Oklahoma enters the Kansas game a confident football team, but one that certainly is not overconfident.
Oklahoma is the most business-like team in college football and they truly go about their business one-day at time and they never overlook an opponent. This is why OU will not suffer the traditional "Texas hangover" this weekend against Kansas. OU works on an even keel every week and that pays off in situations likes this.
"It's our coaching staff, pure and simple," says senior captain offensive tackle Frank Romero. "They won't let us get too overexcited about a game or two lax about game. They stress the same things each and every week and we work on the same things each week. We don't raise our level of play during practice each week, but we are already working at a high level. Now, sure we realize as players that the Texas game is one of the biggest games on our schedule, but that doesn't mean that we will not take Kansas seriously the next week. We realize they have good athletes as well and will be tough to beat."
The big question all week has been the health of starting quarterback Nate Hybl. Hybl suffered a bruised left shoulder and bruised ribs in the win over the Texas, opening the door for sophomore quarterback Jason White to excel against the Longhorns. That has created somewhat of a quarterback controversy among the fans, but not among the Sooner coaches.
"Nate is our starting quarterback and Jason is our backup," says OU Head Coach Bob Stoops. "We are in a great situation in that we have two outstanding quarterbacks. Jason played great against Texas and showed us what we have thought all along, that he is an outstanding quarterback. However, people were saying the same thing about Nate last week, when he played so well against Kansas State. After that game Nate was the talk of the town and we understand that is the nature of the position."
"Nate has played well for us and is improving every day. Jason is a good quarterback as well and we have total confidence in him if we need to get him into the game."
Still, the question remains just how healthy is Nate Hybl this week. Hybl worked all week with the first team and once again received 75 percent of the snaps. However, Nate still looked stiff late in the week, but maybe that is normal for him. One of the reasons why White looks so much better running the football team is because he is a lot more fluid than Hybl. Hybl's health has improved as the week we went along and he is a tough hombre. Hybl wants to play and he is a solid leader on this football team, thus he will play.
It's also important for Hybl that he does start, especially with the success of White against the Longhorns. Hybl is a team guy, but he wants to be the starter. He saw what White did against the Longhorns and he wants to make sure that White doesn't get another chance to unseat him under center. The main way to do that is to start and play well against Kansas. Of course, he could play poorly fueling the White fire even more, but Hybl doesn't think that way and why should he think negatively?
Hybl is still a confident quarterback and believes he is the best player at his position on campus. He is a winner and has no doubts that he can lead the Sooners to a national title. However, he hears all the negative talk and reads the headlines in the paper celebrating the success of White against the Longhorns. Hybl watches White every day in practice and realize the man is talented.
On defense, the Sooners plan to use Antonio Perkins more and more as the nickel defensive back. He and sophomore Matt McCoy will split time at the position, with Perkins also getting time at cornerback.
Kansas starts the athletic Mario Kinsey at quarterback and he has the OU coaches worried. A mobile quarterback worries the Sooner defensive coaches more than any other offensive threat. Kinsey came off the bench to lead the upset at Texas Tech. He has good speed, loves to run around end and has a strong arm.
Tailback Reggie Duncan is a big back that rushed for 227 yards against the Red Raiders. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and also considered Oklahoma.
Terry Allen, the Kansas Head Coach, is under fire for his 20-29 mark after five years on the job. His players seem to care for him a great deal and they vow to play for him as hard as they can the rest of the way. That is not always a good sign for a struggling coach.
The game is also somewhat unique because the Jayhawk coaching staff is littered with former Sooner assistants. Defensive Coordinator Tom Hayes also served in the same capacity under Gary Gibbs. Linebacker Coach Johnny Barr was also on that staff. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman served at the same post under John Blake and wide receiver coach Clarence James worked for two different coaches at OU.
The Sooners lead the series 62-27-2 and are expected to increase their lead this weekend. To this reporter, this game figures to be a very business like day for OU and they should win easily. When you figure that Hybl feels he needs a big day as well, the OU offense figures to get on track. However, to really make the offense go the receiving corp needs to get open and make some plays. The wide receivers have been a disappointment thus far this year, but they are due to break out. Will this be the day the tight ends shine and Josh Norman returns to form?
The Sooners do have a lot to play for and remember the BCS poll is coming out after next weekend's games. The national title is still on the line for the Sooners, thus OU will roll 42-14.
Sooners won't overlook Jayhawks
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