SoonersIllustrated.com is going to set the stage every week, breaking down Oklahoma’s upcoming game during the 2016 season.
Louisiana-Monroe Indians (1-0) at No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners (0-1)
When: 6 p.m.
Biggest question - - Does Oklahoma’s offense look more in sync?
Ultimately, this answer won’t be visible to the naked eye. The coaches will see it on film or some of the more keen observers will be able to take notice in some aspects live. It won’t come across in the statistics but in the small details. Are the offensive lineman blocking properly and not just making blocks? Is a big run because the back is just that much better or did Joe Mixon/Samaje Perine make the right read and the right cut? There’s no real way to answer this question until Ohio State gets to Norman, but it’s the question posed to Oklahoma this week.
An educated guess: The front three (or four if Ricky DeBerry puts his hand in the ground in even fronts) is more equipped to physically handle an odd-front defense than ever before. They are also going to be relied on this season to create a pass rush. Against an overmatched ULM offensive line, Oklahoma racks up seven sacks – three from Charles Walker and the first of Neville Gallimore’s career. The Sooners don’t allow ULM to get much going on the crowd either, bottling up the running game to less than 100 yards and keeping mobile quarterback Garrett Smith in the pocket.
Player to watch: All the talk was about how Lincoln Riley didn't use the run game enough vs. Houston so the goal is to get the ground-and-pound attack going early and often. The guy leading the charge? Joe Mixon. It seems unnecessary to put Samaje Perine through a game like this so give Mixon the bulk of the carries, take the redshirt off of Abdul Adams and see the yards and touchdowns pile up.
Hite – Oklahoma comes out really angry in this game and uses its battering ram (Perine). Mixon cleans it up, and by the end of the first quarter, Oklahoma has a 17-point lead and more than 100 yards on the ground. The Warhawks make a game of it through the air but can never really get anything going consistently. The Sooners looked recommitted to the ground game but still have questions at cornerback. A solid 52-6 victory makes Oklahoma feel pretty good heading into next week.
Przybylo - Clearly an irrelevant part of this piece. If OU doesn't win by more than 25-35 points, a lot of people will be wondering what's in store when Ohio State comes to town next weekend. The Sooners do what they're supposed to do and all eyes turn toward the Buckeyes and what the real expectations should be for OU's season. Sooners cruise to the tune of something like 45-14, just sort of depends how much work Riley and Stoops want to give the first unit.