Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 10/6/12

Pre-season top-10 ranked Oklahoma is still trying to figure out their team’s identity as we enter the first weekend of October. That is usually not a good sign for a successful season at any school, let alone one with the rich tradition of Oklahoma. Because of a scheduling quirk due to another round of conference reshuffling, the Sooners are coming off their second bye in the last three weeks and will now get down to the meat of their schedule. Nine games in nine Saturdays will decide the fate of this chapter of OU Football. Four of the teams left on their schedule are ranked ahead of them.

This Saturday, OU travels to take on Texas Tech in Lubbock where they haven’t won since 2003. The fact that they haven’t won there since 2003 has little relevance to this game as this is the first time they will face the Red Raiders in Lubbock under current coach Tommy Tubberville. The three previous defeats in Lubbock were a result of the high octane offense of Mike Leach.  That offense has since been exported to Texas A&M, Washington St, Oklahoma St., and West Virginia. OU will face that offense in Morgantown, WV later in the season to determine if they will have better success against it.

This Texas Tech team offers a different challenge to the Stoops brothers and their Sooners.  Tubberville has instilled a different swagger into the Red Raiders that was on display in Norman last year as they ended OU’s 39-game home winning streak. Tubberville has Texas Tech playing better Defense than they ever did under Mike Leach and they carry the nation’s number one defense into Saturday’s contest, allowing only 167.5 yards per game. Oklahoma’s defense hasn’t been a slouch either, coming in ranked 12th and only surrendering 284 ypg, but they have not faced a quarterback with the skill set of Texas Tech’s Seth Doege.

Seth Doege is the 13th most efficient QB in the nation this year with 15 TDs to 3 INTs. It was his ability to make big plays and avoid the big mistake that helped Tech upset the Sooners in Norman last year.  In contrast, Landry Jones ranks 59th in efficiency through the early part of the season and has only 5 TD passes to 2 INTs. The Oklahoma defense will need to pressure Doege to get him out of his comfort zone which is something they have not excelled at this year.

Despite their high ranking in total Defense, Oklahoma currently ranks dead last in the Nation in gaining turnovers with 1 INT and 0 fumbles. Oklahoma’s defense rank 107th in the nation in tackles for loss with a pedestrian 2 sacks per game.  The defensive line, in general, has underwhelmed after the graduation of their top 2 defensive ends to the NFL draft last year. They have been unable to recruit a difference maker at DT since Gerald McCoy was taken with the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. If Oklahoma is to have success on Saturday and through the rest of the season, Mike Stoops is going to have to get creative with his blitz packages and get his LBs and DBs more active in attacking the offensive backfield.

The Sooner offense is designed to generate statistics for the QB.  Jones, in his third year as a full time starter, has relatively pedestrian numbers thus far this season. He has yet to develop the type of chemistry he had with Ryan Broyles last year. Since Broyles went down with a torn ACL against Texas A&M, Jr. Kenny Stills has been filling this role, moving over from his outside position to the slot receiver. True Freshman Sterling Shepherd showed promise against Kansas St. catching all 8 of the passes that were thrown to him. Shepherd has drawn comparisons to Broyles by teammates and coaches since his arrival on campus in the summer. Sooner fans will be anxious to see how his involvement in the offense develops over the coming weeks.

Look for Junior College Transfer Damien Williams to increase his role in the offense on Saturday as well. Williams has averaged 10 carries over the first three games, but coaches conceded this week that they needed to increase his touches.  Williams has been averaging just less than 10 yards per carry (9.77) and has scored a touchdown every 6 times he carries the ball (5 TDs on 30 carries).

-Doak

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