The Sooners are off to a better start than really anyone thought they would be. Not from the standpoint of being 2-0 but more so from the fact that they have beaten North Texas and Miami by a combined score of 130-23 with a quarterback who was a huge question mark before the season started.
Utah State was supposed to be an adjustment game for Oklahoma after playing the Miami Hurricanes. The problem is that the Sooners have been so fine tuned in their first two appearances that there really isn't much to adjust.
To help up get to know the Aggies a little better we'd like to welcome in Shawn Harrison who is the sports editor for The Herald Journal in Logan, Utah. Shawn was gracious enough to spend some time answering some of our questions about the Aggies and the game in Norman on Saturday. Welcome to the Machine, Shawn!
Shawn: Antonio Taylor did not start the first game, but came in and ended up leading the team in tackles with 10. Last week against Wyoming he did start as James Brindley - the normal starter - was sick. Again, Taylor led the team with 15 tackles. He is a senior who has played a lot and seems to always make big plays and runs down people. Playing a team like Oklahoma, I'm sure he would have had to make some TD-saving tackles. That has to be a concern for Utah State.
CC Machine: Do the Aggies have the athletes on defense to try to play to stop the Sooners' rushing attack as well as passing or do the sell out to try to limit one phase of OU's game plan?
Shawn: The Aggie linebackers are good. The starting three have all started since being freshmen. However, the defensive line took a blow when senior defensive tackle Ben Childs broke his leg last week at Wyoming. USU has been good against the pass so far, but I don't think they have faced a quarterback like they will Saturday. I think they will try and slow the Sooner rushing attack and take their chances in the passing game.
CC Machine: What can we expect to see from Utah State offensively?
Shawn: In the past the Aggies have wanted to pass the ball around, but with a new offensive coordinator, they seem to be focused on trying to run the ball and control the clock. They have done a better job rushing than in the past, but haven't really found a back to give the load to. Freshman Curtis Marsh has been solid and will probably turn into the main ball carrier down the road. I think they will try to use their athletic quarterback Leon Jackson III to hold onto the ball as long as possible and limit Oklahoma's offensive possessions.
CC Machine: Can you tell us a few players on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that we need to take note of?
Shawn:On offense, wide receiver/return specialist Kevin Robinson has been the team's leading scorer the past three seasons. They try to get the ball to him in a variety of ways. He has big-play ability. Quarterback Leon Jackson III has the ability to run and throw on the run. On defense, linebacker Jake Hutton makes plays. He is not the biggest or fastest guy, but seems to be around the ball all the time. Fellow linebackers De'von Hall and Paul Igboeli are also guys to watch.
CC Machine:Tell us a little about Brent Guy as a head coach. What are his accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses?
Shawn: I've been impressed with coach Guy and the way he is recruiting. Past coaches here tend to panic after a few rough seasons and try and go the junior college route for a quick fix. Guy has promised to build the program with high school players and his first three recruiting classes have been mainly from the high school ranks. The team has yet
to have much success, so some fans are getting a little restless. I like how he went and got Darrell Dickey as his new offensive coordinator. I think that will help.
CC Machine: The Sooners are definitely playing the role of Goliath this Saturday against Utah State. What is the measure of success for the Aggies in this game?
Shawn: They talk about being close heading to the fourth quarter. I would think if they were within two touchdowns at halftime, that would be good. USU has played well in the first half of the first two games, but failed to build very big leads. Against a high-scoring team like Oklahoma, USU must take advantage of any breaks they get early. If the Aggies are within 28 points, I think that would be successful.
CC Machine: Care to give us a score prediction?
Shawn: I never do well with predicting scores. Oklahoma 56, Utah State 17
Shawn, thanks again for your time and good luck come Saturday!