Checking Out the Sooners

AllCyclones.com takes a more in-depth look at Oklahoma with the help of Bob Przybylo from SoonersIllustrated.com, who provides all the details you need to know leading up to Saturday morning's matchup

Paul Rhoads compared Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight to Sam Richardson in some ways earlier this week. What is Knight's biggest weapon, and how might he exploit the ISU defense?

Knight’s biggest weapon has always been his dual-threat capability, which is why it has been so puzzling to see the OU coaches rein him in and not let him do what he does best.

The scare has always been about injury, and it happened two weeks ago against Kansas State when Knight did injure his shoulder. Knight said earlier this week his shoulder is 100 percent, and he’ll be ready for Saturday.

But the best way for OU to exploit the Cyclones’ defense is going to be with Sterling Shepard. It sounds like ISU is going to make a concerted effort to stop the run, leaving some one-on-one opportunities for Shepard and Durron Neal.

Nearly every defensive player that talked this week, quickly pointed out Oklahoma's "huge" offensive line. Is the unit the conference's best, and how does an undersized Iowa State defense attack it?

Conference’s best? Not sure, but it is incredibly big and has a lot of experience. Some of these guys are in their third season as starters or seeing significant playing time, and it certainly has shown during this season. But the line has faltered on two huge occasions in OU’s two losses. Two runs where OU needed one yard, and defenses stopped Samaje Perine in his tracks (no easy thing to do).

The best way to beat OU’s line has been to be physical with it right back. If the Cyclones can’t do that, it could be a long day against Daryl Williams, Tyrus Thompson and company.

ISU defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said despite what everybody thinks, Oklahoma is not a spread team but rather a power-running team. Do you agree, and how would you describe the style?

The offensive identity has been a question for a few games now. Nobody truly knows, and OU coach Bob Stoops really doesn’t care about his identity. He has made it clear all he wants to do is score points and be on the right side of the scoreboard.

The return of Keith Ford is going to be huge for OU’s attack as it will give the Sooners their three-headed monster of Ford, Perine and Alex Ross at running back. Ford played so well in the first three games before getting hurt.

It led to a bigger role with Perine, who delivered each and every time. But Ford brings the best of both worlds in terms of being a runner, blocker and pass catcher.

The Sooners will attack in the vertical passing game. Count on Shepard getting at least one or two receptions of more than 30 yards. The short and intermediate passing game can sometimes be a chore to watch, but OU’s deep game has been on point this season.

What is the strongest area of the Oklahoma defense?

The one glaring weakness has been OU’s safeties in coverage. It hasn’t been pretty, but other than that, OU has playmakers and has made plays at the other spots.

Through the first three games, it was the pass rush. Guys like Geneo Grissom, Eric Striker and Jordan Phillips were having fun living in opposing backfields.

In conference play, it has been a struggle in that department, especially with wide splits being used by opposing offensive lines. Still, with Striker and Charles Tapper, the rush is still a presence and middle linebacker Jordan Evans might be the most improved player on the team.

If Oklahoma is to avoid an upset in Ames, and its first loss to Iowa State since 1990, what does it need to accomplish?

Take care of the football. Each of its two losses have a pick-six included in them and featured multiple turnovers. When OU plays clean, it is the best team in the Big 12. But the margin of error is not any higher for OU than it is for the rest of the conference. Missed kicks, fumbles, interceptions — tough to overcome that.

As long as the players haven’t mentally checked out of the season, and all of them have said about how much there is still to play for, then the Sooners should get back on track this week.


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