Posts Tagged 'gerald mccoy'

How Will OU Replace Four 1st Rounders?

Having four players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, including three of the top four picks overall is quite a feat.  But replacing those four impact players and competing for another Big 12 Championship could be an even taller order for Bob Stoops and his staff.  College FootBlog takes a look at the players who will look to fill this huge void and then we will break down what to expect from the Sooners this fall.

Quarterback Landry Jones got valuable experience last season, due to Bradford's injured shoulder (google images)

Quarterback:  As unfortunate as Sam Bradford’s injured shoulder was last year, the silver lining has to be that freshman quarterback Landry Jones was able to get an entire year of experience, including the Red River Rivalry game against Texas, who had one of the best defenses in the country last season.  Jones looked great at times, but he looked really, really bad at times, too, and we’re not just referring to his dirty mustache.  Against Idaho State, Jones threw for six touchdowns, but that was somewhat offset when the Sooners traveled to Nebraska, where he had no TDs and five interceptions.

Most of Jones’ struggles last season seemed to happen on the road, and that could be attributed to the fact that he was a freshman thrown into the fire.  Reports out of Norman are that Jones had a very solid spring, capped off by a great showing in the Sooners’ spring game.  With the departure of Bradford, this is officially Landry Jones’ offense now.  Look for more consistency and solid numbers from him this fall.

Defensive Tackle:  Replacing a top-tier defensive tackle is extremely difficult.  Since redshirting his first year at OU, Gerald McCoy has been a fixture on the Sooners’ interior D-line, and he dominated last season, collecting fifteen tackles for loss, despite consistently facing double team blocks.  McCoy’s leadership will also be missed– he was the first OU sophomore ever to be elected team captain.

The DT with the most upside who will attempt to fill McCoy’s shoes is probably sophomore Jamarkus McFarland.  McFarland was one of the top players in the 2009 recruiting class and got some playing time as a true freshman last season.  At 6’3″ and 285 lbs, size will not be an issue, and even though his playing time was limited last season, the projected starter did get some experience and also learned a lot from McCoy, who was known for his leadership on the team.  Still, to expect the same results as McCoy would be unfair and unrealistic, at least this season.

Offensive Tackle:  Trent Williams was much more than an OT for the Sooners.  At different times, the talented offensive lineman played guard and even center for OU.  That versatility was a big reason for his #4 selection in the draft, and it was vital to the success of the Sooner offense.  It’s not often that an offensive lineman runs a 4.88 in the forty-yard dash, and replacing that kind of athleticism is not an easy task.  Williams was a solid pass blocker, but he excelled at run blocking.  Maintaining a solid running game will be critical if Oklahoma wants to be successful on offense.

Sophomore Donald Stephenson is the most likely candidate to replace Williams at LT.  After being academically ineligible last season, Stephenson is now in good standing and should have an impact this fall.  He is considered to be the most talented O-lineman returning, but his maturity and work ethic have come into question in his short time at OU.  If he can remain eligible and step it up a notch in the weight room, he could be a solid tackle, but he will not be able to replace the athleticism of Williams.  Expect a bit of a drop off at that position this season.

The Sooners were not able to replace Gresham's production last season (google images)

Tight End:  Even after missing the entire 2009 season due to an ACL tear, Jermaine Gresham was still the first TE taken in the NFL Draft.  His rare blend of size, speed and receiving ability makes him a relative “can’t miss” for the NFL.  As a junior in 2008, Gresham quickly became a favorite target for Sam Bradford, collecting 950 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns.  The Sooners missed his presence last season, and no one seemed to create the vertical threat in the middle of the field that Gresham provided.

The top two candidates for the starting TE position this fall are Trent Ratteree, who was actually a walk-on and redshirt junior James Hanna.  Hanna backed up departed senior Brody Eldridge last season, so neither tight end has a wealth of experience, and neither provides the downfield threat that Gresham brought to the table.

