Thanks to Crimson and Cream Machine for taking the time to answer some questions regarding Saturday's game.
With the numerous losses at defensive end, how do you see the Sooners adjusting their scheme, or do you not see any adjustments, and why?
The silver lining in the injuries is that they happened at a position where Oklahoma is very deep at. I don’t expect the scheme to change at all because you’ll have Jeremy Beal, who is only a sophomore but has starting and big game experience. In last year’s Big 12 championship game he recorded six tackles and a sack. On the other side you’ll see freshman Frank Alexander who is a playmaker as well. When he entered the Nebraska game, in place of Auston English, he recorded a sack and a forced fumble on consecutive series’. So Oklahoma still has play making ability at the defensive end position but I don’t expect the pass rush against Tech to come off the ends. With the quick passes that the Red Raiders throw the quickest way to Harrell is going to be right up the middle which would make Gerald McCoy and DeMarcus Granger the big players in this game and not necessarily the ends.
For those fans who have not watched many OU games, talk a little bit about each of the receivers and what they bring to the offense: Iglesias, Johnson, Gresham and Broyles.
They are all explosive! Iglesias and Johnson are the "go to" receivers and while they lack prototypical size (they are both listed at 6-0) they have blazing speed and great hands. They us a lot of slant and post plays to get open as well as screens and they are both very elusive with the ball.
Ryan Broyles is the x-factor. He typically lines up in the slot and is possibly Oklahoma’s best receiver when it comes to running with the ball in his hands. He also returns and has been very effective in that area.
Jermaine Gresham leads the team in receiving touchdowns with 9. At 6-6, 261 he is a beast to cover. He is too fast for a linebacker to cover and too big for a defensive back so he is a nightmare for opposing defenses once the Sooners get inside the red zone.
Quentin Chaney is another player to watch for. He is a very good possession receiver and leads the team in yards per receptions with 18.6 yards per catch.
OU has struggled a bit on special teams, particularly kickoff coverage and field goal kicking (you guys should have a contest for free rent) can we expect more of the same, or are there changes on the horizon?
Oklahoma’s special teams haven’t been that special at all this season (unless we’re talking ride the short bus special). They fact is that they’ve struggled a lot when it comes to kickoff coverage and place kicking. Even with changing out personnel opponents are still running back kickoffs for huge chunks of yards.
I attribute both to the kickers. Jimmy Stevens is the place kicker and has missed 3 of his 7 field goal attempts and 4 of his 72 extra points. Matt Moreland handles the kickoffs and only has 13 touchbacks on the season.
When you kickoff an average of 7 times a game then someone is eventually going to break a long return on you and when you attempt about the same amount of PATs per game then something could always go wrong and you’re going to miss one or two per season. The problem is that they are both freshmen and these breakdowns are happening too frequently.
What's been the biggest adjustment or development in Bradford's game from last year to this year?
At 6-4, 218 and with a rocket arm Bradford has had the physical tools from day one to be a great quarterback. Where he has progressed this year is in the same area that Harrell has which is his poise. He isn’t rushing to pull the trigger and is trusting his line for protection which has greatly cut down on errant throws. Three of his six interceptions were balls that had been first tipped by the receiver, meaning that Bradford put the ball where it needed to be.
Oklahoma wins because . . .
They will score more points? I know that sounds crazy and even a little silly but this will be a game where you play for stops. Neither team is going to be able to shut the other one down so the goal is to try and force four or five stops and make Tech play from behind.
It will be a cold and windy night in Norman and that could have a result on the passing game for both teams. That means balance becomes a key factor and I view the Sooners as the most balanced of the two.
Oklahoma has outscored their opponents 201-27 in the first quarter and 355-123 in the first half this season. If they play their game they should be playing with a lead in the first half and that gives them the opportunity to control the tempo of the game. Oklahoma is going to hit Tech with a balanced attack which will lead to time consuming drives much like Nebraska did but with a higher powered offense. That means every Tech possession will count and there will be no room for turnovers and OU will only need four or five stops to win.