It's finally here. We've waited for what ever year seems like an eternity, but it's finally once again football time in Oklahoma!
As we wait until this evening for the OU game to kickoff, some topics of importance with respect to tonight's season opener and what the Sooners need to do in order to avoid the upset.
'The Sooners will win if . . .'
. . . they don't turn the ball over. Sure, it's not exactly a profound revelation as this could be said about pretty much every football team in every football game. But it's of even greater importance for Oklahoma tonight against an opponent who is used to playing in these type of games and won't be rattled by the 85,000 fans in attendance. ULM will come in with a great deal of confidence, so OU doesn't need to do anything to add to it.
. . . they get out to a quick start. Similar to the point above, a slow start and an early turnover or two could put all kinds of pressure on an inexperienced Oklahoma team. After years of unwavering confidence, unexpected losses on Owen Field have put a chink in that once impenetrable armor. So OU fans could be on edge with a salty opponent across the way, especially if OU gets behind early.
. . . Josh Heupel is intelligent with his play calls and the positions he puts Trevor Knight in. Meaning, ULM is going to expect those short, quick passes early. They'll be sitting on those routes, so take a shot or two deep early in the game to back them off and give them something else to think about on defense. DON'T ASK KNIGHT TO THROW IT 50 TIMES. It's not likely to happen (we think), but you can't put this game entirely on the shoulders of your redshirt freshman quarterback making his first career start.
. . . they can consistently run the ball. This is not a good ULM defense. Oklahoma should be able to run the ball and they have plenty of quality options in the backfield to get that done. Establish the run early, then wear the Warhawks down as the game continues.
. . . they can avoid giving up the big play on defense. Outside of Aaron Colvin, this is a very green OU secondary and they'll be without a starting corner in Cortez Johnson. Zack Sanchez, expected to start in place of Johnson, will be tested early and often so it will be important to shade help coverage to his side of the field. Whoever starts/plays at safety will also be guys who haven't seen the field all that much (at least at that position) and may be prone to getting beat over the top. We've seen in the past how big plays through the air can demoralize a defense and with a quality opposing passing attack, staying home on defense will be vital for this OU secondary.
. . . they can generate some semblance of a pass rush. We just got done telling you about the inexperienced OU secondary, well their job becomes all the more difficult if OU's suspect front seven (or six, or five, or whatever) cannot get any pressure on a very good opposing quarterback. If Kolton Browning can stand unharassed in the pocket, it could be a very long night for this Oklahoma defense.