Oklahoma's offense limped to the finish line of the 2014 season with their starting quarterback, top receiver, and leading rusher all on the sidelines for the Sooners season-ending loss to Oklahoma State. Now with the prospect of having Trevor Knight, Sterling Shepard, and Samaje Perine healthy, and back in action, they'll have one of the top defenses in the nation facing them on the other side of the ball. The Tigers are aggressive (44 sacks on the season), opportunistic (9 interceptions), and stout (opponents only average 2.8 yards per carry) on defense. To beat the Tigers you have to beat their defense and here's how Oklahoma can do that.
Run the football. They've got the horses and they've got the line. The question is, do they have the game plan? That's a legitimate question we'd like to ask Josh Heupel. Samaje Perine, Keith Ford, and Alex Ross are all different style backs which means that OU has options as to how they can come at Clemson, and they do have to come at them. The Tigers live for pressuring the quarterback and putting offenses in long yardage situations. The only way to avoid this is to run the ball. I won't be easy but it most certainly will be necessary.
Make the quarterback a dual threat. There's nothing left to play for. Seriously! What happens if Knight gets hurt? Oh yeah, the Sooners may lose Russell Athletic Bowl. Yup, that's it...nothing else. The damage has already been done to Oklahoma's season. Losses to TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, and O-State has already crushed the life out of the fanbase and a bowl loss would be just the cherry on top. Run the dang quarterback!
Let's think back to Brent Venables and his aggressive defenses at Oklahoma. How did they do against dual threat quarterbacks? Now you know why the Sooners must run the quarterback.
Use the play-action pass. Yeah, they'll have to pass to get by Clemson so why not pick your spots? Take advantage of Clemson's attempt to stop Perine and dump the ball over their heads. Granted, the Tigers have been extremely successful against the pass but you have to try...and find a way to succeed.
Win the battle at the line. This is the toughest job of the day but oh so necessary. There's no way the first three points can be accomplished without this one. We've seen OU fail at this so many times this season. A third or fourth and short conversion could have changed the outcomes of the TCU and Kansas State games and absolutely would have won the Bedlam game. How big of a factor will it be against Clemson?
Nothing is going to come easy for the Sooners on Monday but Oklahoma must find the small windows of opportunity that will be there. The OU offense vs. the Clemson defense is the key matchup in this game and you can pretty much bet on an all out brawl for every square inch of the field.