With the victory still fresh in on Oklahoma’s mind, the coaching staff simply made the decision to not have the team watch the game film today and instead work on their next opponent; the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who will roll into Norman this Saturday for a 2:30 Bedlam showdown. Defensive Ends Coach and Special Teams Coach Bobby Jack Wright said tonight that OU can expect much the same team they just faced in West Virginia.
“Absolutely, Oklahoma State is very much the same team that we just finished facing and this will be a really good offense that we are going to play Saturday,” said Wright. “We need to be able to create some more pressure because we had very little if any pressure the other night and you saw what happened there so you have to come up with some ways to create some pressure on these guys.”
Throughout most of the year, the Sooners have been really good at defending the run but the last two games; OU has fallen off to say the least. Coach Wright says that in this day and age, offenses scheme so differently and the complexity of the offenses are so advanced, that OU just needs to continue to work hard and scheme to stop the many different looks that they offenses present.
“We saw some things on tape that we thought we could take advantage of the other night and against Baylor as well but Baylor used some blocking schemes that we hadn’t seen all year and maybe West Virginia saw that and they used some of the same things,” said Wright.
“In all honesty, on Saturday night our whole defense was off a little bit and I mean it was like 11 guys, on every play, somebody took their turn and anytime you do that, they will make you pay. They (West Virginia) went up tempo on us a little bit and got some guys moving a little bit fast and we failed to get the right defensive calls in to get everybody on the same page and one guy might have played one defense and 10 other’s played something else. So we had some issues getting all 11 of us on the same page.”
Outside of putting Tavon Austin back at tailback, Wright says that West Virginia didn’t do much different than what they (OU) planned for.
“No, outside of putting that kid (Austin) back in the backfield, they really didn’t show any other wrinkles that we didn’t plan for. Of course, that really helped them because it forced us to change up some things because we practiced things with him (Tavon Austin) being at wide receiver and then we come out and he is in the backfield and it caused us fits all night. But it goes without saying, he is pretty darn good, and I think he was the leading receiver in the league coming into the night and then he goes to tailback and if the game would have gone much longer, he would have been the leading rusher in the league.”
Not lost in Austin’s outstanding performance for the Mountaineers Saturday night was the play of Stedman Bailey and his 205 yards receiving and his four touchdowns.
“He was number three in the league coming in when it comes to receptions and we knew coming in that they had two of the best receivers in the league,” said Wright. “He played well and made some tremendous catches and a couple of those catches, you just have to tip your hat to him because it was a great throw by Geno (Smith) and a great catch by him because we had great coverage on several of them and Smith made a great throw and Bailey made some great catches but our guys battled him well and there was a couple of times where he got behind us but that is going to happen when you play a great receiver. That is why they become great receivers and we aren’t any different than anybody else because our receivers beat their guys several times thank goodness so that happens during the course of a ballgame.”
Wright said that after the game was over, he couldn’t think of any other game that he had been a part of that was as wild as this one.
“The Boise State game was certainly different but no, I don’t think I have ever been in one where they had that many yards and it was just a track meet”, said Wright. “What was interesting was that during the course of the game, there was a point in time in the first half where we thought that we had control of the game because we were up 31-17 at the half and could have been up more than that because we got the pick right before the half and then didn’t get any points. We went into the locker room though with the feeling that we had a pretty good control on the game but then they come out in second half and they hit us with that big one and all of a sudden they are back in it and the crowd is back in it and they get all juiced up and then Tavon Austin just goes off and it was literally a track meet and so no, to answer your question, I have never been in a game like that.”
“You know, a lot of people talk about Tavon’s performance for them but what they failed to see is that when we scored with :24 seconds left, we still had to kick it to him and we felt like we had held him down in that department (the return game) so we go ahead and kick it to him and our kick coverage did a great job of getting him down because he was putting on an ‘all nighter’ against us and all they needed was a field goal so they needed to get down to our 30 yard line or somewhere in that range and we could have been looking at a different outcome so we bottled him up on that kickoff. After watching what he did all night and I think we ended up kicking it off to him nine times, every time we kicked it to him, your ol’ heart was in your throat a little bit.”
Wright says that although West Virginia was out of timeouts, there was still a great deal of concern that Austin would run the ball on that last Mountaineer series.
“Oh man, there was a huge concern that they would hand him the ball and I was telling myself that I sure hope he doesn’t touch it and this kid had put on a show all night but I think because of the lack of time, I guess they felt like they needed to throw it and I was glad they did throw it.”
With the OU special teams playing well, Coach Wright was asked about his placekicker’s performance thus far this season.
“Michael (Hunnicutt) developed into a really outstanding kicker last year for us and had a heck of a year last year and he is having a great year this year,” said Wright. “We are very pleased with him and he has become extremely accurate, although he did miss one on Saturday and that was kind of surprising because anything under 40 (yards) he has been automatic and that might be his first miss from inside that distance and I think he has only missed two all year. Of course, we don’t typically kick a lot of long field goals anyway and it’s not because he don’t have the leg, but with Landry Jones back there, we feel like offensively that we can gain some yardage and things of that nature. Michael has a really strong leg and last year before the end of the half against Kansas State I think he kicked a 50 yarder or 51 yarder and I don’t know exactly what it was but it was a long one so he does have a strong leg and can kick longer kicks but we simply haven’t asked him to. Before it’s all over, he will end up having a heck of a career here and he is a guy that if he keeps progressing like he has, he has a very bright future down the road as a kicker.”
A lot of people expected that with the loss of Brandon Weeden at quarterback for Oklahoma State last year that the Pokes will “fall off” some but that hasn’t happened with the 3 platoon quarterback system that the Cowboys use now.
“I think they have all been very good and I think their staff have done a tremendous job in the way they have handled all three of the QB’s and there is no question that the true freshman (Wes Lunt) came in this year and played very well and of course I know that you guys are eluding to the fact that they have had injuries and they have the next guy come in and help them win games and then the walk-on (Clint Chelf) comes in or I guess he is a walk-on and he has won games for them so you have to kind of tip your hat to them because they have done a great job of coaching and the quarterbacks have done an excellent job of staying into the game whether they are the starter or not and when they were called upon, they have come in and performed at a very high level. Their offense continues to be very effective regardless of whom their quarterback is and they are very efficient. I will say this, they are well coached and their coach (Mike Gundy) has been around there a long time and they do a good job and they don’t have any flies on them and they do a good job of coaching their lines and their offensive line protects the quarterback and the open holes for Joseph Randle (OSU’s tailback), so I don’t know how you could find much wrong with them.”
Geno Grissom was going to play but Coach Wright says that he didn’t want to put Grissom in a position like that on the road with the little experience that he had.
“I would have liked to play him a little bit more but games like that where the game is on the line like it has been the last two weeks, it’s hard to play a guy that has so little experience,” said Wright. “I have been able to play him a little bit more and he is actually playing pretty good and he has been practicing well and I think he is going to be pretty good.”