Thursday, October 18, 2012
Five storylines: Kansas vs. Oklahoma
By Brandon Chatmon
After impressive back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and Texas, Oklahoma hosts Kansas at 6 p.m. CT Saturday at Owen Field in Norman, Okla. The Sooners have put themselves back in position to achieve their goals, as long as they continue to play at a high level. Here are five storylines to watch:
1. Will the Sooners handle success like they handled adversity? After their loss to Kansas State, the Sooners have responded and put their name back in the national conversation about top teams and potential BCS title participants. That all goes away with a loss to KU.
The Sooners suffered a similar letdown in 2011, when Texas Tech upset OU two weeks after a blowout win over Texas. Have the Sooners learned from last season?
2. Is this the week the impact of Jalen Saunders is felt? We’ve heard plenty about the playmaking talent of Saunders, but we only saw flashes of his ability against the Longhorns. With his experience and quickness, Saunders could emerge as a major impact player in OU’s offense this season. And it could start Saturday.
3. Will Trey Millard’s touches remain consistent? Millard had just eight touches against the Longhorns, but he made the most of them with 164 all-purpose yards. He averaged 20.4 yards per touch in the blowout win.
While it might seem like OU went out of its way to get him the ball against UT, Millard had 6 touches against Texas Tech and 4 per game against UTEP and Kansas State. It’s quite possible Millard got the ball more often simply because OU had more opportunities with 90 offensive plays.
The Sooners need to make sure he touches the ball 8 to 12 times per game for the rest of the season.
4. Can OU continue its success on third down? In back-to-back games, OU’s offense has converted at least 50 percent of its third-down opportunities. It converted 57 percent against the Red Raiders and Longhorns.
Millard said this week he believes the Sooners' success on first and second downs has been the driving force. In its first five games, OU is averaging 5.86 yards per carry on first down and an eye-popping 7.89 yards per carry on second down.
If the Sooners continue to run the football with great success, they should continue their excellence on third down.
5. Can the Sooners pass-rushers finish? OU had plenty of pressure on Texas and quarterback David Ash during the Red River Rivalry but struggled to get Ash to the ground at times. The Sooners finished the game with 1 sack and 4 quarterback hurries.
R.J. Washington, whom many expected to be the Sooners' top pass-rusher, had his best game of the season against UT with 2 hurries. But, as well as the defense is playing, the Sooners could take it to another level with a consistent pass rush that averages more than 1.8 sacks per game.