The Sooners had a tough time getting the ball into the endzone against the Aggies. What's been the problem and is this part of the affect of a team running the spread and not having a power running game or some other issue?
I'm not so sure it's an issue of the spread so much as it's a product of just flat out poor play calling. Our offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, has proven to be a very stubborn man and will continually run the same play over and over again (see the last two minutes of the A&M game) regardless of how unsuccessful it may be. He seems to believe between the 10's he's coaching one style of team and then once we get near the goal line, he reverts from almost everything he's done to get to that point and tries to force a square peg through a round hole. OU hasn't been able to get a push from the o-line in those types of obvious run situations since 2008 and all we continue to hear out of the coaches is excuses about how they need to "get better up front." My assumption is that this has been made such a big deal in the media all week that if OU can get in a goal line situation against you guys, OU will pull out all stops. If this game were in Lubbock, there is no way I'd be of that opinion but for whatever reason this coaching staff isn't afraid to make those kind of calls at home like they are on the road.
More after the jump.
Bob Stoops has take some heat from fans for two losses this year. Is the heat justified or is this a situation where perhaps the fans' expectations are perhaps too high?
Honestly, I think it's a little bit of both. I think the expectations for this particular team were too high (thanks Phil Steele!), but I think the expectations of Coach Stoops are spot on. I'm in the minority, but I'm of the opinion that 2000 was a long time ago and he's pretty much used up all the goodwill from that national championship. At least when it comes to their performances in "big" games and even just road games in general. He's stated repeatedly that he has no answers for OU's road woes and yet no one seems to really hold his feet to the fire on that fact. He'll have his press conferences and someone will ask him about it, then he'll get all pissed off and the OK media know they won't like Bob when he's angry so they move on without getting any semblence of an answer. Stoops is VERY quick to point out how many Big 12 championships he's won, and rightfully so, as well as his defenders are that OU has played in more national championship games than any other school in the last ten years. However, losing your last three appearances in the championship game, fair or unfair, creates a certain level of unrest in Sooner Nation.
DE Jeremy Beal is obviously one of the best defensive players in the conference, but talk about some players on the defensive side of the ball not named Beal.
Well outside of Beal, when talking about the OU defense the conversation has to start with LB Travis Lewis. As great as Beal is, Lewis is without question the leader of this defense. The OU system is designed to funnel plays to Lewis' position and his 100+ tackles every year are the result of just that. Coming into the season, there was some fear about an inexperienced secondary (specifically at the CB spot) but it's been the exact opposite thus far. OU's safeties, Quinton Carter and Jon Nelson, have been pretty eratic in their coverage whereas their first year starting CBs, Demontre Hurst and Jamell Fleming, have been outstanding. OU has also played a lot of freshman this year on both sides of the ball, but on defense the two young guys who will stand out (at least for positive reasons anyway) are LB Corey Nelson and DB Tony Jefferson. Both Nelson and Jefferson play a form of LB/S hybrid role that defensive coordinator Brent Venables has become a big fan of as it allows him to play a combo 4-3/nickel package without having to sub off.
Oklahoma has their own version of the triplets in QB Landry Jones, WR Ryan Broyles and RB DeMarco Murray. Talk a bit about some of the other players, like the freshmen receivers Trey Franks and Kenny Stills or some of the standout offensive line.
Well I'm not sure I've heard and/or read the words "standout" and "offensive line" used to describe OU anytime in recent memory, so I don't think I can help you on that one. I mentioned a couple of defensive guys in the previous question, but I might also bring up now a very promising young CB in Aaron Colvin. If Tech goes to a 4-5 wide set, Colvin could possibly get in the game and this kid has the look of being a shut down type CB. Unfortuntately, he's behind two guys in Hurst and Fleming that have just played incredibly well so he's only seen limited action in filling in for an injured Fleming earlier this season.
On offense, you mentioned two good ones. WR Kenny Stills has easily been OU's 2nd best receiver this year. He's a fluid athlete on the outside and has made multiple catches up against the sideline that just leaving you shaking your head wondering how he got his feet down and held onto the ball. WR Trey Franks is a kid who's come on in the last couple games and could potentially on the verge of that "breakout game." He's a young man with incredible speed, TX high school track champ, but unlike a typical "track guy" he's a kid who has been significantly better getting in and out of his routes than I think even the coaches could have expected. The other guys worth mentioning on offense are FB Trey Millard and RB Roy Finch. You may be wondering how a FB is worth discussing, but I can promise you that you won't miss his impact on the game this coming Saturday regardless of the eventual outcome. Millard has been outstanding since day one and has forced the OU coaches to involve him in the offense perhpas more than any OU FB at least in the last 15 years. OU obviously uses him frequently as a lead blocker, but he will also get a handful of carries a game as well as getting involved in the passing game. RB Roy Finch would appear to be one of if not the most explosive players OU has on offense, but for some inexplicable reason the OU coaching staff only gave him five touches against A&M. There was a lot of griping from Sooner fans about not pulling this kid's redshirt if they weren't going to play him because he seems like one of those dynamic players, but there seems to be some out there who think Stoops is overly loyal to DeMarco Murray and that is holding Finch back. Again, this is another thing that was made a big deal of by the media this week so I'd expect Tech will see Finch get at least 12-15 touches on Saturday.
In your estimation, what's been the biggest problem in Oklahoma's two losses? Can you pin a couple of reasons as to why the team has lost those two game and can the Sooners correct those issues.
In my opinion, this is a very easy answer. OU's biggest problem in its two losses (aside from them being on the road) were the early abandonment of the running game. In the loss to Mizzou, OU only rushed the ball 23 times. Murray had all of 12 carries and averaged 4.1 yards while Finch had only nine carries and he averaged 6.6 yards, meanwhile Kevin Wilson decided it would be a good idea to have Landry Jones throw the ball 50 times. Exact same story in the A&M game, Wilson opened the game with 12 consecutive pass plays and seemed to give up on the run game outside of mind numbingly stupid run calls right up the middle in goal line situations. Against A&M, Murray carried the ball 25 times and had 10 catches, but no other RB had more than five touches. If the run game isn't working early, our offensive coordinator seems to immediately give up on it and focuses on his "extension of the run game" UT-esque sideways passing game he's become such a huge fan. As I'm quite certain you'd agree, having to compare yourself to anything UT related is an absolute vomit enducing feeling.
Defensively, OU has had three major problems all year. The propensity to give up the big play, an absolute failure to cover the middle of the field, and very little contribution from the DT spot. The major flaw in OU's system is they insist on keeping two LBs on the field at all times, so if you do go 4-5 wide some WR is going to be matched up with an OU LB. And despite the fact this has failed miserably time and time again, OU does nothing to adjust and seems to enjoy watching the LBs trailing in coverage as the opposing WR easily gets open down field. So between the almost certainity that our secondary will blow at least one coverage allowing a huge play, if you guys can exploit the middle of the field with WR crossing routes, and can sustain your drives by captialize on our weakness up the middle, then I'd say you have a very legitimate chance to win this game. That's a lot of "ifs" and I'd expect OU to make enough plays at home on offense to pull this game out, but I certainly don't consider it to be the "slam dunk" it's being portrayed in the OK media this week.
I'd wish you guys good luck, but I think you all know I'd be lying. So I'll simply say I hope we get to see a good game and after Saturday, best of luck to you guys for the rest of your season! Thanks to Double T Nation and you all are welcome at Crimson and Cream Machine any time!