What will the overall impact be for OU in 2010?  Fortunately for Sooner fans, Bob Stoops has consistently restocked his roster with solid recruiting classes, so the cupboard is not exactly bare.  However, replacing four players that go that high in the NFL Draft is not easy to do–just ask Pete Carroll, who lost four players on the first day of last year’s draft.  USC’s defense was still talented, but they were not the dominant group that the Trojans have consistently produced since Carroll arrived at Southern Cal.  Stoops will likely run into the same issues, but the impact should not be as great as what USC faced, mostly because OU had to play all of last season without two of their four 1st round selections.

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College Football Preseason Top 25 (#8-#15)

College FootBlog continues our countdown of our Preseason Top 25.  In this edition, we break down teams #8-#15.  In case you missed teams #16-#25, check it out here (#16-#25).  Later in the week, we will unveil the top seven, but until then, check out our analysis and breakdown of the teams that are on the cusp of the Super 7.

8.  Arkansas:  The return of quarterback Ryan Mallett instead of entering the 2010 NFL Draft should pay huge dividends to Bobby Petrino, but it another year under Petrino’s tutelage should only improve Mallett’s draft position next spring.  At 6’7″ and 238 lbs., Mallett has the size that NFL scouts like, but he can also make all the throws.  Mallett has several experienced and proven wide receivers, and several versatile running backs, headlined by Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson.  Offense will not be an issue for the Razorbacks in 2010, but their 89th ranked defense will have to improve if they want to stay in the Top 10 and survive an SEC season.

Wisconsin RB John Clay rushed for 1,500+ yards and 18 TD's last season (google images)

9. Wisconsin: Big Ten foes will get a healthy dose of John Clay in 2010.  The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year checks in at 6’1″ and tips the scales at just under 250 lbs.   Clay will run behind an experienced offensive line, which will likely consist of three seniors, two of which were All-Big Ten selections in 2009.  Quarterback Scott Tolzien will be a senior and stepped up big in the Champs Sports Bowl.  The Badgers will have to replace quite a few upperclassmen from last year’s dominant defense, but they still have playmakers like defensive back Jay Valai who should be solid enough to slow down the many not-so-creative offenses in the Big Ten.

10.  Oklahoma:  The Sooners have a tough test early when Florida State comes to town on September 11th.  If they can survive that game, they have the Red River Rivalry minus Colt McCoy, and the rest of the Big 12 schedule could be smooth sailing.  Rival Oklahoma State will be without QB Zack Robinson and WR Dez Bryant (although Bryant was suspended for virtually all of last year).  The Sooners will have to fill the void of likely top-five pick DT Gerald McCoy, but the defense should hold their own in 2010.  Sam Bradford’s injury hurt the Sooners, but it gave Landry Jones some great experience.  As a freshman, Jones was a bit inconsistent, but he showed flashes of brilliance last year.  If he can continue to improve, he could be the next great quarterback produced by QB coach Josh Heupel.

11.  Florida:  Although Orlando Sentinel reporter Jeremy Fowler was berated by Urban Meyer, his interview with wide receiver Deonte Thompson was spot on.  As great as Tim Tebow was, John Brantley will prove to be a much better quarterback, in the traditional sense of the position.  While Brantley will not bring the running ability of Tebow, he is a much more polished passer and should stretch the field vertically much better than his predecessor.  The losses of key contributors on defense, including linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Joe Haden will hurt, but what could hurt the Gators the most in 2010 is the goal line opportunities.  With the departure of Tebow, there is no significant threat for short-yardage threats in the Florida backfield.

12.  Pitt:  Fresh off a contract extension, Dave Wannstedt is really settling in as the Panthers’ head coach.  The loss of Bill Stull hurts a bit, but Pitt has a couple of capable back ups at QB, in sophomore Tino Sunseri and junior Pat Bostick.  Whoever wins the starting QB job has the luxury of having Dion Lewis in the backfield.  Lewis was one of the best running backs in the nation last year, and he was only a freshman.  As good as the offense should be for the Panthers, however, the strength of the 2010 team will likely be the defense.  Going into the spring, the defense looks to have seven juniors and two seniors in the starting line up.

