The Oklahoma Sooners entered the season with expectations of competing in the College Football Playoff once again. Fielding quite a few inexperienced offensive linemen along with a defense in desperate need of a renovation, the likelyhood of a return to the top of college football seemed unlikely. However, after two games the group appeared primed for just that. Taking it one game at a time, here are the offensive keys for the Sooners as the team heads to Pasadena for a clash with the UCLA Bruins.
Protect the Football
First and foremost, ball security must be at the forefront of the discussion. Claiming one of the most prolific offenses under the direction of Lincoln Riley, the Sooners continue to test defenses from various conferences. However, fans witnessed last year how a couple of turnovers can negatively affect the outcome of the contest during the Red River Rivalry. In order to remain unscathed in the first true road contest of the year, Oklahoma must protect the football. That’s not to say OU should refuse to take a risk here and there. Rather it’s to say take calculated risks that yield high paying rewards on the gridiron with a developing quarterback.
Continue to Spread the Ball Around
Heading into the fall, many expected Ceedee Lamb to be the main target in this air raid style offense. While the notion holds true, others have risen to the occasion making this offense one of the most difficult to prepare for. In the first two contest of the season, 10 different receivers caught passes leading to a 2-0 start. Unable to focus on a single receiver, Charleston Rambo stretches the field vertically while Grant Calcaterra presents a mismatch. The depth of the receiving group is and will continue to be a strong suit moving forward. Yet, it’s vital to utilize the talent instead of focusing in on a single option. Hopefully, the number of options will help Jalen Hurts leave behind the mentality that his only role is to protect the ball. Rather, the quarterback must take a few chances at the University of Oklahoma.
Dominance Along Offensive Line
Replacing four starters is no small task. But, if there’s anyone capable of coaching a unit without a significant drop off, it’s Bill Bedenbaugh. Heading out to California, the Sooners’ offensive line will meet the biggest bodied defensive line of the non-conference portion. Moving defenders off the line of scrimmage will take a bit more effort and skill. This becomes a priority in protecting the quarterback as OU has given up one sack in two games at the moment. If UCLA consistently finds a way into the backfield, it could make this game a bit uncomfortable for the fans in crimson and cream. Expect the offensive line of Oklahoma to solidify itself on the road by opening up running lanes for the stable of backs as well.