Friday, September 16, 2011
Updated: September 17, 10:50 AM ET
Five Wide: Oklahoma-Florida State
By Jake Trotter
Oklahoma faces its toughest non-conference test of the Stoops era Saturday.
Here are five key storylines to follow in the Sooners' showdown at fifth-ranked Florida State:
1. QB Landry Jones on the road
Coach Bob Stoops is quick to point out it's unfair to pin OU's road struggles the past two years on Landry Jones. Oklahoma is just 3-5 in true road games started by Jones.
If Jones falters like he did last season at Missouri, the Sooners are in serious trouble.
But if he plays like he did against Oklahoma State, the Sooners will be tough to beat.
2. Josh Heupel's playbook
In his official debut calling plays against Tulsa, Heupel kept the playbook rather vanilla.
In Tallahassee, look for him to open up the offense with a couple of trick plays, more five-receiver sets and, perhaps, the return of the "Backs" formation that was so effective down the stretch in 2010, utilizing three running backs.
3. Stopping FSU's running game
The Florida State offense is predicated on establishing the run, then rolling out or taking shots down the field off play-action with quarterback E.J. Manuel.
Stuff the run, and OU will severely disrupt FSU's offensive game plan. But if the Seminoles get going on the ground, the Sooners defense will be on its heels all night.
4. The emergence (or disappearance) of Roy Finch
After returning from a preseason foot injury, Roy Finch was a huge catalyst to the offense in 2010. But in the opener two weeks ago, the sophomore running back was not much of a factor, getting only five touches total, while walk-on Dominique Whaley stole the show.
The Oklahoma offense is more explosive with Finch on the field, than off it. Count on him to be a much bigger part of the attack, both in the slot and out of the backfield.
5. The kicking game
Amazingly, OU has traveled to Tallahassee with as many kickers as running backs (five). Stoops is not taking any chances. The outcome could come down to a fourth-quarter field goal, and Stoops wants every option at his disposal in case Jimmy Stevens or Michael Hunnicutt struggles early.
Keep an eye on freshman walk-on Eric Hosek, who's making the trip after several sharp practices in a row. Stoops could give him a shot should either of the frontline kickers scuffle.
|FSU quarterback EJ Manuel knows a lot is riding on a victory over Oklahoma.|
Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation.
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