FSU's Christian Ponder will try to throw his hat in the ring of this year's Heisman race (google images)

13. Florida State: The Seminoles were an average defense from being a 10-win team last season.  Unfortunately for Bobby Bowden and legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, the FSU defense was shredded all season in ’09, ranking 108th nationally overall.  Three of the ‘Noles’ six losses were by touchdown or less.  The bright side for FSU was the offense, led by quarterback Christian Ponder, who will likely be in the Heisman discussion this season.  Ponder has all five starters on the offensive line returning this fall, led by All-American guard Rodney Hudson.  If the newly revamped defensive coaching staff can improve last season’s dismal defensive unit, first year coach Jimbo Fisher could easily have his team playing for the ACC Championship in December.

14.  USC:  The dominance of the Trojans was bound to come to an end at some point, and 2009 proved that regardless of depth and top-tier recruiting, when you ship eleven players to the NFL in one season, it is going to have an impact.  Despite the off-the-field distractions and the departure of Pete Carroll, Lane and Monte Kiffin should have Southern Cal back in a familiar place next season–challenging for a Pac 10 Championship.  Linebacker Chris Galippo should reap the benefits of playing under one of the best defensive minds in the NFL or college, Monte Kiffin.  The Trojan offense should see much improvement from last season as well, now that Matt Barkley has a year of experience under his belt.

15.  Iowa:  The Hawkeyes surprised a lot of people last season when they made a serious run at the Big Ten title, and they dominated Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl with great defense and a solid performance from quarterback Ricky Stanzi.  Stanzi will have to be much more consistent in 2010 if the ‘Hawks are going to challenge Ohio State for the title this fall.  Stanzi loses three All-Big Ten offensive lineman, which was anchored by future first-round selection Bryan Bulaga, but they return their top two running backs and stud DE Adrian Clayborn, who surprised many when he announced that despite dominating the Orange Bowl, he would return for his senior season at Iowa City.

College Football All-Suspension Team: Defense

This time of year is pretty dead for the average college football fan.  Let’s face it–spring football just doesn’t do much to tide the football fanatics over.  Thankfully, college football never completely leaves the national media, thanks to some really, really dumb decisions that key players at major programs make.  The vast majority of these actions seem to take place in the off-season and often lead to suspensions five months before the college season begins in early September. 

In case you missed it, College FootBlog came up with an All-Suspension Team for the offensive side of the ball in our last post (link).  This post, we will focus on the defensive players who have recently been suspended for various reasons, which, in turn, have cost the individual players the opportunity to win prestigious awards, and they have disrupted chemistry from their individual teams. 

So, let’s meet our group of degenerates on this side of the ball, shall we?

Florida coach Urban Meyer drew as much criticism for his half-game suspension as Brandon Spikes for his eye gouging incident last season (google images)

Defensive End:  Carlos Dunlap (Florida):  Dunlap is one of the top pass rushers going into next month’s draft.  At 6’6″ and 277 lbs, he was unstoppable off the edge, and he was a standout on special teams because of his ability to block kicks.  In 2009, Dunlap was a Consensus All-SEC selection, but he was suspended for the SEC Championship Game because of his charges of drunken driving on December 1st, 2009.  The experts still have Dunlap going in the first round of the NFL Draft, but his absence from the SEC Championship may have played a part in the loss to eventual National Champion Alabama.

Defensive Tackle:  DeMarcus Granger (Oklahoma):  During the week of OU’s Fiesta Bowl against West Virginia in 2008, Granger allegedly stole a jacket from an Arizona shopping mall.  This begs two questions:  1)  Why did he need a coat in Arizona and 2)  why didn’t he just have a car dealer in Norman just lend him one?  Regardless, the incident likely forced him to stay in college football the next year instead of declaring for the NFL Draft.  He has battled injuries and has been overshadowed by fellow teammate Gerald McCoy ever since and is now projected to go in the fourth round by most experts, costing him millions of dollars.

Linebacker:  Brandon Spikes (Florida):  Spikes surprised many when he opted to return for his senior season in Gainesville.  His overall performance did not suffer (in 2009, Spikes was again selected a First-Team All-American), but his character came into question when a television camera clearly showed that Spikes was gauging the eyes of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey.  His head coaches character would come into question shortly thereafter, as Urban Meyer decided that a half-game suspension would be enough of a slap on the wrists to suffice.  After public scrutiny, it was Spikes who made the decision to sit for an entire game.  Despite the altercation, Spikes is projected as the top inside linebacker in next month’s draft.

