A breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses for the Oklahoma Sooners as they prepare to host Oklahoma State for Bedlam on Saturday.
Quarterback- Landry Jones has been playing great football since the Kansas State debacle. He's making great decisions and has been very accurate with his throws. His performance against West Virginia gave Sooner fans plenty of confidence Jones can perform in the clutch if OU needs him to against the Cowboys.
Wide Receivers- The OU receivers have all done what they needed to do this season. Kenny Stills has been the leader and playmaker everyone expected him to be in replacing Ryan Broyles as the No. 1 option. Transfers Justin Brown and Jalen Saunders learned the offense quickly and have had a huge impact, and of course, the freshmen have grown up very quickly, particularly Sterling Shepard. What started as the team's biggest question mark has become arguably its greatest strength.
Offensive line- The offensive line is battered, bruised, and worn out. The Sooners lost tackle Daryl Williams for the rest of the regular season with an MCL sprain suffered against West Virginia, leaving the unit even more painfully thin than before. OU can't afford any more injuries here.
Rushing attack- The Sooners haven't been able to establish a consistent running game all season. Some games, the Sooners will have plenty of success, but in others OU hasn't been able to get anything going. Part of it of course is thanks to the injuries on the offensive line, but some of it has to do with the OU running backs not running hard, or not reading the open holes in the offensive line correctly. The Sooners will have to establish a consistent run game against OSU in order to pull off another Bedlam win.
Secondary- The unquestioned strength of the defense this season has been the secondary. The Sooners are giving up just 185.2 yards per game through the air, and are fourth in the country in opponent completion percentage, with opponents completing just 50.63 percent of their passes. The Sooners have also intercepted 11 passes and allowed just seven passing touchdowns this year. Those are impressive numbers for a pass-happy league like the Big 12.
Rushing defense- As good as the pass defense has been this season, the run defense has been equally bad. The Sooners started the season giving up over 200 yards on the ground to UTEP and besides a couple lockdown games against Texas Tech and Texas, haven't improved all season. The problem has been a lack of playmaking along the defensive line. Too often, running backs are able to get to the second level before being stopped. The Sooners are giving up 4.9 yards per rush and have give up 1,853 yards on the ground this year, 185.3 per game. That's a single yard more than OU has given up passing this season. That's not good.
OU Special Teams
Everything- It's hard to identify a singular strength for the special teams. The entire unit has been fantastic all the way around this year. Brennan Clay and Roy Finch both average 28 yards per kickoff return, putting the Sooners fifth in the country in that category. Justin Brown averages over 15 yards per punt return, also fifth in the country. The Sooners have also been great in coverage, allowing 18.7 yards per kickoff return, good for 18th in the country. OU has also allowed only seven punt returns on 39 Tress Way punts this year. 17 of Way's punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line, and he's averaging a solid 42.4 yards per punt. Michael Hunnicutt has brought stability to the kicker position, hitting 11/13 field goals this season.
Untested areas- The only conceivable weakness for the special teams unit is OU has allowed 10.6 yards per return on the seven punt returns they've given up this season. Hunnicutt has been consistent and accurate this year, but he hasn't been tested much from long distance. He hasn't attempted a field goal longer than 45 yards, and is 1-for-2 from 40+ yards.