The Sooners finished up their bye week, and begin their week of preparation before TCU on Saturday. A lot happened during the bye week, and of course new interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil is at the forefront of the attention.
- New 4 Man Front
Clearly, the six sacks against Baylor was an anomaly, because Sam Ehlinger had all the time in the world to complete passes, and use his legs to burn the Sooners defense. If they can find a way to put more pressure on opposing offensive lines it will benefit the secondary, who will also be making some big moves before Saturday. Ronnie Perkins needs to be on the field every down he’s able to be, and adding a fourth down linemen gives him a chance to use his speed, and make plays in the backfield.
The Sooners hoped players like Amani Bledsoe and Neville Gallimore would break out this season, but when two offensive linemen hit them every snap, it’s hard to produce any breath taking stats. With a fourth down linemen, they will be able to press the linemen, and slow the run game down much more efficiently.
- Secondary Moves
It is not just the line that is causing problems for the Sooners; the secondary has looked lost in every game this season. They let Denzel Mims and Jalen Hurd catch passes all game against Baylor, and let Lil’Jordan Humphrey make huge plays for the Longhorns last weekend. If they want to win games against teams like WVU, then they have to find a way to slow opposing QB’s down.
With that being said, Tre Brown needs to cover the WR1 for every team he faces. He has looked the sharpest, and has played the strongest. Parnell Motley has continued to get torched as the CB1, and with his hard hitting talent, they may want to consider him a nickel option, or some fresh legs off the bench. Another player who may need a position move might be freshman stud Brendan Radley-Hiles, who has not made as big of an impact as people expected. If he had a chance to play CB full time, then his ball-hawking skills might show themselves more and more every week.
The secondary has become a huge problem in the red zone especially, allowing the opposition to score on all 21 red zone appearances, including 18 touchdowns.
They can not expect to make the playoffs if they can’t get a single stop in the redzone. This entire season will rely on the how much McNeil can improve this defense, because if the offense scores 45, and that still isn’t enough, then stopping teams like Alabama or Ohio State seems almost impossible.
- Is all hope lost for a playoff game?
Before games started on Saturday, my answer may have been yes. The crazy thing about college football is that literally anytime can lose every week, except for the Crimson Tide who continue to look unstoppable. On a weekend where No. 2 Georgia, No. 6 West Virginia, No. 7 Washington and No. 8 Penn State all lost, the best thing for the Sooners was a week off. Notre Dame and Texas barely won, and still looked like they had some pieces to put together. For OU, winning out is necessary, and Texas winning will help the cause. Texas continues to rise and is now ranked No. 7.
Oklahoma winning out would mean a chance at another conference title, and if teams continue to fall, then the playoffs is still manageable. With an offense like the one they bring to the field every week, the defense is really what holds the key for the Sooners. #TakeASeat
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