For the first time this season the Oklahoma Sooners don’t have to guess who their opposing quarterback will be. In games against Florida Atlantic, UCLA, and Iowa State, OU approached their defensive game plan with quite a bit of speculation. Quarterback battles and injuries had cast doubt about who the opposing signal caller would be. That isn’t the case against Army though.
Kelvin Hopkins Jr. is leading the Black Knights not only in passing but in rushing yards as well. The junior signal caller has scored three rushing touchdowns this season and is averaging nearly 70 yards per game on the ground. More impressively, what he’s doing through the air is rewriting the Army playbook a little bit.
A Week 3 #CFB Top Performance
QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr – Army
110 rushing yards 2 TDs
162 Passing yards pic.twitter.com/Q5fQRYkr9E
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) September 18, 2018
Hopkins only has 420 passing yards, and two passing touchdowns, through the first three games but even that is a bit unheard of from Army’s triple-option attack. Much has been made of the way the Black Knights play on offense but Hopkins is adding a dynamic that prevents defenses from completely selling out to stop the run.
“They’re throwing the ball better than they have in the past with their new quarterback,” Lincoln Riley said in his weekly press conference.
In three games last season, Army attempted just 65 total pass attempts. Through the first three games this season they’re already at 39 attempts, and it’s coming from a guy who is averaging four yards per carry.
The Sooners still have the odds stacked heavily in their favor but if stopping Army’s prolific rushing attack wasn’t already a big chore, it’s just that much more difficult now. The Sooners can’t commit both safeties and corners to the option because of the passing threat. Instead they’ll rely on the defensive line to control the line of scrimmage, and keep containment on the outside, while trusting the linebackers to come downhill into the gaps. All of this is obviously easier said than done when looking at multiple rushing options on any given play.
For the first time in four games the Sooners don’t have to guess who their opposing quarterback will be. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to worry about though.