Man, from the Oklahoma Sooners taking down Texas in Dallas, followed by a bye week in which we see teams from across the Big 14 cannibalize each other, the vibes are good. Oklahoma sits there undefeated, the only one in the conference, and watching the world burn. A path to a conference title... ya know I am not going to be the one to say it... sits in front of them. So really, what is the big question this week?
Does Oklahoma show up?
I have asked that question a lot over my course of time covering OU, and more times than most care to rememeber… they didn’t. UCF isn’t a threat. Oklahoma has everything in front of them. These are the weeks, especially under a previous head coach, I would bank on a let down week. Brent gets his real first crack at it, even though last year against Kansas State feels similar, but beating Texas and then sitting on your hands for a week is an intresting test.
What will I be watching?
- First quarter offense for Oklahoma is where, if I were going to guess, is where the slow start materializes. Watching Lebby’s offense for a year and a half tells me it lives and dies with one singular thing. Momentum. I have never seen an offense that when things are working seems unstoppable and when things don’t work for just a handful of plays feels like they won’t muster a meaningful 3rd down. A big game followed by a bye week is a great way to kill all offensive momentum. That is nothing on Lebby and Gabriel, just the hand they were dealt. It would not shock me if the Sooners struggle a little early on that side of the ball.
- I continue to love that I have no idea any order on the depth chart of this room. Every week after Tawee Walker trotts off I stare at the sideline and assume Marcus Major is coming in. However, look at the snap counts — Barnes, Sawchuck, and Smothers are all very close... and Jackson Arnold sandwiched right between all 3 of those. The rushing attack has not been unbelievable from Oklahoma, and after an offseason of hype for Barnes and Sawchuck I wonder if we see a pivot looking for a spark from one of those two.
- Special teams — I don’t love it! I think Oklahoma’s special teams have really left some wanting outside of the return game. Punting and kicking have to improve and I would like to see Oklahoma kick like 17 field goals because I just don’t know if I believe Schmit has it. I know. I know that is insane for an 80% field goal kicker but it is just my gut.
Know your opponent: UCF Knights
- Harvey and Richardson have both made big plays in the run game this year. Watching those two to not “crack one open” and make it a ball game is a big deal. I don’t like UCF’s offense, but ya know, a 60 yard run, 78 yard run, and a 36 yard run and who knows... maybe it gets freaky and we all stare at it. I don’t think it is going to happen but I would be off-base if I didn’t at least mention that UCF has lived by these.
- John Rhys Plumlee is reportedly back this week for the Knights. He brings a major running threat, so Danny Stutsman and Jaren Kanak will be put to work. Whether or not Plumlee will be able to make OU pay to committing to the run will be the determining factor in UCF’s offensive success. In this instance, I like OU’s chances of dominating.
- Tre’Mon Morris-Brash has five sacks already this season. UCF is only 3-3, but their wins have come in games when Morris-Brash was able to make the difference when it comes to their defense slowing down the opposing team. I don’t generally know what the consensus is by the Oklahoma fans on this offensive line, but I have been underwhelmed. Again, if you are looking to create best guesses for monkey wrenches to be thrown to the Sooner winning machine, Morris-Brash and this pass rush is about as good of a guess as I can come up with.
I don’t know what to do other than assume that what I have seen so far is what I will continue to see. Oklahoma’s defense has made me a believer. Stutsman and this defensive line make me believe that unless you bring a premier offense to the table, 21 points will be hard to muster.
What a time to be alive.
I, long term, remain apprehesive to lable this offense “totally fixed”. I see good things and some things I think might show up down the road as issues. However, UCF’s defense isn’t going to make me talk about those this week.
Oklahoma - 41
UCF - 13
Talk to you later, knuckleheads!