I narrowed the focus a bit on my previous two posts to look at OU's problems at right tackle and the over-aggressiveness of their linebackers and safeties. It seems that now, before evening comes upon us and we eagerly await the morning, is a good time to broadly address the entire team and discuss what players we can expect to see. If you're curious, here are the previews of the Sooners written earlier in the season or in the preseason:
As noted in the title, I'll try to keep this brief, but heck, I might just ramble along.
Quarterback: Bradford looked pretty good against Baylor, although not perfect. He was off on some throws, particularly going high, and he did not look comfortable moving around as PB noted in his podcast. Other than that, I thought his arm motion looked the same and he was able to put good velocity on his throws. Ultimately, the problems OU's offense had against Baylor were not his fault. He better be ready to actually do some moving, though; he does not want to be a statue with Kindle and Acho coming after him.
Runningback: Murray and Brown have done relatively well thus far despite some of the struggles of their offensive line. Brown doesn't have breakaway speed but he is a bit more consistent. Murray is dangerous in the open field and is stronger than people get him credit for (probably because he gets hurt a lot), but he doesn't exactly muscle away from tackles. These guys will likely be the key for the Sooner offense; if they can't run, OU is in deep trouble.
Wide Receiver: The big news is that Ryan Broyles is rumored to be returning tomorrow. It is difficult to tell how much this would help. It is unlikely he will be 100%, and one receiver who is not on the talent level of the likes of A.J. Green and Dez Bryant is not going to transform an entire WR corps. Still, he has been by far their best receiver and it is probably a welcome relief to Bradford. Keep an eye on Dejuan Miller, a big, athletic target who has the physical gifts to be dangerous. Other than that, the Sooners have to rely on mediocre production from Caleb, Kinney, and Tennell.
TE: Eldridge is a decent blocker but slow. Hanna is not scary at all.
Offensive line: As discussed in my post about them, Jarvis Jones and his backup Cory Brandon have stunk it up so far. Left guard Brian Simmons is injured, and while he is not a great player, he's been one of the better ones and he is significantly better than his replacement Stephen Good. Good is, well, not good, despite having the requisite physical tools, and I like our DT's against him. At center is Brian Habern, who is a mediocre blocker himself and definitely should not be able to handle our tackles by himself.
Right guard features Tarvarris Jeffries, who began starting against Miami, and he wasn't good against them or Baylor. I specifically remember him whiffing on a block on a rusher who forced a bad throw from Landry Jones, who had a wide open receiver for a big gain. Jarvis Jones had this job against BYU before going to RT, and he was replaced by Tyler Evans for a bit, who is now the backup. No, he's not good either. Finally, there's the overrated Trent Williams, who is functional but not near the All-American greatness he was hyped to be. Our DE's can take him on the edge.
Defensive Line: Very good, but not as good as it was hyped to be and not as deep as it was supposed to be. Beal has been their best player on their entire defense and has 6 sacks. English has been decent but not particularly disruptive by himself. McCoy and Taylor are a very good DT pair, with McCoy as the more dangerous one by far. Taylor is quick for his size and he can get penetration on single blockers, but he's not McCoy. Demarcus Granger has practically disappeared. And "J-Mike?" Who cares.
Linebackers: Discussed already. Ryan Reynolds should not cover anyone except maybe EBS, who shouldn't be going out on routes anyway.
Secondary: Corners are solid in Brian Jackson and Dominique Franks, though they lack depth here. Jackson does not have top end speed and Franks likes to gamble and can have mental breakdowns, such as when he gave up that long touchdown against Miami. The safeties are nothing special. Carter and Proctor can run in a straight line and hit, but that's about it. Both can bite on fakes due to their aggressiveness.
Special teams: Dominique Franks apparently thinks it's a good idea to return punts inside the five, and successes on such returns against Miami and Baylor might encourage him to do that again. While rugby punting largely makes that a moot point, hopefully he has a brainfart in the return game and gives us a nice gift. He is dangerous, though.
Punt coverage is good, kickoff coverage is so-so, and kickoff returning is not concerning. As far as the kickers, their placekicker is okay and their punter is a good actor. That's about it. We should definitely win the kicking game.
That's all, folks
Brief enough? Oklahoma is going to have to establish the run game, which is easier said than done because while our DEs are the ones getting the attention, I think our DTs give us an advantage as well. Lamarr Houston, anyone? On defense, Oklahoma will need a monster day from their line. Our O-line is not elite, and you can expect some plays for loss at the hands of Beal and McCoy. The issue here is depth; if we have a large TOP advantage like last year, it can get rough for the Sooner D in the 4th quarter.
The onus is on Brent Venables to be smart. If he sits back and dares us to run with umbrella coverage, we might have some problems if we can't run the ball. As PB and Big Roy note, if he decides to blitz, that's a bad idea in the long haul.
As far as Wilson, this might be a game where the no-huddle is a bad idea. He's probably going to have to be a bit more conservative than OU fans will like, but I don't expect too many draw plays on 3rd and long anymore with Bradford back.
Hook'em, and OU sucks. We got this.