The Sooners struggled at times on the road a year ago, suffering tough losses at Colorado and Texas Tech and looking less than spectacular at Iowa State. With trips to Manhattan, Stillwater, and College Station looming ahead on the schedule, this game would be an opportune time for the Sooners to pull out of their road funk.
To do so OU is going to have to figure out a way to stop Jake Locker, who many have called the most talented signal caller in the Pac-10. Locker is a dual threat player who can hurt a defense with his arm and his feet. Athletic Oklahoma ends Auston English, Jeremy Beal and John Williams will have to be disciplined in their pass rush to contain the fleet footed quarterback. After throwing for 2,062 and rushing for 986 in his freshman campaign, Locker spent this spring working on his weaknesses, " Basically he knew going into the off-season were he needed to improve the most, on his accuracy and decision making, if you look at his numbers in the spring game(13-19 for 159 yards), it appears that he did a pretty good job getting better in that area," Scout.com Washington Husky publisher editor Chris Fetters explained.
The Huskies will be young and talented at the skill positions on offense sophomore Brian Johnson, who had a breakout game in an upset of Cal a year ago leading the rushing attack, Willie Griffin, who led the team in rushing in the spring game, will also contribute.. At wide receiver freshman the Sooners will have to keep an eye peeled for Chris Polk, the gem of the 2008 recruiting class for Washington, "He has 15 practices under his belt, one of their focuses was trying to get him the ball as many ways as possible. Everyone understands all the athleticism and speed are there, but they want to get him familiar with the playbook," Fetters said of the shifty true freshman, "I wouldn't be surprised to see him line up in the Oklahoma game at running back, slot receiver, and wide receiver."
On Defense, Washington has turned to Ed Donatell to fix a defense that gave up the most yards per game in school history a year ago. Donatell has a strong background, stints in the NFL at Green Bay and Atlanta. The Sooners all senior offensive line could have big day against a talented, but young defensive line. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is the only player up front with any significant starting experience.
Donetell's influence will be most obvious in the secondary, which is his specialty. Donetell overhauled a group that ranked dismal 104th in the country against the pass a year ago. "He went after bigger and more aggressive players at the line of scrimmage to match up with some of the bigger types of receivers they will see against teams like Oklahoma." Added Fetters. These bigger more physical players include Mesphin Forrester and Quinton Richardson, who will likely start at the corner positions.
This game marks the end of a treacherous non-conference schedule for the Huskies three opponents (Oregon, BYU, and OU) that will likely all be ranked in the top 25. Washington will need to win at least one if not two of these games to save coach Tyrone Willingham's job. Also not to be forgotten is the fact that this will be the Sooner's first trip to a Pac-10 school since the controversial 34-33 loss to Oregon in 2006.