Maybe it’s all Johnny Manziel’s fault when it comes to Oklahoma. What Manziel did in torching the Sooners defense in the Cotton Bowl a couple of years ago seemed to have been the catalyst for the Sooners changing their ways.
OU had never really used the zone read, but after Trevor Knight had dazzled the staff on scout team in preparation for the Cotton Bowl and Manizel’s production in the game, the Sooners made the dramatic shift to going toward that offense.
You can see why, maybe. Manziel was electrifying to the tune of 287 yards passing with two touchdowns and 229 yards rushing and two more scores in a 41-13 rout of the Sooners.
OU couldn’t stop it so maybe other teams wouldn’t be able to stop it when it would use the same strategy.
Two years of mixed results, and it’s clear it was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. You can’t be something you’re not. OU, no, that’s not the place for the dual-threat quarterback to run like crazy and be just as much a threat with their legs as their arm.
OU was so instrumental in bringing the Air Raid offense to the forefront of college football back in 1999 and 2000. Schools across the country wanted a piece of it after it helped the Sooners to championship No. 7 in the undefeated 2000 season.
Nearly 15 years later, though, there was no sign of that offense in Norman. OU coach Bob Stoops saw that and decided it was time to fix that.
“My primary reason is I believe in the offense,” Stoops said. “It’s what we started with. As I was looking to hire somebody, I looked at what are the top total offenses in the country. And six of the top 13 were from this family of – from Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, however you want to put it, from this family of offense.”
Stoops is all-in with the 2015 version of the Air Raid offense. It won’t be the same as first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will bring a fresh take on things, and it can’t be pure run-and-gun when you’ve got a stallion in the backfield like Samaje Perine.
The running game is going to play a significant role. It has to for the Sooners. But for Stoops it’s a blast from the past in an attempt to move forward.
“So I looked back, and I thought, well, here we are,” Stoops said. “I made it popular 17 years ago, and it worked, and then here 17 years later I’m the only one not doing it.”
The goal is simple, said Stoops. He wants the offense to stay on the field longer, eat up yards and field position, and ultimately, put points on the board.
Riley’s track record says he’ll succeed. Stoops is all-in with the offense, and as a consequence of that, all-in with Riley.
“Lincoln’s had a great track record in running this offense, and I believe we’ve got good personnel to go with this style of offense.”