The Oklahoman's Gina Mizell took questions from readers in today's Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. (No chat on Thanksgiving, though.) Here's a recap of today's chat, which was Bedlam, Bedlam, Bedlam and more Bedlam.
Was the QB option installed only for Texas Tech or will we see it again this week? And was that a Monken or a Gundy innovation?
I would be shocked if we did NOT see the J.W. Walsh package this week. That's the two-QB system Monken and Gundy had in mind all along, before Lunt and Walsh both got hurt. Monken calls/designs the plays, so I assume he came up with the specifics of it, but Gundy's always wanted to get Walsh on the field even if he wasn't named the starting quarterback.
Don't you expect OU's quicker secondary to be a serious problem for Chelf, who does not have the arm Lunt has?
That's definitely a great point. He doesn't have the arm strength as Lunt, but at this point, he's making better decisions. This could be a perfect game for Josh Stewart, who can take short passes, shake a defender in the open field and turn it into a big gain.
The linebacking corps looks pretty solid going forward. We only lose Elkins while Lyndell Johnson and Ryan Simmons have played very well. Joe Mitchell has made some plays too. That's 4 or 5 quality guys. Has to be the deepest position on the team.
I agree. I thought this before the season, and after a bit of a slow start (most notably against Arizona — a game Lyndell Johnson didn't play in), it's been a really solid unit against both the run and pass. Shaun Lewis is a quiet, steady performer. Caleb Lavey has been solid in the middle. And Elkins plays with such fire. I think Johnson and Simmons are going to be fantastic performers by the end of their career, and Nico Ornelas, DeMarcus Sherod and Kris Catlin have potential.
Do you think OSU will be able to score on OU like West Virginia did? Or do you think the Sooners will be more prepared this time?
I'm sure that awful performance got the Sooners' attention, and that Mike Stoops and that defensive staff will make some adjustments. It will be interesting if OU continues to play seven defensive backs, because if so, Joe Randle and Jeremy Smith could be set up to have another big, big performance against the Sooners. Like I mentioned before, I'm really interested to see the game plan these two coaching staffs come up with. Should be a fun chess match.
Do you expect more scheming this week like Holgy did against OU last week? Monken seems to have the mind to exploit advantages/weaknesses.
Maybe not because of the WVU game, but because of recent Bedlam history. My beat pal John Helsley wrote about this on Monday. In 2010, OU busted out the 50 defense that threw OSU for a loop. Last season, OSU took full advantage of the bye week, designing a blitzing defensive game plan and a run-heavy offensive game plan that just throttled the Sooners. I'm sure OU will make defensive adjustments after that terrible performance in Morgantown. And now OSU has the two-quarterback system, with J.W. Walsh's special packages, they were hoping to have all along. So who has the next move? It's going to be fun to see what these two staffs came up with.
OSU's biggest defensive weakness heading into the OU game?
To me, it's still the secondary. Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert have been better in recent weeks, but they've been inconsistent (or poor) more than they've been OK or good. Shamiel Gary has also improved a lot at strong safety in pass coverage, and Daytawion Lowe HAS been consistently good all year. But if Landry Jones has time to throw, he could still burn the Cowboys deep.
Gundy talked about players playing in hostile places, but Bedlam on the road is another animal because it brings out the best in fans of the home team. So how big of a factor is OSU going into a place where 3/4 of the players have never played, knowing they have yet to play that great away from Stillwater – plus losing two games & almost a third one to the Big 12's worst teams?
It's absolutely going to be one of the most hostile environments that the Cowboys will face. But Texas A&M is crazy, K-State was bonkers a couple weeks ago, so it's not like they haven't played in front of rowdy road crowds. This will be a different animal, but I don't think the Cowboys will be caught off-guard.
Who will be at their current job longer, Stoops or Gundy?
I assume Gundy. Obviously, he's been involved in some head coaching rumors, but when any of those "traditional" programs (Arkansas, Tennessee, etc.) come open, his name is going to be mentioned. I don't know if he'd be enticed by one of those jobs, but what I do know is he just signed a lucrative extension and just moved into a new house in Stillwater.
Unlike last year, how big of a factor is it Landry has confidence going into Bedlam facing a defensive backfield that has been average all year with 4 or 5 WR's that could all give us fits?
I kind of touched on this earlier, but this is definitely the key to the game. Not necessarily the receivers/Landry vs. secondary matchup, but if OSU can get pressure on him like they did last season. The Cowboys were GREAT against Tech last week, and didn't have the blitz a lot. That's key. If Landry's uncomfortable, we all know he tends to make mistakes. But if he has time to throw, he could pick apart that OSU secondary.
As great as OSU has played the past few games it worries me that the team is beating up on the Big 12 bottom dwellers but not beating the Big 12's top teams like Texas & KSU. So should I be worried about Saturday since OU is right w/ KSU and Texas?
Lots of people seemed to think that OSU could lose to West Virginia, Tech and even Iowa State and TCU. The Cowboys beat them all — convincingly. You're right, though, winning in Norman is a different animal. The Cowboys played great at home this season, and have been shaky on the road. So that doesn't bode well going into Norman. But I think OSU has played really well in the second half of the season, except for the K-State game, where it made too many mistakes on the road.
OU hasn't run the ball too effectively the last two weeks. Do you think they will be able to against OSU?
OSU's run defense is totally underrated and perhaps the biggest surprise of the season. Calvin Barnett and James Castleman have done a great job of plugging the middle, and those linebackers have been sound, too. It's been tough for anybody to run on the Cowboys this season, so I don't think it'll be easy for OU.
Do you have a CCCMFC shirt?
Haha. I do not. Not exactly ethical. But his story is one of the best in college football right now, and the following he's gathered is wild. The choo choo train has been brought up to him and he thinks it's pretty funny.
Do you think last year has put OSU over the proverbial hump against OU? I've seen a few OSU teams riding tons of momentum get destroyed in Norman. I'm worried.
Last year's win was big. No question. And this team is playing really well. No question. But there's also no question OU will be motivated after last year's thrashing, and a bad performance against West Virginia. It's hard to imagine the Sooners losing three games in one season in Norman. It's going to be a very interesting game on Saturday.
What's your prediction for Bedlam on Saturday?
I pick OU to win 42-41. That obviously means OSU covers the spread, and that I think the Cowboys can win. I give OU the slight edge, though, because the Sooners are at home, and I think OU's passing game will be trouble for the OSU secondary. It's a shoot-out, but the Sooners make one more big play.