Saunders still a crucial component of Sooner offense
Christopher James, The Oklahoma Daily
Some people are impatient. Others, like wide receiver Jalen Saunders, are used to waiting.
Last season, Saunders sat out for the first four games of the season, anxiously waiting the decision of the NCAA whether he was eligible or not after transferring from Fresno State.
After the ruling, Saunders was good to go and was immediately plugged into the Sooners’ offense. With the pass-first mentality, Saunders thrived.
This season, things are a little different. Through the first four games, Saunders and the other wide receivers have seen two different quarterbacks.
It was obvious the passing game was not going to be the same as in years past with Landry Jones and Sam Bradford. The offense was making a major overhaul.
Now the offense relies heavily on the run game. This left Saunders and the receivers gasping for catches, yards and touchdowns.
Through the first seven games, Saunders’ game highs in catches and reception yards were only seven and 60, respectively.
That all changed last Saturday night against tenth ranked Texas Tech, who has been one of the nation’s surprise teams so far this season.
Saunders had arguably his best game of the season.
Early in the second quarter, trailing by a touchdown, quarterback Blake Bell found Saunders on three straight third downs. That drive would end with a touchdown pass to—you guess it—Saunders.
The following possession, Saunders went right back to work. However, this time, he was much more efficient. One catch for 76 yards. Bell found Saunders again for his second score of the game as he reeled in the pass, avoided a defender and cruised in to the endzone.
With six catches, 153 receiving yards and two touchdowns, Saunders helped the Sooners to a 38-30 upset over the Red Raiders, one that would not have happened if it had not been for his superb performance.
The California native provided a much needed spark to the offense. Coming in to the game, many people were saying that the Oklahoma offense could not compete with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
The run game had been established early in the season, but that performance through the air gave the Sooners a much needed confidence boost.
Succeeding in the passing game only helps the run game.
Only one question: Can the Sooners keep that same success rolling through the bye week and into Waco where the Sooners will face their toughest opponent of the season?