MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 29: Jaz Reynolds #16 of the Oklahoma Sooners snags an 8-yard touchdown pass past Tysyn Hartman #2 and Ty Zimmerman #12 of the Kansas State Wildcats in the third quarter at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Manhattan, Kansas. Oklahoma won 58-17. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
If the Oklahoma offense is going to make any type of statement at all that they can function properly without superstar receiver Ryan Broyles on the field then they will have to do so without Jaz Reynolds and backup running back Roy Finch. Both sustained injuries in last week's Bedlam game and both have been ruled out for the Insight Bowl on December 30th. This probably means that Josh Heupel will call 50 pass plays in the first half.
Jaz had emerged as a very solid receiving threat this season and had been looked to take over some of Ryan Broyles' roles within the offense. However a loss at Baylor, a suspension against Iowa State and a kidney injury against Oklahoma State is what followed after Broyles went down. Obviously that's not fully on Reynolds (Well, the suspension is) but it proved the point that this offense doesn't run properly without Oklahoma's all-time leading receiver. Oklahoma must now reinvent the wheel and find another way to get the offense to move the ball.
Even with the rash of injuries the tools are still there to make this offensive effective. Freshman running back Brandon Williams had come on as of late but he suffered a neck injury in the Bedlam game and won't be available for the bowl either. That leaves Heupel with three options. 1) He can spread it out and pass the ball 60 times like we've seen all season. 2) He can run Roy Finch until his legs fall off. 3) He can balance the attack utilizing the tight ends, a running back and full back and the only star receiver he has left on the roster.
Option one doesn't work. There simply aren't enough targets and, as much as I like Heupel, if we see a redo of the Bedlam game plan I'm all for him never putting a game plan together again...ever! Option two has some merit but the truth is they just won't do it that way. The coaching staff has been extremely vocal this season about not wanting to overload Finch and wear him out. Despite the fact that he would have had three weeks off and this is the final game there's no way they devise a game plan around giving Finch a bulk of the carries.
The only logical option (to me) is option three. Oklahoma has two solid run blocking tight ends in James Hanna and Trent Ratterree with Hanna more than proving that he can be a good receiving target. They have a brusing fullback in Trey Millard who can punish defenders either as a ball carrier or as a blocker. They have a big body receive in Dejuan Miller, a shifty slot receiver in Kameel Jackson, and a receiver capable of stretching the field in Kenny Stills. Why not use the I-formation to run downhill at them and take advantage of play-action?
Also lost for the Insight Bowl is reserve fullback Aaron Ripkowski who was used in the "Belldozer" package.