longer playing the waiting game.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Sooners marvel at Motley’s playmaking ability

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN – For a quick minute, it looked like Oklahoma was going to allow Tulane to make a game of it. When it was tied 14-14 in the second quarter, the Sooner faithful inside Memorial Stadium and watching on Pay Per View Saturday probably thought OU was in serious danger.

But then the Sooners unloaded 42 unanswered point to close out the game.

And it all started with what may have been the play of the game. With the Wave driving deep into Oklahoma territory, they looked like they were set to take the lead again.

But sophomore cornerback Parnell Motley jumped a pass route near the Oklahoma sideline and picked off the Tulane quarterback.

But Motley wasn’t done there. He ran the interception back 77 yards for a touchdown that gave OU a 21-14 lead that they were not surrender the rest of the night.

The play set the tone for the rest of the game for the Sooners.

“It was huge for our defense because you know we haven’t had many turnovers in the past couple of games,” Jordan Thomas said. “That ignited it all. He got that interception and took it to the house. He put points on the board for the defense and that was huge. That took our offense out of one possession and we put up points for them. It was a 14-point swing.”

It was the second straight weekend Motley, a Washing D.C. native, has come up with a key interception. In fact, against Ohio State, he had a chance had two pick offs, but the second one was wiped away.

Regardless, Motley’s teammates have noticed the job he is doing.

“Parnell Motley, he has done a fantastic job,” said senior Steve Parker. “He’s basically locked in that other corner spot. He is making plays, everyone sees it. And he’s going to continue doing that.”

Thomas was once in the position Motley is now. Getting acclaim for his play in secondary, making big plays and being hailed a shutdown corner.

But on Saturday, he took a secondary role as he helped lead Motley into the endzone. The matured Thomas couldn’t have been happier.

“It was huge. I’m so proud of Parnell and how he’s grown from last year to this year,” Thomas said. “Every time he has a ball in his hand and I have anything to do with him scoring or him getting more yards I want to do that. It’s not just Parnell but the whole team. Any way shape or form that I can help out our defense then I’m going to do that.”

In past seasons, the Sooners were limited in the number of players on defense who could make plays. Thomas, Steven Parker, Jordan Evans and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo were the only ones who had a knack for it.

But now with the addition of Motley, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is able to see a difference when his unit takes the field.

“I just think you see the result of another playmaker on the field,” Stoops said. “You have to have playmakers and dynamic players. Everyone can’t be perfect all the time. Some guys have to make plays and Parnell is a playmaker and you’re starting to see that. We desperately need playmakers, especially out on the edge and that gets us encouraging hope as we move forward.”

What coach Lincoln Riley likes most about what Motley brings to the team and to every game his his hunger.

“He’s just a hungry kid. He just loves to play, loves to compete. He was like that last year as a freshman even though he wasn’t really ready to be playing like this right now,” Riley said. “He was always confident and always energetic and hungry and when you get a talented guy who stays with it even through some ups and downs that he had last year – you just see a different guy. His body is more developed, mentally he was ready and I just think you see a guy with a lot of confidence right now.”

The Sooners travel  Waco, TX. Saturday to take on the struggling Baylor Bears.  It will be Oklahoma’s first Big 12 Conference game of the season.

Despite the Bears record (0-3) and struggles, the Sooners do not believe they will be sucked into overlooking Baylor.

To mark the occasion, the Sooners will be wearing their alternate uniforms for the first time this season.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Thunder get bolder with new uniforms

By Michael Kinney

While the start of the Oklahoma City Thunder season isn’t until Oct. 19, the franchise gave fans a peak at what they can expect to see throughout the 2017-18 campaign.

On Sept. 15, the Thunder officially released what their new alternate uniforms to the public. And they are a far departure from the the team has used in the past.

The uniforms were designed by NIKE and are being called the Statement Edition. Every team in the bold and NBA has its own new uniforms. But very few are as bold as Oklahoma City’s.

“The lead design element of the uniform is the “OKC” on the chest, boldly set in Thunder sunset against the uniform’s primarily navy background. On the back, Thunder blue and navy alternate in tone-on-tone stripes, evoking an image of sound waves,” according to the Thunder. “The concept of the uniform is inspired by Thunder fans’ reputation as Loud City, illustrating the roar of the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd as it engages in its signature “O-K-C!” chant.

“Player names and numbers are also set in Thunder sunset, and the team name is represented in sunset at the belt buckle.”

Oklahoma City will debut the new uniforms Friday, Nov. 24 when they host the Detroit Pistons. That will be the first of at least seven appearances for The Statement Edition. That includes every Sunday home game, as they replace the previous Sunset version.

“Statement edition uniforms are inspired by teams’ desire to make a bold statement the moment they step on the court. Nike’s designers worked with the teams and the brand’s roster of athletes to create new and updated uniforms for this third edition,” said the Thunder. “The Statement edition uniform follows the earlier unveiling of the Association and Icon edition uniforms. As previously announced, home teams will determine which uniforms to wear at their games. The fourth team edition will be released later this year.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Sooners rile up the Buckeyes after 31-16 win

By Michael Kinney

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When it was all said and done, Baker Mayfield had to do it. After everything that had been said and done by Ohio State, when the Oklahoma quarterback got a chance to get a little payback, he had to do it big and showy.

