NORMAN — Former Shawnee standout Creed Humphrey, an Oklahoma redshirt freshman, was praised for his efforts in Saturday’s 63-14 flogging of Florida Atlantic.
“Creed came in and played well,” said Sooner second-year head coach Lincoln Riley.
The 6-5, 325-pound Humphrey had been in a virtual dead-heat battle with 6-3, 312-pound redshirt senior Jonathan Alvarez for the starting center slot. Alvarez received Saturday’s start with Humphrey entering the game at the 11-minute mark of the second quarter and OU cruising 35-0.
Humphrey was ranked as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and Scout and a three-star recruit by ESPN and Rivals. He was touted as the third-best center in the country by 247Sports and ESPN. Humphrey initially committed to Texas A&M before switching to OU. He was heavily recruited nationally, including Alabama.
• The severity of Saturday’s beating was one of the biggest surprises of Week No. 1 in college football. Florida Atlantic, which didn’t launch football until 2001, was ranked 25th in Sports Illustrated‘s preseason poll. The Owls started the 2017 campaign at 1-3 but captured their final 10 games, including a 50-3 shellacking of Akron at the Boca Raton Bowl.
But the Owls didn’t come close to matching Oklahoma’s physical presence — their tackling was woeful on a number of occasions — and their mental approach wasn’t exactly sterling. The Sooners kicked off to start the game, and the visitors were called for delay of game before the first snap. On possession No. 3, the Owls were called for another delay of game on a 4th-and-3 punting situation. Possession No. 6 saw the Owls flagged for a substitution infraction — in a 4th-and-13 punting situation. OU didn’t need that kind of help because they were vastly physically superior.
• To get a full perspective of just how young the Florida Atlantic program is, the 2018 freshman class was the first class that was born in a year in which the Owls sponsored football.
• OU kicker/punter Austin Seibert demonstrated why he is such a valuable commodity as he produced five touchbacks on six kickoffs. Also, the senior from Belleville, Ill, who entered the game with the nation’s third-longest active streak of made point-after attempts, hit all eight of his Saturday efforts to up the streak to 101 straight.
• This is from the ‘It’s about time’ department. When Lee Morris blocked a punt which was recovered by Curtis Bolton for a touchdown to make it 14-0, it marked the first Sooner blocked punt since 2013. “We said we had to do more on special teams,” Riley said. “We’ve taken some of those steps. That block was one of the big special-team plays we’ve been looking for.”
OU made one of the best off-season coaching hires in the country, getting Shane Beamer from Georgia, where he spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons as a special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. The Bulldogs blocked four kicks, including three field goals, in 2017. One of those field-goal blocks came at the expense of Oklahoma in the second overtime of the 54-48 semifinal loss. Beamer’s official Sooner title is assistant head coach for offense/tight ends and H-backs, but he also plays a role in overseeing the special teams. Shane is the son of former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. Beamer’s squads were acclaimed by many as possessing the premier special-team units. In 2017, Virginia Tech led the FBF in blocked punts for touchdowns with five.
• Kudos also go to Riley for getting Murray out of the game late in the second quarter, allowing Austin Kendall some significant playing time before he suffered an injury.
• It was also refreshing to see so many names on the final defensive statistics. Twenty-six defenders were listed with Parnell Motley having the most tackles with seven. Tre Brown, Caleb Kelly and Bolton had six tackles apiece.
• The most deceiving stat of the game — Florida Atlantic led in time of possession 30:45 to 29:15 but the Sooners recorded 13 plays of 10 yards or longer. Eight of the plays were 20 yards or longer.
• Despite the pummeling, the Owls are eight-point favorites in this Saturday’s home game versus Air Force.
• Although a huge portion of the crowd left at halftime because of the brutal heat, Riley praised the fans. “The atmosphere the first half was electric. We are very appreciative of the Sooner Nation,” he said.
• With Saturday’s victory, OU is 22-0 all-time against teams currently in Conference USA.
• The last time OU had four Sept. home games on its schedule, 2000, was also its last national championship.
• OU will entertain UCLA at noon Saturday. Like the opener, the game will be televised by Fox.