Oklahoma Football: 11 Things That the Sooners Do Very Well
Oklahoma has a long tradition and history of doing things well. With OU capturing the Big XII title in 2010, look for the Sooners to repeat heading into 2011 while making run at the BCS National Title. This slideshow will give a rundown of what the Sooners do best, and what helps them win football games.
Playing Well at Home
The nation’s longest home winning streak resides in Norman, Oklahoma at 36 games.
The Sooners have an impressive 72-2 mark since the early 2000s with losses coming to Les Miles Oklahoma State squad in 2002 and Gary Patterson’s TCU team in 2005.
Biggest win inside of Oklahoma memorial stadium during the Stoops era came from an opponent in the state of Texas. Texas Tech and Mike Leach got obliterated in the 1st half and had the crowd jumping around to House of Pain en-route to a 65-21 victory ending Graham Harrell’s chances to win the Heisman in 2008.
Pitch and Catch
In 2010, OU finished third nationally in the passing category thanks to a talented group of receivers and a running back in DeMarco Murray having soft hands catching out of the backfield.
Majority of the Sooners offense comes from quick passes to give Landry Jones a rhythm driving the football down the field. Some analysts actually see this in the form of a running play as it gains a substantial amount of yards per attempt.
This will explain why Oklahoma lines up in multiple receiver formations.
After leading the nation in completions and attempts (405-of-617), Jones looks to once again move the football with “slip” routes to the flats with Ryan Broyles on first and second down.
This is a stretch to many considering the road woes over the past few years, but it seems as if the team has a new outlook in trailing and it started in the second half of the Texas A&M game.
Though the Texas A&M game resulted in a loss, Coach Stoops finally got it right the next few weeks as he led the Sooners to two meaningful wins late in the season away from Norman.
With the vast improvement of Cameron Kenney down the stretch, the most impressive win of the 2010 season came against Oklahoma State-a top 10 team on the road.
The second one came a week later after a 17-0 deficit against Nebraska. Once Kenny Stills (6’0’’, 183 pounds) put the first touchdown on the board in Jerry world, the Sooners were in business and won their seventh Big XII Championship.
Disruption in the Backfield
During the 2010 season, the OU defense had 106 tackles for loss and this is nothing new to the crew in Norman. Historically, Oklahoma has recruited many players who tackle well and move to the ball quickly.
With the departure of Jeremy Beal who accounted for 19 tackles for loss in 2010, there shouldn’t be that big of a dropoff with Ronnell Lewis stepping into Beal's role.
Nicknamed “The Hammer”, Lewis should come into the 2011 season pressuring defenses from the edge from a three and two-point stance.
Beal in 2010, was known for his athletic ability to drop into coverage and play aggressively on the line of scrimmage, and Lewis in 2011 looks to do the same challenging the Big XII's best offensive tackles.
With Lewis’ speed, look for OU to disrupt many offensive line window dresses and plays that take a while to develop in the backfield.
Landry Jones throws interceptions....well. Any Sooner fan knows Landry Jones since his freshman year replacing Sam Bradford has a bad habit creating catastrophic plays. You see it and I see it. My blood-pressure rose when he fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter versus Texas in 2010.
For the past two seasons, Jones has accumulated 26 interceptions. A number that far exceeds those of Sam Bradford and Jason White in their first two years. Those numbers must be consolidated if Oklahoma has a shot to win the national championship.
Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and the Oklahoma offense need less than seven unforced errors by Landry Jones this fall. Why? Confidence.
Landry needs to exude confidence in the pocket throughout the entire season in a calm, cool manner. He must not become rattled when defenses pressure him in the pocket.
If Jones continues to make quick decisions and grow an understanding in his offense, look for no more than six INTs from the Sooner quarterback in 2011.
Red Zone Scoring
Let them get close, and they will score on you. The Oklahoma offense had 77 attempts scoring 63 times for a 81.82 percentage in the red zone.
This can be contributed to the past faced offense the Sooners run down the field catching unsuspecting defenses off guard. In 2011, look for OU to continue utilizing the tight end to score in the end zone.
