This saturday won't mark G.J. Kinne's first meeting with the Sooners. While the new TU signal caller has never stepped on the field against OU, he has certainly met them before. The last time Texas lost to they're most hated rivals Kinne was there, as a Longhorn.
The acquaintances don't end there. One of the Oklahoma coaches tried hard to recruit the quaterback. Who, you ask? Coach Wilson? Guess again. Heupel? no, not him. Try defensive coordinator Brent Venebles. As a linebacker on top of that. Not that the OU coach thought he would be a better fit on the defensive side of the ball. Venables let Cale Gundy, the recruiting coordinator for the Sooners, know that he was intrigued by the kid's talent, as a signal caller. Gundy just didn't want the Gilmer HS standout as a quaterback, and Kinne didn't want to play linebacker.
Brigham Young made the national pollsters take notice by beating Oklahoma, and Tulsa is looking to do the same. The Golden Hurricane doesn't need luck to pull it off either. Everyone knows about the high powered, high flying Tod Graham offense. Back to back 10 win seasons while leading the nation in total offense, lighting up the score board at will, all the records. What many people don't know is more important, how to stop it. Thats just what Venables and the OU defense are setting out to do.
That starts with the run. Tulsa got on the map with it's spread passing attack, but thats only maintained with effective runs. TU is a much more balanced team than it's given credit for. So far the Hurricane have amassed 549 yards through the air, and an impressive 422 on the ground. To stop or slow down this squad, the OU defense will first have to bottle up Jamad Willams, Tulsa's premier ball carrier. Jamad, who has kept in contact with a few of the OU players that he knows from high school ball, understands the task at hand. If he can't produce on the ground, then the Sooner D can concentrate on G.J. and his recieving corp. Kinne is a bit of a scrambler, but you can bet coach Graham does not want to get him hurt. Plus OU has had its share of scramblers to deal with beore and usually handles it well. If Oklahoma can make Tulsa one dimentional, it could spell for a long day for the Golden Hurricane nation.
The defense is much improved all around. They will need build on that saturday to have a shot at the upset. This won't be like rolling over the Lobo's, the offense that OU will put on the field may not be at full strength, but they have something to prove also. TU knows that. The turning point of this game could very well rest on not letting Landry 'the stache' Jones get settled in, TU knows that, too. BYU beat the Sooners in part by confusing blitz packages. Tulsa defensive coordinator Keith Patterson's 3-3-5 scheme has given Oklahoma problems before, and with such a young, inexperienced line at OU, the front seven of Tulsa will look to add to an impressive 10 sacks. Nation leading 10 sacks. TU should expect a heavy dose of the run game. Murray and Brown are primed to break-out, and they have appear to be getting back to their usual selves, namely Murray. It was Idaho State, but he's finally hitting the top gears. The Hurricane D will have to account for this, you can't just tee off on Jones, pick your spots is more like it.
With all that TU brings to the table, it probably still won't be enough. Though the Hurricane seem to be playing well, they have not seen a defensive line like this yet. While 10 sacks is a surprising figure, so is the 8 sacks Tulsa has given up. The troubles with OU's offensive line are well documented, but Tulsa has had similar problems. With three new linemen starting this year, the Sooner D will be licking they're chops. Though they too will look to confuse the TU offense, the Sooners do not necesarily have to, this line can simply over power Tulsa's big guys. If this D-line does that, game over.
One thing that so far seems to be flying a little under the radar is Oklahoma's home winning streak, which started with a win against none other than TU. They may not be saying much about it in norman so far, but this is a proud coaching staff that will use it to make sure the team stays focused. Though it's doubted that the players need much motivation after the loss to BYU. It's well understood that the University of Oklahoma is all about championships, and that may be out of the question with a home loss to Tulsa. This week, for this game, it may not be about seeking a win to stay in the race for Pasadena. It won't be about putting your mark in the record books. It may just be about not allowing Tulsa to be the ones to ruin it for them.