Final clash before farewell,
Musket: OU comes into this game on a bit of a skid with losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State. What’s the biggest reason, in your opinion, behind the Sooners falling off track in the last couple of weeks?
Jack: A severe lack of discipline has set in for both the team and certain members of the staff. In crucial situations, the decisions from Jeff Lebby has been mind-boggling. Combine that with an alarming number of pre-snap penalties, and this team’s ability to put teams away has taken a major hit.
In Lawrence, the weather completely threw Lebby for a loop. He responded by taking the ball out of Dillon Gabriel’s hands. Pounding the rock from that point forward was working, but instead of continuing to do so, he decided to put wide receivers in the backfield and get cute. It had fans (and I assume Brent Venables) pulling their hair out.
In Stillwater, the play calling and penalties stole the momentum at every turn. Runs up the middle on third and five aren’t going to make people happy. Rolling the pocket to the short side of the field on fourth and five with the game on the line is unforgivable. Still, execution was lacking in crucial situations, so it wasn’t all on the coaches.
All of this reminds us of last season. OU had no business losing many of the games that it lost, including last year’s game in Morgantown. What does give OU fans hope is that the defense absolutely played well enough to win in Stillwater. Generally, this has moved in the right direction, but a loss today would create chaos.
WVU is going to run a ton with its stable of backs and especially with its mobile QB Garrett Greene. How has OU fared against the run and more specifically against teams with mobile quarterbacks?
It’s been a mixed bag. Ollie Gordon has been lighting the world on fire, but OU did keep him in check for a large portion of the game. For the run defense and the defense in general, chunk plays have been a thorn in the side. Throughout the run of play and on a down-to-down basis, however, the run defense has been decent. Jason Bean did have a 38-yard TD run against OU two weeks ago, but OU honestly hasn’t played a ton of mobile QBs this year. Emory Jones wasn’t able to do much with his legs, and John Rhys Plumlee’s legs were out of the equation due to his injury.
Who are two people on each side of the ball who West Virginia fans should familiarize themselves with outside the biggest names and why?
Tawee Walker, if fully healthy, is the key to OU being able to put this away. He’s the only back who has consistently performed this season, and he’s had a ton of success when on the field against each of OU’s last two opponents.
Nic Anderson has been the big-play receiver for this offense, but he’s been kept out of the endzone in each of the last two games.
Defensively, linebacker Danny Stutsman should be back, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink, but in his absence, Kip Lewis filled in admirably. He has an incredibly bright future, and I expect him to see a ton of snaps today.
In the defensive backfield, Robert Spears-Jennings had a fantastic game at safety this past week. He’s a punisher in the run game, which will come into play against a physical running team like West Virginia.
What’s the pulse of the fanbase on Brent Venables halfway through year two? What has been an improvement over Lincoln Riley and where can he improve as a program leader?
As I mentioned early, this team is starting to show a bit of what it showed last year, but there’s no doubt that things have improved drastically on defense. Additionally, seeing what is happening out west has certainly given fans some closure. From a cultural standpoint, it appears to be the right hire. From a recruiting standpoint, it appears to be the right hire. For the transition to the SEC, it is absolutely the right hire. There are still some things to work out from a game management standpoint, and he might need to politely ask Lebby to look for other opportunities this offseason. In spite of this, and in spite of the last two results, he has the fan base in his corner.
This is where I’ve been asking Big 12 fans their opinion on the state of the new Big 12 and its place in college sports. We know where Oklahoma stands on *their* new place, rightfully ecstatic. Instead, I will challenge you to say exactly two nice things about the Big 12 and your time there.
I was born in 1989, so my memories are tied to the 1996-2010 group. I was a little too young to really remember the old Big Eight, and there’s obviously very little nostalgia tied to the new schools. The latter makes leaving a lot easier to swallow.
Having said that, Yormark’s assertiveness should be commended. He not only kept the ship afloat, but he’s helped create a pretty fun conference moving forward. I may be a fan of an SEC school, but I’ll always follow this conference very closely.
Additionally, my word... it is an incredible basketball conference. I will absolutely miss Big 12 hoops, and I’ll particularly miss the tournament in Kansas City. I’ve been attending the latter since it was at the old Kemper Arena. The current setup next to Power and Light is superb. SEC hoops will be fun (and less of a challenge), but it will feel weird.