FanPost

Biggest concerns our own team

I am having a hard time concentrating on work or class because I'm just thinking about this game.  I have a ticket that I won't sell for any price even though I'm a poor student and I'm pumped.  I'm also nervous.  We have a legit shot at winning this game, but we have several areas of concern that makes me pause.  Make no mistake, Oklahoma is darn good and Stoops will poke and prod for any weaknesses to exploit.

Here are my biggest concerns(regarding our own team) for this weekend, in order:

1.  Run game

If you asked me before the season and even just a few weeks ago, I would have put our secondary #1.  While that remains a concern, the lack of a consistent run game has become my largest worry for this game.  Has it been absolutely terrible?  No; we’re currently ranked 26th in the country in rushing yards per game.  Nonetheless, I am worried that we will be unable to keep Oklahoma honest.  Let me roll out a few stats to support myself (from ESPN.com):

Name

Car

Yds

YPC

Long

TD

Colt McCoy

45

317

7.0

35 (TD)

4

Cody Johnson

50

193

3.9

16

6

Vondrell McGee

50

187

3.7

13

1

Chris Ogbonnaya

16

93

5.8

51

1

John Chiles

29

86

3.0

25 (TD)

1

Foswhitt Whittaker

12

72

6.0

15

0

Jeremy Hills

12

35

2.9

8

0

Jordan Shipley

2

9

4.5

5

0

Totals

217

990

4.6

51

13

Without sacks, we would have 1095 yards rushing, but that’s more or less beside the point because I want to take our QB’s out of equation anyway.  If we take out both Chiles and McCoy’s numbers (and Chiles hasn’t even run that impressively) along with Shipley’s, we’re at 578 yards off of 141 carries, for a pretty pedestrian 4.1 yards per carry.  Even if we’re nice and discount Jeremy Hills, that number goes up to only 4.2 ypc.  None of our runningbacks are ranked among the top 120 backs in all of college football right now.  Only two runningbacks average over four yards per carry, and those two are Fozzy Whitaker, who has a small sample size of 12 carries against UTEP, and Chris Ogbonnaya, who’s only up there due to 51 yard jaunt against Colorado.  Before Chris O’s run, our RB’s longest run was 16 yards… by Cody Johnson of all people. 

I’ll grant that Cody Johnson’s stats are skewed towards a smaller ypc because of short-yardage situations, but I still have to think this is less than ideal.  If you’re like me and remain unconvinced that Ogbonnaya can run like he did against CU again, then we have to conclude that we simply don’t have a runningback who will really scare the defense.  Nobody is a threat to take it the house.  Nobody can get the ball 20-25 times and pummel a defense for 125-150 yards or so.  All this means is that we are heavily reliant on Colt McCoy, and while he has been awesome this season, it is unreasonable to think that he can take down Oklahoma’s defense by himself.

The wild card is Fozzy Whitaker, and despite his lack of experience, I think Mack has to take a chance on him if he’s healthy for this game.  Johnson is a good, tough back and Chris O. is a great third down back, but we need someone who can keep OU wary.  Otherwise, they’re going to pin their ears back and go after Colt.  Oklahoma’s run offense has been below expectations as well, but Murray can explode at any time. 

And of course, this relates directly to our offensive line, which has been criticized for its mediocre run-blocking.  Plenty of blame can land on both units, and they BOTH need to step up for Oklahoma.  We don’t have to run for 300 yards or something, but we do need a consistent attack that will keep the Sooners on their toes.  Sorry, but I have to think that even Jamaal Charles’ harshest critics would give their right arm for him to return this season based on what we’ve seen so far. 

2.  Secondary

The “obvious” one.  Have they improved?  Yes, and I am thrilled about that.  Have they improved enough to handle this explosive Sooner offense?  Now that’s a different matter.  Statistically, we aren’t too bad at all except for yards allowed through the air, but this concern remains.  We only have two interceptions in our first five games.  We have missed tackles that will turn into touchdowns against OU.  Our pass rush will be the key, but our secondary still needs to make Bradford hold the ball long enough so the rush can get to him.  Beasley has been a disappointment so far, and while we’ve seen a few good receivers (such as Dillard from Rice), we haven’t seen anyone with OU’s players.  Iglesias and Gresham will be big challenges.

3.  Pass options

 Again let’s look at some boring stats:

NAME

REC

YDS

YPR

LONG

TD

Quan Cosby

32

416

13.0

39

3

Jordan Shipley

24

368

15.3

60 (TD)

7

Chris Ogbonnaya

15

244

16.3

65 (TD)

3

Blaine Irby

10

95

9.5

23 (TD)

2

James Kirkendoll

5

80

16.0

29 (TD)

1

Brandon Collins

6

54

9.0

16

0

Malcolm Williams

6

33

5.5

13

0

Dan Buckner

3

26

8.7

12 (TD)

1

Vondrell McGee

6

23

3.8

9

0

Peter Ullman

2

10

5.0

6

0

Montre Webber

1

7

7.0

7

0

Ian Harris

1

7

7.0

7

0

John Chiles

1

6

6.0

6

0

Totals

112

1369

12.2

65

17

Shipley and Cosby both have had good seasons, as noted before on this blog.  Besides them… who else?  If we take out those two and also remove Chris O. (who’s a RB) and Irby (who’s injured), our leading receivers will be Kirkendoll, Collins, and Williams… for a combined 17 catchs for 167 yards and a TD, which is less than Ogbonnaya alone.  The loss of Irby is hurting more than we had hoped; without him in the pass game, our offensive options on a pass play seem either A)  Shipley B) Cosby C) Ogbonnaya on third downs and D) Colt running.  I know Ogbonnaya will start and thus can help our pass game more on first and second down, but again, this makes our offense rather narrow in focus and puts a lot on Colt McCoy.  Sigh.  Our team is better than last year, to be sure, but just imagine if we had those receivers from last year (with a healthy Sweed) as well as Finley.

4.  Kickoff coverage

A bit mediocre this season, in my opinion.  I don’t think OU is super dangerous in the return game (I think Iglesias returns for them), but this is not an offense you want to give short fields to.  Our defense will have a huge challenge as it is; don’t make it worse by giving up cheap yards (or God forbid, points) on a return.

5.  Greg Davis moment

Greg Davis is not a bad coordinator.  Last year, I actually thought he gameplanned fairly well for OU.  However, I often have a problem with his situational play-calling (a few calls irked me against Colorado), and I’m afraid of an inexplicable moment from GD that will kill a drive or two.  I’m glad they axed that Q package, although for all my criticisms of lining Colt out wide, I'll mention that I’m amused that Chad Pennington can do so and watch Ronnie Brown run wild (albeit in a different formation).  Maybe we should try the single wing against Baylor for fun.

In any case, despite our offensive production so far, I am worried we'll be unable to find the playmakers to keep pace with OU this weekend.  Even if we do, our offense simply does not seem as explosive as Oklahoma's.  Hopefully, our defense can get us some turnovers and some easy points.

Class time.  Thoughts?

 

 

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