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Staring Down The Musket At...The Oklahoma Sooners: A Blogger Q & A Session

Matt Hofeld of the excellent SB Nation blog for the Oklahoma Sooners, Crimson and Cream Machine, was kind enough to share his thoughts on this year's Sooner team leading up to this weekend's tilt in Norman.


TSM: Shut out, huh? Was there anything schematically different in the game against ULM for the defense or was it just players executing Stoops' plan better?

CCM: There's not a single Oklahoma fan out there that would have predicted a shutout for Oklahoma's defense last weekend. Obviously this is one of the main points of conversation this week as, at least through one game, the Sooner defense seems to have been revitalized. There were several factors that went into keeping ULM off the board but two of the biggest were scheme and the play of the linebackers. For most of the night, Oklahoma implemented a three-man front and allowed the linebackers to flow to the ball. The linebackers were fast, aggressive, and disruptive all night, which was one of the best performances they've put together in several seasons.

TSM: What are your first impressions of Trevor Knight? Is he going to be the same kind of prolific passer OU has had in the past, or do you think he'll be somewhat of a dual threat guy, or maybe even a game manager?

CCM: The reviews were very mixed on Knight. What he's able to do with his feet, and the possibilities for the offense, are very exciting because it brings an aspect to the Sooner offense that we haven't seen under Bob Stoops. However, his was below average at throwing the football and that's a big cause for concern. At some point the Sooners are going to face a team that will force them to throw the ball and he'll have to prove that he can do that with consistency to be a legitimate dual threat guy.

TSM: What do you think about OU shifting away from the throw it 50 times philosophy and going more to a Pistol formation where they'll run it more? How did it look last week?

CCM: As long as it provides a win the fans are pretty much okay with it. It is a different look and to see the team run the ball 50 times is a change of pace, but at the end of the day its all about what the scoreboard says.

TSM: What is your impression of the Sooner run game (Knight excluded)? Who is the main guy? Just by looking at the box score, it looks as though you have a decent stable of capable backs.

CCM: Oklahoma has three senior running backs that bring something different to the table. Damien Williams is the workhorse/home run threat. He'll most likely get the bulk of the carries and possibly is the best NFL caliber running back of the group. Brennan Clay adds the extra dimension of catching the ball out of the backfield in addition to running the ball. Then there's Roy Finch who is the slasher and can do it all. He runs with power, catches the ball very well, and is extremely hard for a defender to get locked in on. At this point you'd have to say that the rushing attack is the strength of Oklahoma's offense. Last week they ran for over 300 yards in the opener and completely wore down the ULM front seven.

TSM: Holgorsen in his presser on Tuesday mentioned that OU looks completely different in all three facets of the game (offense, defense and special teams) this season. He didn't get into much detail, but what can you shed light on regarding those differences?

CCM: They did look like a completely different team on Saturday night. The quarterback ran for more yards than he passed for, the offensive game plan was centered on the running attack instead of the pass, the defense showed some new schemes and special teams were flawless. In my opinion, much of the credit has to go new coaching hires that have rejuvenated the staff and the team as well. There are a lot of adjustments going on with this team and we've just seen the result on the field for the first time. Its a bit of a utopia right now for Oklahoma fans but we also take it with some caution as we realize that what worked great one week could easily blow up in our faces the next.

TSM: There's a rumor floating around that Tavon Austin is being given a special exemption and will be dressing and playing for the Mountaineers in this game one last time. How does that make you feel?

CCM: Excuse me for a second while I take some medicine, my ulcer just flared up. The performance that Austin gave against the Sooners in Morgantown last fall was legendary. I'm very glad to have seen him move on to the NFL and hopefully he can have the same type of success with Sam Bradford in St. Louis.

TSM: Does your band play anything besides "Boomer Sooner"?

CCM: Why would they? It's the greatest fight song in all of college football.

TSM: To get back to a much more serious note, how are the reconstruction efforts coming along? There hasn't been a whole lot of news out this way about this lately. I know you Matt, especially, are located right in the heart of the devastation in Moore. I can't tell you how proud I am of what our baseball team did while they were out there earlier this year. Are there still ways people can help?

CCM: Things are somewhat back to normal but there is still a long way to go. For me personally I just have a fence left that needs to be put up, but my family was very fortunate to have experienced only minor damage to our home. Schools are back in session and people are fully into the rebuilding of our community. The outpouring of support into Moore, Oklahoma was almost overwhelming. People came from all across the country to help remove debris and assist families in starting over completely. All summer long we were able to see people who had flown or driven in just for the sole purpose of helping. The SBN community was fantastic as well. We were able to raise over $10,000 for the cause through our website and much of that came from the participation of other SBN sites. It says a lot about who we are as a community of sports blogs. There are still ways people can get involved if they'd like to. Groups are still coming to help with construction projects and the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief and American Red Cross are still on the ground assisting. Both of those are worthy organizations for donations.

Thanks again to Matt Hofeld for chatting with us. Be sure to check out Crimson and Cream Machine for more Sooner coverage of this week's game.