Oklahoma's game plan against Tennessee should strongly resemble what they did in the season opener against Louisiana Tech in that it'll be a strong ground attack. The Sooners were pass heavy against Tulsa last week because they needed to be in order to establish a rhythm between quarterback Trevor Knight and his new group of receivers. However, this week OU wants to avoid situations where they are forced to pass the ball. To be in such a way would mean that they've lost on first and second down and the running game isn't on track.
Here's what to expect from Oklahoma's offensive game plan this Saturday night.
Run the ball with authority. Tennessee is currently seventh in the SEC against the run where opposing running backs are averaging 3.7 yards per attempt. On the other hand Keith Ford is averaging 7.3 and Alex Ross 7.9 yards per carry. Freshman running back Samaje Perine comes in at 4.8 yards per attempt. The quickest way to demoralize a defense and take them out of the game is to successfully run the ball right at them. Establishing the rushing attack has to be priority one for Josh Heupel's game plan.
Pass for efficiency and not for glory. Sophomore corner Cameron Sutton leads a Tennessee secondary that his limiting opposing quarterbacks to a 56.3 completion percentage. He's one of two players on the Vols roster to have nabbed an interception during the first two weeks of the season. Tennessee's secondary has an equal 2/2 touchdowns allowed to interceptions ratio.
Oklahoma has playmakers that can take a short pass and turn it into a long gain. Short to mid-range should be Oklahoma's passing tree on Saturday evening. I'm not saying not to take shots down the field but I am saying that they shouldn't do it in abundance. High percentage passes are what we're looking for in this game. Otherwise guys like Cameron Sutton can turn a mistake into points for the other team really quickly.
Keep winning up front! Trevor Knight has been sacked once in Oklahoma's first two games. If you ask me, that's once too many when you look at the level of competition of the first two opponents. The most telling stat for Oklahoma's offensive line is the team's 6.3 yards per carry average on the ground.
The next part of Oklahoma's success on the ground has been the ability to get offensive linemen into the second level of the defense. Senior guard Adam Shead is making a regular habit of getting into that second level and paving the way for OU's ball carrier. The ability to do this is huge when facing a guy like Tennessee's A.J. Johnson who has a team-high 18 tackles in two games.
The Sooners have been completely dominant at, and beyond, the line of scrimmage and have been able to open the field for the ball carriers and that must continue into Saturday night.
Gone are the simple game plans for Oklahoma where they can do whatever they want and look at specific players to see how they perform in game like situations. Now OU's offensive staff must look to exploit specific weaknesses in a defense in an effort to set up the things that they actually want to do. At least for this game it all starts with a ground and pound rushing attack.