Since it's Bedlam I figured I'd go all out on this weeks preview, and split it into three parts; the line, the linebackers, and the secondary.
Coming into the season, the OU front four was a bit of a mystery. With key injuries and suspensions, it was hard to tell what Mike Stoops was going to be able to cobble together. Starting most of the year have been the quartet of: senior David King (25 tackles, 1 sack, 5 qb hurries), senior R.J. Washington (32 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup), senior Jamarkus McFarland (24 tackles, 1 interception, 3 sacks) and senior Casey Walker (22 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, a fat zero sacks).
Looking at some stats, the Sooners allow 185 yards rushing per game (though, if you remove the West Virginia game that number drops to still bad 155 yards), and have only recorded 19 sacks (and only 5 from the starters). While we're still on the subject, the main rotation of backups consists of Chuka Ndulue (38 tackles, 4 sacks), Rashad Favors (10 tackles, 1 sack), and recently returned from suspension Stacey McGee (10 tackles, 1 sack).
How the backups were on the subject of stat's even I don't know, but damnit they were. Now then, I'm trying to wrap my head around this Goon D, and it's tough. Against West Virginia the Sooners employed 7 defensive backs (you can be almost sure there is no chance they do that again this weekend), to try and slow Geno Smith, but gave up so many yards on the ground that the WVU passing attack didn't matter (though they couldn't stop that either) . I guess their strategy was to get the ball back to the offense fast, either with a stop or a score.
Now before you bust all over your computer screen, remember this- we usually play like shit in Norman, and it's still hard to win there. True, it's been a while since we've played there, and also true, this team is used to winning, but this will be a tougher road test than they've faced in three years.
We've beaten Texas in Austin the past couple of years, but Austin isn't a particularly difficult place to play. Lubbock usually is, but last year they rolled over and took the pounding, but maybe not having that bad history in Whoreman is a good thing.
Now watch as I tie the last two paragraphs back into the OU defense. What will help us play well offensively in a hostile environment? A good run game, and with this version of the blOU defense resembling a levee in New Orleans, we should be able to have a good run game.
If we have the succes we've been having on the ground (216 yards a game) I think we'll have a great chance of winning this game. If we control the line of scrimmage we'll have a good shot a winning first down, which makes for easier second and third downs, and good things happen if you can keep rolling up first downs. Also (and we'll get into this more in the linebacker preview) with the linebacker corp having, shall we say, struggles, I think that adds up to success rushing in the red zone.
Look for the linebacker preview Wednesday and the secondary preview Friday, or don't.