With a bye week and then the usual blip in the blogger Q&A that is SMU week (Surely there must be some SMU football fan out there who cares enough to answer a few questions. One day I'll find him.) it seems like forever since we last had someone pop into the Frogblog and answer our questions. Happily this week is OU week, which not only means that we have an SBNation blog to direct questions to, but we have the esteemed M. Hofeld, head of the Sooner superblog Crimson and Cream Machine and all around good guy to shed some light on the Big 12's preseason favorite. My take on Matt's questions are already up at C&CM, so feel free to check them out as well.
Last time we saw you guys, Blake Bell was your quarterback. Now there's this Trevor Knight fellow, slayer of Alabama, but he's completed under 60% of his passes on the year and only has one more touchdown than interception. How do you rate OU's quarterback situation coming into Fort Worth, and will Knight be able to throw well enough to keep the Frogs from loading up in the box?
There's no doubt that there's been a little bit of an adjustment between Knight and a new crop of receivers but the results have been steadily improving. Through the first three games of the season Knight both threw and ran for a touchdown, and while he didn't do either against West Virginia he did catch a touchdown pass.
Knight isn't the most accurate passer that Bob Stoops has had at Oklahoma but he's the most versatile. While I would personally like to see him hit a higher percentage of his passes, you can't question the big plays that he's making either.
If I'm TCU I think I would start out my defense by stacking the box. The problem it will leave though, outside of one-on-one coverage with a guy like Sterling Shepard, is Oklahoma's speed to the edge. The Sooners do a lot of things in motion and if TCU can't adequately protect the edge while having everyone stacked inside then it could easily turn into a headache for the Frogs.
The Sooners absolutely battered the Mountaineers on the ground your last time out, with Samaje Perine plowing over West Virginia for over 200 yards. How did Samaje become the man this year at Oklahoma, and how do you expect him to perform against a TCU run defense that has (both historically and recently) smothered the run?
Oklahoma's rushing attack had been a three-headed monster until Keith Ford was injured against Tennessee. Until that game Ford had been the Sooners' top back but Perine certainly made the most of his opportunity in Morgantown.
What's crazy about that night is that Alex Ross was the starter. He's Oklahoma's speed threat and where he certainly won't run over you he does have the ability to run away from you.
I expect OU to continue to pound at TCU's defensive front in an effort to wear down what is a talented but thin line. I don't believe that Oklahoma can beat TCU by just running the ball but I'm also confident that they can't win without running either. It's going to be interesting to see how this match-up progresses as the game wears on.
The key matchup for me in this game is the TCU running game (Trevone Boykin, B.J. Catalon and all) against the OU rush defense. Who do you think is favored in this matchup, and how has OU typically defended dual threat quarterbacks?
Dual threat quarterbacks aren't new to the Big XII, nor are they new to Oklahoma's defense. The Sooners are better equipped now to defend a zone-read/option threat than they have been in years past. Mike Stoops has recruited with the intent of improving Oklahoma's defensive speed and that's exactly what has happened.
That said, now they have to execute. It starts with the defensive ends containing the edges and then the linebackers filling their gaps. Throw in a disguised blitz here or there and you pretty much have the game plan. Can the execute it? We'll that the million dollar question but the answer may be found in the middle of the line where Jordan Phillips (6-6/334) takes up a lot of space. If he wins his battles and clogs up the middle it sure gives OU and advantage.
Oklahoma has a history under Stoops of... we'll say "disappointing" when the Sooners start ranked particularly high in the polls. Are you more confident this season, or are you waiting for the other shoe to drop, and why?
I'm not sure that's a fair question. I think it would be better if it were worded more like, Oklahoma has a history under Stoops of winning championships. Does this look like another championship team for the Sooners?
Look, no team stays on top and few teams go wire-to-wire ranked high in the polls. The Sooners have had their share of let downs but they've also had a lion's share of successes. A lot of opponents are quick to point out Bob Stoops' failures but they're not as quick to compare their own school's coach's record against Stoops, even a school like TCU where Patterson has a pretty impressive resume.
Name two players on offense and defense for the Sooners that TCU fans might not have heard of, but will have a big impact on Saturday's game?
On offense I'm going to go with receiver K.J. Young and running back Alex Ross. There's a lot of attention directed towards Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal but Young is emerging as the third option in the receiving corps and is starting to make a name for himself. On the same note, there's been a lot of love thrown towards Samaje Perine but Alex Ross' speed is no joke. His efforts on special teams, along with what he can do with the ball in space on offense, could be difference makers.
Defensively I thing you have to go with linebacker Dominique Alexander and strong safety Quentin Hayes. With a lot of attention directed at defensive end Charles Tapper and linebacker Eric Striker, it's Alexander who is leading the team in tackles. Hayes also has been a disruptive force by leading the team in sacks. He also has a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and an interception on the year.
Finally, prediction time. Who do you like on Saturday, what score, and how do you see OU's season going from here?
I think this game is going to be an absolute dogfight. Both teams will be physical and both will lead with their defenses. I like OU to win somewhere around 24-17 with a late score.
I said early in the season that if the Sooners could survive the three-game stretch of Tennessee, at West Virginia, and at TCU then they would have a shot at running the table this season. Like most teams, OU improves as the season moves on and having Baylor at home is an advantage. I think, if OU survives on Saturday, you'll see the Sooners making an appearance in the playoff.
Interesting insight, and we both predicted the winning team as scoring 24 points (though we differ on which team will be reaching that milestone). Many thanks to Matt and be sure to check out Crimson and Cream Machine!