Mayfield helped guide the Sooners to a 31-16 victory over then No. 2 Ohio State Saturday at Ohio Stadium and sent the overwhelming majority of the109,088 fans home not in a good mood.

When the game was over, Mayfield grabbed a large OU flag, ran around the field waving it before heading to midfield and slamming in the middle of the Ohio State logo. While the act may have seemed disrespectful to some, it summed up the entire mood the Sooners had been in for a year.

We had that mood in the locker room that nobody believes in us. You know the guys (wideouts) were able to catch,” Mayfield said. “You know the fact that nobody picked us on game day, you see it in social media throughout the week that there were about 80 percent of the country voted for Ohio State to win. And so right now we believe in ourselves and quite frankly that’s all that matters.”

What also matters is that Oklahoma jumped up to No. 2 in the latest AP poll after its convincing win over the Buckeyes. But when the game started, Oklahoma didn’t look like one of the best squads in the nation.

Oklahoma squandered a pair of scoring opportunities in the first quarter that could have given them momentum. That includes fumbling on the Buckeyes 25 yard line with 5:29 left in the quarter.

The turnover came right after the Sooners converted a 4th and long to set them up in prime real estate.

Oklahoma added another turnover to start the second quarter when Jeff Badet misplayed a backward’s pass. Garrett drove the Buckeyes deep into Oklahoma territory before the Sooners stopped them inside the 10-yard line. Buckeyes were forced to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead with 11:11 left in the first half.

When the Oklahoma offense came back on the field it was without Mark Andrews. The big tight end injured his leg on the previous series and was done for the night.

That left Mayfield to use other players to exploit the middle of the OSU defense. He was able to get the Sooners down to the Buckeye’s 20-yard line before the offense stalled. Austin Seibert came in to kick a 35-yard field goal, but pulled it right. Ohio State kept its 3-0 advantage.

However, Oklahoma ended the first half with a 10 play drive. Yet, it only netted them a field goal to tie the game heading into halftime.

The missed scoring opportunities for Oklahoma in the first half came back to haunt them to start the second. OSU took the opening drive and stuff the ball down the Sooner’s throat to take a 10-3 lead. It took them only 2:23 to run seven plays.

However, Oklahoma came right back with a long drive of its own. But this time instead of turning the ball over or settling for field goals, Mayfield connected with Dimitri Flowers for a 36 yard touchdown.

On Oklahoma’s next possession, Mayfield hit Lee Morris for an 18 yard TD pass that put the Sooners up 17-13 with 2:17 left in the third quarter.

Mayfield and the Sooners were not done there. After the OU defense stopped the Buckeyes on fourth down, Mayfield led the offense down the field again for another score. This time he zipped in a bullet to Trey Sermon from 10 yards that put Oklahoma up by 11.

An interception by Parnell Motley set the Sooners up another touchdown that put Oklahoma up 31-13 and put the game away.

Against what many called the best defense in the nation, Oklahoma racked up 490 total yards. That includes Mayfield tossing for 386 yards and three touchdowns on 27 of 35 passing. Flowers led in receiving with seven catches and 98 yards. Badet overcame the early turnover to haul in five catches for 82 yards.

But it was the OU defense that made the biggest statement. They held the Buckeyes to 350 total yards and one touchdown.

“We got asked a lot about how we were going to handle the atmosphere,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “T me it’s not about handling it. It’s about embracing it. I think it’s something our players and staff really did. We were really looking forward to it. We love playing on the road. It’s a situation we don’t back down from.”

The Sooners host Tulane at 5 p.m. Saturday in the final non-conference game of the season.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com. This story first appeared in The Yukon Review. 

Sooners looking for the big payback

 

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN – Players say it all the time. No matter which elite football program they play for, the phrase “This is why we came here” always comes up in the days leading up to a big game.

For Oklahoma, that phrase has been uttered for the usual suspects such as Texas, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. It has also been quoted for teams such as Notre Dame, Tennessee and Miami.

Now, for the second straight year, the Sooners are saying it about Ohio State. However, this time there seems to be more of an edge instead of the normal excitement that comes with it.

That edge is the result of being kicked around 45-24 last season by the Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium. Not only did it essentially knock OU out of any chances of making it back to the College Football Playoffs, but it vaulted Ohio State into the postseason.

Yet, it was something more personal from the game that quarterback Baker Mayfield remembers the most about the painful defeat.

“Everybody that was here for last year’s huge loss definitely remembers that,” Mayfield said of having to watch Ohio State sing their victory song. “And we talked about it during camp. We’ve never been here for a team to sing their fight song on our field. Quite frankly it’s just embarrassing. It’s embarrassing.”

That is the boulder size chip on the shoulder attitude the fifth ranked Sooners are walking into Columbus, Ohio this weekend with as they prepare for their rematch with No. 2 Ohio State. But this time Oklahoma will be on unfamiliar ground, in hostile territory and once again carrying the flag for the Big 12 in the matchup of top five teams.

