This is a week that the Sooners must make the most of an opportunity.
KU Michael Cummings will share time at quarterback with Dayne Crist
On Saturday Oklahoma's defense will face a struggling Kansas offense.
“They do a really good job of getting a lot of different sets, combining the run with the pass," said Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops. "Dayne Crist has thrown the ball well. They have good balance and I see a lot of good players. In a lot of their games right there at halftime it’s an even game. Overall, they’ve been very competitive.”
That may be some very polite coach speak from Bob Stoops. The Jayhawks are currently ranked 84th in total offense and 95th in passing offense. The running game though, has been a bright spot for KU, its ranked 49th in the nation this week. KU was able to hang with OSU last week in a down pour, finally losing to the Cowboys 20-14.
"They are going through some schemes, trying to find an identity," said Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops. "That's always going to be the case with an offense that's starting for the first year. They show a variety of different looks. They change it week in and week out.
"But again, we feel like our defense can matchup with most offenses. It gets down to us being able to do the things that we need to do and that's being physical at the line of scrimmage, getting them into predictable situations and being able to cover their wide receivers. That's what we do and what we will have to do this week if we want to win."
The Jayhawks have started a use a two quarterback system. Dayne Crist and Michael Cummings are both expected to see action against Oklahoma Saturday. Crist started the Oklahoma State game for KU but was relieved in the third quarter by Cummings. Cummings entered the ball game and led the Jayhawks to a pair of late touchdowns.
Crist, initially recruited by and played for Weis at Notre Dame, transferred this summer to start during his senior year. Crist was inconsistent at Notre Dame, but he has been consistent as a Kansas starter; consistently bad. He has thrown three touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. His best quarterback ratings have been in the two Big 12 games (TCU, Kansas State), but he has thrown four interceptions in those games as well.
"Well, Dayne has played a lot more snaps than the other quarterback," said Mike Stoops. "There were a lot more throws in the offense compared to the other quarterback. He's a little bit more mobile. They gained some confidence in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State. But I thought they moved the ball relatively well throughout the course of that game. They missed a lot of scoring opportunities in the first half. They missed a field goal or two and had some opportunities but just haven't been able to finish drives, but they were able to do it in the second half."
RB James Sims is KU's biggest threat on the ground. So far this season, Sims has rushed for 344 yards and four touchdowns. Sims had a dominant performance vs. OSU with career-high 138 yards rushing on 27 carries. He also caught three passes for 42 yards and had a rushing touchdown.
At his weekly press conference, we got more coach speak from KU Coach Charlie Weis as he sang the praises of the OU defense.
"Now we get to the bad news and if that wasn’t bad enough, their defense is only giving up 17 points per game and that’s 20th in the country," said Weis. "They are only giving up 300 yards per game and that’s 14th in the country. Out of that, they are only giving up 179 yards passing per game and that’s 9th in the country. So anytime you’re (ranked that high) in the country in those categories, that bodes well for how well you’re playing on defense.
"They don’t get into a bunch of fronts like everyone else does. If they had their druthers they’d line up in even (front) every play and either play quarters with man-to-man principles or play man with man-to-man principles. They play more man-to-man coverage than almost any team we’ve gone against this year and it doesn’t make a difference if they have 4-3 people in there, 4-2, 4-1 or 3-2 people in there when they go to their out package. They have those principles and all of them when they go long. It all starts with their defensive front.”
It certainly appears that Kansas will be heavily outmatched when they visit Owen Field on Saturday. However, as we have seen so many times, any team can compete with any other team on any given Saturday. Oklahoma must come out with the same intensity they had against Texas Tech and Texas. Will there be a post-Texas let down? That question gets asked every year, but to this point, the Sooners have always played very well after Texas. The Sooners need to be impressive on Saturday. They must come out and stomp on Kansas for three quarters and then let the rest of the guys play. Oklahoma wins 48-10.