Another week of football time in Norman, Oklahoma!
Things will look and feel a little different as the Oklahoma Sooners will be hosting the West Virginia Mountaineers to kick off their Big 12 campaign. As the weather cools down a bit and the sun sets a lot faster, Oklahoma’s competition level will get hotter.
The Mountaineers come into this game as a decent opponent very capable of pushing Oklahoma. Defensively, they are led by defensive tackle Darius Stills who has had a heck of a college career. His disruption in the interior could play a major factor in this game.
Jared Bartlett presents another player the Sooners will have to account for. Bartlett plays a hybrid role called “bandit” which is basically a part time defensive end and a part time weak side linebacker. The ability to rush and cover could make for some chaotic moments if the Sooners can’t get a feel for what he will do.
Offensively, the Sooners have been pedestrian at best. Aside from their first half against their weakest opponent thus far, they have not looked like usual Sooners offenses. Here are some keys to get the offense going against a fairly solid and sound Mountaineers defense.
Up Next: “Open the Valve!”
Open It Up
Have you ever been in a situation where there was a stoppage blocking something from fully pouring or flowing or releasing itself? A pipe clogged with something is gonna prevent the water from releasing at full blast. Until whatever is clogging the pipe is no more, you only get droplets and smaller amounts of water. It might suffice your needs for a while but eventually you realize you need to maximize all the water you have.
That’s where Oklahoma’s offense is.
They’ve shown us enough to make it through games and get to conference play undefeated but it is time to unclog the pipe. Open the valve and let the offense be free.
Obviously, Spencer Rattler’s play and decision making has to do with some of that. He’s acknowledged as much this week.
However, Lincoln Riley has been notorious for keeping things vanilla and basic until he needs to be otherwise. Watch for the aggressive nature of Lincoln’s play calling to shine this week and watch for the offense to open it up with some deep passes and a better all around showing from both running and passing the ball.
Up Next: Stay on Fire inside the 20
Red Hot In the Red Zone
Despite all of the hoopla about Oklahoma’s struggles, Oklahoma has nailed it when it comes to the red zone. Toby Rowland, radio voice of the Sooners posted an incredible stat leading up to this game about the red zone efficiency of Oklahoma’s offense and the efficiency of West Virginia’s red zone defense.
Key Stat Alert 🚨
OU is #1 in the nation scoring in the Red Zone, converting 17 of 18 times (16 TDs).
WV is #1 in the nation in Red Zone Defense, only allowing opponents to score on 4 of 11 trips (36%). pic.twitter.com/Ll57SgSywp
— Toby Rowland (@TRowOU) September 24, 2021
Something will have to give in this game. OU has many options in the red zone. They can use play action to tight ends/h-backs like Jeremiah Hall or Austin Stogner. They can run the ball with Kennedy Brooks or Eric Gray and utilize Spencer Rattler with the QB run game. On the outside, screens to Mario Williams and Marvin Mims or jump balls to Jadon Haselwood and Mike Woods. Watch for that game within the game.
Up Next: Time to Hulk Out
The Sooners head into this game looking to put together another solid performance up front. However, they’ll be facing their toughest assignment to date.
The Mountaineers don’t have any 340 pound mammoths in the middle but they do have guys that are explosive, quick off the snap, and very agile.
Dante Stills gets a lot of publicity and will his hear named called early in the NFL Draft. True sophomore Akheem Mesidor presents some issues in the interior as well. How the trio of Andrew Raym (presumed starter), left guard Marquis Hayes and right guard Chris Murray handle the interior will go a long way for them to be able to get to the second level in the run game and for Rattler to have a clean pocket to throw from and to climb into in passing situations.