In their season opening loss at Tennessee State the Florida A&M Rattlers gave up a total of 401 yards of offense, with 263 of that coming through the air. Now they are faced with the task of defending an Oklahoma offensive attack that far surpasses the talent level they played in the opening weekend. For OU offensive success in this game is a given. The Sooners are going to score points tomorrow night and they are going to score them in bunches.
In finding themselves pitted against a defense that doesn't have the ability to stop them, the Sooners must game plan and attack in such a way that the measure of success isn't found on the scoreboard.
My guess is that we're going to see a run/pass ratio of about 40/60 from the Oklahoma offense. While the Sooners could legitimately do either, and be highly successful, against FAMU there is more work to be done in the passing game than their is the running game and getting that cleaned up has to be a priority.
Clean Up The Passing Game
Landry Jones has an obviously clear connection with Kenny Stills and that's to be expected. He's now into his third season of throwing passes to #4 and the rapport that he had previously established with Ryan Broyles has now passed on to Stills. However, when you get to Justin Brown the connection gets a little more cloudy and with freshman Trey Metoyer its about as clear as mud.
The good news is that these things are built through time and experience and that's exactly what tomorrow night is going to be about for Jones and his receivers. Look for multiple play calls aimed specifically aimed at connecting Jones to Brown or Metoyer.
In addition to completing passes, the Sooners must shore up their protection. The line is learning to be a cohesive unit and the backs have to pick up the blitz. Doing all of the above will make for a much more effective Oklahoma passing attack as they prepare for conference play to begin with Kansas State. That's not to say the running game should be completely overlooked though.
Maintain A Strong Rushing Attack
Oklahoma ran for over 200 yards against UTEP last Saturday night and FAMU gave up an average of 4.4 yards per carry to Tennessee State's running back last week. That formula there should equate to another solid outing for OU on the ground.
In addition to averaging on the plus side of 4.5 yards per carry tomorrow night the Oklahoma running backs are going to have to find their stride and place within the offense. Its a lot more than just the number of carries. They must pick up the blitz and know their general blocking assignments on passing downs. They must be able to slide out of the backfield and provide a safety valve to Jones under pressure. Equally as important they must catch the ball when its thrown to them.
At some point this season I believe that Coach Gundy is going to have to narrow down the field from three to two feature backs. However, these early games are to determine which two backs it should be so expect the load to be shared somewhat equally among the three.
Florida A&M isn't going to force Oklahoma's hand in that they're going to make the Sooners one dimensional. With the ability to pretty much do what they want offensively the primary obstacle is not shooting themselves in the foot. Penalties can be drive killers as well as taking points off the board. Look no further than last week when Landry Jones hit Kenny Stills at the UTEP four only to have the play called back for a chop block.
Crisp routes from the receivers, great protection from the line and assignment football by the running backs are all part of playing clean. If OU puts 60 points on the board but is sloppy in doing so then a lot of people are going to be scratching their heads in wonder.