3 defensive keys for Sooners vs. Mountaineers

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The Oklahoma Sooners face their first conference opponent of the 2021 season when the West Virginia Mountaineers roll into town Saturday night.

Yesterday, Sooners Wire provided an in-depth look at WVU’s strength, weakness, and key players heading into the matchup. Armed with that knowledge, here are the Sooners’ three defensive keys vs. the Mountaineers.

Up Next: First Key to the game!

Gap Discipline

Leddie Brown makes decisions very quickly behind West Virginia’s offensive line.

He understands precisely how much space he takes up as a runner and how to angle his body to squeeze through running lanes.

The defensive front will need to fit their gaps and trust that the man next to them will do the same. That job becomes more difficult now that Jalen Redmond is sidelined with a meniscus injury. John Williams of Sooners Wire examined OU’s backup defensive lineman situation and pinpointed the Sooners that will need to step up in his absence.

Stepping in to replace Redmond will be a contingent of Josh Ellison, Isaiah Coe, Kori Roberson, LaRon Stokes, and Kelvin Gilliam. Ellison and Coe will get the first crack with the defense to fill in for Redmond, and both have played well in their roles as rotational defensive linemen.

Isaiah Coe and Josh Ellison are tied with Perrion Winfrey in Pro Football Focus’ “stops*” metric with four. They’ve been productive for the Sooners this season.

Up Next: Personnel Awareness

Understand WVU’s Personnel

Mountaineer’s head coach Neal Brown deploys a two-quarterback system. His pocket passer is Jarret Doege, who takes the bulk of the snaps and handles 95% of the passing responsibilities.

However, Brown has also deployed Garrett Greene under center. A redshirt freshman, Greene has already recorded 126 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the 2021 campaign. While he’s thrown the football just eight times, the Mountaineers could use him in passing situations in an attempt to catch OU’s secondary sleeping.

If he’s ever on the field at the same time as Doege, the double pass is absolutely in play. When he’s out there by himself, Oklahoma should anticipate option concepts.

Up Next: Get after Doege

Pressure Jarret Doege

I know, I know, suggesting a defense pressure the quarterback is anything but original.

But in Oklahoma’s case, it is absolutely the right thing to do. The tape reveals that Doege air mails passes when pressured. So Oklahoma should send Nik Bonitto after Doege how WVU flung Jarret Doege after Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister.

Although the sample size is small, the Mountaineers have three receivers averaging north of 16 yards per catch on at least seven receptions. The Sooners’ secondary could have their hands full in Sam James, Sean Ryan, and Bryce Ford-Wheaton. The more ill-advised throws Doege launches downfield, the better for an OU backfield that has survived by “bend don’t break” this season.

Related

Threat Assessment: A deep dive into the Mountaineers before week 4