Cornerback:  Paul Oliver (Georgia):  After his first two seasons in Athens, Oliver exploded onto the scene as a junior, when he was considered one of the top corners in the SEC.  In that season, Oliver held former Georgia Tech and current Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson to two catches for 13 yards.  Unfortunately, Oliver’s senior season never happened because he failed to meet academic eligibility requirements.  He was later drafted in the NFL’s supplemental draft in July of 2007.  He is now a back up safety for the San Diego Chargers, but another year in the SEC could have produced a lot more money in the following year’s draft.

Safety:  Brandon Meriweather (Miami):  Despite firing three shots from his gun at an assailant who had already shot his teammate Willie Cooper in the butt, Meriweather was not suspended because his firearm was legal.  The suspension was handed down by the ACC because of his involvement in the 2006 brawl against Florida International University, where Meriweather was seen repeatedly stomping several FIU players who were on the ground.  Despite the incident, Meriweather was selected as the 24th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, but the shooting incident and brawl are thought to have cost him a much higher selection.

Tell us what you think.  It was pretty hard to limit the list to just these players, but we probably missed some obvious ones.  College FootBlog wants your feedback!

Evaluating the Recruiting Class of 2006

Evaluating the Recruiting Class of 2006–by Jeff Dunbar

Matthew Stafford was the first of many first-rounders from the 2006 recruiting class (google images)

In the world of college football recruiting, writers and analysts attempt to project a 17-year old kid’s talent to the next 4-5 years.  Many skeptics are quick to point out the over-hyped and underperforming players like 5-star phenom Willie Williams, who made headlines of his many altercations with the law, while in high school, but due to his sub-4.5 forty time and his amazing abilities, he still signed a letter of intent to play for the Miami Hurricanes

Williams never panned out at Miami or Louisville, where he transferred due to limited playing time with the ‘Canes.  Williams’ story is all too familiar, but you have to admit that the business of projecting how a high school football player will do in the spotlight of bigtime Division I football is somewhat of a crapshoot.

College FootBlog understands that, and in the case of Rivals.com’s breakdown of the class of 2006, we give credit where credit is due.

Rivals dubbed 28 players that year with the coveted 5-star status, and of those former blue chip recruits, four of them have already been selected as first round draft picks in the NFL, after leaving school early–Matthew Stafford, Andre Smith, Percy Harvin and Beanie Wells.

Five more, Gerald McCoy, Taylor Mays, CJ Spiller, Brandon Graham and Sergio Kindle are expected to go in the first round of this year’s draft, with Florida Linebacker Brandon Spikes  and Clemson DE Ricky Sapp likely to go early in round 2. 

When the dust settles, Rivals will have likely correctly tagged 15 out of their 28 selections as young men who will be playing on Sundays next fall.  That 54% hit rate is very impressive when you consider all the variables that must be considered. 

Some players cannot make the grades to get into a university, let alone stay eligible at one.  Injuries can and do happen.  Stafon Johnson was one of the 5-star players listed, and although he will likely get an opportunity to play in the NFL, his freak accident in the weight room will have an effect on his draft status.  Finally, some of these players either never reach their full potential, or they may have already reached that full potential in high school, and the rest of their college peers pass them by. 

No one knows how Tim Tebow, Stafon Johnson and the rest of these players will fare in the NFL, but rest assured–they will have a shot to make an impression.  The analysts and writers have no way of predicting the future, but with Rivals’ class of 2006, they did as good a job as possible, given the circumstances.

For the complete list of the top 100 players from 2006, check out rivals.com.

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 2

In Part 2 of our three-part coverage, College FootBlog continues our breakdown of the top six BCS conferences from the 2009 season.  In case you missed it, we ranked the fifth and sixth conferences earlier this week (see link).  We continue our analysis by providing a recap of last season and an outlook for next year for conferences #3 and #4 in our Power Rankings.

