Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Final Thoughts

At this point I am giddy and restless, like my 5 year-old before Christmas. In my defense it is Gameday Eve so I think that earns me a pass. To my delight a replay of the 2006 National Championship Game was on SunSports, so while getting ready for tomorrow's game I put the game on. I watched while getting the coolers ready. I also decided to reach out to contacts to see how this year's team was "acting" prior to the game.

Watching the game, a few things became apparent. First, on offense, I think we should expect a few new wrinkles. Nothing that gets away from what we have been doing too much, just something new for the defense. If you remember the Tempe game, the offense took advantage of Ohio State's linebackers by having them cover what was essentially long hand-offs to our slot receivers. Say what you will about our staff, but there is no arguing with the fact that this staff incredible at finding a defense's weakness and exposing it. We also threw to Latsko a couple of times and he picked up good yardage on the plays. I am not sure what the new wrinkles will be, but my best guess is using Moody more regularly. I do know that Oklahoma's defense has a great front four and better than average safeties. I also know that they have struggled against the pass. The more research I do, the more my feeling that we will use the short passing game to open up the rest of the offense is confirmed. I am also hearing that the o-line is most fired aspect of the team.

Second, I think we will see a couple of trick plays that haven't been shown before. Something along the lines of Percy throwing the ball. I doubt we will do anything crazy along the lines of the hook and ladder that Utah used against Pittsburgh but I would not be surprised if we did something similar.

On defense, there will be new schemes. There has to be, the layoff dictates that. There has been too much time to for Oklahoma's staff to dissect our play for us to do all the same things. Coach Strong is excellent at devising blitz schemes, so I expect to see something different when it comes to the blitz package. I also wouldn't be surprised to see some different personnel used. Ryan Stamper will, in all likelihood, be on the field more than A.J. Jones. In a 3-3-5 Stamper would be the guy in the middle, Spikes would slide over the Jones's spot. I also expect us to be more physical with their receivers. If you haven't heard the numbers they are astounding, Sam Bradford averages 13 pass attempts for every hit, not sack, hit. That is amazing. It also explains why he has been so good this year. You have probably heard our players say that watching OU's offense seems like watching 7 on 7 drills. Our defense's job is to change that. Making Bradford uncomfortable has to be priority #1. I expect our defense to play with a purpose. Word is that the defensive staff has been telling the players OU expects to hang 60 on them. Remember Meyer has a degree in Psychology and he is a master at using mind games to get an advantage.

The coaching staff feels that there will be at least 1 big play on special teams. I couldn't discern whether the feeling was a big return from a finally healthy Brandon James or a block. But I am expecting at least one big return and something from our punt block team. Remember Coach Meyer oversees this aspect of the team himself, so to say its a priority is an understatement.

There will be an unlikely hero. We know that Cornelius Ingram will be in uniform and just his presence on the field, in uniform, might be enough to inspire this team. Especially after he gave the speech of his life the other night at Senior Tackle Night. Supposedly he said that despite the injury he would make the same decision all over again, that this team was that important to him. Not surprisingly there wasn't a dry eye in the room. But I think there will be someone else. There always is in Championship Games. Maybe its Moody fulfilling the hype, maybe it is Riley Cooper being more than the best blocking receiver on the field, maybe its Torrey Davis, or Justin Trattou. I don't know but someone will play above the level they have played at all year.

Finally, my sources tell me the team has been all business. No going out. Just all business. That to me is the best news of all, because no matter the result at least they are coming to play the game.


jj gator said...

Coach Meyer prepared our 2006 team for the NC in phases, and he's doing the same this year - plus, he emphasized back then, too, that this was a "businesstrip". I hope we see the same results tonight like we did a couple years ago!

On the way home tonight, I'm stopping off at my church to pray a rosary and light a candle for the Gators - Henry, I'm sure you'll appreciate this!

And yes, I do feel a sense of nervousness coming on......

Scully said...

Reporters are starting to say that the OU players have "that look" in the eye, something to prove. I know Pat Dooley mentioned it as one of the reasons he is picking OU (35-31). On a side note, he neglected to mention that his man-crush on Steve Spurrier is still strong as ever.

Of course I haven't been around the players, so I don't know. I heard Nic Harris call the offense one-dimensional. I heard Dominique Franks call Tebow the 4th best QB in the Big 12. I do not know.