Perfection is something that is never attained but should always be strived for. That’s true in life and in football.
Nearly two weeks ago Oklahoma put on what was as close to a perfect offensive performance as you get get. New quarterback Spencer Rattler completed 14-of-17 passes for 290 yards and a score in just two quarters of play. Freshman running back Seth McGowan averaged 6.8 yards per carry and took his only pass reception 37 yards to the house. He ended his night with two touchdowns.
Now Oklahoma takes a step up in competition with an escalating schedule of opponents over the next three weeks that lead to the Red River Rivalry. As good as the Sooners were in the opener against Missouri State they will need to be better to make another successful run through the Big 12. Here’s three things Oklahoma can focus on Saturday morning to improve from what was already an impressive offensive debut.
Establish the run
Can we really say that Oklahoma established the run against Missouri State? Beyond McGowan who looked good coming out of Oklahoma’s backfield? It certainly wasn’t Marcus Major! He was the only Sooner ball carrier to get double digit touches (11) and his 2.8 yards per carry average left a lot to be desired.
By all accounts T.J. Pledger will be back on the field this week. He was named as Oklahoma’s starting running back before falling victim to a round of COVID testing. Even before he was ruled out though several people, including myself, tabbed Major to be the star of this backfield. I’m not saying we were wrong just yet, but it certainly doesn’t look like we were right at this point.
I’d like to see Oklahoma run with a purpose on Saturday and figure out the pecking order of the running backs. It may not all get worked out against Kansas State but they can certainly move in that direction. The Wildcats allowed nearly five yards per carry against Arkansas State and the Sooners should at lest match that.
Establishing a running back is not only the best way to keep a young quarterback comfortable, it also balances the offense and gives Lincoln Riley access to his complete playbook.
Continue to evolve the passing game
Rattler was good…really good. Let’s give him some more responsibilities! That said, the passing game isn’t just about the quarterback. Anyone have an idea as to who Oklahoma’s go-to receiver is? No? Me either. How much progress has Theo Wease and Austin Stogner made from year one to year two? Nope, we don’t know that either.
Theo Howard looked good in is Oklahoma debut. The UCLA transfer hauled in a team-high 5 receptions for 63 yards. Charleston Rambo was flashy as usual with an average of 20 yards per reception. Marvin Mims stole the show, among the receivers, with his 26.7 yards per reception average on three receptions. So where does that leave Stogner and Wease? One catch for Stogner and two for Wease in the opener just isn’t enough to tell.
I would guess those guys would be the top five receivers for the Sooners but as for the order and who is going to be Rattler’s go-to guy we haven’t seen that yet.
Shore up the left side of the offensive line
Bill Bedenbaugh’s offensive line suffered in the COVID casualty category before the opener. With just seven linemen available he had to mix and match players in order to field a complete position group. One of the key players missing was freshman Anton Harrison. The 6-5/334 true freshman is thought to be the answer to woes at the left tackle position that go back to last season. Not only was Harrison absent but his back up Stacey Wilkins was unavailable as well.
If Harrison is available to go on Saturday, like we assume he is, and if everyone from game one is available then we should get our first look at Bedenbaugh’s starting five for 2020.
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