The Oklahoma Sooners’ final road trip of the 2023 season and as Big 12 members takes them to scenic Provo, Utah, to take on the BYU Cougars.
Oklahoma comes into the contest heavy favorites against a team that’s reeling. BYU has been routed in recent games and has struggled on both sides of the ball.
It’s a mismatch on paper that gives the Sooners a chance to replicate their efforts from a week ago against West Virginia.
Here are a few final thoughts on the matchup.
Keep it Clean
When the Oklahoma Sooners don’t turn the ball over or suffer pre-snap penalties, they’re incredibly difficult to stop. The Sooners are No. 4 in the nation in points per game and total yards.
Last week against West Virginia was the most locked in the Sooners had looked in weeks. Going on the road into hostile territory and playing at 10 a.m. MT will put that focus to the test.
If the Oklahoma Sooners can avoid early miscues, they should be able to get ahead and then put the pressure on a bad BYU offense to keep up.
Let Dillon Gabriel Cook
The forecast has a decent chance for rain Saturday morning in Provo. Please, Jeff Lebby, don’t let that dissuade you from putting the ball in your quarterback’s hands.
Dillon Gabriel has been playing as well as anyone. There’s no reason not to let him be the focal point of the offense, regardless of the circumstances.
The Oklahoma Sooners quarterback has been dynamite throwing to the intermediate part of the field. A year ago, Gabriel completed just 53% of his passes 10-19 yards down the field. In 2023, that number has jumped to 60%.
When the offense has made it a point to throw beyond the first down marker, this offense has been humming. They don’t need to take deep shots in order for the passing game to be explosive. Just attack the sticks.
Simply Put; Drake Stoops
Drake Stoops has been the Sooners’ best player not named Dillon Gabriel the last two weeks. It’s no coincidence that over the last two weeks, Stoops has only gotten one target at or behind the line of scrimmage in the Sooners’ games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
Like Gabriel, Stoops has been killing teams in the intermediate passing game. For much of 2023, the offense asked Stoops to play predominantly in the short area of the field. But since they let him off the short leash, Stoops has been phenomenal.
Over the last two weeks, Stoops has 22 receptions for 298 yards and four touchdowns. He’s on pace to earn an All-Big 12 selection, leading the conference in receptions and touchdowns in 2023.
Against a BYU defense that ranks 77th in the nation in yards allowed, Stoops and the Sooners should continue to thrive through the air.
Put the Pressure On
BYU’s offense doesn’t run the ball well and they haven’t been very effective throwing the ball. Regardless of who plays quarterback on Saturday, the Sooners need to put the ball in their hands.
Send the blitz to slow down the Cougars rushing attack and put either Jake Retzlaff or Kedon Slovis in a situation where they have to throw to help find BYU some offensive success.
Oklahoma’s blitz game has been effective at getting pressure, even if they haven’t recorded a lot of sacks. Get the opposing quarterback in third and long and let your defense, which is tied for No. 1 in the nation in interceptions, go to work.
Can Nic Anderson break drought?
In the first seven games of the season, Nic Anderson recorded eight touchdowns to lead the Sooners. He hasn’t had a score in the last three games. He’s been effective, recording eight receptions for 229 yards, but hasn’t reached the end zone.
Bold prediction, but that touchdown-less streak ends this week. The Sooners have found a ton of success throwing to Drake Stoops in the intermediate passing game and have shown off an improved run game.
As BYU is force to account for what the Sooners are doing on offense, more opportunities will open up for Anderson.
The sound that you hear in Lavell Edwards Stadium is the sound of inevitability that is Nic Anderson scoring touchdowns.