Oklahoma vs. Florida State: 5 Halftime Observations on the Sooners
In the game of the week, the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida State Seminoles have played an entertaining first half that lived up to the hype, unlike many of the other big games today that have been disappointing blowouts.
It seems every game that is labeled as a possible shootout, like tonight's matchup, always takes a while to get going. The pattern holds true again tonight as both defenses have been flying all over the field.
The star quarterbacks have played well, but the "bend-not-break" defenses from both teams have kept the score relatively low.
Anything could happen during the second half of the game, one that will put the winner on the inside track on the way to the BCS championship game.
Is That Travis Lewis?!
Yes, that is Travis Lewis. The senior and three-time tackle leading linebacker was cleared by the medical staff at the last minute and was on the field for the first drive. He was diagnosed with an eight-week recovery at the end of summer practice and was expected to possibly be back for the Texas game.
Leave it to the fiery Lewis to work his butt off and play through the pain. He needed a little time to get back to game speed and impact the defense, but he played very well in the remaining drives.
One thing I am afraid of is whether Lewis is actually healthy enough to play at 100 percent. Sure, an 80 percent Travis Lewis is better than most, but if he struggles in the second half, he could be exploited by FSU.
Also, if he were to re-aggravate his broken foot, it could impact the rest of the year for him and for the team.
The normally fundamental Sooners defense missed several tackles in the first half. All of the Seminoles' big gains came from poor tackling by the Sooners.
These defenders need to stop trying to make the highlights with big hits and just wrap the FSU players up. E.J. Manuel ran free several times and bounced off poor tackles.
O-Line vs. D-Line a Draw, So Far...
One of the most talked about battles coming into this game was the big, athletic Sooners offensive line against the highly touted Seminoles defensive line.
At this point, I would call it a draw.
The OU line bullied FSU's men around running the ball, especially with FB Trey Millard blowing people up out of the backfield.
The Seminoles were able to get some pressure on Landry Jones, however. Landry had an unchecked late blitzer in his face that forced a bad throw and interception in the first quarter.
This will be an ongoing battle in the second half that will absolutely decide the outcome of the game.
Wide Open Spaces in the OU Secondary
This was a big concern coming into the game. There was no doubt that OU's front seven was stacked, especially with Travis Lewis in the lineup.
The secondary, however, did not play well at all the first half. FSU's receivers were able to run simple routes out of fairly vanilla offensive formations for big gains. The unit got lucky as FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel missed wide-open receivers several times.
To avoid a shootout, the Sooners' secondary needs to step it up. Watch for the cornerbacks to apply a little more pressure on the line and try to disrupt the routes of the receivers.
Sooner QB Landry Jones has the ability to run away with any game, especially given the stable of weapons he has to throw to. Even though the run game was working early, Jones will be the one to lead the Sooners to victory in Tallahassee.
A healthy dose of Jones and his receivers in the second half, along with enough time to find them (nudge nudge, offensive line), is exactly what the Sooners need to win.
Players of the Half
C Ben Habern
MLB Tom Wort
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