Jack Shields from SB Nation’s Oklahoma affiliate, Crimson & Cream Machine, answered a few of my questions ahead of tomorrow’s big game. Check out what he thinks about the match up below.
1. The news of Samaje Perine’s injury seems very significant given the type of player he is, but he also has arguably the best backup RB in the country in Joe Mixon behind him. What impact will Perine’s absence have on the game?
I think it’s extremely important for OU to not stray from the running game in this one. Having a workhorse back like Perine will usually make an offensive coordinator more comfortable relying on the running game, but Oklahoma can have plenty of success on the ground without him. Tech is allowing 5.2 yards per carry this season, and a back the caliber of Joe Mixon should have a big day. Look for Abdul Adams to make an impact in this one, as well.
2. Are there any concerns about playing on the road in Lubbock?
Absolutely. Crowds typically bring their A-game when Oklahoma comes to town, and Jones AT&T Stadium is a hostile environment. Oklahoma has struggled there in the past (three losses in 2005, 2007 and 2009), so Sooner fans are always apprehensive when OU heads to Lubbock.
3. What do you think Baker Mayfield’s mindset will be? He’s said it’s just another Big 12 game, and it’s been three years since he transferred, but will he play with an extra chip on his shoulder?
I think he’ll definitely be fired up for this one. Mayfield and Kliff Kingsbury clearly had a rocky relationship during the 2013 season, and he’s caught plenty of flack from Texas Tech fans since his departure. Baker’s a passionate guy, so I don’t really see him brushing everything off and treating this like a normal game. My concern is that he may try to make too many big plays in this one, which is something that has resulted in turnovers in the past. I’m sure Lincoln Riley has been in Baker’s ear all week trying to keep him focused, and I hope it’s effective.
4. Which aspect of the matchup do you think benefits Texas Tech the most? Which aspect will benefit Oklahoma the most?
Oklahoma’s secondary has been shaky all year, sitting at ninth in the conference in passing yards allowed per game (which is saying something). Jordan Thomas has given up a few big plays but has been solid for the most part. The concern lies at the other corner position, which has been a revolving door due to injuries and poor play.
Tech’s sub-par defensive front will benefit Oklahoma the most, and they’ll need to take advantage of it by pounding the rock. If they commit to the running game in this one, they’ll be able to keep Mahomes off the field as much as possible, which is a necessity.
5. What’s your final score prediction, and what type of game will we see?
Even if OU keeps Mahomes off the field by running the football, he’s still going to get his. I picture this one ending at 52-41 in favor of the Sooners. A lot of yards will be gained, to say the least.
Less Serious Questions
1. Do you prefer corn or flour tortillas (both to be eaten, and potentially thrown at you inadvertently by a Texas Tech fan)?
Flour by a mile. Put some butter on them while they’re still hot and fresh, and then dip them in queso with some Cholula mixed in. Nothing better.
As far as having one thrown at me is concerned, I’m pretty neutral.
2. Does it bother Oklahoma that its offensive coordinator and quarterback are both, to varying degrees, products of Texas Tech and the air raid?
Nah. Not even a little. Dennis Simmons (outside WR coach) and Bill Bedenbaugh (OL coach) have coached in Lubbock, as well. Also, keep in mind the fact that Mike Leach was OU’s offensive coordinator before heading to Tech, so we’re no strangers to the air raid.
3. Who’s the better quarterback: Mahomes or Mayfield?
That’s a tough one. Mahomes is better mechanically and has a stronger arm, but Mayfield is just so elusive and plays with a ton of energy. I’ll take Mayfield on his best day and Mahomes on an average day.
4. Is Oklahoma in any danger of looking ahead to the game against Kansas next week and overlooking this weekend’s opponent?
Ha! No. Mark Mangino ain’t walking out of that tunnel.
5. Are Sooners rooting for Trevor Knight against Alabama this weekend? Doesn’t seem like he had a nasty breakup with Oklahoma, but Baker seemed slightly passive aggressive towards him in an interview last weekend, and Knight plays for a former conference foe in A&M…
There’s never been any ill will towards Trevor Knight from Oklahoma fans or players since his departure, but people up here (and down in Lubbock, I’m sure) haven’t been too fond of Texas A&M or their alumni since they went to the SEC. However, seeing Trevor Knight on the OU sideline in an OU polo last week warmed everyone’s hearts. I suspect that the players have been rooting for him all along, and I think a lot of fans ready to root for him, as well. I will say that it stings just a little bit to see him leading an undefeated team while OU has two losses…