OU Football | 2013 Red/White Game | What To Watch For

SoonerScoop.com

Sure, we posted something incredibly similar to this on Thursday. But are you really going to tell us that this time of year there is such a thing as too much OU Football?

Yeah, didn't think so.

Now are the odds incredibly high that Saturday's Red/White game will prove to be a complete waste of two hours (four if you're a real trooper and take in the planned two hour pregame show) with the uber paranoid Bob Stoops sure to show us absolutely nothing?

Pretty sure you already know the answer to that.

However, considering this is the one and only opportunity we're allowed all spring to watch this team are we prepared to be perfectly content wasting those two hours?

Yes. Yes, we are.

As challenging as Stoops has made the task, we've still managed to compile several aspects of Saturday's "scrimmage" we'll be watching with the August 31st season opener in mind.

Oubulletlogo_medium The most obvious starting place with respect to 'What To Watch For' in Saturday's Red/White game is the quarterback battle. Recently, reports have seemed to indicate that Blake Bell and Kendal Thompson have separated themselves from true freshman Trevor Knight. If reports are to be believed, this is much more of a true open competition than many OU fans ever believed it would be. So this is a two part question. (1) How much, if at all, has your opinion changed regarding the original assumption that the job was Bell's to lose? (2) Given how little of the playbook we expect to be at their disposal, what specifically are you looking for from each candidate on Saturday?

Matt: I still think that its Bell's job to lose...but he may be losing. Thompson's athleticism has put him further into the quarterback race than most thought he would be. He's extremely quick but his decision making with the football may be his best upside. By that I mean he doesn't always make the right decision (no quarterback does) but he makes a quick decision. This was demonstrated in Sunday's scrimmage when he threw an interception. It was a quick decision but the wrong one nonetheless. On the flip-side of that is Bell who took a handful of sacks on one drive in Sunday's scrimmage because he was too slow to make the decision.

We won't see a ton of the new playbook on Saturday but we will be able to measure the athleticism of the the three quarterbacks, as well as their passing accuracy. According to reports, Oklahoma is going to rely on the quarterback's legs more this year than they have in the past. That may mean that the most athletic quarterback wins the competition...advantage Thompson.

Rich: I would have to venture to say that my opinion has swayed quite a bit. While I still believe Bell to be the front-runner for the job, I cannot shake off the notion that Thompson is right there in the equation. Needless to say, regardless of which candidate takes the starting job I will be pleased as both are athletic and talented while bringing a new dimension to this offense we simply didn't get out of Landry Jones.

The main thing I will be looking for is consistency. There needs to be a strong display of working through a progression, making accurate throws, as well as being decisive on the field. While any player can flash these things once or twice throughout the span of a game, consistency will be key.

Jordan: A month ago I would have laughed in your face if you had told me anyone else other than Bell was going to be Oklahoma's starting quarterback on August 31st. Obviously, everything we've heard and what little of it there has been is all second hand information (at best), but those accounts seem to indicate this is much more of a competition than I ever would have believed. So in that respect my opinion has changed significantly. I believe, at this point, it's a battle between Bell and Kendal Thompson with true freshman Trevor Knight having fallen behind if ever so slightly.

No one with a brain expects much, if any, of the playbook to be on display Saturday. Which is a shame aside from the obvious reason of sheer boredom, but also because we won't get confirmation as to what Heupel intends to do with the offense. There has been talk that the pistol formation could play a much larger role this year with former Nevada coach Chris Ault having spent time in Norman and Heupel's affinity for what the San Francisco 49ers did with Colin Kaepernick last year.

We've yet to have a real opportunity to see any of the three throw the football so for me just seeing that will be some form of progress. To that point, I think their accuracy and decision making will be key. The starter's role could very well come down to who the coaches believe will make the fewest mistakes and both of those aspects obviously play a significant role in mistakes such as turnovers.

Oubulletlogo_medium With Bob Stoops declaring earlier this week that a number of the upperclassmen (Aaron Colvin, Trey Millard, and Damien Williams to name a few) would not be taking part on Saturday, it will provide a chance for a number of the younger players to get some action who might not have otherwise seen many snaps. Who are some of the younger players you are looking forward to seeing?

Rich: Alex Ross jumps to the forefront due to much of the hype he came out of high school with. Yet, if I had to single it down to one player, I want to see what Dannon Cavil is made of. This is a kid with great size that creates mismatches on the outside but will he have the hands, the speed, and the strength to go up against D-I level talent every down? Hopefully, that and more will be revealed as Cavil flourishes at Oklahoma. Outside of that, I am chomping at the bit to see ___________ (pick any younger player at LB or along the D-Line)!

Jordan: How do you choose? Ahmad Thomas has drawn praise from both players and coaches this spring and safety is a major position of concern heading into the season. I've been on the Alex Ross bandwagon since the day he signed. Jordan Wade is a guy who could be one of Oklahoma's most talented defensive tackles and like Thomas at safety, plays a position where OU is in desperate need of guys to step up. Still a huge fan of both Durron Neal and Taylor McNamara who each played sparingly last year, but should be asked a lot more of this year.

I could go on, but at that point I'd simply be listing the roster. OU has a lot of young talent and it should be on full display Saturday.

