Sooners Preparing For Tough Test From Kansas State Offense

Wednesday, September 19th 2012, 4:35 pm
By: News 9

Through two games this season, the Oklahoma Sooners have been largely untested on both sides of the ball, but all that will change Saturday, when No. 15 Kansas State comes to Norman.

The Wildcats might be one of the more curious programs in the country, thanks in large part to their head coach, Bill Snyder, 72, who is now in his second stint as Kansas State's head coach.

The Wildcats are no strangers to success under Snyder, and the Oklahoma players understand KSU isn't another UTEP or Florida A&M.

"I think they're as dangerous as anyone in the conference," defensive end RJ Washington said. "You have a quarterback that rushes for 22 carries. First two games they're averaging 51 points a game."

All eyes will be on the Oklahoma defense Saturday, which has to contend with KSU quarterback Collin Klein, a dual-threat quarterback with good speed and an improved passing ability.

Last season, Klein ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns against the OU defense, not including sack yards lost. However, Klein is much improved as a passer this season, hitting on 72 percent of his throws through three games. Because of that increased danger, not biting on play action fakes becomes vital for OU defenders.

"As far as defensive backs, it's about having our eyes in the right place," safety Javon Harris said. "As long as we keep our eyes in the right place and don't bite on the run when we're not supposed to be in a run place, then it will be less of a problem."

While play action normally opens up big play possibilities down the field, Washington said even on play action, all options should be covered.

"Usually, when they're breaking off big plays, someone is out of their gap," Washington said. "If we don't do our responsibilities, you're going to notice it right away. If we're not doing that, like the guys last year, it's going to be a long day."

Snyder and the Wildcats are famous for their complicated schemes, so head coach Bob Stoops and the rest of the team were very thankful for the extra week the Sooners had to prepare for KSU.

"They're very complicated with all the different run schemes and the use of the quarterback run game," Stoops said. "All of it together takes some extra work. Fortunately we've had a chance to do some of that."

Harris, a senior, has seen his fair share of bye weeks and the benefits of extra preparation before a game. He felt as if the Sooners, particularly the defense, took full advantage of the extra opportunity to prepare for the Wildcats.

"Not every team gets to have a bye week before a big game," Harris noted. "Just taking advantage of every film moment, every snap we take on the field, I think that's one thing that we did take advantage of."

The Sooner defense has not played to its full potential yet this season, although Washington said the history of the program sometimes makes it difficult for great play to shine through.

"This is Oklahoma and Oklahoma is known for great defenses, so as always, what can we do to be better?" Washington said. "It's always trying to prove yourself because it's not like you've done anything new. There's been great defensive players in the past, so you're constantly having to step your game up."

When Snyder began coaching the Wildcats in 1989, he laid out 16 building blocks for success, and these 16 goals have become the foundation for the program Snyder has raised up in his time in Manhattan.

Two of those goals are self-discipline and eliminate mistakes. The Sooner defense will have to focus on those two intently this week if they hope to contain the Wildcat offense like they did a year ago.

"It's getting better," Harris said. "From day one to now, what we continue to talk about is being consistent and getting better every game, and as long as we get better every game, we feel we can really be good."