Five Areas That Need Improvement For OU This Week
NORMAN, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Sooners' 24-7 victory over UTEP last Saturday left many fans and players dissatisfied with the on-field performance. This week, the Sooners take on the Florida A&M Rattlers, who, coincidentally, play in the same conference as Savannah State, a team Oklahoma State destroyed 84-0 last week.
While it's likely the Rattlers will pose as much of a measuring to stick for OU as Savannah State did for OSU (read: none), the Sooners can calm the fears of some fans by doing what they should to Florida A&M: dominate every phase of the game.
Here are five areas the Sooners need to show improvement in on Saturday:
1. Protecting the quarterback
Landry Jones was sacked three times against the Miners Saturday night. For a point of reference, Jones was sacked three times in the first eight games last season. Jones worked on his mobility in the pocket in the offseason, and the work has paid off immensely. Jones was quick on his feet, and did a great job of evading the rush several times against the Miners. However, the best scenario for everyone is that Jones would not have to show off his increased mobility. The offensive line needs to protect Jones a lot better this week than it did last week in El Paso. Against a team like Florida A&M, giving up a sack isn't very good.
2. Better rushing offense.
Yes, the Sooners ran for 205 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. However, that included a 65-yard touchdown run by Damien Williams in the fourth quarter. Not that big plays are a terrible thing, but without that run, OU had just 140 yards on 36 carries, a 3.8 yard per carry average. That's unacceptable for a team like OU that has at least five backs more than capable of carrying the football, and a solid, athletic offensive line. The offensive line should be able to push around the Rattlers' defensive line, and gain some confidence in their ability to open up holes for the running backs.
3. Timing between Landry Jones and receivers
Jones said the Monday before the UTEP game that even though he had developed a good connection with most of his new wide receivers, game action would be the only way to show how far they had come. Aside from Kenny Stills, the only receiver of this group OU had a year ago, it was obvious Jones needed more time with his receivers to get a better feel of the timing needed to complete passes to them. Each day this week after practice, Jones has stayed late with newcomers Trey Metoyer and Justin Brown, working on patterns and timing. Metoyer and Brown are clear-cut second and third options behind Stills, so Jones' timing with both of those is the most important to the success of the OU passing attack.
4. Improved rushing defense
The Sooners only gave up 255 yards to UTEP on Saturday, but 207 of those came on the ground, and 177 were gained by one player. Players and coaches have both commented on how it was a simple case of players not being in the appropriate spot at the right time. The Sooners will need to correct those mistakes this week because they will face several great running teams once conference play begins, starting with Kansas State in Norman two weeks from Saturday. If OU doesn't get that problem fixed, it could be a very long season for the Sooner defense.
5. Better energy
This problem would appear to be the most easily fixable since the Sooners are playing Saturday's game three and a half hours earlier than they did in El Paso, and do so at home, one of the great home-field advantages in college football. The Sooners should be fired up to play in front of the home crowd this weekend. Everyone says the time of a game shouldn't affect a team's performance, but when dealing with a group of young adults, it's hard to say it doesn't. The normal game time, as well as the energy of the Owen Field crowd should give the Sooners a massive jolt of energy this week.