4.  Big 12

 

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh was one of very few bright spots for the Big 12 in '09 (google images)

2009 Recap:

If not for Texas making it to the BCS National Championship Game, the Big 12 would have ranked fifth or sixth in the ’09 Power Rankings.  Nebraska came out of nowhere, but their offense was anemic.  Oklahoma lost Sam Bradford and never really got on track all year.  Add in Mizzou and Texas Tech not living up to high expectations coming off successful 2008 campaigns, and the Big 12 didn’t have much to talk about beyond Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and Ndamukong Suh.

2010 outlook:  Next season will likely be more of the same for the Big 12.  Although the loss of Colt McCoy in the first quarter of the BCS National Championship was a huge blow, it provided valuable experience to Freshman Garrett Gilbert.  Oklahoma’s offense should be improved with Landry Jones having a year of experience under his belt, but their dominant defense will likely take a step back.  The Sooners lose six defensive starters, including both corners and projected first-round DT Gerald McCoy.

Texas Tech will likely take a year or two before they truly integrate to Tommy Tuberville’s system, Oklahoma State will have to replace starting quarterback Zac Robinson and will lose WR Dez Bryant to the NFL.  Mizzou loses playmakers on each side of the ball in WR Denario Alexander and projected first round linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon.  Add to that, Nebraska’s departure of Suh (who many project as the number one overall pick in April’s draft), and the Big 12 North will have trouble keeping points off the scoreboard.

3.  Big Ten

2009 Recap:  The major reason the Big Ten did not claim the #2 spot in the ’09 Power Rankings was depth.  Iowa surprised many experts by effectively shutting Georgia Tech’s offense down, thanks in large part to All-Big Ten DE Adrian Clayborn, who is planning on returning for his senior year.  Terrelle Pryor saved his best performance for last, as he dominated in Ohio State’s Rose Bowl win over Oregon.

The Big Ten finished with a bowl record of 4-3, with a surprising win from Wisconsin over Miami and a Penn State victory over an offensively inept LSU team.  A more in depth look at the top two teams from the conference, however, shows a couple of teams that were far from juggernauts.

Iowa had one of the best defenses in the nation, but their offense was nothing to write home about.  The Hawkeyes struggled to beat Arkansas State at home and had to depend on two blocked field goals at the end of the game to defeat another FCS opponent, Northern Iowa 17-16 in Iowa City.

The Buckeyes nearly lost their opener to Navy at home and fell to a struggling USC team, and they later fell to 5-7 Purdue.

 

Look for Terrelle Pryor to have a huge year in 2010 (google images)

2010 Outlook:

Look for the Big Ten to make a serious run at the #2 conference in the country next season.  Jim Tressel continues to put great defenses on the field for the Bucks and the offense should take a huge step forward with the return of running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron.  And if Terrelle Pryor’s Rose Bowl performance was a sign of things to come, the Bucks will be the real deal come fall.

Iowa is also very young on offense–the ‘Hawks will return both freshman running backs, quarterback Ricky Stanzi and wideout Marvin McNutt, who exploded onto the scene in 2009.  Couple that with Adrian Clayborn and several returners on an already dominant defense, and the ‘Hawks could make a serious run in 2010.

Three other teams from the Big Ten to keep an eye on next year are Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald is one of the most underrated coaches in the country.  Wisconsin’s John Clay took full advantage of being the work horse last year, and expect more of the same in 2010, and watch out for the Wolverines.  This will be Rich Rodriguez’ third full season in Ann Arbor, and Tate Forcier will have a spring to put some much needed weight on.  If UM can assemble an average defense, the Big Blue will be bowling again at year’s end.

Look for the breakdown of the top two conferences in College FootBlog’s countdown in the next few days…

College Football Week 7 Prediction: Red River Shootout

In this week’s edition, College FootBlog will break down the match up of one of the most intense rivalries in all of college football–the Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas.  Oklahoma’s quest for a national title was extinguished in their week 5 loss at Miami, but a Big 12 Title and a BCS Bowl game are still a possibility if they can avenge last year’s loss to the Longhorns this weekend.

For Texas, a win this weekend could bump them back to number 2 in the polls, after losing that ranking to Alabama after the Crimson Tide dominated Ole Miss last weekend.  A strong performance from Colt McCoy could also go a long way for his hopes of a Heisman Trophy and put the ‘Horns in a strong position for a run at a national championship.  Needless to say, there is a lot riding on this weekend’s match up.

