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Pounded Into Submission: Sooners Use Dominant Ground Game To Shut Out ULM

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Trevor Knight wasn't perfect in his Oklahoma debut, but the redshirt freshman quarterback showed plenty of the talent that won him the starting job.

Knight became the first OU quarterback since Jason White in 2001 to run for over 100 yards, finishing with 103 yard on 13 carries. Knight also finished 11-of-28 for 86 yards passing with three touchdowns to lead OU to a dominant 34-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

It was the first shutout for the Sooners since a 52-0 win over Iowa State in 2010.

The Sooners pounded the Warhawks on the ground, racking up 305 yards to just 124 through the air.

Nine different players carried the football for OU, who ran the ball on 50 of its 83 offensive plays of the night. The Sooners averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Damien Williams was the top running back for the Sooners, gaining 66 yards on 16 carries. Brennan Clay had the only rushing touchdown of the game for OU, scampering eight yards for a score with 10:42 remaining in the third quarter to put OU up 20-0.

All eyes were focused on Knight, who ripped off a 24-year scramble on the third play of the game. It was a different story for Knight throwing the football. He completed just 7-of-21 passes in the first half, struggling to hit receivers on the bubble screens that had become such a big part of the OU offense over the past few years.

The Sooners finally got on the scoreboard with 11:15 remaining in the first half when Knight hit Jalen Saunders on an out route for a 12-yard touchdown. Two Michael Hunnicutt field goals put the Sooners on top 13-0 at halftime.

The Oklahoma defense was the story of the night, holding a potent ULM offense to just 166 yards for the game, forcing quarterback Kolton Browning into a paltry 20-of-39 passing performance for 128 yards.

The defensive line, led by Charles Tapper and Jordan Phillips, were constantly in the ULM backfield, pressuring Browning and doing a good job of bottling up the mobile quarterback. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops made good on his promise to use linebackers consistently in 2013, as Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and Eric Striker were all over the field throughout the entire game. Nelson led the team with eight tackles and two tackles for loss.

An interception by Julian Wilson off a tipped Browning pass set up Clay's touchdown to put the Sooners up 20-0. Two drives later, ULM attempted a fake punt, but Clay tackled ULM punter Justin Manton short of the line to gain. On the very next play, Knight hit Saunders dragging across the middle for an 18-yard score.

After another three-and-out forced by the OU defense, Saunders returned the ensuing punt 45 yards to the ULM 20-yard line. On third down, Knight hit Trey Metoyer for a 13-yard score and the final margin.

While most expected Knight to dazzle and amaze, it was the OU defense that was the most impressive part of the Sooners' win. There is a lot of improvement needed, but the first performance of 2013 gave OU fans a lot to feel good about, on both sides of the ball.

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