OU vs. UAB: The Matchups

See inside for a unit-by-unit preview of the Sooners' season-opener against UAB.

UAB's rushing offense vs. OU's rushing defense

The Blazers will lineup most times in a one-back offense, with seniors Corey White and Dan Burks taking turns at tailback. The pair has combined for 3,400 yards and 28 touchdowns during their careers and right at 5 yards per carry. UAB utilizes a three wide receiver set with an H-back, but the run is their bread and butter.

Senior Chris Williams will be getting his second career start at quarterback, but first since 2003 when he almost engineered an upset of Georgia. At just 5-11 and with a career competition percentage of just over 40 percent, Williams will have to prove to the Sooners that he can throw the ball. Much taller (6-3) Sam Hunt, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State, will also play in the game. Look for him to come in quickly if the Blazers have trouble moving the ball early.

While the running game is UAB's bread and butter, stopping the run is the Sooner front seven's full time occupation. In this battle, there's not much doubt who should prevail. With OU's deep rotation along the front four, expect them to dominate the line of scrimmage and create havoc in the Blazer's backfield.

And the Sooners linebacker corps can lay the wood as well. A shutout will definitely be the goal on Saturday.

UAB's passing offense vs. OU"s secondary

As mentioned above, Williams has not shown to be much of a passing threat, yet the Blazers will use three wide outs much of the time. The most experienced receiver for UAB is senior Norris Drinkard, who caught 41 passes last season, but averaged less than 10 yards per reception and scored just two touchdowns. No other receiver on this year's two-deep has ever caught a pass for the Blazers. Tight end LaDarrius Stanley (6-3, 310) is obviously built more along the lines of an offensive tackle and geared to the running game.

The Sooners secondary is young but talented, as coaches are expecting an explosive year from sophomore corner Reggie Smith. Junior D.J. Wolfe is now the veteran of the corps at the other corner along with free safety Darien Williams, and redshirt freshman Keenan Clayton gets his first start at strong safety.

It's doubtful that the OU secondary will be challenged deep in this game. It will be a chance for them to get their land legs before facing more potent passing attacks against Pac-10 opponents in the next two weeks.

Sooners rushing offense vs. UAB rushing defense

With Adrian Peterson primed to return to freshman form, expect the Sooners to pound the ball early. Peterson looks to be in better physical shape than at any time since he arrived on the campus in Norman and he should have a strong game against the Blazers. While mindful of getting Peterson his yards, coaches want to get a long look at Allen Patrick as well.

Paul Thompson will likely get his chance to run the ball as well, as the offensive minds would like for him to find a comfort zone in his first action at quarterback since last year's opener.

The UAB front is anchored by preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Larry Mc Swain (6-1, 255) and coach Watson Brown believes that will be the strength of his defense. It will be up to OU's rebuilt offensive line, with three new starters, to show they are up to what will be the strongest challenge the Blazers can muster.

Sooners passing offense vs. UAB secondary

All eyes will be on Thompson to see if he can improve on last year's shaky start against TCU. Coach Bob Stoops believes his senior quarterback will benefit from a receiving corps that has matured greatly since the beginning of last season, and the addition of future superstar tight end Jermaine Gresham. Throw wild card two-way player Reggie Smith in the mix and Thompson has an assortment of weapons to choose from.

OU receivers like the 6-6, 250 Gresham, 6-6, 260 Joe John Finley and 6-4, 217 Malcolm Kelly will tower over the UAB secondary, which doesn't have a player over 5-11 and 190 lbs. Sooner fans will also be hoping to get a sneak peak at freshman receivers Pooh Tennell and Brandon Caleb as well.

Special Teams

The Sooners should be excellent once again in kick coverage and are hoping for a rejuvenation in kick returns with Smith adding punt returns to his many other duties. Patrick is a threat on kickoff returns and will team with Juaquin Iglesias this season.

Kicking is still somewhat of a mystery, as Stoops announced that Michael Cohen will handle the long punts and Mike Knall will handle the short punts. Now that Garrett Hartley has dropped out of the punting competition and can concentrate solely on placekicking, his sore leg should show improvement.

UAB has an outstanding kicker in Parker Mullins, who will handle both the punting and placekicking chores. Mullins missed only once in 13 tries inside of 40 yards last season. His long-range kicking is more erratic as he hit only 2 of 5 beyond 40 and none over 50.

Drinkard will handle both punt and kickoff returns. He's solid but not spectacular. The Sooners should dominate in this area of the game.

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