Opening the season with a sluggish offensive start, Lincoln Riley decided to open up the playbook a little more than expected while seemingly abandoning the run. The decision sparked the air raid as Baker Mayfield set an Oklahoma Sooners record with 388 yards in the home opener. Should we expect the same from the offense against the Tennessee Volunteers? Here are three thing to expect from the offense on Saturday.
An Improved Offensive Line & Rushing Attack
First off, the offensive line must improve drastically. Time and time again we've said, "the offensive line is only as good as the weakest link." That statement reared its ugly head during the first game of the season as the Sooners managed zero rushing yards in the first quarter. Why is that number surprising? The Oklahoma offense plays home to Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, arguably the best backfield in the nation.
On the other side of the ball, the majority of Tennessee's interior remains young and inexperienced with two veterans, Danny O'Brien and Owen Williams. Possessing an intimate knowledge of the game, Bob Stoops remained confident in the Sooners' ability to run the ball during Monday's presser. Yet, if Ty Darlington and the rest of the line fail to win the point of attack, it could be a long outing on the road.
Test The Volunteers' Secondary
Bowling Green found success down field collecting big play after big play while quarterback Matt Johnson threw for 424 yards. Unable to get pressure on the quarterback, Butch Jones shook his head as the defense surrendered eleven plays of twenty plus yards and 557 total yards. This week Todd Kelly Jr. should start to anchor the secondary while Willie Martinez, the defensive backs coach, returns to the sideline. Regardless, questions still abound.
Fans sitting in the stadium or opting for a pay-per-view experience witnessed first hand the ability of newcomers Jarvis Baxter and Mark Andrews. The two, along with Sterling Shepard, must be unleashed against this defense giving Baker Mayfield multiple targets. If the offensive line holds against a vaunted pass rush, Shepard could put up big numbers and record his first touchdown of the season.
Limit Turnovers & Penalties
Sitting in the stadium on Saturday, I fully believed the Oklahoma Sooners could shut out the Akron Zips after the missed field goal attempt. However, a turnover from Sterling Shepard gave Akron good field position allowing three points to be added to the board.
In big games, turnovers potentially provide an added spark on defense as momentum swings from one end to the other either amping up the crowd or sucking the wind out of the sails...something the Sooners cannot afford on Saturday. Will the noise level rattle the offense? We'll have to wait to answer that question. However, if Oklahoma loses the turnover battle it could prove detrimental.
There you have it folks! Let us know in the comments below what you're expecting to see from the offense.