College football is just the most haywire sport out there. Three weeks ago I was thinking that the Oklahoma Sooners could get a token playoff berth. While I didn’t believe they could win a playoff game, after beating Texas I wasn’t sure who left on their schedule could give them a run.
Now, after two straight losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State, everything seems to be on the table. Some of the things that plagued this team last year all of a sudden are troubling it again. The win against UCF now seems like a small miracle. For the first time, I really think the post-Texas bye week came at the worst time.
What will I be watching?
- Pre-snap penalties are unbelievable. How one team can suddenly be plagued as one of the most under-prepared and undisciplined teams in the country is beyond me. The Sooners are not good enough to give up a free 40 yards a game when the other team literally does nothing. This isn’t counting the sideline penalties. I get it, everyone is convinced that last Saturday the fix was in, but this has been a reoccurring problem. A few times, it only led to a sideline warning, but Brent has been much more animated this season. Before every snap, it seems that this team needs to take a deep breath.
- Key down play calling is the No. 1 thing fans have talked about after Bedlam (besides blaming the officials). I think this is rightfully so. I have mentioned this quote a few dozen times because it becomes truer by the day. On my old radio show I was really critical of the Jeff Lebby hire. I have the death threats from Sooner fans to prove it. I, trying to gather more information, had an Ole Miss beat reporter on. His points were largely this — Lane Kiffin let Lebby call the short yardage/goal line stuff for the first half of the year but took it away because it was a disaster. The quote that has stuck with me: “Lebby’s offense can get 50 yards whenever it needs to but can never get 5 yards when it has too”. It has to get fixed.
- Tackling by the defense again suddenly looks relevent, I almost just went back and copy/pasted a point from last year. I love what Billy Bowman has done. I actually think Kip Lewis and Kobie McKenzie have been better than I thought as redshirt freshman. However, and maybe I am wrong, but on game days I am generally left wanting from this defensive line. All the promise from the portal and all the promise from early in the year, but these past three weeks have been tough.
- Also, they can’t make field goals, but I guess that is just totally okay and no one is concerned.
Know your opponent: West Virginia
- Garrett Greene is a name we all know. Greene, as the primary wildcat QB last year, gave a Oklahoma huge problem. Greene has been really good this year — frankly way better than really any prediction I read. With only two interceptions and 18 total touchdowns, Greene’s athleticism shows up on every play. Getting him down in space will be huge for the Sooners, and guys like Jaren Kanek, who have struggled recently, will need to be much better.
- CJ Donaldson Jr. has almost double the amount of rushing attempts as anyone else on the team. Going against Oklahoma, who can’t choose a single running back for a set of plays, West Virginia is completely different. Donaldson is averaging nearly five yards a carry. What is interesting about the West Virginia run game is that while it is incredibly efficient, it isn’t explosive. I bring that up for a reason — if West Virginia rips of a few long runs, we all know that it should not happen.
- Beanie Bishop Jr. is the playmaker on the back end for the Mountaineers, racking up four interceptions through the season so far. Gabriel has had five interceptions this year, so while they have existed, it hasn’t been a horrible problem. Bishop, and this defense, will take advantage of whatever Oklahoma gives them.
I am retreating to where I was last year. I will assume nothing until they prove to me that something has changed. Now, I was not feeling this way on Saturday. I thought Oklahoma caught some bad breaks, made some mistakes, and had a team in Oklahoma State who did just enough to capitalize.
This week, it just feels very tense. It does feel like the coaching staff frustration can be felt, and that matters. When it is tense like that in public, it is only reasonable that it could be worse behind the scenes (key words ‘could be’). When there is tension, there is desperation, and this team and coaching staff generally have not performed well with pressure. So...
A missed field goal or two, overall conservative play calling, and maybe some emotions don’t lead where we all hope.
Oklahoma - 20
West Virginia - 24
Talk to you later, knuckleheads. Hope I’m wrong!