Much thanks to ccmachine at Crimson and Cream Machine for taking the time to answer a few questions for DTN. Updates on the OU injury front, how to get to QB Landry Jones, why the offense struggles to run, etc.
The Sooners have been severely bitten by the injury bug this year, can you give us a quick run down of the injured starters we can expect to see out against Texas Tech and how have their replacements fared thus far?
QB Sam Bradford – Landry Jones has been solid but not spectacular in replacing Bradford. To be honest he looks a bit like Bradford did in `07 with the exception of not reading through his progressions as well as he should. Every young quarterback makes mistakes and bad throws it’s just that Jones has made some really, really bad ones. A lot of Sooner fans aren’t over the 5 interceptions he threw against Nebraska yet. A good performance on the road could help out a lot with that.
TE Jermaine Gresham – Oklahoma still hasn’t found a replacement for him which is natural when you lose the best tight end in the nation. However, you’d think that they would have someone at capable of getting regular reps. Walk on Trent Ratterree leads all tight ends with 6 catches for 51 yards. It should go without saying that we (the fans) expected a lot more from that position than anyone else.
OL Brody Eldridge – Brody is quite possibly the best player on Oklahoma’s roster. He’s started at center, tight end and right guard. He regularly graded out as Oklahoma’s best offensive lineman and wasn’t too shabby at the tight end position either.
OL Brian Simmons – Simmons actually returned to practice this week and while its unclear if he’ll play or not it certainly is clear that the Sooners need him.
OL Jarvis Jones – He’s out for the remainder of the season with a foot injury.
Oklahoma’s offensive line has been a hodge-podge of personnel this season anyway but now depth is a real concern. There have been so many different lineups on the line that I’ve really lost count. The one silver lining in the lack of depth is that the guys who are in there now have the ability to build some continuity.
DE Auston English – At one time in his career English was the Big 12 sack leader but he’s been hampered by injuries every since. The good news here is that Oklahoma is very deep in talent at the defensive end spot and Frank Alexander was able to fill the role very well last week.
More after the jump.
Is QB Landry Jones still trying to find his way as a quarterback and if so, what does he do well and what still needs work?
I think that it’s still a learning process for Landry. He had to battle freshman Drew Allen for the backup position but in reality this was supposed to be Sam Bradford’s farewell tour as a Sooner and Jones had to be thrust into battle in game one. He’s getting a better grasp on the offense but still struggles under pressure, gets rattled easy, doesn’t go through his progressions and looks very uncomfortable in the pocket. Basically all the things that make us OU fans very uncomfortable just about on every pass play.
The OU defense, especially the pass rush has been outstanding this year. I haven't seen a ton of Sooner football this year, how have the Sooners been getting to the quarterback? Simple 4-man rush, blitzes, stunts, etc.?
Oklahoma’s front four have been extremely successful at getting to the quarterback without the need for blitzing but their success as also made blitzing that much more difficult to pick up. Brent Venables has done an outstanding job most of the season at bringing a linebacker or defensive back on the blitz and even dropping defensive ends back into coverage. It’s a variety of schemes that are used to pressure the backfield but it all starts with the success of the tackles and ends.
The rushing offense has been tremendous in wins for the Sooners, but relatively poor in losses. Is it the opponents that were causing those tough rushing efforts or was it a symptom of the beat-up offensive line?
I think that it’s a little bit of both but mostly the offensive line. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown were both 1,000 yard backs last season and they have 592 and 608 yards respectfully this season through 10 games. This line is doing an okay job at pass blocking but I’d still give them a big FAIL when it comes to run blocking. I’d even go so far as to say that the success in running the ball this year has come more on the talent of Murray and Brown than the blocking of the line.
Complete the following: "The Sooners will win if __________ happens and the Sooners will lose if __________ happens."
The Sooners will win if they can run their offense. Defensively this is one of the best teams of the Bob Stoops era but offensively its one of the worst. In Oklahoma’s four losses they’ve only averaged 12.25 points which we both know won’t be enough to beat Tech this Saturday.
They’ll lose if something crazy happens again. Seriously, going to Lubbock is like entering the Twilight Zone for the Sooners, something strange always happens. In 2005 it was the phantom first down and the iffy touchdown that gave the Red Raiders a win. I know, I know, you say he was in and I say he wasn’t so let’s just leave it at that. In 2007 Sam Bradford gets a concussion and Joey Halzle gets pressed into service but is unable to pull off a comeback. If none of those type things happen and Oklahoma is able to run their offense then I like their chances.