When the Oklahoma Sooner offense takes the field Saturday night, all eyes will be on returning quarterback and Heisman candidate Landry Jones and his arsenal of weapons.
OU’s all-time passing leader threw for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns last year and will be throwing to what many believe could end up being OU’s best all around receiving corps in the Bob Stoops Era. Kenny Stills returns as the only OU receiver to catch a pass in Division I Football last year and started all 11 games hauling in 8 touchdowns to go along with his 849 yards receiving. True freshman Trey Metoyer, Durron Neal, and Sterling Shepard all hope to show that they are ready for the spotlight as well. Penn State transfer Justin Brown along with Metoyer could be the story in the opening week. Brown will also handle the punt return duties along with Stills.
Running the football just got easier for the Sooners as they return Dominique Whaley who before his season ending injury, rushed for 627 yards and 9 touchdowns and also caught 15 passes for 153 yards. Add JUCO All-American transfer Damien Williams to the fold (1,931 yards and 30 TD’s [26 rushing, 2 receiving, 1 KO return and a passing TD], Brennan Clay 274 yards rushing and 1 touchdown along with 104 yards receiving and All Big XII fullback Trey Millard 169 yards rushing, 2 TD’s and 127 yards receiving and 1 TD and the Sooners have a very formidable ground game.
Defensively for the Miners, safety DeShawn Grayson (67 tackles) and linebacker Josh Fely (61 tackles) are UTEP’s leading tacklers from a year ago and both will be back to try and stop OU’s high powered offensive attack. Senior LB Jamie Irving returns to the gridiron after redshirting the 2011 campaign following a season-ending shoulder surgery. The Miners will once again have a strong defensive line anchored by Horace Miller who led the team in sacks with five last year and he will team up with Gemard Reed and Greg Watkins. UTEP increased its sack total to 24 last season up from 14 the year before so they will try and put pressure on OU quarterback Landry Jones.
“They will stunt you and try and force you into mismatches,” said OU Defensive Ends coach Bobby Jack Wright. “They are small but quick and they will bring the blitz from all angles so it will definitely be a challenge for us. UTEP’s defense will certainly challenge you in all aspects of the game as they are very well coached and I think Andre Patterson (UTEP Defensive Coordinator) has done a wonderful job down there with those kids.”
Although the Miners have some solid players defensively, stopping OU’s offense is a tall order and one that Mike Price’s group will not be able to do except for in spurts. Look for OU to run the ball effectively and throw it at will on an overmatched UTEP defense.
The only question will be if OU uses the "BellDozer" in this game and if so, will they show a different look with it and throw out of it more often. My guess is no because they wont need to as the Sooners will keep the offense vanilla but still score enough points to win convincingly.
Oklahoma – 48 UTEP - 6