Berry Tramel 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. Here's a transcript from today's chat:
Under what circumstances is it possible for James Harden not to resign with the Thunder?
One circumstance. If the Thunder doesn't offer Harden what he wants. There is a number that Harden wants (the max, I'm sure, $14.5M a year). And there is a number he'll accept. That might be $12.5M, and if so, the Thunder might offer that. But if that number is $14M, the Thunder won't go that high.
Hi Berry — I always enjoy your "historical" pieces, as they usually cover the 70s and 80s (*my favorite was 1982 high school basketball). Your article on Pappy Waldorf this week stretched us all to look even farther back. I enjoyed it — thanks for the research.
I don't think people appreciate Pappy Waldorf. One of the great coaches in college football history spent five years at OSU and did very well. He's hardly known at all in Stillwater.
Who plays for the national title if K-State loses and Oregon loses? Would Oklahoma beat out the rest of the one-loss schools? If they keep winning the way they have against Tech and Texas? OU vs. Alabama? Or would you pick a different one-loss school to play Alabama?
One-loss teams? I think it would come down to OU vs. Oregon. I would bet Oregon would win the prize, especially if Oregon avenged a loss to USC in the Pac-12 title game. But if Oregon's loss is IN the Pac-12 title game, then it would probably be OU. I think the SEC's foe in the big Bowl will be from the Pac-12 or Big 12.
I know Mizzou has moved to the SEC, but it seems like they can't beat any SEC teams. How do you think Mizzou-Tennessee will come down? Tennessee stinks but so has Mizzou as of late. Do you think they will get a win over Tennessee to help their SEC record a little?
Missouri-Tennessee sounds like a really good game. Mizzou has surprised me. I thought Missouri would fare really well in the SEC this year. Instead, the Tigers have stunk. They've been awful. You can't go losing to Vanderbilt. I guess I would pick the Vols vs. MU.
Has the Big 10 ever been this weak? Ohio State and Michigan are probably the two best teams, and they are decent at best.
I assume not. I assume this is the worst the Big Ten ever has been. Ohio State is good, but the rest are not. Including Michigan. Penn State might be the second-best team.
Even though Bell doesn't run any sets other than the Belldozer, how beneficial do you think real game experience will be for him as the heir apparent?
Oh, it can't hurt, but when you're talking about a game experience for a QB in this kind of offense, you're talking about reading defenses. Pressure, blitzes, coverage, that kind of thing. Bell does none of that in the 'Dozer. He looks for a hole and goes.
Who's starting on Saturday, Lunt or Walsh? Who gives OSU a better shot at winning the game?
Most people guess Lunt will start. I'm guessing Walsh. Just the way Todd Monken talked. But clearly, Wes Lunt gives OSU its best chance to win this game. ISU will stack against the run, same as it did last year, and you need to stretch the field. Lunt can do that. Walsh cannot.
Where was Blake Jackson during the KU game? Will he play against ISU?
I asked the same question and didn't get a good answer. I think OSU abandoned the passing game in Lawrence, because of the conditions and Walsh's uncertain play. I assume Blake Jackson will be prominent again this week, but you never know. The OSU offense has been hard to figure this year, because of off weeks and QB changes, etc.
Do you see the Sooners having a let down against Kansas after mauling the Longhorns, or, looking past them to Notre Dame?
I see a letdown. Probably a major letdown. And a 37-10 victory. Kansas actually isn't bad on defense.
Why was Honeycutt kicking off in the Cotton Bowl and not O'Hara?
Good question. I didn't ask. I don't think O'Hara's kickoffs have been great this season. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Fans (and media) often seem to place to much emphasis on a team's last game. Clearly OU isn't as bad as everyone thought after the Kansas State loss, or probably as good as everyone now thinks after the Texas win. What say you?
I'd say that's true of any one game, whether it's the last game or not. I am encouraged by OU's play in the last TWO games. That to me is a trend.
If OU were to win the rest of their Big 12 games, obviously K-State would have to lose 2 Big 12 games for OU to be on top. Do you see that happening?
