SAN ANTONIO – A dominating performance, and Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams was about to have some fun.
He ran from one side of the crowd to the other, giving appreciation and letting them all know how much they mean to him.
But just moments after OU’s 47-32 thumping of Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night, the elephant in the room had to be addressed.
The Sooners earned one last win for interim coach Bob Stoops, but it’s all about Brent Venables from now on. And when Stoops asked Venables to share the celebration stage, Venables talked about Williams being the leader of the 2022 offense.
Well, is he?
“The whole transfer portal thing and Coach BV going up there and saying all of that, I was focused on finishing the semester off strong, being with my guys, making sure all of my guys that won’t be here next year – I have the chance to be here,” said Williams, available for postgame press conference for the first time this season. “All my guys that won’t be here next year, they go off on the right note.
“We go 11-2, and I’m about to go on vacation with my family. I haven’t been on vacation in a really long time. After all these ups and downs, I want to go on vacation, spend time with my family and focus on that. And that’s it.”
Interpret that how you want, been obvious that every little thing Williams has done has been scrutinized and analyzed to the nth degree ever since Lincoln Riley suddenly left to become the head coach at USC.
Williams was fantastic against the Ducks. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 242 yards with three touchdowns and was never sacked.
There are a lot of pieces for OU coming back to Norman for 2022, and then some new ones coming in. It all starts with offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
Venables knows, Lebby knows the first order of business is to get Williams to be locked in for the 2022 season. Williams didn’t answer the question Wednesday, but Lebby is putting in the work.
“We talk all the time, me and Coach Lebby,” Williams said. “He’s called me like – I think we’ve talked like every day since I’ve been here since he hasn’t been able to be here.
“And then also Coach BV, as everybody knows, you see it on the sidelines, you can see it – when he’s not coaching, you can see it in practice and things like that, even when he’s not coaching right now, he has a whole lot of energy, a whole lot of passion for what he’s doing. I think Oklahoma chose the right guy to come here and be the head guy, and we’ll see how Oklahoma does and how I decide.”
It was a great final performance for Williams in the 2021 season. Something all OU fans are hoping for, though, is that it won’t be his final one as a Sooner.
Gundy’s great first impression
You run for more than 300 yards, you score on eight straight possessions. That’s gonna do just fine in a lot of games, and it was a great way for interim offensive coordinator Cale Gundy to showcase his ability to call plays.
Gundy is being retained under Venables, but his role will return to what it has been in previous years in coaching wide receivers.
Pressure to send out Bob Stoops the right way. Pressure to push the right buttons. It all worked to the tune of 560 yards of offense.
“I definitely learned that it can be very stressful,” Gundy said. “Even though everybody has a part of it, you can feel like the weight of how many years Oklahoma has been playing football is on your shoulders. It definitely feels a lot better right now. It is a lot of work, no doubt. That’s part of it. What makes it easy is we have great players. They bought into it, and they executed.”
Gundy said the offensive staff spent the last three weeks working on the plan. They knew it was good. The message was to just follow it and execute.
Done and done.
Brooks just enjoying the moment
Williams isn’t the only big-time offensive performer to wonder about. It’s not a transfer, though, when it comes to Kennedy Brooks. It’s about whether he’s going leave OU to enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
If he is, he picked one heck of a way to go out. Named the Offensive MVP, Brooks rushed for 142 yards on 14 attempts with three touchdowns and added three receptions for 24 yards.
We should know his future soon, just not Wednesday night.
“Man, honestly, I haven’t really thought about it. I’m just enjoying this moment,” Brooks said. “This is probably one of the biggest moments I’ve ever had in football, honestly. And right now, I’m just enjoying it with this team, and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Brooks wasn’t the only running back to average more than 10 yards per carry as Eric Gray had 82 yards on just eight attempts. OU rushed for 318 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per rush.
Big Game Bob & the cowboy hat
Williams left the field and entered the interview room wearing a cowboy hat. That felt weird, but turned out there was an explanation for that.
“The cowboy hat was a gift to me from the Alamo Bowl, and we decided to use it as our big-play kind of rally chain, turnover chain or big-play chain. So we had a big-play cowboy hat.”
And big plays galore for OU. Brooks and Gray each had at least a 40-yard run, while Williams connected with Marvin Mims for a 55-yard touchdown.
You never know what bowl game performances are going to mean going forward. Sometimes it’s a springboard, sometimes it’s a one-night wonder.
OU will be hoping it’s the former for wide receiver Jalil Farooq. He entered the game with one catch but had three receptions for 64 yards vs. Oregon.
“Jalil is extremely talented, and I think everybody saw that tonight,” Gundy said. “We were gonna go with him and Mario. We moved Mike Woods over to the X position because with Theo and Jadon Haselwood not here. You saw what he can do. I’m excited to be his coach, and I’m excited about what he can do. He’s a great player.”