Friday, November 18, 2011
Slowing Griffin III key for Sooners
By Brandon Chatmon
NORMAN, Okla. -- When you line up opposite a playmaker like Robert Griffin III, anything can happen. The Oklahoma Sooners travel to Waco, Texas, to battle Baylor on Saturday night with a shot at making the BCS title game, even after Iowa State's upset win over Oklahoma State Friday night. Make no mistake, style points count now so the Sooners will have to bring it every week.
Here are five key storylines to follow during Oklahoma-Baylor:
1. Slowing R.G.III
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III leads the Big 12 in total offense with 396.8 yards per game. The junior has rushed for 478 yards and passed for 3,093 yards this season. He brings a combination of track speed, excellent athleticism and quality passing skills unmatched by any other quarterback in the Big 12.
The Sooners will be looking to keep Griffin in the pocket and make sure he becomes more of a passer than a run-pass threat. OU features the type of versatile defenders that should allow them to corral Griffin. Linebackers Corey Nelson, Tom Wort and Travis Lewis have good speed and athleticism while safeties Tony Jefferson and Aaron Colvin can cover and tackle in the open field.
2. Replacing Ryan
The Sooners were shell shocked when All-American receiver Ryan Broyles was lost for the season with a torn ACL against Texas A&M two weeks ago. Sooner nation is interested to see if OU can overcome the loss of one of the best players in school history.
Kenny Stills will be counted on to take over as the main playmaker for quarterback Landry Jones but senior DeJuan Miller, junior Jaz Reynolds and sophomore Trey Franks will each have to step up to help fill the void. Also keep an eye on true freshman receiver Kameel Jackson, who has been drawing raves from receivers coach Jay Norvell since the preseason.
3. National showcase game
With OU trying to gain ground in the BCS standings, the Sooners will be looking to not only win but win impressively. Playing on ABC in a regionally-televised contest, the Sooners have the chance to impress a large audience.
The debate around the nation has been raging over the best one-loss team in the country and OU could build its resume with an impressive road win over an explosive team.
4. Give Finch a break
The Sooners have been talking about a running back by committee attack all season long but each week it seems to be one running back carrying the load. First it was Dominique Whaley, now it's Roy Finch.
Against Texas A&M, Finch had a career-high 26 carries, 16 more than he had in the Sooners first five games combined. Clearly the squad's most dynamic running back, OU needs to make sure Finch is completely healthy heading into Bedlam. They'll need as many playmakers as they can get in Stillwater.
Sophomore Brennan Clay and true freshman Brandon Williams could be asked to help lighten the load on Finch and both players need to take advantage of every opportunity to prove they should get more carries.
5. Into the depths of OU's secondary
Depth in the secondary has been an issue for the Sooners all season. Baylor has the playmakers at receiver to test OU's defensive back depth. Four different Bears receivers have at least 30 receptions and Kendall Wright is the most overlooked receiver in the Big 12 with six 100-receiving yards or more in six of nine games.
Starters Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst could be the best duo in the Big 12 and maybe even the nation. No. 3 cornerback Gabe Lynn is remembered for his mistakes but has shown flashes of good play. If OU expects to win its final three games, Lynn will need to regain his confidence and play well consistently. At safety, Aaron Colvin matches up well with most Big 12 receivers but fellow safety Javon Harris been hit or miss with several great plays and several glaring mistakes.
OU will have to shore up its secondary against Baylor, which will also happen to be a great primer for Bedlam in two weeks when the Sooners will face a similar situation with multiple receivers who can hurt them.
|Ronnell Lewis and the Sooners shut down Robert Griffin III and Baylor in Norman last season. |
Brandon Chatmon covers University of Oklahoma sports and recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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