Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma Football At Iowa State | Defensive Game Plan Must Focus On Breece Hall

M. Hofeld

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Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy got a key weapon back last weekend when the Cyclones traveled to Ft. Worth, to open conference play. In ISU’s 37-34 win over TCU tight end Charlie Kolar hauled in a team-high 5 pass receptions. The addition of the 6-6/257 all-conference tight end helped Purdy to a more effective performance (18/23 – 211 yards) than what he produced in the season opening loss against Louisiana (16/35 – 145 yards).

While the Cyclones evened their season record at 1-1, and Brock Purdy seemed to find his stride, the biggest beneficiary of Kolar’s return was Breece Hall. The sophomore running back exploded for 155 yards, three touchdowns, and a 8.6 yards per carry average. Those are crazy impressive numbers against a Gary Patterson defense!

Now Hall has his sights set on an Oklahoma defense that was rattled for 400 yards and 38 points against Kansas State last weekend. The good news for the Sooners is that they were very strong against the run, holding the Wildcats to just 2.5 yards per carry over 26 rushing attempts. That’s where Alex Grinch and company will need to start in Ames on Saturday.

Yes, having Kolar back opens up more opportunities for Brock Purdy in the passing game. That, in turn, opens up Breece Hall to have more success on the ground. However, if a defense is able to swallow up Hall and limit his success then there’s a reverse effect on the passing game. Running the ball successfully opens up the entire playbook. Limiting the rushing attack limits the types of plays that can be called.

The Sooners rank 4th nationally in rush defense, holding opponents to 60 yards per game and 2.4 yards per carry. They’ll need to lean heavily upon that strength in order to keep the Cyclone offense in check on Saturday because Hall is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and 129 yards per game to start the season.

Defensive Keys For The Sooners

Pressure Brock Purdy!

I had Purdy dubbed as the most NFL ready quarterback the Big 12 has to offer in 2020. He’s off to a bit of a shaky start though and the Sooners have to keep him from finding his rhythm. Las week Skylar Thompson threw for 334 yards and a score against the Sooners. Purdy is a more polished passer than Thompson and putting constant pressure on him is going to be huge. Oklahoma is averaging 2.5 sacks per game and will need to be over that number on Saturday.

Don’t Blow Assignments!

Bryan Mead got lost in a play on Saturday and the result was a 78-yard chunk play for Kansas State. It’s the kind of play that Alex Grinch says he doesn’t see in practice but somehow it happened on the field. That has to stop for the Sooners to win on Saturday.

It wasn’t just Mead who got turned around though. There were multiple instances in the game where Oklahoma’s defense was slow to the edge, out of position in the middle and lost in the secondary. Iowa State will make the Sooners pay dearly for those types of mistakes.

Force Turnovers!

Turnovers were key in Oklahoma’s loss last weekend. The Wildcats didn’t give it up once but when you count not converting on fourth-and-short and the blocked put along with Rattler’s three picks and Seth McGowan’s fumble that comes out to six giveaways for the Sooners in a 3-point loss.

At some point turnovers have to stop being something Oklahoma’s defense talks about and start being something that they produce!

Win First And Second Down!

This goes back to how they defend Hall. If Iowa State is able to pick up decent yards on first and second down then that gives them a lot of options on a third and manageable situation. Oklahoma needs to live in the backfield on first down and limit success on second down to force the Cyclones into third and long situations. Doing so opens more possibilities, on third down, for the defense than it does for the offense.

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