Idaho State is a bad football team that is offensively inept. However, defensively they may be better than advertised. Against Arizona State last weekend the ISU defense held the Sun Devils starting offense to five field goals on their first nine possessions. Sure that's still surrendering points but when you when you consider that Arizona State played on a short field all night, with an average starting field position at the Idaho State 45, the defensive stands seem a bit more impressive.
Arizona State scored 50 points but the ISU defense came out charged and ready to take it to the Sun Devils. Over the first 15 minutes of the game Arizona State was held to just three points. The Bengals were also very aggressive on third down, holding Arizona State to just a 4 of 14 conversion rate. ISU only got to the quarterback once for a sack and when the clock expired at the end of the 4th quarter ASU had averaged 5.9 yards per offensive snap.
Idaho State Defensive Line vs. OU Offensive Line
DE Jeff Tuua 6-2/250 (2 TKLS)
|DT Demetrius Amos 6-1/317 (2 TKLS)||DT Chad O'Donnell 6-2/260 (2 TKLS)||DE Sean Rutten 6-2/238 (4 TKLS)|
|LT Trent Williams 6-5/318||LG Brian Simmons 6-4/318||C Ben Habern 6-3/288||
RG Jarvis Jones 6-7/297
|RT Cory Brandon 6-7/310|
ISU's defensive line averaged three tackles per person across the way but eventually wore down making way for the Sun Devils to enjoy offensive success from the second quarter on. The Bengals run a four man front that averages 6-2/266 and will be going up against Oklahoma's offensive line that averages 6-5/306. This is one of the mismatches that OU has to exploit but based on the performance of Oklahoma's line last Saturday night nothing should be a given with this group. It's also interesting to note here that Brody Eldridge graded out as Oklahoma's best o-lineman last week, with more that 20 knockdowns, but will be moving back to tight end this week. That means that OU is losing their best lineman to this point and instead will be starting freshman Ben Habern.
Idaho State Linebackers vs. OU Running Backs
SLB Jarrid Nash 5-11/242
MLB J.T. Albers 5-11/225
WLB A.J. Storms 6-0/215
|RB Chris Brown 5-10/200 (14/62 YRDS)
||FB Matt Clapp 6-2/246 (1/1 YRD)
RB DeMarco Murray 6-1/214 (10/58 YRDS)
Weakside linebacker A.J. Storms recorded 8 tackles Saturday night against Arizona State but middle line backer J.T Albers and strongside linebacker Jarrid Nash struggled. This group is key for the Bengals as they are almost sure to face an Oklahoma offense that is being retooled to take advantage of the star talent they have left which is the stable of running backs. It appeared, to me at least, that this group struggled in shedding blocks and closing in on the tackle which led to a 5.1 yard per carry average for the Sun Devils.
Idaho State Secondary vs. OU Passing Game
|FS Chris Holmesly 5-9/193 (3 TKLS)||SS Dustin Tew 6-1/196 (7 TKLS)|
|CB Keith McGowan 5-9/185 (4 TKLS)||CB Michael Wright 5-10/179 (4 TKLS)|
|WR Adron Tennell 6-4/199 (2/20 YRDS)
||SL Ryan Broyles 5-11/178 (4/26 YRDS, 1 TD)
||TE Brody Eldridge 6-5/265||WR Brandon Caleb 6-1/187 (4/57 YRDS)
QB Landry Jones 6-4/216 (6/12 51 YRDS)
The Bengals didn't register any interceptions last week but free safety Chris Holmesly did have the only pass breakup for the team. Holmesly's backup, freshman Phillip Pleasant, recorded 10 tackles from the nickel back position. The corners could have a bit of a match-up problem as every receiver on Oklahoma's two deep is taller than 5-9 with Adron Tennell and Dejuan Miller both listed at 6-4. The safeties could have a similar issue should OU get the tight end pass game working. Brody Eldridge is listed at 6-5 which is four inches taller than strong safety Dustin Tew who is the tallest DB on ISU's two deep. However, like Oklahoma's offensive line we need to see this group of receivers prove themselves before any confidence is put in them.
What To Look For
It's my opinion that Oklahoma has to move to a power rushing attack in the absence of Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham. This isn't an indictment against Landry Jones as much as it is against a receiving corps that absolutely failed to show up last week against BYU. OU has two of the most talented running backs in the Big 12, if not the nation, and can go a long way riding on their shoulders IF they can get mistake free play from their offensive line and one or two receivers who could catch the ball in clutch situations.
What we need to see is Oklahoma's offense not struggle mentally Saturday night with false start penalties. We also need to see this team enjoy offensive success while keeping in perspective the level of competition they'll be playing. Well learn nothing about the improvement of the Sooners Saturday night but we might get a glimpse of a new offensive philosophy that could still carry this team to a Big 12 Championship if executed properly.