Do you feel inadequate about your knowledge of the 2017 Oklahoma Sooners? Worried that you foolishly spent the past few weeks fraternizing with family and friends rather than breaking down game tape? We’ve got you covered.
I took some time to speak this week with Jack Shields of our Oklahoma counterpart on the SB Nation network, Crimson & Cream Machine. Jack has some interesting thoughts on containing Baker Mayfield, which Sooners you should keep an eye on, and the status of Norman’s red dirt rock scene. Enjoy.
MD: So, how would you stop Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense?
JS: That's a tough one! I would say that being effective when applying pressure would be the main thing, because he has the best passer rating against the blitz in college football this season. Iowa State actually had a little bit of success dropping eight into coverage, but giving him time to throw is a bit of a dangerous game considering how good his targets have become as the season has progressed. If Georgia can stuff the run and force OU to throw more than they'd prefer, that could also be effective. Keep in mind that Oklahoma actually has 104 more rushing attempts than passing attempts this season.
MD: On the flip side, Georgia features the tenth ranked rushing offense in the country. How does Oklahoma counteract Chubb, Michel, Swift, Herrien, and Holyfield?
JS: Oklahoma has done a pretty good job defending outside runs this season, as the linebackers don't lack for speed an athleticism. However, gap discipline has sometimes been an issue with inside runs, although it should be noted that the issue has mostly arisen when a running QB was involved. It'll obviously be important to limit UGA to quick possessions as much as possible. OU can't afford to allow long drives and get fatigued.
MD: Who is one Sooner, on offense and defense, who Bulldog fans should be more worried about and why?
JS: It's tough to pick an offensive player since there are so many options, but I'll go with Mark Andrews. The Mackey Award winner is just a matchup nightmare for everyone he faces. He's too big and physical for even the best college DBs and is too athletic for most linebackers. UGA does have some great LBs who don't lack for athleticism, but Andrews is just a beast who will likely be playing on Sundays for a long time provided he stays healthy.
MD: Write the headline: if Oklahoma wins the Rose Bowl, what will be the 50 point headline on the front of the (digital) sports page?
JS: "OU Earns Trip to Georgia With Win Over Georgia"
MD: Best Norman musical act: Flaming Lips, Vince Gill, or the field?
JS: That's a great question. I've probably seen the Flaming Lips 10 times. They're great, but if you've seen them once, you've seen them 1000 times. Vince Gillis sometimes a little bland but is a sneaky-great guitar picker. The field is where it gets interesting...
Norman is home to The Deli, which a small dive bar on Campus Corner where a ton of current Americana acts have honed their craft. John Moreland used to call Norman home and played The Deli all the time. Parker Millsap is a rising star who, like Moreland, has performed on some late-night talk shows. He used to play the Deli all the time, as well.
The Turnpike Troubadours, a fantastic Red Dirt/Folk Rock/Americana group who mostly originate from Eastern Oklahoma, called Norman home for a good period of time and maybe still do (they might be in Tulsa now). John Fullbright, who was a Grammy nominee for Best Americana Album a few years back, was a Deli mainstay at one point. I'm a huge fan of this kind of music, so I'm gonna have to go with the field.
MD: On the subject of music, how many of the places in the James McMurtry song "Choctaw Bingo" have you personally visited?
JS: I've been to Lake Eufala, the big McDonald's in Vinita (which used to be the largest in the world), Muskogee (I think), the Shawnee Bypass and Lake Texoma. I haven't been to Club 69 in Eufala, the Indian Smoke Shop (at least not the one he's referring to), Tushka or that "Pop's Knife and Gun" place. Now that I read this, I sound kind of lame!
Thanks to Jack for patiently answering my questions about the Oklahoma Sooners and, well, other stuff. Until later....