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#4 Oklahoma At UTEP Football Preview: Sooner Defense vs. Miner Offense

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UTEP isn't going to be a team that can completely overpower Oklahoma's defense like Baylor and Oklahoma State did in 2011. Rather, the Miners are going to control the line of scrimmage and try to shorten the game with an effective rushing attack and then look for opportune moments to try and take shots down field.

While its not an overly complicated game plan, it is one that will test Oklahoma's defensive line in as much as that's precisely going to be the point of attack for the Miners. To counterattack the Sooners must look for, and take advantage of, mismatches that go in their favor.


#1 Tony Jefferson

5-11/212, JR


#30 Javon Harris

5-11/206, SR


#14 Aaron Colvin

6-0/181, JR


#6 Demontre Hurst

5-10/183, SR


#7 Corey Nelson

6-1/219, JR


#12 Tom Wort

6-0/237, JR


#9 Gabe Lynn

6-0/199, JR


#11 R.J. Washington

6-3/256, SR


#90 David King

6-5/286, SR


#53 Casey Walker

6-2/309, SR


#98 Chuka Ndulue

6-3/256, SO


#11 Malcolm Trail

6-4/185, SO


#58 Brander Craighead

6-6/280, JR


#69 Jerel Watkins

6-3/285, SO


#63 Elroy Atkinson

6-3/305, SR


#62 Kyle Brown

6-2/280, SO


#68 James Nelson

6-7/350, SR


#82 Kevin Perry

6-5/255, JR


#6 Michael Edwards

5-11/200, SR


#7 Nick Lamaison

6-1/215, SR


#9 Jordan Leslie

6-2/210, SO


#25 Nathan Jeffery

5-11/195, SO

To succeed in the running game you have to win the battle along the front and UTEP may have a disadvantage inside. Casey Walker has two years of experience and about 30 pounds on UTEP's right guard, Kyle Brown. He can help out defensive end Chuka Ndulue who is making his first start and will be going up against a senior who has almost one pounds on him. If Walker can be disruptive in the backfield by beating Brown then it makes things easier on Ndulue.

On the other side of the line, David King is pretty much a wash against Jerel Watkins size wise. He may have a speed advantage but he'll have to shoot the gap extremely quick to win on every snap. Its most likely going to be a give and take all night. R.J. Washington is also giving up some size to his opponent, left tackle Brander Craighead which makes me think that the Miners will try and attack to the left which will be Oklahoma's right side of the defense.

If that's the plan then they'll be running Nathan Jeffery at Oklahoma's linebackers Corey Nelson and Tom Wort who are both considerably larger than the 5-11/195 Jeffery. The key here may be nickel back Gabe Lynn and free safety Tony Jefferson who are also bigger than Jeffery but can also match his speed.

When it comes to defending the pass the Sooners are going to have to get pressure on Lamaison and use experience and body position against a receiving corps that across the board is bigger than Oklahoma's defensive backs. The guy that scares me here is tight end Kevin Perry who stands at 6-5/255 and could be a load to handle. That's where Casey Walker comes into play once again. Regardless of a pass or a run, it only takes one defensive player in the backfield to disrupt. It doesn't matter how big the receiver is, if the quarter back is on the run then he'll be that much more difficult to find.

UTEP Players To Watch

Running back Nathan Jeffery, he'll have more plays directed his way than any other player on the UTEP offense. Its a safe bet that their offensive game plan rises and falls on him.

Tight end Kevin Perry will be huge for UTEP on third downs and in the red zone.

Quarterback Nick Lamaison is going to have to throw the ball or UTEP will be raising the white flag of surrender. His decision making and ball security will ultimately tell the story for the Miner offense.

Oklahoma Players To Watch

If you can't already tell, I'm expecting defensive tackle Casey Walker to have a big game. If he's able to dominate Kyle Brown, as he should, it most likely means he'll draw a double-team from center Elroy Atkinson which only opens up middle linebacker Tom Wort to have free access to the play.

Nickel back Gabe Lynn is settling in more naturally at his new position than he did as a corner. He'll be all over the field on Saturday night providing support against both the pass and the run.

Middle linebacker Tom Wort could get his 2012 campaign off to a solid start if UTEP runs the ball as much as I'm expecting him to. Look for him to possibly be Oklahoma's leading tackler at the end of the night.