One man's opinion and a few random thoughts from under the black hat from a BBQ loving Sooner fan...
It was a scary Saturday night at the stadium, but the bottom line is that a win is a win. It sure as hell beats the alternative. UAB is a better team than I perceived they would be, and I would suggest better than many other OU fans felt as Saturday night's home opener progressed. There were times in the 3rd quarter when I felt a TCU-like nausea, but AD cured what ailed me with an amazing performance.
Not to get on a rant, but I was amazed at how many people on the west side of the stadium, where my season tickets are, left at half time with the score tied at 7-7. I don't get it. I guess to some folks attending Sooner football games it is a social function to be seen at, while many of us look at watching OU football as a religious experience.
Some fans and pundits are suggesting that perhaps our much-ballyhooed defense isn't as good as advertised. Maybe these folks are right, but I still think the defense will be the strength of this team when it is all is said and done. Poor tackling can be corrected. The desire to NOT want to tackle is an entire another issue. This problem is about technique, not desire.
More often than not versus UAB, the Sooner 'D' was in the right place but did not wrap people up, which is a basic fundamental technique of tackling that can and will be corrected. I would suggest that there was plenty of physicality in tackling drills this week during Sooner practices.
I was surprised the defensive ends did not make more plays. Captain C.J. Ah You, the defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl, had one tackle. That's very un-AhYou-like. I look for more production out of the D-ends on Saturday against Washington, which needs to be the case with Husky QB Isaiah Stanback rushing for 102 yards in a season opening win against San Jose State, in addition to throwing for 168 yards and a TD.
Pressure on the quarterback is imperative come Saturday on ABC. We need to create 3 and out's and often, especially now with the clock starting on a change of possession and when the ball is kicked. I am not so sure I like us running fewer plays to speed up the game a few minutes to better cater to TV anyway.
With Reggie Smith playing every defensive snap, plus having an amazing day returning punts and kickoffs and having an awesome night at cornerback, expect D.J. Wolfe to be tested early and often by the Husky passing game this week.
Lawton 's Wolfe finished the UAB game by making a couple of key plays and challenging this talented athlete might not prove to be as productive as the purple and gold perceive. But you know that's where Washington will be going just to test the waters.
The defensive tackle play seemed to be solid against UAB, but not spectacular. Bottom line, there are no Tommie Harris' or Dusty Dvoraceks', who is unfortunately out for the season for the Bears with a foot injury, on this team…yet.
Carl Pendleton and Steve Coleman started, but one has to wonder if that will be the case over the long haul. In hindsight, Pendleton might have been more productive as an offensive lineman had he moved to that side of the pigskin a couple of years ago. Nonetheless, it seems as if it will be hard to keep DeMarcus Granger from getting a few more snaps in the Sooners traditional rotation of D-tackles.
The question still remains — will Gerald McCoy, the heralded recruit who was the No. 1 defensive tackle in America coming out of high school, be redshirted or will the former Southeast star start seeing some action? Being an old school OU fan and a little superstitious, I am happy that McCoy is wearing No. 93, the same number as Lee Roy Selmon, and hope that we can see a little déjà vu all over again from McCoy, whether it be this year or next.
This I know. Bob Stoops will play the best players no matter if the player is a freshman or a senior. If McCoy is good enough to get into the rotation, he will play. And one would assume that decision might be an on-going process for the next few weeks to see how the defensive tackle rotation plays out.
If McCoy is redshirted and is as good as advertised, will he do as Tommie Harris and head for the NFL before graduating? Point is there is a possibility McCoy only stays at OU three seasons if he is as good as we all hope. So with that possibility in mind, it poses an interesting scenario for the Sooner coaches to deal with in the future.
I am almost as tired about the over-analyzing of QB Paul Thompson's performance versus UAB as I am the over hyping of Monday night's FSU-Miami game on every platform ESPN has ever created. I thought there might even be a special edition of the World Series of Poker featuring former ‘Canes and ‘Noles players before all was said and done.
