The Oklahoma Sooners head into H.A. Chapman Stadium tomorrow for their Week 3 matchup against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. OU is coming off a 28-11 win over SMU, a game that raised more questions than answers for a majority of the fanbase. The good news is that the Sooners are a heavy favorite (-27.5) this weekend and will have ample opportunity to rebound in some of the areas they struggled with a week ago. Here are five names to watch heading into tomorrow.
There are plenty of names we could have started with along the offensive line, so why Andrew Raym? Oklahoma faces a tough test next week against what is looking like a stout Cincinnati defensive line that can apply pressure up the middle. This week Raym needs to show improvement against a Tulsa squad that - while not on the same level as Cincinnati - has some talent along the defensive line. Expect Oklahoma to go right back to the ground game early and often against the Golden Hurricane, as Jeff Lebby is insistent on becoming a run-first offense. In order to establish that, they’ll need to lean on the veteran center to anchor the Oklahoma offense upfront.
Danny Stutsman has been the talk of the town in the linebacker room - and rightly so after being named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the week. That said, a name that continues to turn heads early in the season is redshirt freshman Kip Lewis, who is now the second-leading tackler behind Stutsman and has shown elite speed and a nose for the ball in his limited role behind Jaren Kanak. While Kanak has played well through these first couple of games, don’t be surprised to see Kip Lewis have more of an expanded role, especially as this Oklahoma front seven looks to add to their pass rush.
Sawchuk is a name that Sooners fans have been asking for since watching him rush for 100 yards and a touchdown against Florida State in last year’s bowl game. Reportedly now healthy, we may finally get a legitimate debut of the speedster redshirt-freshman running back tomorrow afternoon. What does that mean for the Sooners? Adding explosiveness to an offense that was severely lacking it last weekend against SMU. Tawee Walker has been a nice surprise for the Sooners through two games, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. That said, Walker lacks the explosiveness that a Sawchuk or even a Barnes has. Look for Oklahoma to give Sawchuk an early nod against Tulsa as it seems like the coaching staff will want to build some confidence for the talented back.
With Justin Harrington out for at least a couple of weeks, expect OU to move Reggie Pearson down to the CHEETAH position until Harrington’s return. This should allow for an expanded role for the true freshman, Peyton Bowen, as he’s flashed elite upside through his first two games in a Sooners uniform. Bowen recorded 4 tackles, a blocked punt, and a pass breakup against SMU last weekend. It would not be surprising to see Bowen expand on that tomorrow with Tulsa’s situation at quarterback still rather unsettled. Maybe not the biggest limb to go out on, but predicting Bowen records his first interception tomorrow inside H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Oklahoma’s prized edge rusher in their 2023 recruiting class has had a bit of a quiet start to the season and understandably so. Adebawore had only played two seasons of football before signing with the Sooners last December as the nation’s No. 2 edge rusher. While we still may not see Adebawore in a meaningful role until later in the season, tomorrow looks to be a great opportunity to give the young pass rusher more time on the field. A breakout game may not be in the cards, but this can certainly be a springboard opportunity for Adebawore to gain some confidence and real experience before heading into conference play.