Oklahoma could be facing a stern test when the Sooners face Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday. Red Raiders defensive tackles Delvon Simmons and Kerry Hyder present a quality duo of interior defensive linemen.
“Their interior linemen are the best we’ve seen thus far,” offensive tackle Lane Johnson said. “They like to rush up the field pretty hard, they’re pretty good athletes. IT’s the best front we’ve seen thus far form an athletic standpoint.”
Hyder leads Texas Tech with five tackles for loss and three sacks as he has been one of the most productive defensive tackles in the Big 12. Simmons, a sophomore, has been very solid alongside Hyder.
“They’re physical, they’re fundamentally sound, they have a good scheme,” OU interior line coach James Patton said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for our guys.”
• Austin Woods no longer needs chemo treatments. Dating back to the spring, Woods has undergone a dozen treatments to combat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which he was diagnosed with in the spring. He did not practice on Tuesday.
“I’m thankful I got through it,” said the Oklahoma offensive lineman.
Woods, who hasn’t missed very many practices or games while going through treatment will have a scan in three weeks to see if he’s in remission. But doctors feel about Woods’ prognosis going forward.
“Really glad to be done with it,” he said. “Feel great.”
• While the Sooners have had success running the ball, OU is still looking to improve it’s running game and be able to run the ball in any situation.
Patton knows how the Sooners can achieve that goal.
“You have to win your one-on-one blocks,” Patton said. “It’s fundamental football.”
While the Sooners are averaging 6.51 yards per carry this season, they were held to 3.41 yards per carry in their 24-19 loss to Kansas State on Sept. 22. If OU can run the football at will, it will lessen the offensive load placed on the shoulders of quarterback Landry Jones.
• Sophomore Adam Shead was one of the biggest surprises of 2011 with his strong plays as a redshirt freshman. This season, Shead is being pushed by another redshirt freshman.
Nila Kasitati has seen time at left guard, rotating with Shead, and will continue to get playing time as he continues to improve.
“Nila is doing good,” Patton said. “He played pretty well the other night, he’s pushing Shead doing a good job at left guard. He’s got to continue to get better.”
Center Gabe Ikard has continually said that Kasitati is “too talented to keep on the sidelines” and the redshirt freshman is proving him right through three games. Kasitati also provides depth at center with his ability to move to that position if necessary.
• Receiver Kenny Stills doesn’t expect to see too many unexpected looks from the Red Raider defense on Saturday.
“They run a lot of what our defense runs,” the junior said. “We’re kind of used to what we are seeing from them but it’s still different compared to the other teams we’ve seen this year. We’ve seen a lot of the same things from our defense.”
Stills said Texas Tech runs quite a bit of zone so the Sooners will have to be very aware of open spaces and opportunities within the zone on Saturday.
• There is another thing Stills is expecting on Saturday. Even though the California native has never played in Lubbock, the Red Raider crowd has a reputations that has preceded it.
“I’m expecting it to get a little bit loud and little bit crazy,” Stills said. “I love playing in front of crowds like that.”
How the Sooners handle the crowd and general atmosphere in Lubbock will be critical for OU’s success, particularly offensively. OU cannot get rattled by the road environment or it will lead to mental mistakes and poor play overall.
• Having two bye weeks in September has made it difficult for the Sooners offense. OU is looking to get into a routine of playing and competing regularly, thus finding some fluidity and rhythm within its offense.
“We need to get into a competitive, week-to-week routine,” co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “It will definitely help that we get to play (several consecutive weeks) now.”