It was obvious that defense and the kicking game were the keys in this much-ballyhooed Labor Day matchup. That just happens to be, in my opinion, two of the Sooners' primary strengths.
I feel badly for Oklahoma native and Miami head coach Larry Coker. Larry is a class act who I officiated many games for when he was a high school coach at Fairfax and Claremore. The rabid and often times obnoxious 'U' fans have been laying in the weeds wanting Coker out of Miami for a while now for a more 'upscale, charismatic' coach to be hired to replace the laid back Okie.
It has been no secret that Coker was on the 'hot seat' prior to the season starting, and now losing his home opener to an in-state rival will have the wolves howling even louder for Coker's head down in South Florida. Sadly, winning nine games a year isn't good enough for the 'U'.
Speaking of Paul Thompson, the key to OU's success offensively this season isn't his play, as much as it is keeping AD healthy. With AD healthy and being productive running the ball, so many other things open up the Sooner offense can potentially exploit. Play-action passes, continued utilization of the tight ends, the QB running game and perhaps even seeing some runs out of Reggie Smith or Juaquin Iglesias from the slot.
It is obvious as long as AD is healthy that every defense the Sooners play will stack as many people in the 'box' as needed to stop No. 28, and when that occurs it invariably weakens the opposing defense in other areas. That is unless the opposition's defense can figure out how to play with more than 11 players.
For the record, and this is all I am going to say about it, I thought Paul Thompson did a good, solid job of managing the offense against UAB. If teams scheme their defenses to force Thompson to make plays to beat them thinking he can't, then someone is in need of a drug test.
The young and potentially talented Sooner offensive line, at times, played ugly but had an effective night in a winning effort. Having no bad snaps is encouraging and vital. This is an extremely young unit with only one senior, Chris Messner, on the top two offensive lines so their best days are yet to come.
The question is will these young pups take a step forward Saturday or regress? As is for any football team, it all starts up front with the big eaters.
Washington gave up over 300 yards passing against San Jose State, which is intriguing. That doesn't mean that Washington isn't going to see a bunch of AD come Saturday, but it does make one wonder what kind of a day Malcolm Kelly, Joe Jon Finley and company might have off of play-action.
Tyrone Willingham is considered by most to be an excellent college football coach, notwithstanding the opinion of the Notre Dame faithful. Washington, much like UAB, will come into Norman well coached, with a challenging gameplan and with everything to gain and nothing to lose.
The Huskies coming to Norman on national TV and beating the Oklahoma Sooners would be significant for Willingham's program. Sounds like another nail biting Saturday to me. The 17-point spread, even though I am no gambler, feels crazy as I think this will be another dog fight that won't be decided until late. Garrett Hartley's leg may play a huge role in this one.
So will the home crowd that needs to make significant noise, especially when Washington is on offense? One thing is certain; it is highly unlikely the Sooners can win with multiple turnovers.
Since 1999, every Bob Stoops coached team has improved significantly throughout a given season. Some teams, obviously, more than others. I see the same thing happening this year because of the youth on this squad. The team we all saw versus UAB will not be the same group we will be supporting by the end of the season.
Until then, we need to win all the games we are supposed to win, especially at home, and get a break or two and win a game or two we might not be favored to win away from Norman. And stop making turnovers, which can kill any team.
This is just a premonition, but I see Texas beating Ohio State Saturday night because of the Longhorns defense and the 'Steers home field advantage. Incidentally, former pro wrestler Road Warrior Animal's son, James Laurinaitis, wears No. 33 and starts for the Buckeyes at middle linebacker, if you're keeping score at home.
For those of you that are coming to the game Saturday in Norman and have the time, drop by and say hello at our BBQ trailer which is located just north of the stadium and in front of the old field house. We also talk more football on our new website which I invite you to check out at www.jrsbarbq.com. Thanks for reading.
Ross: A win is a win
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