It’s Game Day!!!
The Oklahoma Sooners will kick off with the Kansas Jayhawks at 11 a.m. in a Big 12 matchup of the teams that bookend the Big 12 standings.
The Kansas Jayhawks come in with a 1-5 record overall and are 0-3 in Big 12 play. The Sooners are 7-0 and are 4-0 in conference play heading into this week’s matchup.
Though the game is a mismatch, it’s also an opportunity for the Oklahoma Sooners to work on some things and answer some questions in preparation for the stretch run of the 2021 college football season.
With that, here are some final thoughts as the Sooners take on the Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kansas.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) October 22, 2021
Keep that Same Energy
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Oklahoma Sooners have been rolling the last game and a half offensively, scoring 89 points over the previous six quarters. That would be two impressive games for an Oklahoma team that had been struggling offensively.
Yes, it’s the Kansas Jayhawks. Yes, they don’t pose much of a threat. But that doesn’t mean the Oklahoma Sooners can sleepwalk to a win. The Sooners are building toward contending for a national championship.
The Sooners need to keep the offensive energy they’ve displayed for the last game and a half. Don’t get vanilla offensively. Go out there and attack. I’m not saying they need to empty the playbook with a bunch of trick plays, but they do need to run their offense and keep the same aggression.
Caleb Williams has shown a willingness to attack down the field through the first two weeks. He and the wide receiver corps need to keep pushing the ball deep to open things up underneath and force future defensive coordinators into conflict.
As a defensive coordinator, do I try to stop the running game and account for Caleb Williams’ running ability? Or, do I try to play coverage against a team that’s shown they can win down the field?
Pick your poison, but there’s a good chance you’ll pick wrong.
Do the Sooners get Anyone Back for the Secondary?
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Woodi Washington has been out indefinitely. Delarrin Turner-Yell has been struggling with a hamstring issue. D.J. Graham suffered a concussion and is in the protocol. Jeremiah Criddell has been out indefinitely as well.
That’s a lot of snaps from key contributors sitting on the sidelines. With the stretch run of the season coming, the Sooners will need some answers on these guys soon.
After Kansas, they have Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State remaining in Big 12 play. If things go according to plans for the Oklahoma Sooners, then they’ll have bigger fish to fry in the Big 12 championship and the College Football Playoff.
Against the top teams in college football, they’ll need their top corners and experienced safety back in the lineup to help them contend.
Must Improve Tackling
(Credit: OU Athletics)
Oklahoma missed another 15 tackles against TCU. There’s been just one game where Oklahoma had fewer than 10 tackles missed and that was against West Virginia. Per Pro Football Focus, the Oklahoma Sooners have missed 82 tackles in seven games.
If there’s one area where the Sooners need to improve over the rest of the season, it’s their tackling. If they want to contend for a national championship, beating teams like Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, or Cincinnati, the Sooners will have to tackle better.
And that starts this week with Kansas.
Empty the Bench
Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
The Oklahoma Sooners’ coaching staff has made it clear that they want to play as many guys as they can. In the win over Tulane, they emptied the bench, getting 51 players snaps in a game that looked headed toward a blowout but turned into a close nailbiter of a win.
If the Sooners take care of business in the first half, this week provides another opportunity to get a lot of players some playing time. The Sooners should take advantage of the opportunity to not only get some rest for key contributors but also let some of their younger guys have an opportunity to get experience in a Big 12 game on the road.
Now the experience at Kansas isn’t quite what it will be on the road in Stillwater, but any chance to get a player’s feet wet with a few snaps can help them be better prepared for when that meaningful playing time comes.
How will Lincoln Riley handle the Quarterback Situation?
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley walks between Spencer Rattler (7) and Caleb Williams (13) before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman.
A game like this is when you’d get your backup quarterback some action. Given the circumstances around the quarterback depth chart, I don’t think we can assume anything.
Lincoln Riley’s been adamant in his belief in Spencer Rattler. Rattler is this team’s backup quarterback, but will Riley use him in mop-up duty against the Kansas Jayhawks? Typically, the answer would be yes. But Riley will judge it based on what he feels the quarterback depth chart needs.
He’s stated that Rattler wants to play and has been preparing to play, though he did have an excused absence from practice for the second straight week. As any head coach would do, Riley was vague in how he would handle the quarterback situation going forward.
Spencer Rattler should get some playing time this week, and he’s not the only one who could get snaps at the quarterback position. As Riley mentioned this week, Rattler’s got a lot of experience under his belt. He doesn’t necessarily need a ton of snaps against Kansas. Could an opportunity be coming for Ralph Rucker or Micah Bowens to get some playing time this week for the Sooners?
Time to Make a Statement
Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman.
When you’re easily the better team on a football field, it can be easy to let your guard down and still get the win. However, if you’re the Oklahoma Sooners, you can’t afford an ugly win against an overmatched opponent like Kansas.
The Sooners need to go out and make a statement on both sides of the ball. Though they’re playing with a depleted secondary due to injuries, the defense still has enough talent to dictate the flow of the game when Kansas has the ball.
With the College Football Playoff Rankings’ initial release right around the corner, now’s the time to be stacking some impressive wins together.