For the past three seasons, Ryan Broyles has not only been an explosive player on the offensive side of the ball, he has also been a dangerous punt returner. Broyles finished the 2010 year averaging 19.1 yards a game.
Broyles talent in the punt return game is helped by his ability to make people miss on “slip” routes offense.
No, he is not the quickest receiver in the world, but his uncanny ability to make people miss is a great asset to have when needing to change the field position in a football game.
Broyles currently stands at fourth of all-time in punt return yards at OU with 906. Will he be able to dethrone the former OU great Antonio Perkins record by seasons end?
In 2010 the Sooners defense generated a number of big plays from the secondary to help the Sooners offense. One of those plays are interceptions.
Interceptions can change the momentum of a game quickly and rattle a quarterback mentally for the next drive.
Leader of the defense in this category? Jamell Fleming. The 5’11’’, 191 pound junior out of Arlington, Texas finished fifth in the nation in interceptions with five.
But will there be a drop-off in 2011 with the graduation of Quinton Carter and Jamell Fleming’s eligibility in the air?
This topic will only remain a plus if Fleming returns in the fall. With seasoned veteran DeMontre Hurst at corner and Aaron Colvin moving to the safety spot, expect for the ball hawking skills to be on point once a receiver tries to move over the top.
Though Bob Stoops does not have a special teams coach, his place kicking seems to be fine with Jimmy Stevens at the helm.
During the 2010 season, Academic All-Big XII second teamer never missed an extra point (53-53) and had at least 10 points in six games.
Sooners fans look for Stevens to continue with his Sooner campaign in 2011 building on a incredible 82 field goal percentage in 2010.
No Huddle Offense
Thanks to the development of the fast past offensive system by former offensive co-coordinator Kevin Wilson, look for Oklahoma to continue the no huddle offense in 2011 giving defenses fits.
The no-huddle is somewhat of a new thing inside of college football during the last decade.
With the advancement of speed on defense inside of the Big XII, the best way to catch them off guard is not giving them a chance to line up correctly against the formation.
In 2010, Oklahoma was once again in top percentile nationally as they ran 1,211 plays for 6,749 yards.
If Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell continue the same path aggressiveness not giving defenses a chance to substitute players, you can expect opposing players winded on the sideline as OU continues to march down the field.
Third Down Conversions
In non crunch time football, third down is one of the most meaningful plays in the game to an offense and defense.
A third down can determine if the offense has to give up the football or go for it, and it can break the will of a defense trying to hold an offense from advancing.
In the 2010 season, the Sooners had a conversion rate of 44.31 percent finishing third in the Big XII conference. Their biggest percentage of 3rd down conversions came against Oklahoma State where they obtained 16 first downs on 27 attempts.
During the 2011 year, the Sooners experienced tragedy inside of their program with the passing of Austin Box at the age of 22.
Yes, a loss of that magnitude hurts as you are not only losing a player, but a friend/son as well. But Bob Stoops is the figurehead of OU for a reason. He is a proven leader that has exhibited strength and confidence over the past decade and will help this program bounce back.
ESPN’s Lee Corso said this of Bob Stoops in 2008, “It’s one thing about Bobby Stoops, you give him a mission and it’s him against the world. It’s like these guys are vicious when they play, and I think all of this talk about putting them down; it will be a great motivating factor for the Oklahoma staff.”
Pete Fuitak of College Football News had this to say regarding OU playing with more passion during the 2011 season. “It’ll be crass, and it’ll be crude, but Box’s death will be a rallying point and an inspiration that could be the missing piece the team needs. Over the last few years, Oklahoma has needed something to keep everyone focused from week to week, and in his own way, this might be how Box ends up leading the team”
People fight harder than when their heart is heavy and from personal experience, I understand.
This is why I expect for the OU community to come together and make a collaborative effort to try and win a national championship.
Guys, it is time to bring back the bad boy on the block swagger I fell in love with during the early 2000s. No more excuses.