Oklahoma is coming off their second bye week in three weeks. The fans have been antsy while playing the waiting game and are ready for kickoff. Coming off a loss, the Sooners showed they had plenty to work on. They will be looking at bouncing back strongly as they have done in the past while riding the momentum to the end of the season. The trouble with that is that Oklahoma hasn't play particularly well when traveling to the "Twilight Zone" and more specifically in night games. Will this be the time the Sooners break the trend?
As the game draws nigh, here are a few things I'm looking for.
Offensive Game Time Adjustments. The Oklahoma Coaching Staff have been notorious for refusing to make in game adjustments. If they are looking at pushing this team to reach it's maximum potential, it starts here. When you notice a strength in a defense, it only makes sense to back down from that challenge while attacking the weak spot. The Texas Tech Red Raiders come in with the appearance that they are very disciplined yet physical on the defensive side of the ball. As Oklahoma begins to find the weakness the Red Raiders have yet to expose, they will need to make an adjustment to rip a small hole wide open.
Actions Mirroring Words. Damien Williams has been talked about and then talked about some more heading into this game. The general consensus is that the Sooners need to run the ball more but more specifically, Williams need to see more carries. This is where the rubber needs to meet the road.
Defensive End Involvement. It is no secret that pressure on the QB is a must in the Big XII. Seth Doege is no different and has proven he can be productive. OU has recorded six sacks to go alongside nine QB hurries so far this season. That number should be up a bit more considering the talent that has lined up against these DEs. If Oklahoma wants to reverse a trend that has set in, in Lubbock, they will need to consistently let Doege know they are there.
Tenacious Secondary. The Sooner secondary is a unit that is second in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (Texas Tech leads the nation). The position switches have this as the best defensive unit for Oklahoma. The Red Raiders will come in looking to balance their attack while possessing the skill and personnel to spread the field out often. Hard hitting tackles will make receivers a bit more cautious toward the end of their routes hopefully disrupting the timing they have with Doege. The secondary will be put in situations to make open field tackles while the expectation to limit big plays will factor in as well...looking at you Javon Harris.
LBs Becoming A Factor. Up until this point, the linebackers have been nearly nonexistent. I'm looking at Tom Wort to elevate his game level and step up as a leader on this defense while setting the tone for the front seven.
Effort & Communication. A consistent problem that is beginning to take root is receivers breaking off routes early. It is tough to know where to throw the ball when Kenny Stills has already given up on his route. He is the example these young inexperienced players are looking to and it's unacceptable. I expect 100% effort in an attempt to establish a line of communication and understanding with Landry Jones. It is then, and only then, that Jones will find his connection with more than a single receiver.