PREVIEW: South Florida offense poses unique threat

Oklahoma's defense has spent much of the week working on defending South Florida quarterback Marquel Blackwell (pictured left) and the Bulls' no-huddle offense

South Florida is not one of those college football powers that get much national attention, but the Bulls certainly have the Sooner coaches attention. The Oklahoma coaches respect Bulls Head Coach Jim Leavitt and his staff and, to a man, the Sooner coaches say that the Bulls are well coached.

The Sooners have worked hard to prepare for the Bulls' no-huddle offense this week in practice.

"We have spent about 20 to 25 minutes of our practice this week against their no-huddle offense," said Oklahoma Co-Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops. "We have even tried to speed up what they may use against us by using two offenses against our defense in practice. We have used both our first and second unit in drills."

"We have one unit actually running a play and a second standing behind them ready to go. As soon as the play is over we rush the second offense up to the line of scrimmage and start calling signals. This forces our defense and defensive coaches to react quickly to call our defense, recognize what they are doing and if need be, to get the right personal in for us. We never huddle on defense anyway, so this hasn't been real difficult for us and we have always been pretty good about getting our best personal on the field. I think we can handle this OK."

When run game coordinator Kevin Wilson was the Offensive Coordinator at Northwestern he ran the no-huddle as his main offense. Thus far we haven't seen the no-huddle used at OU and Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long is not a big fan of it. However, Long is a fan of mixing things up in his offense, so could the no-huddle be coming soon to the Sooner offense?

"It could be and that is something that we have worked on here in practice," said Head Coach Bob Stoops following Wednesday's practice. "It is not something that I am totally against. If a team is not ready for it then the offense can be effective."

"If we can find a team that doesn't communicate real well or they seem to struggle getting personal groupings in the game then we might use it in a game. I don't think it will ever become our primary offense, but I like having it ready as an option to use when we can best take advantage of it."

Co-Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables says that South Florida is a little unique in how they execute the no-huddle.

"When the ball is in the center of the field, or on the their near hashmark, they bring most of their offense over to the side of the field and have about 20 guys standing around as the offensive coordinator calls the plays. Then, when they call the play their actual personal grouping takes the field."

"We have to be quick and intelligent and recognize in a hurry who they have on the field and what they are going to do. What they want to do is keep us from getting our right personal on the field, but we are very good about getting our right personal on the field and this will be a big battle between our defense and their offense. We never give in in this area and this is what will be interesting to watch on Saturday."

Not only does South Florida run the no-huddle, but they run the true spread offense.

"They run more of the true spread offense than we do," said Mike Stoops following Tuesday's workout. "They will line up with four wide-outs, and sometimes five, with an empty backfield and then run a quarterback draw."

"Marquel Blackwell, their quarterback, is great at taking off and running and that is tough to stop," continued Stoops. "A mobile quarterback is probably the toughest thing for us to match up with today. A great passing quarterback can obviously pick you apart if you are not ready for it, but the mobile quarterback forces you to stay in your lane or in your area so that your defense doesn't break down. They also have good team speed that makes things tough as well. They are a good offensive team and we will have to be ready or they can makes things tough on us."

Oklahoma has so much respect for South Florida that they are not gameplanning how much Paul Thompson or any of the young players will play. They hope to get them in quite a bit, but that all depends on how the game unfolds.

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