Wed Oct 03 02:15pm EDT
To get the scoop on Oklahoma, we went to an expert on the Sooners -- Jake Trotter of ESPN -- with questions about the team and Saturday's game.
Do you feel that this weekend is kind of show-and-tell for both secondaries?
JT: "It's going to be interesting. This is going to be Texas Tech's, I think, first Big 12 test in the passing game. And, conversely, it's going to be OU's first big test. Kansas State, more of a rush-oriented team. And then UTEP, they tried to run the ball, they weren't very good passing either. It's going to be a big test for a secondary that's played well so far. Where OU's been susceptible is up front, in the running game. I think it's going to be key for Texas Tech to run the ball at least some, to take the pressure off (Seth) Doege and the passing game so they can two-dimensional and OU can't tee off. I think if OU's a little bit off guard, that's going to create problems for the defensive backfield and allow Tech time to throw the ball and get the ball to their playmakers."
I can't imagine that the last two weeks have been much fun for OU fans. What's their pulse on the program?
JT: "Fans aren't happy with the way this team has performed going back maybe to the Texas Tech loss last year. You look at the defensive front, some lady called in last night and wanted to know if there were any changes they were going to make on the defensive line. Coach Stoops didn't like that call too much. The thing is they don't have a Gerald McCoy, they don't have a Tommie Harris, they don't have an All-American caliber player up front. It's just a bunch of guy. David King is a nice player, he can play tackle or end. But after that, Jamarkus McFarland has done okay, Casey Walker is back after leaving the team for a couple of weeks. But there's no All-Big 12 caliber players so they're having to make do with what they have and they're just not dominating people up front. Their linebackers are kind of the same way. Tom Wort is an experienced player but he's not an All-Big 12 linebacker. Corey Nelson, their other linebacker, has been pretty quiet so far this season. They have a lot to prove and I think it's going to be an area where other teams attack because they don't have a lot of disruption up front."
What has been a bigger factor in Landry Jones' struggles of late, the absence of Ryan Broyles or the offensive line?
JT: "There's no doubt it's Ryan Broyles. The offensive line is actually been okay in pass protection. You look at those sacks and I think three or four of them came from Landry (Jones) holding the ball too long. You can't hold the ball for five seconds and expect not to get pressured. That's what happened against Kansas State. He had great protection in the pocket, nobody was open or he didn't feel comfortable throwing the ball and rolled to his right and that's where they got him. That was after four or five seconds in the pocket. Ryan Broyles has been the big question with this team in that how do they move forward without him. They just, as an offensive, have not been able to find their identity since he went down with that injury. It's going to be interesting to see how they approach the Texas Tech game because you watch K-State juxtaposed against Kansas State, who knew what they wanted to do offensively -- they wanted to get the ball to Hubert, they wanted to keep the ball in Collin Klein's hands and let him make plays -- and OU, do they want to be a power running team? Do they want to spread the ball around? Do they want to get the ball to Kenny Stills as often as possible? Do they want to go tempo? Do they want to go slow? They were doing everything and it was almost like they didn't know what they wanted to do and who they wanted to get the ball to. I think that's why they've had problem moving the ball so much this year."
What was the thought on this offensive line coming into the season?
JT: "They felt like this was going to be their best offensive line since 2008 and that offense that was incredible with Duke Robinson and Phil Loadholt, Jon Cooper, guys like that. They lost Ben Habern at center and they lost Tyler Evans at guard. What they lost was their depth. They just don't have a lot of depth anymore. They're having to play, pretty much, their five or six guys the entire game. They were counting on having an eight-man rotation this year. Part of the problem in terms of being a power running team is their left tackle is a converted high school quarterback, came to OU as a tight end and now he's a left tackle. Their center was a tight end in high school, was recruited as a tight end and now he's a center. They're not an overpowering offensive line. They're pretty good in pass protection. They're very athletic, pretty cereabreal. They're just not going to blow people off the ball like we've seen some offensive lines in Norman in the past. That's no fault to them, it's just not the way they were constructed. Now you see OU try to establish a power running game with Damien Williams and Trey Millard and some of their backs, and it just doesn't flow with what their offensive line is built to do. That's, I think, one of the reasons why they're having an identity crisis."