It is no secret that Oklahoma has struggled in the red zone. Up until this point of the season, we weren't sure that OKlahoma could score in the red zone or kick a field goal for that matter. With a nearly 50/50 chance of scoring a touchdown on every trip, something needed to improve drastically for many to think this team had the capability to compete for a MNC (outside of the obvious help we got from Clemson and hoped for with Stanford).
This past Saturday, it would appear that the coaching staff has found a band-aid to put over the problem for the time being. However, for the most part, the band-aid was successful as the Sooners went 5 for 5 on touchdowns in the red zone against the Kansas St. Wildcats. But, what did Oklahoma change?
1) Jordan has done an excellent job with the film study that he had put together so I'm going to steal a page out his book. The first thing to take note of is the use of a "running" QB. Although Blake Bell has less experience than that of his counter part Landry Jones, he has shown that he is far more mobile. With the opening drive Oklahoma scores with a "jumbo" set while Bell squirts up the middle for his first career TD. At his size he is a force to be reckoned with and will be tough to stop on short yardage downs. The coaching staff seemed to run with this idea until Bell fumbled it and was sidelined for the rest of the game.
2) During the same play, Oklahoma put some devastating FB blockers, Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowski, in the game to create a hole large enough for Ralphie May to run through. It all starts up front and the coaches have put players in a position to be successful at blocking in order to get the power running game started.
3) The use of "star" receivers has taken a backseat to actually scoring...imagine that! It appears that OU has thrown out the likes of Kenny Stills for players like Dejuan Miller and Jaz Reynolds, both of whom are taller than Stills is (and with what Reynolds showed he was capable of...he definitely took a step up in anyone's book). Not only the use of taller yet physical receivers, the use of TEs was apparent against the zone coverage. James Hanna was open time and time again but it was Trent Ratterree who scored from inside the red zone. This is a move that should have been implemented long ago and it would look like Oklahoma is slowly moving in that direction.
All in all, the coaching staff has taken the approach that this problem is of major concern. While there is no permanent fix at this point, it would appear there is a solution in the works. With Kansas St. being praised for their defense and Oklahoma being able to score in the red zone 5 out of 5 times on the road...the quick fix has been successful. The question is still, will the solution be permanent as OU has increased their TD percent to just over 60%.