How to stop the Sooner offense

USC can get to the 8 man front using 10 different sets, other teams may use two, and Carroll will just change them up all night. That's an awful lot for an offensive front to handle. If they do figure it out then they've got Cody and Patterson to deal with, it's a pretty good combination when you've got good players running a good scheme.

Mission Viejo HS defensive coordinator Marty Mikkelsen is a former QB at Baylor who has studied the defenses of both USC and Oklahoma during the last several off-seasons. Mikkelsen says the teams are mirror images of each other on defense while having different tendencies on offense. We asked for his thoughts on how the Trojan defense will try to slow down the Sooner offense next Tuesday.

"This game is so hard to call. Before the comments last week by the Oklahoma defensive lineman I probably would have picked the Sooners. There's just something about a Heisman winning quarterback and how they usually play in a bowl game. There's so much attention and hype, they've been in the spotlight all year but now they're flying all around and everybody is saying "you're the best in the country". When that happens the player usually isn't as sharp come bowl time. On top of that you had the situation with Chow and Orgeron interviewing for new jobs, it was a lot going on. Once that Sooner player made the comments though, I don't know what to expect. With Orgeron leaving you might have the USC defensive linemen taking it as a challenge, the last battle with Coach O. They could use it as an opportunity to say "we'll show the world what we've learned from him".

Oklahoma will try to copy Cal on offense. Carroll will try to make White throw the ball downfield, you can't let him have 3rd and three or 3rd and four all night or else he will pick you apart. Adrian Peterson isn't going to go wild and run for 200 yards. I know Pete's philosophy, he's going to stop the run and Peterson is the dude. Even with Jason White on that team you have to stop the big running back.

USC is like a counterpuncher in boxing. At the start of the game they feel you out, throw a few jabs, they rarely look good early. Once the fight gets going they pick it up a little and then in the second half they just kill you. They just do such a great job of figuring things out during a game, by the second half they know what the other guys are trying to do and they know how to stop it.

Oklahoma isn't going to out-athlete them. SC knows how to do that too and it works against most opponents. Both these teams have speed, speed and more speed. This is the kind of game where Reggie Bush will get tackled in the open field and vice versa.

If I was the defensive coordinator I would rather be trying to stop Oklahoma than SC. It's not fair to give Norm Chow four weeks to prepare a game plan, I don't care who you are. I just wouldn't feel comfortable giving him this much time. You can game plan against OU, you need to stop the run game with Adrian Peterson. Pete's philosophy on defense is to stop the run, don't get beat deep and go get the football. That fits right into playing Oklahoma. If you're trying to game plan against the SC offense, what are you going to focus on stopping first? The run game? What if Reggie Bush doesn't line up at running back for the first ten plays? It's lip service to say you want to stop the run against SC because they do so many other things. They throw sideways so much that might as well be a run for them. They just have so many formations and motions that are hard to prepare for. I suppose I would play them just like they play other people on defense.

Jason White is very smart. I had a chance to work with him last year at the Elite 11 camp. He really understands his role in the offense. He's just a competitor, he's not as accurate as a Matt Leinart, Jason isn't the type of guy who will wow you in a drill but he he's a tough kid. If you can stop the run and make him throw balls he doesn't want to throw then that's the best thing to do.

Carroll will put 8 in the box to try and stop Peterson and the key for USC will be the speed of the defensive line getting off their blocks and how quickly everybody else can fill the run sets. USC can get to the 8 man front using 10 different sets, other teams may use two, and Carroll will just change them up all night. That's an awful lot for an offensive front to handle. If they do figure it out then they've got Cody and Patterson to deal with, it's a pretty good combination when you've got good players running a good scheme. If you're not used to blocking that kind of speed there's no way to prepare for it but Oklahoma is one of the few teams that can match USC in that department. The Sooners have pretty good speed too. Carroll will mix up man and zone coverages all night and if Oklahoma gets into USC territory he will bring the house. He's not the guru because he makes stupid calls. He wants to drop the safety down in multiple ways because that's hard for the offense to read."


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