College FootBlog will analyze each team’s strengths and key concerns this weekend and will make a prediction for of the winner and final score.

A win this weekend over OU could put McCoy and the 'Horns in the driver's seat for a national title (google images)

A win this weekend over OU could put McCoy and the 'Horns in the driver's seat for a national title (google images)

Texas

Strengths:  Heisman hopeful, Colt McCoy leads a Texas offense that averages 311 yard a game passing and 175 yards a game rushing.  The four-year starter’s interceptions are up from his past years and his rushing yards are not where they were last year, but they have put up a whopping 34 touchdowns in their five games this season.

If the ‘Horns are going to win this weekend, McCoy is going to have to play a solid game and distribute the ball to Jordan Shipley and company.

Key Concerns:  The Texas defense has been solid all season, but against pass-happy Texas Tech, they gave up 420 yards passing and three touchdowns.  It should also be noted that the ‘Horns held the Red Raiders to four total yards rushing in that contest. 

OU will present the only other solid passing attack that the Longhorns have faced so far this season.  The secondary will have to step up to keep the Sooners’ passing attack in check.

Oklahoma

DT Gerald McCoy leads a potent OU defensive front four (google images)

DT Gerald McCoy leads a potent OU defensive front four (google images)

Strengths: 

OU’s defense has been outstanding all season.  The Sooners have NFL talent at each level, starting with DT Gerald McCoy, who many project as a first rounder in next spring’s NFL Draft. 

Senior linebacker Ryan Reynolds  and fellow senior Keenan Clayton adds leadership in the middle and OU’s two senior cornerbacks, Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson are about as good as you can get in the country at that position.

Key Concerns:  While Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford is back and had a very solid outing last weekend against Baylor, he will see a much different defense this weekend. 

Bradford is as accurate of a quarterback as there is in all of college football, but he has not seen the speed and athleticism this year like he will see on Saturday. 

His throws last weekend looked great, but make no mistake about it–Bradford will get hit this weekend.  How he responds to that will determine how well the Sooners move the football.

Texas Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

OU’s defense will be by far the best defense that Colt McCoy has had to go against this season.  It is probably the best defense he faces until a bowl game.  Despite the Sooners’ outstanding defense and their ability to create turnovers, the explosive Texas offense will make a few big plays.  Oklahoma will slow McCoy’s offense down, but the ‘Horns will not light things up like they have in their previous five games this season.  Slight EDGE:  Texas

Oklahoma Offense vs. Texas Defense

Bradford’s warm up last weekend against Baylor knocked off some rust and allowed the OU offense a week to get in rhythm with their start QB.  His poise and accuracy will be challenged by the swarming Texas defense.  Look for Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp to mix in some new blitz packages designed to put some shots on Bradford.  Knocking Bradford down could do the trick, but it could also prove costly if the OU quarterback can take advantage of 1 on 1 coverage on the outside.  As with Texas’ offense vs. OU, the Longhorns should be able to slow OU’s offense down, but Bradford is too good to be shut down.  Slight EDGE:  Oklahoma

Special Teams

While Oklahoma has a couple of weapons in the return game in Dominique Franks and DeMarco Murray, Texas has the top kick returner in the country in DJ Monroe, who has brought back two kicks for touchdowns so far this season.  Senior Jordan Shipley had also added two touchdowns off punt returns.  The place kickers for each team have converted nine field goals on the season.  EDGE:  Texas

Prediction

As with the past match ups in this rivalry, this weekend’s game should be a great one and will likely take all four quarters to decide a winner.  In the end, Bradford’s injury could very well have an effect on the game’s outcome–not his ability to throw the ball, but his ability to withstand some hits could likely be a factor.  Also, in games like this, special teams often mean the difference, and the Longhorns have more firepower in that department.  Final Prediction:  Texas wins 31-28

 

College Football Preview Week 5: Oklahoma at Miami

For the first time since 2007, Miami and Oklahoma will square off this Saturday.  The 2007 match up is one that the Hurricanes would like to forget, as the Sooners pounded them 51-13 to officially begin the Sam Bradford era in Norman.