Ask me Saturday night. If KSU beats West Virginia, I think the 'Cats win the Big 12 title. They would have to lose twice, with OU and WVU in the rearview mirror. Now, KSU still has Texas, Tech and TCU. But if KSU wins at West Virginia, the Cats might just run the table.
Your thoughts on Trey Metoyer play so far? How good is J. Saunders?
Metoyer has had trouble getting untracked. I thought Saunders looked really good. Seemed to have incredible wheels in the open field. I think he might take over at slot, with Kenny Stills going back outside.
Why do you think we haven't seen more of Trey Millard in the K-State and Tech games?
I think Millard played a ton against Tech. He played just 11 snaps vs. Kansas State. That was the problem with the game plan. You can't go devising a game plan that minimizes the use of Trey Millard. You've got to get him on the field. Not so much to run (though that's not a bad idea), but to block and catch.
Will you cover the Kansas game?
No, I'm going to Stillwater for OSU-Iowa State.
Quick aside, love your travel blogs. Please keep them up.
Thanks. I will. Sorry, I thought the Dallas blog was a little light. I ran out of time (this week has been hellacious) and I've written about Dallas a bunch in the past. But I will definitely keep them up. Let's see. I've got Iowa State, West Virginia and TCU coming up.
Are Bama and Oregon the two best teams right now?
That would be my guess. Although, watch out for the Ducks tonight at Arizona State. The Sun Devils might be capable of the upset.
Can you briefly explain the difference in the diamond and pistol formation, as it affects the running back alignment?
Well, the pistol formation is an I formation using the shotgun. A tailback lined up right behind a shotgun quarterback. It can be with other running backs, but doesn't have to be. The diamond is a pistol with a running back on each side of the shotgun quarterback. So the diamond is a form of the pistol.
Did Texas quit? If so, why?
No. I am loathe to say someone quits. For one thing, UT scored on its final two drives of the game. You don't do that if you quit. And while the 'Horns got run over in the second half, they were getting run over in the first half, too. I don't see any evidence that Texas quit. OU's big play came with the score 6-2.
Who has the best shot at beating K-State?
West Virginia, on Saturday. The Wildcats have just two road games left after Morgantown. They go to TCU and Baylor. I don't like Baylor's chances. So I'd say KSU's toughest remaining games are: 1. at WV; 2. at TCU; 3. OSU; 4. Texas; 5. at Baylor.
Will Kendal Thompson ever be a factor for OU?
I would guess no, but I could be wrong. I think OU would have to undergo a philosophical change to start Thompson. He's not the classic dropback passer that OU has used since Stoops' arrival.
Reviewing the Texas game on DVR, and seeing some sideline shots of Mac during the beat down, it looks like he is without a clue. Why do you think that is? Has time passed him by?
I don't think time has passed him by, but I do think OU has a clear edge in the rivalry. The Sooners play with an edge. And they seem to rally better after adversity. This season looked bleak after KSU, but OU has restored its confidence. Same with 2010, when the Sooners looked dead in the water but rallied to win the Big 12.
I think OU will lose two more games. What are your thoughts?
Could happen. But I don't think so. I would rank OU's toughest games as: 1. at West Virginia; 2. at TCU; 3. Notre Dame; 4. at Iowa State; 5. OSU; 6. Baylor; 7. Kansas. You could easily find two losses in there. But you could also more likely see one or none.
How much longer will Mack Brown be the Longhorns' head coach?
No idea. But I'm hoping a long time. I enjoy the Stoops-Mack rivalry. I would hate to see it end.
Score prediction for OU/Kansas?
37-10. Like I said. Kansas has a good defense.
Even if Walsh starts, do you expect the play-calling conservatism to start to evaporate for OSU? Seems the playbook has gotten real small. Not sure that is all due to concerns over Walsh's arm. Perhaps also fearing getting him hurt without Lunt back in the picture?
No. I think it will stay conservative, and I think it has to do with Walsh's arm. I don't think the Cowboys are trying to protect Walsh. Heck, I could see Clint Chelf playing Saturday, if Lunt can't. The Cowboys have to try to put the Cyclone defense on its heels.
