Oregon commit ready to put on show in final prep season

By Michael Kinney

At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Andre Dollar is hard to miss. Even for a tight end he casts a pretty imposing shadow whether he is lined up along the offensive line or running routes in the secondary.

So it should not have been a surprise when Dollar said the player he most wants his game to resemble in San Francisco’s all-pro George Kittle.

Continue reading “Oregon commit ready to put on show in final prep season”

Struggles continue for OU despite double-digt victory

 

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN– On Saturday Oklahoma won it’s 10th game of the season with a 55-40 victory over Kansas. It was the 17th time since 2000 that the program has reached double-digit victories in a season, which leads the nation in that time span.

However, the mood of the fans, players and coaches coming out of Memorial Stadium was far from celebratory.  Once again it was the Sooner’s defense that garnered most of the attention as they allowed the Jayhawks to run up and down the field.

“Defensively, we didn’t tackle at all the whole night and that’s really the story. I thought our pass defense was much improved,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “It was something we spent a lot of time on, certainly after the way we played in that fashion the week before. We had some good things there as far as coverage, but clearly, we weren’t good on the run game and it was disappointing because  we’ve really done a good job against the run all season.”

The futility of the Kansas offense during the past decade is the biggest sign of how bad the Oklahoma defense looked Saturday.

Since 2015 Kansas has only scored more than 40 points twice. Both came in wins against non-conference teams. Their output against the Sooners is the most they have scored against a Big 12 team since beating Colorado 52-45 in 2010.

“I take it very personally. I don’t think a team should get over 50 yards on us if it was up to me,” safety Robert Barnes said. “I just think as a unit we just have to start playing more physical and be more fundamental. It starts in practice. It starts on Monday through Friday. Just continuing to work on tackling. It’s a long season and there’s a lot of inquiries that happen throughout a season. So it’s not like in practice we can do full-tackling drills. But tackling is a mentality If you train that mentality all week, when you come out on Saturday, it won’t be an issue.”

Run defense disappeared

The Jayhawks posted 348 rushing yards on the night. That included Pooka Williams rushing for 252 yards on only 15 carries. That is a 16.8 Yards per carry average.

We have guys in position. We tell them to not worry about mistakes. All mistakes are mine, so don’t hesitate. Go make it,” defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill said. “We tackle every day, so we’ll just continue to do that and continue to work hard. We’ll watch the film and see what angles would help, but look from all different angles on that too. Ready to get back to work and watch the film and fix what we’ve got to fix to get ready for next week.”

Tackling still at the heart of the problem

The OU coaches and players all said tackling is still the issue that has been causing them the most issues.

“We’ve had games where we tackled really well,” Riley said., “I think we have guys that can tackle well. Tackling is just so many things. It’s being in position, knowing where you help is. It all comes down to playing great team defense and when you do you put yourself in position to make those plays and you have got to go make them. The group I watched tonight was too hesitant. I thought we were in position a lot and we have to go. We have to trigger and go play confident and go play explosive. Go play to make the play as opposed to just trying to keep them from making a play. I felt we were more on our heels than we need to be. Certainly, we have to be more aggressive and as coaches, we have to find a way to get there out of them.”

According to defensive end Kenneth Mann, bad tackling can cause a snowball effect.

“I think it can,” Mann said. “ Things like that can but we just have to gather the troops and get back together. We need to make the right moves.  Everybody needs to settle down when things get going like that and continue to tackle and get guys down.”

 

Last one standing

On the first offensive series of the game, Oklahoma leading rusher Trey Sermon left the game with an injury. That left redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks as the only healthy tailback for the Sooners.

Brooks carried the rock 25 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns as he played the majority of the game.

“He did a great job, doing it by himself,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “He’s been doing it since he got his chance earlier in the season. We’re going to need him going forward and I’m sure he’ll continue to run well.”

Brooks said he just had to be ready for his moment when his number was called.

“All the guys in the room helped me get to this point,” Brooks said. “I couldn’t do it without them. Everybody just being there and telling me I can do it. Just keeping my confidence up. Going through practice, seeing what I can do, then you’re in the game and you’re actually doing. I give all my glory to God, my teammates second and believing in myself that I could do it. Being in this position is nothing new. We just go out there and do the best we can to help the team win.”

Brooks pointed out his offensive line especially.

“They did amazing,” Brooks said. “We have the best offensive line in the country. I am so happy I can run behind them. They made my job so much easier.”

The best?

Tackle Cody Ford was asked if OU had the best offensive line in college football. Ford kept his answer pretty simple.

“Yes.”

Scoring machine

The Sooners 55 points is their third highest output of the season. They also tallied 566 total yards (294 rush, 272 pass)

Despite that, quarterback Kyler Murray wasn’t too impressed. Even with his five touchdowns (3 rushing, 2 passing), it was not close to what he expects from the offense in general.

