As Oklahoma heads into its bye week, Sooners Illustrated takes a close look at the roster. The fans, the coaching staff and the players have all been disappointed by the non-conference season and Oklahoma’s resounding failure to perform.
The season, which came with hopes of making the College Football Playoff for the second-straight season, has been reduced to a hopeful Big 12 Championship.
While Oklahoma is off, Sooners Illustrated will take a look at each major position group to figure out what needs to change and what actually will change as OU turns its sights on the Big 12 Championship.
What needs to change?
Of all the unit groups, running backs probably have the least need for change. Rodney Anderson is out, and that hurt a little bit. Samaje Perine is gaining a bit of steam, and Joe Mixon looks better than he ever has in an Oklahoma uniform.
But if something needs to change, it’s the split between Perine and Mixon.
Through the first two games of the season, Perine has 38 touches, including five receptions. Mixon has 35. With the way Mixon is playing and the way Perine runs, that split should be closer to 60-40 in Mixon’s favor than a straight 50-50 split.
This would give Perine a chance to be more effective late in games and let Mixon make more plays early in contests.
Mixon needs the ball more. The ground attack also needs to be used more – a lot more.
What will change?
The loss of Anderson threw a little bit of a wrinkle in Oklahoma’s ground game, but offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley seems to be getting a better hold of the best idea for Oklahoma’s offense: Run the ball. The biggest challenge through the first three games is managing Mixon’s peaking development.
Oklahoma’s offense has three major weapons, and Mixon is the best of them. After three weeks of asking how the offense could possibly get Mixon, who is first on the team in total touches counting returns, the ball more often, Bob Stoops finally said Monday that they need to keep the ball in his hands.
Through the first nine possessions against Ohio State, Mixon had three offensive touches. That seems clear to Oklahoma now. And it seems clear that it will change very soon.