Texas A&M has the "hot story" in all of college football right now with freshman quarterback, and Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. While the Aggies will be game planning to defend pocket passer Landry Jones, Oklahoma defensive coordinator must find a game plan for a quarterback who can win with both his arms and legs.
Part of a plan for success is knowing your opponent's tendencies, and its in this area that Stoops says that Manziel is pretty good which ultimately puts more pressure on his defense.
"He doesn't try to be anybody he is not," Mike Stoops said. "He plays to his strengths extremely well and to whom he is as a football player. He uses his gifts to help them win and that is what any great quarterback or player does. He knows exactly what he can and can't do. His ability to extend and create plays, there's not a defense created to defend against that."
So when you have a quarterback that completes 68% of his passes and averages 6.4 yards per rush, how do you devise a game plan to stop him. According to Stoops, you don't.
"I don't think you stop him," Mike Stoops told the media on Monday. "Nobody has been able to stop him. I think you try to contain him and try to limit his big plays. Being able to keep him in the pocket is easier said than done. They do a great job creating run plays for him to get him into open space. People don't realize, but the offensive line does a great job of creating space for him."
The scary thing for Oklahoma's defense is that for the Sooners to truly keep containment on Manziel their defensive line has to be a factor. The defensive ends will have to protect the edges and the tackles will have to plug the middle. As the reality of that statement sets in, so does the reality that OU doesn't have a track record of dominant defensive line play this season. Now, they'll be called upon to do so against what Mike Stoops believes to be the strength of the A&M offense.
"Those two guys (A&M offensive tackles), they can keep people from closing in," Mike Stoops replied when asked about A&M's offensive tackles and line. "They both do a great job of keeping people in front of them and make space around them. As a unit on their football team, their offensive line is probably their greatest strength. It all starts up front on any football team."
The rest of the Sooner defense is going to try and do their part in limiting the big plays for the Aggies but everyone knows that it ultimately comes down to the line and limiting the biggest playmaker of the year won't be an easy task.
"It is extremely tough," linebacker Tom Wort said when asked about defending Manziel. "The extension of the play makes you have to cover and defend longer than you are accustomed to. A big part of defending that will be the guys upfront not allowing him get away and keep him in front of them. It is easier said than done. It does make it difficult though because that entire offense is worked around him."
The two biggest things that the Sooner defense will have to do on Friday night is play assignment football and blitz. Again, that makes OU fans nervous. Everyone remembers how the Baylor game ended last season and with just about the whole world comparing Manziel to RGIII the thought of Oklahoma's defense playing assignment football gives chills. Trust me, the Sooners know what's at stake and what they must do.
Blitzing will give Oklahoma the opportunity to get into the backfield and possibly rattle A&M's quarterback. Is that possible? Safety Tony Jefferson believes so...just so long as everyone else is doing their part on the play.
"I think we can and I know we will have the opportunity to do it," Jefferson said when asked about getting to Manziel and rattling him. It will come down to us being disciplined and doing our assignments."
Above all else, one thing is for sure. Oklahoma's defense is getting tired of the talk and are ready to take the field.
"The talk is getting old and I'm sure it is getting old for him (Manziel) too," Wort said. "I think we all want to get to the game and stop all the talk. I'm ready for it and I am sure he is ready for that too."