“It wasn’t bad,” Murray said. “I thought we moved the ball well. I would say personally, a little disappointed. It wasn’t the best game, but it got the job done. We put up 55 points, so I guess you could say it was a good day.”

Except for the two turnovers.

“That’s something we don’t want to do, put the ball in other people’s hands,” Murray said. “We have actually done a good job with that all season, taking care of the ball. Tonight it got away from us a little bit.”

Heisman Worthy

Wideout Marquise Brown, who had 6 catches for 64 yards, said Murray is the clear Heisman frontrunner.

“I just don’t feel like nobody is playing better football than him, to be honest,” Brown said. “He’s throwing it, running it. He’s really the most valuable player for this team. I feel like he should be the Heisman.”

Big game on the horizon

With West Virginia losing to Oklahoma State earlier in the day, it took a little luster off of next week’s matchup with the Mountaineers. Yet, the game is still a big contest for the Sooners as they look to lock up a spot In the Big 12 Championship.

Barnes knows his team has to show an element the defense has shown much of the year if they are going to win.

“I would say from the first play be the most physical team out there,” Barnes said. “From offense and defense, but especially from the defensive standpoint. When you’re going into a hostile atmosphere, an away game, especially at this caliber, from the first play we need physicality across the board.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Story first ran in The Yukon Review

 

Sooners looking to run through Buckeyes (if given the chance)

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN, Ok. — The University of Oklahoma and the Ohio State Buckeyes. They are two of the most storied college football programs in the nation.

The two football factories have combined for 12 national titles, 80 conference titles and 1,739 victories. It would be hard pressed for any two teams to take the field with a stronger resume than the Sooners and Buckeyes.

Yet, none of that will matter when the ball is kicked-off at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Memorial Stadium. The past will not make a difference to the hundred or so young men on the field. For them, it’s all about carving out their own bit of college football history.

Both teams see this game as a must win, but that is especially true for a Sooners’ squad that has already felt sting of defeat this season.

Oklahoma loss to then No. 15 Houston in the season opener. It’s what prevented this contest from being a top-5 matchup. The loss also spread some doubt on just how high this team can reach this season.

But all of that can be forgotten with a win over No. 5 Ohio State.

“This week is going to be amped up,” Mark Andres said. “I know everyone around here is excited about it. I know we’re excited about it. Everything is just going to be one step bigger. It’s a big game. Everybody knows that.”

Coming off a throttling of ULM last week in the home opener, the Sooners regained a small piece of their swagger back. But they know the Buckeyes are an entirely different beast to contend with.

With coach Urban Meyers at the helm, OSU won a national title two years ago and was in contention to make the College Football Playoffs last season.

But even after seeing boat load of players head to the NFL, many analyst believe this could be the most talented Buckeyes squad since Meyers arrived.

One of those players is quarterback J.T. Barrett, who is now back in charge of the offense full time after a revolving door at the position since his injury two seasons ago. His ability to run with the rock and direct the offense will once again put the OU defense under the microscope as they face a mobile signal caller.

It won’t just be Barrett the Sooners have to deal with. Mike Weber, Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson all have the ability to make plays in an offense that is quite similar to the Houston Cougars.

“(Playing Houston will help us,” Obo Okoronkwo said. “We will be more familiar with that type of offense. That always helps. Just because you have seen it before, you can react faster. You know what’s coming.”

For Oklahoma, the offense game plan will once again come down to identity is going to come to the party. Is it the one where Baker Mayfield is slinging the ball around the field looking for big plays in the passing game. Or the one where Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon get behind their huge offensive line and dictate terms to the Buckeyes.

In past big games, the Sooner have tried to put the game on Mayfield’s shoulders. But on a night like this, Oklahoma’s best weapon is its running game.

There may be no more important person for Oklahoma that offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Since joining the Sooners last season, he has change the style of the unit. However, he has, in the past, seemingly forgotten about the run game and the horses he has in the backfield. If that happens tonight, the Buckeyes talented defense can just pin their ears back and go hunting for Mayfield. .

“That’s their strength on defense, they are good everywhere,” Riley said of OSU. “They will be a challenge up front, challenge for our wideouts, for Bake, for everybody. It’s a great challenge and hopefully we’ll play well and be a tough challenge for them to.”

On a weekend that is full of high quality games, Oklahoma and Ohio State stands out. It’s one the players, coaches and fans can all get behind.

The Buckeyes are expected to have a large contingent of OSU fans in the stadium. So there will be intensity on and off the field. That seems to be the way the Sooners want it.

“I don’t think there is any way you can prepare for this type of game,” Andrews said. “It’s going to be crazy.”

Story ran in the Yukon Review

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