After a win and a bye week, the Oklahoma Sooners are looking to start a streak as they face the Iowa State Cyclones — a team with four one-possession losses. Here to discuss the opponent is Ryan Harrison of Wide Right & Natty Lite.
1. Jon Heacock has been a thorn in OU’s side for a while, and this year’s defense appears to be as good as any he has assembled. What’s been the key to that group’s success this year?
I think I speak for all Cyclones when I say I absolutely love Heacock and what he has done year in and year out for this team. Our defense isn’t one that will kill you by forcing tons of turnovers, but you can expect us to really play out the “every man does his job” motto. The obvious answers of Will McDonald and Beau Freyler making impact plays comes to mind to answer here; but a big difference this year for us has been the emergence of Myles Purchase and TJ Tampa. The young corners have really shown out recently. The D line has also been bolstered by the addition of transfer MJ Anderson out of Minnesota. The return of both O’Rien Vance and Anthony Johnson has also been huge, having both playmakers and leaders at each level of the defense.
2. Conversely, the offense has had its share of struggles. Who or what is to blame for this?
This is a multi-layer answer. To begin with there will always be an adjustment period when moving on from the best quarterback in program history, not to mention other leaders on the offense in Kolar and Hall moving on to the NFL. I personally do not point the finger too much at Dekkers in his first year as the starter but, he obviously isn’t Purdy. Secondly, the injuries in the running back room have done this unit no favors and caused inconsistency in the game plan. Jirehl Brock and Cartevious Norton have been banged up have caused this run game to lack an identity to this point which has changed the outlook of the whole offense. Finally, it is hard not to notice the questionable play calling and the red zone offense. Execution has been less than stellar and throwing short of the sticks too often on third downs has been one of the headscratchers that has left this unit unable to continue and finish drives.
3. Aside from Xavier Hutchinson, which skill player is most likely to make a big impact on Saturday?
Easy answer here for me is Jaylin Noel. In his last game he put up 6 catches, 94 yards, and his first 2 career touchdowns against Texas. He is a great option for Dekkers to use to revitalize this offense and be an explosive weapon out of the slot.
4. Where should OU fans eat and drink in Ames?
I love this question. Food wise I personally love Wallaby’s Bar and Grille and West Towne Pub for food. A Wide Right favorite is always Es Tas. If they are looking for good bar scenes they can’t go wrong walking down Welch and seeing why Iowa State students love the nightlife in Ames.
5. How do you see this one shaking out? What’s your score prediction?
Tough question. I really am not sure what to expect, but I can tell you it will be a good game. I’ll say the trends of the year continue and Iowa State finds a way to cover the +1.5 spread and still lose. 28-27 Sooners. (Iowa State has lost every Big 12 game by one score or less this year)
6. Who’s your favorite Oklahoma Sooner of all time?
Hollywood Brown and Adrian Peterson both come to mind, but as much as I hated playing him; personally Kyler Murray is my choice. He was an electric ball carrier and was one of the better representations of a “fun college quarterback” I can think of. You didn’t have to know much about Oklahoma football or their opponents to enjoy watching games with Murray at the helm. The kid earned his Heisman in college and is still pretty fun at the next level.