Planning for success: Oklahoma
September, 5, 2013
By Brandon Chatmon | ESPN.com
NORMAN, Okla.--It’s been one of the few instances where Oklahoma players are willing to talk about last year.
“[We] definitely still think about last year,” Sooners safety Gabe Lynn said. “It was just horrible on our part. Giving up almost 800 yards on defense is ridiculous. We definitely are excited about this game.”
Ridiculous is the perfect word.
The Sooners gave up 778 offensive yards to West Virginia in the OU’s 50-49 win in Morgantown, W. Va., last season. Tavon Austin looked like a man among boys while running around, between and right by the Sooners defense on his way to 572 all-purpose yards, including 344 rushing yards.
Fortunately for the Sooners, Austin now calls St. Louis home, but the mastermind of that offensive outburst, Dana Holgorsen, will be on the sidelines when the Mountaineers visit Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
OU’s defense showed signs that things might have changed in its season-opening 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe. The Sooners looked aggressive and disruptive while allowing just 166 total yards against the Warhawks.
West Virginia’s first game was a different story. The Mountaineers didn’t tip their hand offensively and almost paid for it, escaping with a 24-17 win over William and Mary. Quarterback Paul Millard was 19-of-25 for 237 yards and one touchdown but WVU struggled on clutch situations, converting only 2 of 10 third down attempts.
Even though the Mountaineers offense was low-scoring in Week 1, the Sooners are expecting things to be different on Saturday as WVU starts to throw in the offensive wrinkles that have made Holgorsen successful for the past few seasons.
“They really didn’t show a lot,” nickelback Julian Wilson said. “But we know what they did last year and we know what they did to our defense last year so really we’re going in there with a chip on our shoulder and trying to play a better game than we did.”
Expect the Sooners to have new wrinkles of their own as they come up with ways to slow Holgorsen's offense. This year's defense is much more versatile, allowing Mike Stoops to come up with a creative plan of attack this week.
Even if the Sooners’ defense comes up with a better performance against the Mountaineers this season, OU still needs to work out the kinks that caused its offense to sputter in the season opener. Quarterback Trevor Knight rushed for 103 yards and passed for three touchdowns but just 85 yards through the air. That won’t get it done against a Big 12 Conference foe that promises to put some points on the board.
“He probably just had a few jitters,” center Gabe Ikard said. “It was his first game out there. We fully expect him to perform even better than he did last week and use his arm, throw all the throws we have seen him make in practice and continue to use his legs as a weapon.”
Top Returning Players: Big 12
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35