Behind enemy lines: Sooners

FORT WORTH, Texas — In Part I of our Behind Enemy Lines series prior to Oklahoma vs. TCU, Jeremy Clark of Horned Frog Blitz asks Joey Helmer of Sooners Illustrated for some insider scoop on No. 12 Oklahoma.

Jeremy Clark: Oklahoma has put up huge offensive numbers the last two ball games, do you think that's a result of better execution or do you think it is because of the defenses they have faced?

Joey Helmer: It's a combination of both. Obviously in Oklahoma State and West Virginia, those are two defenses statistically ranked in the bottom half of the country, with the Mountaineers near the bottom of the barrel. But still, there's something to be said for a quarterback throwing for more than 500 yards, which Landry Jones has done the past two weeks. He has finally hit his stride and running back Brennan Clay has, at least until last weekend's game-winning Bedlam run, silently put together his best year of his career. In the passing game, Jones has finally developed a level of comfortability with all his new pieces, including senior and veteran wide receiver Justin Brown, along with fellow transfer wide receiver Jalen Saunders. As an entire offensive unit, they've finally meshed and so it's some of both. Perhaps those two teams, and even Baylor before that, have finally just been victimized by an offense that has started to reach its full potential.

Clark: The Sooners have given up big yardage on the ground this season, are there big concerns going into the game this week with the Frogs' success coming mostly on the ground?

Helmer: The fact that the Sooners have been gashed three weeks in a row is a major concern. And on top of that, the fact that TCU presents an offense perhaps more predicated on the run than any of their recent opponents is even more of a concern. The defensive line has been unable to plug gaps and linebackers haven't been able to get downhill against the run, leading to big plays. They've even admittedly pushed plays to the outside because their inside play against the run has been so poor. Long story short, it's a major worry for OU in this game. Both teams that have beaten them have run the ball and controlled the clock. TCU's offense presents just that type of threat.

Clark: Gary Patterson mentioned in his press conference earlier this week on how good the Sooners' receiving corp is, how good are these guys?

Helmer: This might be the best receiving corps in OU history. Shocking to hear those words after losing the NCAA all-time receptions leader in Ryan Broyles, but it's the case. Brown has been an excellent addition, putting together the best year of his career with nearly 800 yards and four touchdowns on 62 catches. Saunders has added a pair of touchdowns as part of his 46 catches for 658 yards. Kenny Stills, though, leads the way with 876 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns on 73 receptions. Even freshman wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who has eclipsed the 500-yard plateau with three touchdowns, has been a spark in the receiving game. There's no shortage of playmakers for Jones to throw the ball to.

Clark: Who is one player on offense and defense for the Sooners that aren't particularly talked about enough that you feel will be difference makers on Saturday?

Helmer: I'm not sure there's an offensive player that isn't talked about that will leave his stamp on this game. But Saunders, granted he'll be talked about more now that he returned a punt for a score last week, would be my pick. He's truly electric at the slot position and will be an extremely tough cover inside for the TCU defense. As far as defensively for OU, it's the same story, but defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland could put together a big game if he shows up ready to play. He's shown flashes of greatness at times this season, but mediocrity at many other times.

Clark: What are the keys for the Sooners to come away with the win?

Helmer: Throw the ball well and don't turn it over. No one has truly stopped Jones with his plethora of receivers when he's been on his game and not making big mistakes. But he's had trouble when teams have gotten in his face and forced him to make throws he hasn't wanted to make. That'll be a key, and OU's backs certainly can't put the ball on the turf.

To read Part II of this Behind Enemy Lines series, where Jeremy answers five questions from Joey, Click Here.

Jeremy Clark is the publisher of Joey Helmer is the publisher of

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