When the Sooners take the field against the Nebraska, they will face a West Coast offense that has been upgraded with a power running game as well. At quarterback for the Cornhuskers is Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Zac Taylor, who commands a solid and explosive offensive group.
On the other side of the field will be the Big 12's best defense, headed by Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Rufus Alexander, plus first team Big 12 selections C.J. Ah You and Larry Birdine at defensive end. Nebraska is proud of their front seven on defense, but at its best it is not as good as the Sooners'.
Oklahoma put three players on the All-Big 12 teams in the secondary and their match-up in both the passing game and in run support will go a long way in telling if they will come home with the championship or not. To talk more about that match-up, we turn to OU secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright on the Two Minute Drill.
JH: How valuable has Nic Harris been for the defense and your secondary this year?
BJW: "He has been great. He has said that he will play anywhere or wherever they want me. That has been his attitude all season. He has been great about it and he has been good at every position that we have played him at. His attitude has been a real positive factor to our team.
"He is a guy who I think playing him last year as a true freshman, even though he didn't play a great amount, played enough to get his feet wet, learn the system and learn the intensity that he would have to play at to play at this level. Then, all of a sudden, as a sophomore you see him playing three different positions, and he has played well at all of them."
JH: So Nic has become a guy that you can move around and feel good about?
BJW: "Absolutely. It says a lot about not only his willingness to be a great team player, but it also shows that he is pretty darn smart. Those positions (N, SS, FS) are not easy positions to learn. We always talk about the adjustment that the safeties have to make during the course of a game, and the nickel has just as many adjustments, if not more. It is really a testament to his athletic ability, but to his mental capacity to learn it, process it and be in the right spot."
JH: Is Reggie Smith beginning to look more and more like that physical safety you always like to have at strong safety?
BJW: "The last two or three weeks he has looked more and more like the type of safety that we thought he could possibly be. He had his hands on a few footballs the other night, made some good licks and made some good plays. The week before he had two picks against Baylor, and he could have had five.
"I told him on the sideline that if he could catch that he might set a record here. I had to get him a Butterfingers Candy Bar after the game. Literally, he did have his hands on three other balls that were catchable. They were probably hard catches to make, but all kidding aside he has started to be more of a dominant player in the middle than maybe he had been in the first half of the season. He really has started to come on here lately."
JH: What do you feel about having so many guys on your defense honored on the first- or second-team of the coaches All-Big 12 team?
BJW: "That is great. Those individual awards are great rewards, but I would hope personally that they could all win an individual award like that. That is not something that is realistic, but as coaches we would like for those guys to all be honored and receive recognition for their play. The thing that really gets those awards for those guys are our team. If we didn't have a good team and we didn't play well as a team, which takes everybody, then nobody would receive those individual awards.
"I think it goes back to the unselfishness of our football team and the way our guys play, prepare, practice and the way they go out on Saturday. They go out and try to play as good as they can possibly play. Then when the smoke settles those guys who receive those individual awards are good individual football players. They all know that they can't do it alone, and that it took the whole team to help them win those things."
JH: What are your thoughts on the Nebraska offense?
BJW: "Nebraska is a very good football team and they are very diverse on offense. They are very good at running the football and they are very good at passing the football. Zac Taylor has done a great job for those guys. I remember last year we pounded him all afternoon long. We sacked him nine times and had him in our grasp several other times and he got away.
"He is great at buying time, great at avoiding the rush and finding open receivers down the field. He hit us on a couple of those last year. He has had that kind of season this year. He is a really good football player and a good quarterback and we will have our hands full defending him. But on top of that, they do a great job running the football.
"You mentioned being physical and we have to be physical up front. We have to be great tackling in the run game and then we have to be great in pass coverage."
Two Minute Drill: Bobby Jack Wright
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