Matt: First of all, let me say that I support this move. We know what those upperclassmen are capable of. We also know how important they are and it just isn't worth the risk of a freak injury in a meaningless scrimmage.

I'm pretty stoked about seeing Alex Ross carry the ball. I think he has the potential to become a fan favorite pretty quickly. Daniel Brooks is another young running back that I'm anxious to see. I'm also anxious to see where Charles Tapper and Mike Onuoha line up at.

Oubulletlogo_medium With the understanding that few, if any, starting jobs will truly be earned until later this summer, what position battles will you be keeping an eye on during the game?

Jordan: I'll be looking squarely at the line of scrimmage and specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Oklahoma's defensive line was, well, they were terrible last year. To be fair, a large part of that was the scheme in which they were asked to play, but one has to believe that decision was made because the coaches felt they had no other viable options.

With the arrival Jerry Montgomery things have changed and Oklahoma will get back to a style of play we're more accustomed to seeing. The defensive linemen will be asked to attack and get up the field whereas last year they were simply asked to 'catch blocks' as it has been phrased this offseason.

Oklahoma is returning a very experienced and talented offensive line, so if this defensive line can get pressure (even in a "scrimmage") it will be a positive sign.

Matt: Quarterbacks aside, how can you not keep an eye on the position battles in the secondary. Let's not forget that Quentin Hayes are making their comeback after a year-long suspension. Gabe Lynn is trying to earn a spot at the safety spot and someone has to line up on the other side of the field from Aaron Colvin. There's a whole lot to watch for in the secondary.

Rich: The third starting WR position takes the cake here. Oklahoma has a ton of talent at receiver but witnessed the star of the spring disappear into the rotation once the conference schedule hit. There is always the possibility that one or more of these players are not ready for the big stage as Cavil, Trey Metoyer, Lacoltan Bester, Derrick Woods, and Durron Neal battle it out.

Oubulletlogo_medium Both the tight end and linebacker positions were seldom used by this Oklahoma team last year, but we've been told that is going to change in 2013. Are you buying what the coaches are selling and would a lack of playing time for either in this scrimmage influence your opinion as to the upcoming season?

Matt: I'm buying in more on the defensive side than I am on the offensive side. It appears that they're moving to a single gap assignment for the defensive line and you can't do that without having the linebackers involved. Its really the only way to make it work. On the other side of the ball, we've been told that there will be more emphasis put on the mobility of the quarterback but that doesn't necessarily require involving the tight ends more.

I really wouldn't be surprised either way on Saturday, and whatever we end up seeing, the one thing I'm certain of is that we shouldn't put a whole lot of stock into it.

Rich: As much as I would love to say that I'm buying what they are selling at TE position (especially if that involves usage of them in the redzone), it continues to seem like an old wives' tale that reminisces on folklore and the things of ole. I simply won't believe it until I have witnessed it first hand. On the other side of the ball, I'd have to say it is more believable. The talk of changing the assignments reflects an overall change in what the defense will do as a whole, specifically the LBs.

Jordan: I tend to agree with the other guys. I'm buying that Mike Stoops realized the mistake he made last year and that the linebackers will play a much larger role in the defense this year. On the other hand, I'm definitely selling on Heupel using the tight ends until proved otherwise. I think a healthy Taylor McNamara significantly improves the chances of a tight end resurgence in the Oklahoma offense, but even still he's a guy who, experience wise, is essentially a first year player. Also, don't forget the name Sam Grant who the coaches have spoken highly and could be a factor setting the edge in the run game.

Oubulletlogo_medium The defensive line and secondary have suffered a near complete turnover compared to last year's squad, which unit concerns you more and would a strong performance from either (or both) this Saturday ease some of your concerns?

Rich: One thing that has become widespread within the football community is the saying "The game is won in the trenches!" from Bill Parcells. I 100% agree with this statement as when the Sooners faced their biggest challenges up front, they often lost. Think back to Kansas St. or Notre Dame who were easily the biggest fronts Oklahoma faced all last season. Simply put, OU needs to get pressure on opposing QBs but from the D-Line. If they are able to do that Saturday, I would be willing to drop my concern level from 96.73% to 87.42% as it is a must during the regular season.

Matt: It has to be the line, in my opinion. Games are won and lost up front, and Oklahoma needs to get to a place where they are once again a dominant force in the trenches. The rebuilding of the defense starts right there.

Jordan: I think there is a consensus here that the greater worry lies with the defensive line. Aaron Colvin alone will be enough to cover up for a number of mistakes in the secondary. The safety position is a definite concern, but that likely won't be resolved until this summer when Hatari Byrd, someone I expect to be a starter my mid-season (at the latest), arrives in Norman.

However, the secondary, at least to a certain extent, will only be as good as the defensive line allows it to be. What i mean by that is if the defensive line isn't getting pressure, like they didn't do last year, the secondary could look considerably worse than it actually is when they're asked to cover for much too long.

I wouldn't necessarily freak out if the defensive line has a poor showing Saturday, but as I said above it would certainly be encouraging if they had their share of success pressuring the quarterback and making plays behind the line of scrimmage.

Okay, you've heard what we'll be watching for on Saturday. Now we want to hear what you'll have your eye on. Comments, comments, comments, y'all.

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