Jack Sheilds of Crimson and Cream Machine was kind enough to give us some insight to the game tonight. Thanks to Jack for taking part in this and for giving some great answers. We talked OSU run game, Jalen Hurts and more!
CRFF:OSU has held three of its past four opponents to under 100 rushing yards. How will OU break the century mark on the ground against the Cowboys?
C&C:Oklahoma State’s defense has looked great down the stretch, but with Oklahoma’s offensive line finally having some continuity, developing chemistry and hitting its stride, breaking the century mark is a given. Another factor is this offense’s style with Jalen Hurts at the helm, as the Sooners kept it on the ground 64 times this past weekend against TCU. Finally, the myriad of ways in which Lincoln Riley deploys Jalen Hurts as a runner makes this a very difficult offense to defend. In the last three games, Hurts and the running backs have rushed for 366 against a solid TCU front, 228 against a great Baylor unit and 226 against a decent Iowa State group. So while I certainly don’t think things will necessarily come easily for the Sooners on the ground, OU should be able to have some success.
CRFF: What matchup are you most looking forward to seeing on Saturday?
C&C: I definitely have to go with Oklahoma’s defensive front against Oklahoma State’s rushing attack. Whether Chuba Hubbard has a “good” game or a “great” game is probably the most important variable for Saturday night’s contest. The absence of Spencer Sanders limits what OSU can do in the run game from a schematic standpoint (as our own Allen Kenney pointed out in a recent post), but Hubbard only needs an inch to end up in the highlights. I can’t wait to see how things go for the Oklahoma front seven and the Oklahoma State offensive line – two units that have improved exponentially since this time last year. The last six quarters have been awfully impressive on OU’s end, so I think their chances of holding Hubbard to a “good” night on the ground are decent. How the Sooners fare against him in the screen game is another matter entirely, however.
CRFF: Do you expect Oklahoma State to be able to put some pressure on Jalen?
C&C: To some extent, yes. Part of that is due to the fact that Hurts has a tendency to hang on to the ball for a bit too long. The other is that Oklahoma State has done a decent job creating pressure down the stretch (Trace Ford is going to be a problem for quite some time). Having said this, Oklahoma’s offensive line has been better with both run blocking and pass blocking since R.J. Proctor was inserted during the Baylor game, so I don’t expect it to be a glaring issue on OU’s end.
CRFF: What have you seen from the OU defense under Grinch that you’ve liked, what do you think still needs improvement?
C&C: one-gap scheme has worked wonders, as the defensive line is now utilized for the purpose of creating backfield disruption as opposed to simply eating up blocks. The scheme has also been simplified for the linebackers, which allows them to play more instinctively, which has improved the unit’s gap discipline. The cornerbacks have been slightly better, as fundamentals are actually being preached. Isn’t it amazing how things tend to turn out better when you actually look back for the ball? Tackling has also improved across the board, which I must admit is quite refreshing.
The safety position has been the weak link, but that’s due to the lack of depth that Grinch inherited. He’s currently recruiting guys who fit his preferred mold (size and length are absolute necessities for him), so I’m confident that the situation will improve in the coming years.
CRFF: What’s your favorite Bedlam memory?
C&C: It’s hard to pick one game, but I’ll go with the 1999 win in Bob Stoops’ first season. Most of my elementary school friends were Oklahoma State fans, so the 90s weren’t exactly a fun time for me on the sports front. I had never experienced a fun OU football season up until that point, and because of this, the ’99 win in Norman was incredibly satisfying.
CRFF: Oklahoma has had a few close games in a row, do you think the blood pressure of OU fans can handle another close game?
C&C: I’m honestly not sure. I might have a full head of gray hair by the time this season has concluded.
CRFF: Give us a score prediction?
C&C: I think Oklahoma ends up covering late, so I’ll go with 45-28 in favor of the Sooners. The battles in the trenches are going to be good-on-good matchups, but I’d give the slight edge to OU on both sides. Having said that, this will be another stress-fest if Jalen Hurts fails to take care of the football once again.