It’s a short week with the Iowa State - Oklahoma game on the slate for Thursday night. I caught up with Jack Shields of Crimson and Cream Machine to ask him a few questions about the Sooners and how he sees the prime time game playing out.
Kevin: Oklahoma struggled in games against Houston and Ohio State to open the year, but has gotten on track since then. Have the problems in those two games been addressed, or is going undefeated since then a product of facing lesser competition?
Jack: Going undefeated since the loss to Ohio State is the product of improved offensive execution and play calling, as well as facing lesser competition. Baker Mayfield has been much more careful with the ball, and the offensive line is really starting to hit its stride. The defensive issues have not been resolved since then. We’ve seen poor tackling (at times) and a lack of preparedness on that side of the ball, and both contributed to the embarrassing performance in Lubbock two weeks ago.
Kevin: The Sooners boast a great offense led by Baker Mayfield and Joe Mixon. Who are some of the other play makers lining up on that side of the ball for OU?
Jack: Dede Westbrook has over 1000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns this season, and most of that productivity came in the month of October. He also returned a punt of a touchdown and had a kickoff return touchdown called back against Kansas, so he can have an impact in a number of ways. Mark Andrews is a physically imposing WR/TE for OU, and he has a serious knack for getting open. Freshman Abdul Adams will be the one to watch for in the backfield, primarily because he’ll be the only scholarship tailback the Sooners will have available to them this week. Fullback Dimitri Flowers has often had an impact in the passing game and as a lead blocker, but look for him to get some carries on Thursday.
Kevin: While the Oklahoma O has been good, the defense has given up its fair share of points. What methods have opposing teams used to score against the Sooners? Running the ball? Passing it? A mix?
Jack: OU’s been okay against the run this year, but the secondary has been leaky all year long. A lot of it has to do with coaching, as Oklahoma’s defensive backs have regularly been confused and out of position this season. The Sooners have been unable to find a reliable option at the No. 2 corner position, and they’ve settled on true freshman Jordan Parker. The Sooners have also dealt with a ton of injuries on that side of the ball, and many of OU’s primary contributors will be out again this week.
Kevin: What concerns you the most about Thursday night’s game?
Jack: A potential lack of preparedness, intensity, or motivation on the defensive side of the ball. The Cyclones have good skill position players, and if ISU has success early, then we could see a performance similar to what we say in Lubbock a couple of weeks ago (though probably not to the same extent).
Additionally, if the running game struggles early with the absence of Perine and Mixon, OU will be forced to throw the ball too often and potentially get into a shootout with ISU.
Kevin: This series has been heavily lopsided in favor of OU. Let’s hear how you predict the game to play out, along with your final score prediction.
Jack: I think the Sooners will have their act together this week more so than they did in Lubbock, since the Stoops brothers simply cannot afford another lackluster coaching performance. I think OU will be able to control the line of scrimmage in this one, and Abdul Adams will run for around 150 yards. The defense will give up some big plays in the passing game, but it won’t be enough to result in an upset. I think the Sooners will win this one by a score of 45-24.
Kevin: BONUS QUESTION - Our readers expect me to ask this question with everyone I interview, and your answer is crucial to your perception on WRNL. FMK: Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick. GO.
Jack: F**k Jennifer Lawrence. It was all over after Silver Linings Playbook. Yoga pants FTW. Marry Anna Kendrick
Kill Emma Watson. I’m not a Harry Potter fan.
KIDS THESE DAYS, I tell you. Another Emma killer. We live in a sad world, my friends. #TeamDontKillEmma
Thanks to Jack for answering our questions, and good luck to the Sooners tomorrow night. Hopefully it’s a competitive and at minimum entertaining game.