Through the first half of conference play, the Oklahoma Sooners compiled a 7-0 overall record while much of the praise fell on the program’s newest hire, Alex Grinch. Allowing 19.43 point per game, the defense finally appeared primed for a College Football Playoff berth. However, a single hiccup pushed that number up to 23 on the year. Clearly causing concern throughout much of the fanbase, many immediately reacted by voicing any and all grievances.
Yet, those concerns are not based in reality. Why? Let’s review the course of events from Saturday’s contest in Manhattan, Kansas.
Stepping onto the field, Kansas State set out to expose the ‘speed defense’ which requires players to play a bit undersized in terms of weight. Utilizing sound technique, the offensive line tips the scale at an average of 305.6 pounds per player. On the other side of the equation, the Sooners’ defensive line remained outmatched in the department at 274 pounds on average. However, the discrepancy between the two is not uncommon.
What is uncommon is the fact that KSU decided to depart from the traditional 11-man personnel commonly found in the spread offense. Instead, Chris Klieman opted to field two tight ends and a fullback to punish the defense in the trenches. Creating space, the offensive line accepted the challenge at hand with three other players in tow. At that point, it simply turned into a numbers game as K-State racked up 213 yards alongside six scores on the ground while controlling the clock. Clearly emphasizing a north-south run game in preparation for the contest, the Wildcats found success at the point of attack.
Moving forward, there are only two teams capable of running north-south through the tackles like the Wildcats have done. Those programs are Iowa State with the talents of Breece Hall and Oklahoma State behind the home-run threat that is Chuba Hubbard. Knowing that’s the case, the question must now be asked if either of these have the ability to implement a power offense for a single week in an attempt to win a single game.
The answer is a resounding no! There’s not a single program in the league that has the personnel or the time during game week to replicate the Wildcats success against the Oklahoma ‘speed defense.’ Furthermore, the risk versus reward of doing so requires great risk to little reward negating the thought nearly immediately.
Despite giving up 48 points to an inferior opponent, the Sooners are in good shape defensively for the remainder of the year.