OU 15 questions for spring '15: No. 10

Lincoln Riley's full impact of the Sooners' offense might not come for a few years. This season, it'll be all about the averages.

Oklahoma spring football is just around the corner. Coming off a disappointing 2014 season, all Sooner fans are looking forward to turning the page to 2015.

Every edition of spring practices bring along questions, but there has arguably never been a more fascinating and uncertain spring than the one OU is about to begin.

Sooners Illustrated is here to help. During these next 15 days, we are going to pose one major question each day regarding OU’s 2015 spring football issues.

The countdown will end March 6, the final day before OU’s first day of practice and coincidentally, OU’s second junior day event and OU basketball’s showdown vs. Kansas in a huge day in OU sports. After spring practice, we will revisit these same 15 questions and see what has been answered and what remains left to be figured out.

Question No. 10: What impact will Lincoln Riley make with his offense?

The Oklahoma offense will look different than last year, but it won’t have a completely new appearance.

Think about a few years back, when Landry Jones and Sam Bradford were guiding that Oklahoma spread no-huddle.

It won’t be that fast because of the major question marks at quarterback. It will just be closer to that than the power read option, that featured only a few spurts of up-tempo – and sometimes it had too much up-tempo.

The numbers and play distribution will change, but it might not be as dramatic as it could eventually. It’ll be a slow process before Riley’s offense completely takes shape.

Oklahoma could go air aid and pass-first(-and second) with Jones and Bradford because the Sooners knew what they had at quarterback. Riley did the same at East Carolina when he had his veteran signal caller.

The best example of what Riley will do to the Oklahoma offense this season can be found in East Carolina’s offense three years ago, when Riley was breaking in a new sophomore quarterback.

The split was much closer to 50-50, run-pass at that point. Right around 55-45.

Ultimately, the sets will be different, but the overall numbers might not change. The biggest difference will be in the averages. It’s likely that rushing averages will go up – even if total carries plummet. Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, Alex Ross and Keith Ford matched up one-on-one with a linebacker or safety because of the spread could lead to some big carries, in place of the big passing plays that last year’s offense designed but never really accomplished.

The passing game will be the most familiar to Oklahoma fans: Bubble screens, quick passes but out of many different sets.

Riley knows the weapons he has, and while it might not be the weapons that he’ll have further into his tenure, it would be a mistake not to take advantage.

With a young offensive line that is most proven in the middle, expect some quick runs – draws and traps – out of a spread look. Quick-hitting, big play potential.

Oklahoma won’t line up and mash opponents off the ball. The Sooners run attack will be more focused on seams and timing, which will be very similar to the passing game.

The offense will still be closer to 60-40, like it was last season. Only pass plays will be the 60 percent. However, don’t be surprised if the yardage is 60-40 in favor of the run game.

Three quick screens or outside passes will force teams to spread – and then it’s Perine against a safety.


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