The Oklahoma Sooners opened their 2012 season with a 24-7 win over UTEP in El Paso, in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated. The Miners got on the board first, when Nathan Jeffery scooped up a blocked Sooner punt for a 24-yard touchdown. The Sooners tied the score at 7 by way of a Landry Jones 68-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills. The score would stay tied through the rest of the first half, and Oklahoma only managed a field goal in the third quarter. A Brandon Green touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter gave Oklahoma a 17-7 lead, and a late 65-yard touchdown run by Damien Williams iced the victory.
Aside from a handful of appearances by Blake "the Belldozer" Bell, Jones took all the snaps for Oklahoma. He completed 21/36 for 222 yards and two scores. Williams added 104 yards on nine carries, mostly from the aforementioned touchdown run. Kenny Stills recorded 121 yards receiving on six receptions.
UTEP struggled when throwing the ball, with its quarterbacks going a combined 7/26 for just 48 yards passing. Halfback Nathan Jeffery had a huge game, though, running for 177 yards on 21 carries and scoring on the blocked punt.
At the end of the day Oklahoma put up a respectable 426 yards of offense with seventeen first downs and 24 points on the board. From watching the game you probably wouldn't notice that they averaged 5.5 yards per carry or 5.8 yards per offensive snap. Overlooked in the fracas, most likely, is the fact that OU ran 73 offensive plays and had 204 net rushing yards. The reason why is that the holes left in the offensive line by the injuries to Ben Habern and Tyler Evans were exposed in a big way. UTEP blitzed on every third and long and the Sooners were seldom able to pick it up resulting in an atrocious 5-16 third down conversion percentage. It should also be noted that three of the successful conversions were Blake Bell plunges where the distance needed was less than two yards.
At the end of the day Oklahoma's offensive line spent too much time moving backwards and not enough moving forward. If you're looking for the biggest area in need of improvement of this offense its right there up front.
The Sooners return to action next Saturday against Florida A&M.