There is no reason to overanalyze the 59-0 win our Sooners breezed through last Saturday. OU got a much needed "feel good" game and a victory in front of the 48th consecutive sellout in coach Bob Stoops' run in Norman. OU beat a mediocre, at best, football team but there were some positive things I think the Sooners and Sooner fans can take away from this bloodletting.
I attended the game live, bought the PPV and TiVo'ed it and have watched it twice since I saw it live (my wife thinks I may be a little too obsessed with Sooner football but I'm in denial). So here are a few random observations I took away from the Middle Tennessee State game.
The Sooners are not a one-dimensional offensive football team.
Even though the offense obviously "runs through" Adrian Peterson, this team and this offensive coaching staff have the ability to make the opposition pay if the opposing defense says it will stop Peterson and make Thompson beat them. I will take that defensive philosophy every Saturday for the rest of the year.
Play-action passes after faking to AD is gold and Malcolm "I'm Open the Middle" Kelly is money. Plus, I don't think we have to be concerned with No. 4 pulling a T.O. between now and October 7.
Kelly is not the only weapon for coach Kevin Sumlin's
talented receiving corp. I actually had a dream a few nights ago to where Juaquin Iglesias scored a big TD on Texas on a reverse or misdirection type of play. Manuel Johnson has the same ability with his speed and "wiggle" to make big plays after touching the ball on a reception or a hand-off. Plus, we now have multiple, playmaking tight ends.
Misdirection and QB Paul Thompson running the ball on key occasions, may be big in the Cotton Bowl in a little over a week.
The offensive line eliminated, by and large, all the silly non-contact penalties they had been making early in the season.
Plus, some young O-linemen got some game time experience that may prove invaluable as the season progresses. This offensive line has been a virtual "sack free zone" this season but the biggest test to date and perhaps all year will come in the shade of burnt orange the second Saturday in October. Texas'
D-linemen rushes the passer and penetrates with "vengeance and furious anger".
Another nice thing to see against MTSU was that the OU defense tackled better. Rufus, you know you are a star when one name describes you, had five tackles for a loss. Yeah, I know, we have already established that MTSU wasn't very good but for one player to have five tackles for a loss in one game is pretty sweet, even in an intramural game.
Rufus is the inspirational leader of this defense and as Rufus goes, so seems to go the Sooner D. This will be Rufus Alexander's last game against the Longhorns. No. 42 needs a lifetime "Texas Memory" and there is no better place or time to accomplish such than in the Cotton Bowl with the smell of corndogs in the air.
Reggie Smith, or simply just Reggie, if you will, moving back to safety seemed to galvanize the secondary even though some folks feel Smith's most natural position is corner.
I would love to see Reggie ... on the offensive side of the ball making D-coordinators gameplan for AD, Malcolm, and Reggie, but the Edmond Santa Fe sophomore is simply too valuable to the Sooners defensively for that to happen at this point in time. At least, that is, on a full-time basis.
One doesn't have to graduate Valedictorian from Private Eye School to know that Texas is going to challenge our cornerbacks in the Cotton Bowl. Why wouldn't they? Our corners have been toasted a few times this year and until they consistently shut people down our corners are going to be challenged. I say
bring it on!
It's a great opportunity for native Texans Lendy Holmes, Marcus
Walker and Lawton's D.J. Wolfe to step up and make the statement heard ‘round the secondary world come Red River Shootout time.
(Useless trivia: Did you know that Sooner Secondary Coach Bobby Jack Wright recruited and signed former WWE wrestling star and budding movie star Stone Cold Steve Austin to play defensive end at North Texas State?)
Bottom line here is that our corners played much better against MTSU and seemed to be more comfortable on the field than at any time this season as it relates to where to go, where to line up, etc.
The defensive line played as the alpha males in the MTSU game Saturday, but Jackie Shipp's group will be sorely tested against a veteran, big and talented Longhorn offensive line that averages well over three bills and has future Sunday players returning from the defending national champs. Winning the line of scrimmage war by our defensive line is imperative. We cannot allow the Texas offense to cannibalize an already quickly running clock with long drives which also keeps our No. 28 on the Sooner sideline. If we have no AD on the field and
the clock becomes our enemy, we will have about as much chance for happiness as WorldCom's Bernie Evers in prison.
One has to believe that the Sooners are having some physical practices this week focusing on the fundamentals of the game, especially on being aggressive when it comes to blocking and tackling. The players get Friday and Saturday off and many
will visit family for the weekend and some will, no doubt, catch up on their sleep, and enjoy various social activities.
Let's hope that all our young men act like responsible adults and make good decisions this weekend and report back to the Switzer Center Sunday ready for the most intense week of game preparation many will ever experience. Being a father and a former college student back in the day, these "off days" scare me a little bit but this is a great group of kids and I suppose I should just "lighten up Francis".
This week I had the opportunity to talk to a few Sooner legends and former coaches, and their view of this game was amazingly the same in these independent conversations. From these conversations, some over a cold beverage or two, the
keys to the OU-Texas game could well are:
1. The Offensive Line.
They must not have an abundance of non contact penalties such as false starts and illegal procedure penalties. The young Sooner offensive line must physically dominate play, be willing to play smashmouth football, and to be hit in the mouth and respond as a warrior. The key to Adrian Peterson, the best running back in America, making plays is for this offensive line to compete intelligently angry.
2. Tackle. Tackle. Tackle.
This must be done efficiently and with the striking power to make the men in burnt orange re-consider their life's choices as it relates to athletics. We need eleven "Cerebral Assassins" playing on our defense on the much anticipated second Saturday in October.
2. Special Teams Play.
Our return game has been great this season. Can it get better? Can we carve out a BIG play in the return game against UT? More
importantly, in my view, is how we cover kicks-offs and punts. Covering kicks is a huge facet of this Red River Rivalry and it cannot be stressed enough.
I find it amazing that after talking to several very interested parties regarding the 101st meeting of Oklahoma and Texas is that this game comes down to simply the burning desire to block and tackle better than the opposition. Some things never change.
I am as excited about attending this year's game as I was for the first OU-Texas game I attended in 1970. I wouldn't trade my four on the 50 for four on the 50 at the next ten Super Bowls. To me, the Red River Shootout is the greatest spectacle in sports and has to be experienced to be believed and
fully understood. What a great time of the year!
Editor's note: To read J.R.'s weekly football blog, we encourage you to check out www.jrsbarbq.com>www.jrsbarbq.com
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