In the Trenches at Cowboys Stadium

In many ways, the Sooner offense mirrors the Cougars of BYU. In the trenches, Oklahoma will start one returning player and four new lineman for this Saturday's season opener in the new $1.15 billion Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

For Cougar senior defensive end Jan Jorgensen, his final season at BYU is shaping up to be one fantastic curtain call. The all-time MWC sack leader (22.5) will bring the Jorgensen show to the most expensive big stage ever constructed, against the third-ranked team in the country.

"This is an amazing opportunity and I'm excited," Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen will face 6-foot-5-inch, 318-pound senior left tackle Trent Williams, who was an All-Big 12 selection in 2008. Williams started all 14 games last year and recorded 131 knockdowns. Against Florida during the national championship game, Williams recorded a season-high 18 knockdowns and graded out at 91% in the Sooners' 65-21 win over Texas Tech.

"I don't worry a lot about everybody else because Trent is the guy I'll be going against," said Jorgensen. "So I just try to focus on him the most and he's a great athlete. I just think he's the best I'll ever play against, so I've been watching a lot of film trying to focus on him.

"He's their only returning starter and an All-American. Trent Williams is very good and has some of the best footwork I've seen out of anybody. He's very quick and he does a great job of getting out on his blocks and finishing his blocks. He's got that little nasty streak that all good offensive linemen have and he's a very good player."

Although Jan isn't worried about getting caught up in the magnitude of the game, instead choosing to focus on his performance and winning the game, that isn't to say he isn't excited about his matchup with Williams and the Sooner offense.

"Yes, I'm very excited about it," said Jorgensen. "Even with Oklahoma, playing the number-three team in the country is very exciting and it's why we play football. If you're out here competing and playing and not wanting to play the best, there has to be something wrong with you. I'm very excited about that."

Joining Williams will be 6-foot-4-inch, 318-pound senior left guard Brian Simmons. Although he wasn't a starter last year, Simmons saw action in all 14 games as a backup player. Simmons saw action at both right and left guard last year and had 10 knockdowns against TCU.

Meanwhile, 6-foot-5-inch, 265-pound senior tight end Brody Eldridge is being asked to take on the role as a center after converting to tight end from fullback in 2008. Last year he suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss three games.

At right guard is 6-foot-7-inch, 297-pound sophomore Jarvis Jones, who redshirted in 2008. Jones did see time in seven games at tackle and guard in a backup role during his freshman year.

At right tackle is 6-foot-7-inch, 310-pound junior Cory Brandon, who saw action in nine games as a reserve tackle last year. Brandon had 16 knockdowns including, five versus both Chattanooga and Washington.

"They've got four new guys up front with one starter on Jan's side," said Brett Denney. "He's a stud and it's hard to tell with the other guys."

A disadvantage the Cougar defensive linemen face - and one can argue the same situation for Oklahoma given the fact there are four new players on the Cougar offensive line - is not having film in which to study tendencies and gain a scouting edge. Aside from Jorgensen, the rest of the Cougar defensive linemen won't know exactly what they're getting into come game day.

"They're young guys and I was looking at some film of when Oklahoma was killing guys last year to look at [when] their backups got in, and their numbers didn't match up," said Denney. "So I don't even know if these guys are the same guys we're facing this year. It's nice to see your guys to see what their tendencies are and what their technique is to see if he has any steps. If you work your technique and make your reads you can make a game even if you haven't seen the guy in front of you play before."

Although studying film does help, it's not a given that what one might see on film will be replicated in the next game.

"Any team can make changes to their tendencies and their offense, where it's like you're playing a whole new team," said Denney. "So yeah, it's good to be able to look at past film to see what they do. You can still look at some film of their old offensive linemen and see what they do because probably some of those things trickle down to the younger guys that played behind them. You look at their old film and hope it will be similar to that. At the same time, you trust in what your coaches are telling you."

During Monday's press conference, Coach Mendenhall mentioned the difficulties of matching the speed of Sooner athletes with the tempo and efficiency in which they operate. Simulating that experience for the Cougar defense has been a challenge.

"We've tried, but in the end it's very, very tough," said Jorgensen. "I think the best we've gotten is going up against our own offense. Our offense would run tempo during summertime and they did a very good job of replicating tempo, but going up against the scout team in fall practice has been tough replicating that tempo."

Another advantage that the Sooners may have over their Cougar counterparts is the possible transfer of information from Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, who is the brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. The Cougars are fully aware of this.

"I definitely think a lot will be relayed," said Jorgensen. "We've played the other Stoops at Arizona three times in the last three years, so I think there will be a lot of information being passed along between those two. Whether or not it's relevant or not, I'm not sure. I'm sure some of it will be because [Mike Stoops] has had a lot of experience going against us, and so I'm sure some things might help [Oklahoma] out a little bit, but if we go out and execute how we are supposed to I'm not sure a lot of that will matter."

"There are similarities between both those programs as well, and knowing that it's a coaching family, we're certainly not underestimating the transfer of knowledge from one program to the other," said Coach Mendenhall. "So we're not going to be an unknown to them."


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