The Oklahoma Sooners are in the College Football Playoff for the third time in four years but they may face their most daunting task yet in the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. An early 14-point underdog is no doubt a motivating factor but how that will ultimately affect the X’s and O’s of the game has yet to be discussed.
Before we jump into game planning and strategy there are four pressing questions regarding this specific matchup that should be discussed.
Can The Sooners Tame Quinnen Williams?
Alabama redshirt sophomore Quinnen Williams is a beast of a man! The 6-4/289 defensive tackle isn’t a rising star…he is a star. Essentially coming out of nowhere, Williams has shone so bright in 2018 that NFL scouts have taken serious notice.
In an article published on ESPN.com, one NFL scout had this to say about the Tide’s defensive star.
“He understands leverage and uses it against you. He has exceptional hands. Outstanding football awareness. You just turn on the tape and he’s always around the ball making a play: There he is again!”NFL Scout on Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams
For the season, Williams has tallied up 66 total tackles and eight sacks. More impressively, he currently has a streak at least one sack in each of Bama’s last five games. You’d have to go back to the Tennessee game, on October 20th, to find the last time Williams didn’t bring down a quarterback.
Thus we have the biggest problem facing Oklahoma’s offensive line in Miami. How do you contain a guy who makes a living disrupting plays in the opponent’s backfield? In Bill Bedenbaugh we trust, right?
The first answer to the question is, Kyler Murray. Sure, the Sooners haven’t seen a defensive player like Williams this season, but Alabama hasn’t seen a quarterback like Kyler Murray either. I would look for the Tide to do more containment plays than pressure plays on Murray because Kyler on the run is a bad thing if you’re playing defense. Just the scheme itself will take some of the pressure away that a guy like Williams brings.
Secondly, look for Oklahoma to move the pocket. The Sooners are going to want to have Murray on the move a lot and rolling the pocket naturally does this. It also makes for a lot of ground that a defensive tackle has to try and make up for against a track star.
Screen passes are always a handy trick against a strong defensive rush. Essentially you let the rush through, as your linemen head to the second level of the defense, and dink the ball over their head.
Finally, I would expect the Sooners to utilize stretch and zone read plays. I feel like the biggest impact Williams is going to have in this game is against the run. Using some misdirection (even a trap play here or there) can cause just a brief hesitation from the defensive line and that could be all the difference in the world when it comes to the success or failure of a play.
Oklahoma’s offensive line is the best in the business but they’ll have their hands full in South Beach on Saturday night. Can they tame the beast that roams Alabama’s defensive line? If not, it’ll most surely spell doom for Kyler and company.