NORMAN — Inspired by Gina Mizell’s OSU gameday preview blogs, here are three questions and three goals to preview this evening’s Kansas State at Oklahoma game.
* Can Oklahoma stop Kansas State’s rushing attack?
The Sooners, under Bob Stoops, have traditionally done well against Bill Snyder’s offenses. The biggest problem this year, though, is the lack of depth on the defensive line. Many of the reserve tackles and ends are true freshmen; are they ready after the bye week to take on a tough opponent like the Wildcats? I expect Oklahoma to be able to slow K-State down enough to win the game, especially with the game being at home and the Sooner receivers beginning to click with Landry Jones.
* Who starts at running back?
Stoops wouldn’t say who his starter at running back will be, adding that it doesn’t matter. But it would be a pretty big deal to everyone in the stadium if Damien Williams is on the field before Dominique Whaley against K-State. But I think it’s the obvious choice; Williams has earned a chance to get a more significant chunk of the carries and show what he can do carrying the load. If Williams gets 18-20 carries and Whaley gets seven-12, that would be a dangerous rushing attack, and Williams and Whaley could wind up one of the nation’s best 1-2 punch tailback combo.
* Will the offensive line step up and protect Landry Jones better?
A hot topic of conversation this week has been Oklahoma’s six sacks allowed through two games. The stat is made more scary for OU when you add that K-State has sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times. It’s not all on the offensive line — Jones has to get rid of the ball quicker — but if KSU is unable to knock Jones to the turf Saturday, the Sooner passing game could be in for a huge day against the questionable Wildcat secondary.
* Don’t allow any big special teams plays: North Texas took a 7-0 lead on KSU last weekend, but the Wildcats’ Tyler Lockett returned the ensuing kick for a touchdown and stole all of the Mean Green’s momentum. K-State blocked a field goal, too, which represented its sixth blocked kick since the beginning of last season. OU cannot allow the Wildcats to steal any momentum on a special teams play or it could end up being the difference.
* Force multiple turnovers: Oklahoma’s defense has only forced one turnover in its first two games — a Javon Harris interception during last week’s rout of Florida A&M. If the Sooners can force K-State to fumble or Collin Klein to make an errant throw early, they could seize the momentum and be on their way to a blowout. But if OU doesn’t take the ball away at all, the Wildcats’ offense is perfectly capable of pounding the ball and draining the clock.
* Get the offense off the ground: Kenny Stills’ big start has been well documented, but the other receivers need to get more involved this week in the Big 12 opener. It’s time for Justin Brown, Trey Metoyer and Sterling Shepard to get more involved in the passing game, which has averaged just 267.5 yards per game against UTEP and Florida A&M. While Williams’ emergence from the backfield has been good, OU’s offense relies on a strong passing attack. After fall camp, two games and a bye week, it’s time for Jones to be comfortable enough with those other receivers to look their way more often. He targeted Stills in nearly half of his pass attempts against FAMU.