3 offensive keys to the game as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the Oregon Ducks in the Valero Alamo Bowl

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Cale Gundy
    American football player

Well, we’ve finally made it. The final game of the season for this year’s version of the Oklahoma Sooners. While many had hoped the Sooners would be playing on New Year’s Eve in the College Football Playoffs things didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, they’ll be suiting up one last time in San Antonio to take on the Oregon Ducks in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Bob Stoops will lead the charge as the interim head coach before giving way to new head coach Brent Venables. With Riley’s exit, the Sooners also lost their play-caller. While Jeff Lebby will be the head man in charge of the offense after this game as well, Cale Gundy will take the reigns as a first-time play-caller in 23 years of coaching.

Gundy’s one-game stint as play-caller means we have no prior data or information to go off of in regards to how Gunday plans to call a game. With that said, let’s take a look at the offensive keys to the game that could help Gundy’s first stint as a play-caller be a success.

If They Block, They Score

Oklahoma wasn’t their usual high octane offense from start to finish this season. Instead it was inconsistent performance at times. The defense seemed more reliable than the Jekyll and Hyde offense the Sooners put on display.

At the root of that was the play of the offensive line. The team struggled to put together games of dominance consistently, at least to the level the great offenses produced during Riley’s tenure. For most of these starters, save Tyrese Robinson and Marquis Hayes, they’ll likely be coming back for 2022. If guys like Andrew Raym, Anton Harrison, and Chris Murray put together a good game to generate some positive momentum, look for the Sooners to score and score a lot.

Games like the second half against Texas, the TCU game, or the Texas Tech game are just a few examples that when the offensive line played well, the Sooners could no wrong offensively.

When you factor in the fact that Oregon will be without 17 players on defense. a bunch of those 17 players were players entered the season on their two-deep. And the biggest loss is that of Kayvon Thibodeax, who opted-out for the NFL draft. The goal of this game should be to attack his replacement and get started fast.

Up Next: Share the Sugar

Share the Sugar

This game serves as the perfect opportunity for the Sooners to get back to spreading the wealth. One of the questions heading into the offseason is who will start at wide receiver opposite Marvin Mims.

Mario Williams is a legitimate threat and while he had a decent freshmen campaign he could really stand to be free and let loose like Hollywood Brown was. Let him and Trevon West take the top off of defenses while guys like Drake Stoops, Cody Jackson, Mims and Brayden Willis work underneath and in the intermediate part of the defense. Feeding Eric Gray in a myriad of ways would also go along way for the game at hand and also for confidence heading into another offseason too.

Up Next: Beware of this safety

Beware of Verone McKinley

Without a doubt, safety Verone McKinley will be the best Oregon player to step on the field especially in the wake of Thibodeaux’s absence. McKinley appeared and started in all 13 of the Ducks’ games this season. No player in the country intercepted more passes than McKinley’s six, and he was also second on Oregon’s squad with 72 tackles. He led the team with 12 total pass deflections to cap it off.

McKinley was also selected to the Pac-12 all-first team defense in addition to being a Thorpe Award finalist. He presents a unique matchup for the Sooners to scheme against but if they find ways to get him off balance and work away from him, it greatly increases their chances to win.

In 2021 he’s lined up at boundary corner, nickel corner, as a single-high safety, two-high safety and in the box for the Ducks. Basically everywhere you can imagine for a defensive back. He’s a pro at recognizing leverage and shows good spatial awareness in zone coverage. He’s a major problem the Sooners will have to work around.

The Sooners seem more amped, are healthy and have a major edge on offense in terms of continuity that ultimately should result in them putting together a solid game offensively. Williams may take a few drives to get to Oregon defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, but he and Cale Gundy should be fine if they handle the keys mentioned above.