The Oklahoma Sooners have won seven consecutive games against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, dating back to the 2001 season, and there's no reason to expect that will change this coming Saturday when the two face each other at Chapman Stadium in Tulsa.
Oklahoma's offense was a ground and pound power attack in the opener against Louisiana Tech and I wouldn't expect any different this Saturday. The bottom line is, with so many new components in Josh Heupel's offensive machine, simplicity is the way to go right now. That's not to say there won't be any new wrinkles or schemes this weekend, but I would still expect the Sooners' attack method to be very similar to what we saw last Saturday night. Here is what I believe you can expect from the offense...
Control the line of scrimmage. This is going to be the theme of Oklahoma's 2014 season. Even with Nila Kasitati missing from the right guard position Oklahoma was still dominant up front against Louisiana Tech. Tyler Evans stepped in after being away from the game for two seasons due to back-to-back knee injuries and performed spectacularly. It is uncertain if Kasitati will be back this week, but what you can count on is it not mattering. Football games are won and lost upfront and, with just a small sample size, it appears that this could be an advantage for Oklahoma all season long.
The Sooners did an excellent job at limiting penalties last week. There were no pre-snap or alignment penalties and just one holding penalty (called on Daryl Williams). You want to see those limited penalties become consistent because it not only shows discipline but also that the offensive line is winning the game mentally as well as physically.
Run the ball. The Sooners averaged 4.6 yards per carry against Louisiana Tech and I'm not sure that anyone expected to see what we did from Oklahoma's trio of backs. Perine and Ford both averaged well over 5.5 yards per carry and even Alex Ross was impressive at 3.3 yards per carry. Couple that with a Tulsa defense that really struggled stopping the run against Tulane and we may have the makings of a career day for somebody in Oklahoma's backfield. Tulane running back Sherman Badie carried the ball 15 times against Tulsa last week, and averaged 14.3 yards per carry. Oklahoma honestly may not even need to pass the ball in order to win this game.
Find some receivers! The Sooners will need to pass the ball because other receiving threats, outside of Sterling Shepard, must emerge. There are options with junior Durron Neal and redshirt freshman K.J. Young, not to mention the tight end position which you think would become an offensive weapon sometime in the near future.
Oklahoma may not need to pass in order to win this game but they absolutely need to pass to set themselves up for future success. The schedule gets real after this weekend with the Tennessee Volunteers up next in Norman and then back-to-back road games before Texas.
Simplicity is the key once again for Oklahoma's game plan. You don't want to overwhelm young players and you have to remember quarterback Trevor Knight is just a sophomore. This will also be the final "audition" for OU's young receivers. If a player can't emerge as a threat against Tulsa and Louisiana Tech it would be highly unlikely that they will against the likes of Tennessee, West Virginia, TCU, etc. I would expect the rotation of receivers to shrink down in number following this weekend's game.
This also may be a great opportunity for backup quarterback Cody Thomas to finally take the field. Thomas was held out last week with a back injury but it is important that the Sooners get their backup some reps before a situation arises in which he's actually needed. Let's not forget the deer in the headlights look that Landry Jones had when he came in for Sam Bradford against BYU.
Oklahoma names their score in this game!