Oklahoma is your Big 12 Champions! The Sooners have now won 4 consecutive Big 12 titles, and have positioned themselves for a potential berth in the College Football Playoff.
Here are my scouting observations from the Big 12 Championship Game:
Kyler Murray – In his lone season as a starting quarterback, Kyler Murray has continued to develop. He showed pocket presence, elusiveness and clutch throws. On Oklahoma’s final, game-clinching drive, Murray completed three 3rd-down throws, including a dime to tight end Grant Calcaterra for a touchdown. Though Murray is likely headed to the MLB, his athleticism would entice NFL teams early in the Draft. His lack of height may limit his Draft ceiling, but he has a rare combination of mobility and touch on his throws.
Collin Johnson – Collin Johnson was Texas’ most impressive offensive weapon, as he made multiple plays with an expanded catch radius. On the first drive, Johnson effortlessly won above the rim, tracking and coming back to the ball. Later on, Johnson would use his hands to stack and separate vertically, continuing the route running development he’s shown this season. In the second half, quarterback Sam Ehlinger bought time in the pocket and threw a jump ball to Johnson in the back corner of the endzone, where Johnson high-pointed the pass over the defensive back. Johnson showed a presence over the middle as well, using his long frame and knowledge of space and coverages. Multiple times, he was above to catch an intermediate route and get vertical for extra yardage. The Oklahoma defensive backs struggled to cover Johnson as they were concerned with covering vertically, allowing Johnson to snap off his routes when they opened their hips. Definitely a strider, Johnson isn’t the shiftiness or quickest ball carrier, but shows functional long speed because of his length. His size and body control combination make him one of the best jump ball receivers in the potential wide receiver class.
Marquise Brown – On four separate occasions, Marquise Brown was unable to win in contested spots down the field. Though he showed route nuance and created a ton of separation with a slight stutter before a post route, he would struggle for most of the first half after that. Brown failed to come back to the catch point, attempting to track the ball over his shoulder and having his hands played. The one time he was able to flip his hands, he was unable to finish the catch as he went to the ground. Brown would suffer a second-half drop, manifesting the concerns of ball security he’s had throughout the season.
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Unfortunately for Brown, he was taken out of the game late in the third quarter. Here’s to hoping he is able to regain health in his lower body moving forward.
Kris Boyd – Boyd was penalized three times in the first quarter, including one down the field on Marquise Brown. From that point forward, Boyd would settle down and play better. He swiped the ball out of Marquise Brown’s hands late after pressing him in the redzone. His hip fluidity was on display as he kept up with the speedy Brown, closing on the catchpoint and matching hands.
Ben Powers – Powers is likely the best offensive lineman prospect on Oklahoma’s loaded front. He showed finishing ability, overpowering Breckyn Hager. Later, he would show strength in his lower body on a combo block, moving the defensive lineman off the line of scrimmage and working his way up to the linebacker. On Oklahoma’s final first half drive, Powers and the rest of the Oklahoma offensive line gave Kyler Murray all day to throw on multiple occasions. Powers processes pass rushes quickly and looks for work, regularly bringing physicality.
Brandon Jones – Jones returned from a head injury in last week’s game against Kansas, showing his usually alley-run speed. His ability to close space on a ball carrier and gather his feet, while consistently wrapping up and tackling is a strength. The biggest weaknesses in his game this season has been his ball skills, but he had a nice pass breakup on CeeDee Lamb where he closed and knocked it away before the ball made its way to Lamb. However, he would be beat for a touchdown by tight end Grant Calcaterra late in the first half. Calcaterra would cross his face in the redzone and Jones was unable to recover and play the ball.
Cody Ford – The Oklahoma right tackle does an excellent job with his mobility, positioning his hips in the hole with ease. Ford continued to show this, and he showed awareness to let defenders fly too far upfield and have ball carriers slice underneath. In space, Ford can be a road grader, as he operates with bend and power to move defensive ends and linebackers.
Charles Omenihu – The Big 12 defensive lineman of the year, Omenihu showed his prowess on a third down pressure in the first half. While built more sleek than a traditional defensive tackle, Omenihu sliced a double team and moved the pocket on Kyler Murray. In the second-half, Omenihu took a bit of a rounded path on an outside move but eventually got the edge and chased down Murray for behind, combining for a sack. The Oklahoma offensive line doubled Omenihu on occasion, not allowing the best Longhorns pass rusher beat them. Omenihu has good weight to his tall, long build, but may be left without a position at the next level.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey – After a breakout campaign, Humphrey continued his strong season. His size can be a weapon over the middle and in the short and intermediate. Additionally, Humphrey continues to show his prowess as a ball carrier, picking up nice yardage after the catch. He showed smooth breaks in his routes, hinting at his future role as a chain-mover in the NFL. In the second half, he came downstem with a “friendly” finish towards the quarterback for a touchdown in the redzone. Not to be overlooked, he made solid blocks in space when called upon. Humphrey showed off his ability as a ball carrier with a late kick return for a touchdown (that would be negated by penalty), displaying his vision and elusiveness.
Zach Shackelford – The Texas center had a strong performance in both the run and pass game. Shackelford showed excellent upper body power, moving and turning the upper body of Neville Gallimore in the first quarter. In pass protection, Shackelford was consistent in his sets and mirror and matching lateral moves from the Oklahoma defensive tackles, walling them off from disrupting the pocket. Shackelford and the rest of the Texas interior offensive line had a nice showing in pass protection throughout the game.
Gary Johnson – The Texas linebacker shot a gap on a third and goal from the 1 for a tackle for loss. Johnson processed the run, filled with power and finished the play. Later on, Johnson would show incredible hustle on a big catch and run by CeeDee Lamb, tracking the speedy receiver down inside the 10 yard line and knocking the ball out of his hands for a fumble and turnover. While Johnson may have some limitations in his game in how he sheds blocks, his motor will never be a question.