“I don’t think we will talk much abut the game last year,” Lincoln Riley said. “I told someone this morning I don’t think it has much of an effect on it. Regardless of who won or loss, this is one of those games both teams are excited to play. It ought to be a great college football environment. Two good football teams going at it. We will certainly have to go up there and play well, which I expect us to do.”

In last year’s game, Riley was the Sooner’s offensive coordinator and watched as his potent offense of Mayfield, Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and Dede Westbrook were shutdown.

This time Riley heads into the contest armed with less big name skill players and more players still looking to prove themselves on this kind of stage. They include Mark Andrews, CeeDee Lamb, Abdul Adams, Mykel Jones and Marcelias Sutton. Except for Andrews, this will be the first time any of them has seen this level of defensive talent.

But one thing Oklahoma has this year that could be the difference is the nation’s top rated offensive line. Led by Orlando Brown, the Sooners big men up front know the game is in their hands as they face what maybe the best defensive front in the country.

“We have to go out there and play with a ton of confidence,” Brown said. “I love playing against the best talent. I want to play against the best defensive end that I can. Obviously they have a lot of talent. I am really looking forward to it. I’m pretty excited.”

Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. central on ABC.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Sooners stomp down on Miners in opener

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN – Even though the Oklahoma receivers didn’t talk about it a lot, they had heard all the talk about how they were the Sooners weak link. They took it as a sign of disrespect.

With their first chance to show the Oklahoma fans and the rest of the nation what they can do, the OU wideouts made the most of the opportunity

No. 7 Oklahoma defeated UTEP 56-7 in their season opener Saturday at Memorial Stadium. While the performance of Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma defense will get the lion share of attention, it was the 14 receivers who caught at least one pass that made the biggest noise.

“There are so many guys that are very explosive,” said tight Mark Andrews who totaled 7 receptions for 134 yards. “Their are a lot of young guys. I thought everyone stepped up. There were a lot of doubts about this receiving core. I thought it was big for us to come out and catch the ball and play real well.”

In Lincoln Riley’s first game as head coach, Oklahoma (1-0) racked up 676 total yards while holding UTEP (0-1) to167. Not a bad way to earn a first win.

“We enjoy winning here,” Riley said. “We will never take that for granted.”

It didn’t take long for Oklahoma to show what their offense has the potential to do this season. On the first drive of the game, they ran off six plays in 2:16. Abdul Anderson scored from two yards out to put the Sooners up 7-0.

Unfortunately for OU, their defense quickly displayed resemblances of last season when UTEP walked down field and tied the game at 7-7 on their first possession. It was not the perfect start for a unit that was maligned throughout 2016.

But the Sooners would only allow 85 Yards in the final three quarters.

“After that first drive we tried to do some stuff to slow it down and get back to playing Oklahoma football,” Parnell Motley said.

The Sooners kept on rolling on offense. A touchdown run by Dimitri Flowers and a touchdown pass from Mayfield put Oklahoma up 21-7 with 9:48 left in the first half.

The Miners didn’t have the horses on defense to slow down the Oklahoma running or passing game. With OU’s offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage, UTEP was helpless.

The play of the day may have come midway through the second quarter when Mayfield heaved a pass downfield to Jeff Badet. The ball was under thrown and Badet had to fight a UTEP defender to keep it from being intercepted.

The ball was popped into the air and as Badet was falling to his back, he hauled the catch. The very next play Mayfield connected with Andrews for a touchdown.

Mayfield then hit true freshman Ceedee Lamb for a score that put OU up 35-7 at halftime.

“Me and the receivers made some plays, a couple great plays. Mark (Andrews) had a catch that should’ve been a touchdown, my pass was a little high,” Mayfield said. “The young guys made some competitive plays. CeeDee Lamb made a great catch and took a shot from the safety and held onto the ball. Plenty guys made plays today, Jeff Badet with the long post ball, went up and made a play when the ball was underthrown. Receivers played well.”

Mayfield didn’t play in the second half as Kyler Murray took over the QB duties. Mayfield threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns on 19 of 20 passing. Murray was 10 for 11 for 149 yards, but was overshadowed by Mayfield’s afternoon.

“I didn’t really notice it until like the third quarter, that he was 19 for 20” Andrews said. “He is such a great player, he makes it look easy, You don’t even notice stuff like that.”

Led by Adul Adams and Marcelias Sutton, the Sooners ran for 180 yards to help open up the offense.

“I feel like we’re The best unit in the nation right now,” Sutton said. “Across the board, we’re all strong. We have our own strengths and weaknesses. Together as a unit, we feel like we’re strong.”

OU didn’t get much time to celebrate. They know they will get a much stiff test next Saturday when they travel to Columbus, Ohio to face the third rank Ohio State Buckeyes.

“Regardless of who we play next, I think we know more about our team now,” Riley said. “We’ll know even more as we get a chance to get back and study the tape. We’ll know what we’re going to become, and seeing the start of that and starting to find out where your strengths are and where your holes are and you’ve got to get better, and that’s kind of all part of this process. Again, regardless of who we play, we definitely learned a lot in that first game and we’ll find a lot of good and find a lot of things we need to get back to work on.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content writer with Eyeamtruth.com

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