If you've listened to Oklahoma sports talk radio this week, and I mean in the rare instances they've actually talked about the upcoming OU football game, you're like me in that we continue to hear how Saturday night will be a match-up of "speed vs. speed." It is something that has annoyed me because in watching all six OU games so far, I haven't ever really felt like we're still running a hurry up offense. At least not the one we've become accustomed to in these last couple of years under Kevin Wilson.
If I'm honest, it's one of the things that has bothered me the most about Josh Heupel taking over the play calling duties. Not to say he's doing a bad job, but I feel like they are leaving opportunities on the field because they're not taking advantage of the up tempo pace they've used in the past. It clearly gave teams major problems and has become, in a large part, what the Sooners are known for from an offensive perspective anyway.
Maybe I'm crazy, feel free to tell me so if you're seeing something I do not. To the best of my recollection, this offense has not run the hurry up on a consistent basis in any game this season. I'm fairly confident they haven't even done so on more than a handful of series to be honest. They will do it for a couple of plays in a drive, but then inevitably they'll slow things down for some unapparent reason. And yet here we are, OU has the #4 total offense in the country and have amassed the seventh most total yards. By the stats alone, you would have to say things seem to be working out pretty well. So let's take a closer look at some of those stats to see if I'm really crazy after all.
As for that "speed vs. speed" comment, well Tech is certainly living up to their part. The Red Raiders are currently #3 in the country for total offensive plays from scrimmage with 518 snaps. As for our Sooners, they currently sit at #21 with 489 plays from scrimmage. Is that terrible? Of course not, but when you consider where they have been in years past it certainly stands out in comparison. Starting in 2008, when Kevin Wilson first installed the hurry up with the unflappable Sam Bradford under center, OU has finished #1, #5, and #1 respectively. In the two years they lead the country (2008 & 2010) they finished ahead of the #2 team by an average of 83 snaps or the equivalent of about a full game's worth of plays.
Flash forward to 2011 and at #21, I'm not sure you can make an argument that things haven't slowed down. If you look at the game log you can see the trend. In the opener against Tulsa the offense ran 100 plays, normally a number the Sooners hit with regular frequency in the past. Things slowed WAY down against FSU with a pedestrian 66 snaps, but got much closer to normal the following week against Missouri with 87 snaps. The Ball State game 77 plays, Texas 71, and last week against KU they had 88. It would certainly seem that the tempo is fairly inconsistent, going up and down almost from game to game. If you do the simple math, 489 plays thru six games, it averages out to roughly 81 plays per game. Which again is certainly not horrible, but still not quite at the pace we're used to.
The one stat I've yet to disclose involves our Sooners #21 overall ranking and it's the fact that of the 20 teams ahead of OU in total plays, 17 of them have played seven games. Obviously you all know why that matters, because OU has only played six games. The only teams who have played six games and have more snaps from scrimmage are Tech, Okie State, and La Tech. So if you take OU's total snaps through six games that we mentioned above, 489, and add to it their average plays per game, 81, that puts them at 570 and at worst likely #3 in the country.
So what does all this mean? Have they slowed things down under Heupel? I believe the answer is yes, but maybe not quite as much as it has felt like in watching these first six games. The numbers would lead you to believe that if things continue to progress as they have through the first half, the Sooners will likely find themselves near the top of the total plays run rankings once again. Which at the end of the day, if it leads us to #8, will be all any of us could have asked for right?