As I said in my breakdown of the Oklahoma Sooner offense, this week’s game against the Kansas State Wildcats is big. Really big. And as important as the offense is going to be this Saturday night, I think this game is going to be won or lost when the Sooners defense is on the field. A few keys for the game.
The defensive line-Obviously when you think about the Wildcats, it’s all about quarterback Collin Klein. Whether he’s running or throwing the entire offense runs through him, and I have to admit he’s an impressive player. Coming into the season we all knew what he could do with his legs, but you also saw the amount of punishment he took last year. So, I thought they would try and throw more, but I wasn’t sure if they could.
Well, they have shown in 3 games they can throw and that’s one more thing for the Sooner offense to look at.
I am expecting to see the Sooners go small on the defensive line, using multiple defensive ends, moving David King inside, and trying to really get pressure especially up the middle and disrupt Klein. They have to remember to stay in their assignments, because if they break, and Klein sees an opening, he’s going to bolt and he’s hard to bring down in the open field.
What defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will likely do is run blitz in obvious situations with the linebackers and cornerbacks, hoping to put the Wildcats in obvious passing situations, then dropping into zone, with a spy, maybe linebacker Tom Wort on Klein, and force him to go through his reads and progressions and be patient. If there’s one thing we have seen with running quarterbacks is they struggle when they are given too much time to think about a play. The Sooners would do well to not try and blitz too much on passing downs, instead play zone so their backs aren’t turned to the line of scrimmage, and force Klein into bad decisions.
The secondary may be minus one of it’s best players in safety Tony Jefferson. If Jefferson can’t play, that makes that third level a little softer in pass pro., but especially in run support and just because Klein gets all the headlines doesn’t mean he’s the only runner on the roster. Running back John Hubert is no slouch and if the Sooners defense doesn’t do their jobs on every play, and not key on Klein if he’s not their guy, Hubert could get some free runs.
In that zone read run game, the discipline of the defensive linemen will be key. They must not allow themselves to get caught up in the wash, get too far inside at the snap, and give Klein that outside. The Sooners defensive ends are young, so how well they react will be on the coaches and how they have prepared them.
This isn’t the type of offense you prepare for on a regular basis, but with 2 weeks to do so, I expect Oklahoma to be ready. Minimize the big plays in the run and pass game, win on first down, and get off the field on 3rd down, and this team has a real shot to win. If they can force some turnovers along with way so be it, but I am fine not getting turnovers if they can force punts.
What say you, Sooners fans? Can this defense hold off the Wildcats offense? Let me hear it on Twitter @nfldraftboard