This year, the two teams could not be any more different than they were just two seasons ago.  In this week’s edition, College FootBlog will analyze the ‘Canes and Sooners and give our prediction for the game.

Jacory Harris will look to bounce back after a rough outing against Virginia Tech (google images)

Jacory Harris will look to bounce back after a rough outing against Virginia Tech (google images)

Miami

Strengths:  Sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris exploded onto the college football scene in his big performances against Florida State and Georgia Tech, but he was held in check by Virginia Tech last week, going 9-25 and an interception.

Despite the dismal performance, two things must be considered in last weekend’s defeat.  For one, credit must be given to Virginia Tech’s outstanding defensive coordinator, Bud Foster and his defense, which always seems to overachieve.  And secondly, the monsoon-like conditions last weekend made passing very difficult.

The Hurricanes will need Harris to play like he did in his first two games if they expect to have a shot at winning this weekend.

Key Concern:  Miami’s defense has given up a ton of points in their three games, allowing 30+ points in two of their three games this season.  The pass-happy Sooners have not skipped a beat after losing Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford in their opener against BYU.

Oklahoma

Strengths:  OU’s defense has been lights out this season only surrendering 13 points in their three games.  After giving up two touchdown passes to BYU’s Max Hall in the opener, the Sooners have shut out their last two opponents, most recently against offensive juggernaut Tulsa.  The Sooners will face the most speed and balance that they have faced so far this season when they travel to Miami, but there is not much more that Bob Stoops could ask from his defense so far this year.

 

 

Heisman winner Sam Bradford would like to come back this weekend in Miami (google images)

Heisman winner Sam Bradford would like to come back this weekend in Miami (google images)

Key Concerns:

  Although it is still unclear if or how much Sam Bradford will play in this game, it looks as though he will attempt to play on Saturday.  He started light throwing last week and experienced some discomfort, which was expected.  Backup QB Landry Jones has lit up the scoreboard in relief of Bradford the last two weeks, leading the Sooners to their unbelievable 109-0 point differential in those two games.

 

 

If Bradford is not 100% but still attempts to play, the ‘Canes could slow down OU’s powerful offense.  The success of Jones the last two weeks give the Sooners a viable option off the bench, but if Bradford cannot make all of his throws, the OU offense may have trouble clicking.

Miami Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

As explosive as Miami’s offense was in their first two games, the moment they went against a solid, well-coached defense when they played Va Tech, they faltered badly.  As mentioned, the weather probably played a major factor in that game as well, but Jacory Harris will likely have his toughest test to date this weekend. 

Anchored by DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma’s front four may be the most talented in all of college football.  Couple that with two senior corners, Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson, and Harris may have his hands full.  EDGE:  OU

Oklahoma Offense vs. Miami Defense

Miami has a much faster, more athletic defense than OU has faced so far this season.  But as athletic as they are, the ‘Canes defense has given up a lot of points this season.  The ‘Canes had been great against the run until they encountered Ryan Williams last weekend.  Whoever plays quarterback for OU this weekend should have some success against this Miami secondary.  EDGE:  OU

Special Teams

Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray are very dangerous returners, but kicker Jimmy Stevens has not been tested much this season because OU’s offense has been so dominant.  With the return of Javarris James, Miami has been able to let Graig Cooper return kicks this season, and the results have been there.  Cooper is a game breaker.  Kicker Matt Bosher has not been flawless by any means, but he will be playing at home.  Slight EDGE:  Miami

Prediction

Miami showed some real vulnerabilities last weekend in Blacksburg, especially on offense.  Look for Jacory Harris and his stable of receivers to have a much better performance than last weekend, but they will still have a very tough time against this veteran and very talented OU defense.  If Harris can find a rhythm, the ‘Canes will have a shot, but if OU can force a turnover early on, it could be a long day for Miami.

The bye week for OU last week also plays a huge factor in this match up.  Miami had a lot of success in their first two games, but some of that can be contributed to an entire off season to install a new offense that Florida State had not seen until their opening day match up.  And the ‘Canes had bye week immediately following that victory to prepare for Georgia Tech.  They do not have that luxury in this game.  Final Score Prediction:  OU wins 31-21