What causes Landry Jones to play so badly at K-State and so well in the last two games? Do you see why fans don't have confidence that "good" laundry will show up each week?
Sure, I see why fans don't have confidence in Landry. But it's not like he plays that way every other game. He throws in some clunkers, but he's regularly very good. And he's clearly the best option for the Sooners. Which reminds, all the fans who wanted to throw in the towel on this season and bench Landry, they look sort of foolish now.
How will Jalen Saunders help the team the remainder of the year?
I think he'll be a big factor. He looks very evasive in the open field. I think he will soon become a primary target for Landry. Wouldn't surprise me if he's the No. 2 receiver going forward. Of course, I'm judging all that off the Texas game. So it probably would be best to see him another week.
Can A&M beat LSU?
Sure, it can happen. I don't think it will. I don't see the Ags scoring much on LSU.
Will Stills be moved to the outside to make room for Shepard and Saunders?
Yes, I think so. That would be my move. Still and Brown on the outside. That's bad news for Metoyer. But what seemed to be a weakness has become a strength for the Sooners. Lots of receivers.
Your take on the OU tight end play so far?
They've held their helmets very well on the sideline this season. Oh, the juco guy, Brannon Green, he had the TD vs. UTEP and would have had one vs. Kansas State had Landry not missed him. But they've been shoved aside by Trey Millard.
Will the suspended receivers play again at OU? Are they practicing with the team?
Practicing yes, though Trey Franks has been moved to defense. But I don't think they'll play this year. Why would they? Who needs Jaz Reynolds?
OSU's last two conference championships were in 2012 & 1976. That's 36 years between championships. How long do they go before another?
I'll say closer to 3.6 years than 36 years. I think the Cowboys will be good again next year. Maybe in position to threaten for the title.
Best RB in the Big 12 right now?
Great question. I'll go Joe Randle. But Hubert at KSU is good. And Damien Williams is making a case.
How would you rank the top 10 Sooner running backs of the last 20 years? I'd rank Adrian Peterson #1. Who's #2? Murray or Parker? etc.
Last 20 years? Peterson, Parker, Murray, Quentin Griffin, James Allen, Jerald Moore. that's six. Go deeper than that, and you're guessing.
Is OU's starting 5 o-line healthy?
Seems to be. Bronson Irwin came back in Saturday at Texas.
Is Mack Brown now on the hot seat?
Hot? I'd say Brimstone is more like it.
In the end would you say that Venables was not good enough at the defensive coordinator position?
No. I would not say that. Venables had some great games. Heck, last year, his D shut down the 'Horns, too. Venables got done in by a couple of bad games last year — Tech, Baylor. Sometimes, you just need a change.
Top 5 Texas replacement coaches?
Fantasy list? 1. Saban; 2. Urban Meyer; 3. Pete Carroll; 4. Bob Stoops; 5. Chip Kelly. Reality list: 1. Les Miles; 2. Chris Peterson; 3. Art Briles; 4. Gary Patterson; 5. Mike Gundy.
Which Sooner will go pro early this year?
Aaron Colvin and Damien Williams are a good place to start. Kenny Stills might. The Sooners could get hit hard.
Do you know if Switzer attended the Texas game?
Yes, he was there. He was down on the sidelines pregame.
What's your take on the OSU defense? Some series of plays they look great — and then a big bust. Inexperience? Exhaustion?
I think they're just no good. If they're taking the ball away, then everything's OK. But if they're not taking the ball away — and they haven't this year — then they're a sieve.
Glad you got to eat at Babe's in Texas. One of my favorite restaurants and one of the best chicken-fried steaks you can find. Eat there every time we go down to see the in-laws.
I'll try the chicken fry next time. In fact, I'll try to get whoever I go with to make it all family style, even the meats.
Dallas against Panthers? Your thoughts?
Dallas. But what do I know. I have no idea how to figure out the Cowboys, who need a new coach and a new GM.
Do you have a winner for the World Series, or do you not care?
I don't care, but I have a winner. St. Louis.
Is it too early for an OU/Notre Dame prediction?
No. Sooners win easily. I don't think Notre Dame can score.
OK, super. Great questions. I appreciate it. Talk to you next week.